Friday, January 23, 2015


The sketch-friendly temperatures have continued this week. Two views of the excavation at the MacEwan arts building site... 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

fly forms

It's an unseasonably warm week... warm enough to entice me to sketch during the lunch hour. A short walk takes me to a new construction site (and potentially regular, ever-changing subject matter) at MacEwan University -- the new Centre for the Arts. Some sketches of fly forms stored at staging areas at the edge of the giant site in preparation for some concrete slabs begin what I hope is a series this week.

Monday, January 12, 2015

views from some windows

While sick and stuck at home, some "view from a window" sketches from our house, in the spirit of people like Matisse and Bonnard, without the Mediterranean breezes and cheery sunshine.

Monday, January 5, 2015


I have been sick, confined to resting at home.

Drawing fruit is particularly soothing at such times, and I especially like sketching persimmons. These ones we bought recently do not have the glowing orange colours that make them especially appealing to paint, but the simplicity of the combination of a round smooth mass and a large, brittle remnant around the stalk make them great subject matter for a quick exercise to stay on one's toes. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

the hospital stay: part 4

Some of the last sketches from the hospital, before we were given permission to spend a night at home.... the final stretch towards recovery and discharge.

During my daughter's stay at the hospital, I received a hand crafted Christmas card from a relative, a writer. Accompanying her beautiful lino-cut print was a note, part of which read: "What I do know about art, though, is that its practice is a form of devotion. And this act of devotion is deeply restorative. When I make these cards, I think of God..." I've had the privilege of experiencing just that this Christmas, and I am grateful.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

the hospital stay: part 3

Sketches from the hospital, around Christmas day...

By this time, the nauseousness had subsided but my daughter's appetite had not recovered, and some more IV lines were attached to the pump. Her pain still persisted. In fact, the most memorable moment of Christmas would be the experience of witnessing my daughter, usually stoic in the face of pain, writhing in agony for 3 hours after midnight in the dark hospital bed. The morphine had not helped. Tears streamed down her cheeks, legs kicked about, her body contorted as she repeated the words, "it hurts... it hurts... owe-ee! owe-ee!" And I will never forget the feeling of utter helplessness as my eyes met hers, her gaze desperately begging me to take the pain away. Without hesitation I would have, but all I could do was hold her hand and cry with her. Yet at the height of her misery she would plead, "daddy, pray for me!" She would be the one reminding me of the One who was journeying with us... and whose presence we were to be celebrating on Christmas day.

the hospital stay: part 2

Some of the sketches from our time leading up to Christmas day at the hospital... mostly a time of sleeping (thanks to morphine) interrupted by bouts of pain and nausea...

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

the hospital stay: part 1

What began as (what I thought would be) a 2 or 3 hour visit to the hospital’s emergency care department for my daughter’s intense stomach pain ended up being an 11 day ordeal for us… a case of appendicitis that had deteriorated into a ruptured appendix. We are relieved that she was finally discharged from the hospital this morning, and is now sleeping in her own bed with no IV lines and beeping equipment, no medication, and no pain.

The hospital allowed a parent to stay with their child, and I ended up sleeping on a cot beside my daughter for nine nights (my wife took mainly the day shifts with my son). I sketched my daughter regularly, as a way to fill the hours, deal with my own anxiety, attempt to connect with my somewhat stoic daughter in some fashion, and (I think, in hindsight) pray for healing and offer thanks… I ended up with over 60 drawings of her, in addition to other miscellaneous scenes from the hospital.

Despite the circumstances of a child in agony, Christmas (and most of the holidays) spent in a hospital room, lack of sleep, and general stresses placed upon us, as parents we have come out of the situation with a deep sense of gratitude… for my daughter’s bravery,  resilience, and the chance to witness her strength of character in a new light; for the nursing care and medical attention we received; for the wonderful, warm support lavished upon us by friends, family, and community of faith; for the many anonymous donors and volunteers that helped put a smile on our children’s faces through their philanthropic work; for the opportunity for our family to be united in prayer and slow down at a busy time; for
the memory of a unique Christmas to be remembered by us for decades to come; and the opportunity given to me by my daughter to share with her so intimately this journey of pain and healing. Rather than missing out on something this Christmas, we were enriched in ways not possible in any other way.

Friday, December 26, 2014


Twelve views of my son, watching videos... these were drawn over 2 nights just over a week ago, each not entirely capturing his full resemblance. A series of sketches of my daughter would follow immediately after under rather unexpected circumstances... to be posted soon!

Friday, December 12, 2014

story time

at my son's community play school...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

a short trip to Lethbridge

Lethbridge in the morning... from a hotel room
 I had the opportunity to take a short, one night trip to Lethbridge, Alberta -- my second visit to this wonderful town in southern Alberta, and the first in the winter. The stark, dramatic river valley carved out by the Oldman River is white and gold and beautiful as ever. I had the added treat of being in the passenger seat for the long drive back to Edmonton, allowing me to sketch some highway scenes from Lethbridge through Fort McLeod, Nanton all the way to Calgary.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

gakugeikai (2014)

Scenes from this year's community school Gakugeikai...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

the box

 My son sets up a sleeping spot inside the huge box our new IKEA sofa came in, and insists he sleep in it for the night. There's something profound about this desire, or instinct -- the beginning of architecture! It also reminds me of The Boxtrolls, which we all watched a few weeks ago...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

River of Ice, day 2

The sky cleared up and it was a glorious winter morning... another visit to yesterday's discovery, where slabs of ice have naturally piled on top of one another along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. It was a much colder day, but I decided to make a point of applying washes on site, only to see my paintbrush (and paint) freeze during the process. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

River of Ice

Large chunks of icy snow kept blowing into my eyes and I could hardly see at times, making this morning's bike ride a source of valuable insight into the varied winter conditions one can expect in the coming months. It was well worth it as I discovered slabs of ice piled all along the North Saskatchewan River's shores... I was struck by the thought of the river's immensity, and was reminded of a Romantic era painting I encountered in art history class decades ago... Again, I fought the snow falling and melting on the page as I attempted to sketch the frigid river. I lost the struggle, and attempted to salvage the images by applying washes later at home.