Dec 26, 2015

Christmas Eve Shopping

It was Christmas Eve. I didn't have any more shopping to do (that's why I was drawing). It seemed like tons of people still had a ways to go. The stressed, hurried pace made it hard to capture the last-minute shoppers. Looking down this passageway between some shops I could see the 25% off signs in the shop across the street. I was standing there holding a book and using a ballpoint pen. People were nervously walking by me as I sketched. An older woman even admitted to me that she was quite relieved when she realized that I was drawing and not soliciting or taking a survey. It was Christmas Eve and there was no patience to deal with that.

Dec 15, 2015

Old Railway Line

This is an old railway line with a pretty cool stone wall that runs between two busy streets in New Plymouth. Now it's just for people. On each side of this thin park is crazy traffic caused by crazy people, desperate to finish their year-end chores. Everyone is so rushed here in New Zealand at this time of year. A Christmas / Summer combo holiday makes people insane, irrational and very tired. The big solid rock walls insulated against the noise and was a nice lunch hour time-out from the frenzied late-December pace.

Nov 30, 2015

James Lane

This tall and thin building forms half of James Lane and two sides have street art on it. You can see a biplane on top and the bottom has a intricately painted wooden fence alley scene. I thought that the alley scene is a pretty good job but a friend said that maybe the artists did too good of a job. The fact that it's painted very well may give it a bit of resistance to being painted over with something new and prevent the natural image rotation that usually comes with urban art. Of course, the buildings making up the lane might not be that earthquake safe. If they end up needing replacement, it sort of makes the artwork time limit argument irrelevant. It's unlikely that any new building will have wall space put aside for spray cans. 

(Here's roughly the same scene, but from a slightly different angle done in 2012. Spot the differences between these two pictures.)

Nov 12, 2015

Fire Trucks

Just some fire trucks because that's what I felt like drawing lately

Nov 1, 2015

Metro Plaza

I've drawn the Metro Plaza three times now. This time it was from the top of the Kings Building across the street. The hustle and bustle of the people is really happening from up there, moving in and out of the shadows on the sidewalk.
I like the building because it's a bit weird. It's a bit rough in parts but it has character. If you walk through the arcade with different shops in it, you get to a parking building which is great for rainy days. I feel that this is a way better location than a Subway deserves. Of course maybe I just think there's too many Subways and I'd just rather have a pie.
The top floor is the JD Reid Gallery. He's a pretty cool guy who really knows how to paint. Check out what he's got up there; the space is open most days.
The bottom two sketches are from 2013, one month apart. I've posted the left one before but second one hadn't made it to the internet until now.

Oct 21, 2015

Hockey Practice

Here's a quick sketch of inline hockey practice. The local team is called the the Ravens. There aren't any actual ravens in New Zealand, but there can't be many native Penguins in Pittsburgh either. Pretty normal types of drills - passing, skating and taking shots. This scene could be anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere but then they spoil the illusion by opening the large side door and you can see the sea. You can also look across the rink at the row of flags. India, Australia, Taiwan, South Africa and New Zealand - all the hockey 3rd rate hockey nations are represented. But this is how they roll down under and the kids seem to be having fun.

Oct 14, 2015

Taranaki Cathedral

The Taranaki Cathedral was forced to close indefinitely. After the Christchurch earthquakes, older buildings in New Zealand have a certain amount of time to be assessed and upgraded. This stone building is rated at something like 15%, which is pretty low. People aren't sure what can be done to make it safe while keeping the same style of architecture preserved. The price tag will also keep this place closed for quite a while.
There's quite a few buildings on the New Plymouth main shopping street that are likely going to need expensive retrofitting or replacing. Nobody knows what the downtown will look like in the future. Just like this place.

Oct 3, 2015

King Tugboat

The tide was super low this week - a king tide. The floating docks were barely above the bottom when I drew this. I was watching a couple of tugs guiding a large ship in to port. When the tide was in, it was very in. It washes up rocks, driftwood and plastic debris on to the shore and the coastal walkway.

Sep 20, 2015

4 Palms

A row of four palm trees in front of a church, alongside a busy New Plymouth intersection. I had a few people shout from the cars during the red lights that my drawing was starting to come along. If you're one of those in traffic, checking out the finished version here, this one's for you.

Aug 28, 2015


Here's a fishing boat that is double parked to the main launching dock. I'm not sure why since there were other places to berth to. The sailors had to climb to the larger diving ship and then to the dock to get supplies loaded. Important things like fuel and hot lunches from a nearby restaurant. About halfway through this one the ropes were untied and it sailed away. This is a bit worse than when cars do this.
The name Exocet has the same as an anti-ship missile and is French for 'flying fish'. I guess this is a good name although this doesn't seem to be a particularly fast vessel.

Aug 20, 2015

High Tide Coffees & More

A mobile coffee shop that usually hangs out at Oakura Beach, which is down the coast from New Plymouth. (I looked it up on Google.) It's currently in town for the arts festival evenings.

Jul 26, 2015

Return of the Gallery

The re-opening of the Govett Brewster Art Gallery, including the new stainless steel Len Lye Centre. They closed the streets around the building for the opening ceremony (but mostly so that everyone could get photos and selfies in the mirrored steel outer surface). The White Hart Hotel, one of New Plymouth's oldest buildings, is an interesting neighbour for it. The old and the new, both very challenging to sketch. The White Hart just has so much detail. If you don't draw it all, when do you stop? And the Len Lye Centre, is just plain weird. It's like trying to draw a Photoshop filter. I sat on the step across the street for several hours while trying to figure out where it all goes.
#LenLye #LenLyeCentreOpening

Jul 16, 2015

Cold King

Cold winter sketching standing in the shade. I wanted to draw down the street showing the slight s-bend. There are times when only that certain viewpoint will do, so it was nice to thaw out in a cafe after this one.

Jul 7, 2015

Winter in Huatoki Plaza

It doesn't take much sun to change Taranaki people's minds to get outside. A break in the rain and everyone's walking in different directions like they're on a mission. I've drawn the Huatoki Plaza in New Plymouth a number of times. I was looking at my sketch archives and noticed that they are pretty much all done in the winter. So here I am again. I was on a mission too.

Jun 25, 2015

Hard Helmet Diving Suit

New Zealand's had a lot of rain last weekend with quite a few places becoming flooded. Even with the rising levels of the Huatoki Stream beside it, one of the most dry places in Taranaki for sketching was in the museum in New Plymouth. I started to draw this 1950's hard helmet diving suit since I found it interesting and I was amazed that it was still used until the late 1960's. When I finished this drawing, I wondered if the staff might have to use it soon. It's supposed to rain again this weekend.

May 20, 2015

Radio Hill in Blagdon

From the Access Radio Taranaki broadcast tower hill in New Plymouth, you can see the Blagdon shops and the horizon line goes out to sea. It's a bit weird that this hill has cows grazing around it in the middle of houses. An oasis of rural in suburbia. A few years ago I drew the front of the shops and the hill and the radio towers are in the background. I'm still amazed that the convenience store is still open beside the 4 Square (which is a chain of small grocery stores). It seemed like poor planning having a shop that sells the same kind of stuff (but with less group wholesale buying power), open roughly the same hours, and with less product selection. Yet years later, it still exists. I wonder if there is a secret.

May 8, 2015

Fair May at the Mayfair

A welcome break in the rain today... It was the sunniest day in recent memory and I had the day off. Having drinks outside and sketching! (A shout-out to the staff of the Mayfair in New Plymouth for being generally awesome.)

Apr 25, 2015

ANZAC Dawn Ceremony in New Plymouth

The ANZAC Day Dawn Ceremony commemorates the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) World War One dawn landing in Gallipoli. This was the start of a large joint campaign (in what is now Turkey) that lasted the good part of a year. In the end, it was a bit of a stalemate but there are probably tons of stories from the Great War that involved sacrifice without much progress made. Today, ANZAC Day is a day honouring people that played a part in all the wars like a North American Remembrance Day. 2015 was the 100 year anniversary of the ANZAC troops in Gallipoli so it became a big deal in the media. As a result, lots of people assembled at memorials all over Australia and New Zealand. This morning, just before dawn, New Plymouth also had a large turnout and I came away with a night sketch.

Apr 20, 2015

St Andrew's Syndrome

In 2009, St Andrew's was the location of the first ever Taranaki Sketchers sketchcrawl. (This was back when the group was just Scott and Paul!) Due to the misleading and deceptive height of the tower, it was found to be difficult to fit the building to a page without cutting off the top or distorting and shrinking the overall drawing. Since then, if a local sketcher can't fit a subject on a page or squishes the image to contain it, it is said around here that the drawing may be suffering from St Andrew's Syndrome.
I don't believe that I've given the original location a try yet, so when we were invited by the church to draw their home, I was curious to see if I would experience the phenomenon. It turned out that the affliction started to develop! I cured it by constantly turning pages. What you see here is a completed fifth start.

Apr 4, 2015

Fernery in Pukekura Park

A good place to practice drawing plants of all type is in Pukekura Park's Fernery. Didn't know about the weather last weekend so felt safe inside the glass roof.

Apr 3, 2015

Chaos in town on WOMAD Weekend

New Plymouth was pretty busy on WOMAD weekend. Lots of world music fans from all over came to town to see the festival. In all fairness though, the people of Taranaki love their cooked breakfasts and coffees and this cafe is chaos EVERY weekend.

Mar 2, 2015

Fresh Prints of Bel Airs

Americarna, the American Car Festival was in New Plymouth last weekend. Again, the CBD was closed down and became a classic car show. Angela and I found a shady bit with a view between two blocks of cars. Half way through our drawings, we realized that we were drawing the same type of car... a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air! 
(Car Nerd Info: The 2nd car behind my Bel Air is a 1960 Chevrolet Impala.)

Feb 22, 2015

Starting a kete

Our local group went to sketch a traditional Māori weaving workshop at Te Wānanga O Aotearoa Rangiātea. To others not from New Zealand, this is the art of weaving flax fibres into objects such as a pouch, basket (kete) or even clothing. Also, what is known as flax here is not the common Northern hemisphere variety that is known as linseed which is used for its seeds, oil or fibres to make linen. The New Zealand flax grown here is known for its long and firm stringy leaves. In the past, ropes of NZ flax were used on ships and were the strongest that you could get... but back to the weaving!
Māori weaving is traditionally a passed-down skill but these days is often taught in classes. It really is an art and getting together to prepare the long fibres with family and friends is very social. The group of people weaving were catching up and talking about their classes. To pass a high level qualification, one has to tightly weave a number of containers that hold water. Everyone weaving all quickly agreed that while it can be done, it is quite difficult.

Feb 9, 2015

Three of a kind

Another hot day in Taranaki avoiding sunburn under a tree and looking out to sea. The three large buildings in the mid-ground are on the same city block. I've always felt like they are related somehow and mentally group them together. Although totally unrelated in usage and architecture, I still to want to group them somehow.
When I finished this one I remembered another drawing I did in 2011 of the same three. Again, drawn together and framed in the same type of tree too. Included below are the original, before digital colouring, and the previous 2011 red pen of the same buildings.