Saturday, December 29, 2012

scenes from an afternoon shopping

The view towards the very busy parking lot (Highway 2 is beyond) from the second floor cafeteria at Ikea by South Edmonton Common, the sprawling and enormous retail power centre that anchors the south end of Calgary Trail/Gateway Boulevard... and another ubiquitous scene in a parking lot.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Won Jung Gak Korean Restaurant

The interior of a Korean restaurant we had lunch at today for the first time. Despite its location in an industrial area and its rather unassuming concrete exterior (it seems like a renovated 1970s warehouse), the interior is full of tasteful wooden furniture complemented by its exposed wood structure and decking, and large glowing pendant lights. The food was great as well.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Eve: winter afternoon

 The last "normal" Christmas spent at home here in Edmonton was in 2007. In 2008 we flew to Ontario, and the subsequent three winter holidays have entailed me travelling alone to Japan to visit with my ailing parents, be by their side, and witness them being called back to be with God in heaven. So this is a particularly special Christmas season for my family as I am able to stay at home. It gives me time to sketch the mid-winter view outside our bedroom window -- an especially peaceful urban scene on this frigid (minus 23 C) but beautiful Christmas Eve. Sketching my daughter asleep also helps me recognize and find peace today.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

gingerbread house

The kids have fun decorating a gingerbread house... surprisingly, they did not eat much of the candies at all.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Alberta Legislature Building

I've been dying to get to the Alberta Legislature building for a lunchtime sketch ever since seeing its distinctive dome shrink wrapped during restoration work, but it's been too cold. From a distance, the light membrane tautly enveloping the scaffolding is quite elegant, especially in the snowy winter city. Today was a mild minus 5 degrees Celsius and sunny. I haven't been here for years...

My watercolours still froze on the palette as well as on paper, which actually added some character to the sky...  Despite the cold it was a pleasant experience, chatting with a few passersby and wishing one another a merry Christmas in a peaceful park setting, while listening to some pleasantly tasteful music over the grounds speaker system.

Monday, December 10, 2012


 Miscellaneous sketches of my daughter from the weekend... eating, drawing, and being taught to write by some older kids.

Seeing her use chopsticks (not too well yet...) transports me suddenly down memory lane, reminding me of the Chinese restaurant my family used to frequent decades ago in Perth, Western Australia, where patrons stared in amazement seeing my sister (then 4 years or so) use her chopsticks with precocious mastery... I hadn't thought about that place for decades, but it's nice to see it still seems in operation.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

late morning bus ride

I don't usually take the bus all the way to work, but a late morning somehow translated into a longer trip on the bus, and I took advantage of the relatively empty ride.

Monday, December 3, 2012


 Various iterations of my camera using various pens...

bamboo pen

 The Sunday morning ritual of my son watching Youtube clips continues yet again today. Today's session is an opportunity to try out the bamboo pens I bought yesterday on an extended outing to an art supply store. I've not used bamboo pens for over 15 years, and the last time I did use them I could not yet appreciate the spontaneity it brought with it. I'm still familiarizing myself with the quirks while adjusting the nib and ink flow (lots of intricate whittling and poking...)  but I'm loving the freedom it brings. It lets me loosen up a bit more... something I need after an unnecessarily intense weekend of Christmas shopping and, more importantly, the beginning of what essentially is the Church year -- Advent.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

pomegranates 2

 Before and after (watercolour, that is...) images of the pomegranates bought a week ago...

Drawing these brings back memories of my childhood in Western Australia; pomegranates were very familiar to us as we had a tree in our back yard. The tree did not yield large fruit, but when we were not casually eating them during our adventures in the neighbourhood, we were incorporating them in a variety of up-to-no-good ways...

Monday, November 26, 2012

tire shop

The back yard of a house is being used as an old tire yard for a tire shop. With the sudden snow and treacherous road conditions these past few weeks, tire places like this must be booked solid...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Enjoy Centre and the Make It! sale

Trying out the hand bound sketchbook (made by this little workshop in Ponoka) bought at the "Make It!" craft show this weekend at the Enjoy Centre in St. Albert. The Coptic binding allows the book to lay flat with hard covers still supporting both sheets, making panoramas more manageable.

Other things bought at the craft show: two wonderfully designed calendars by this illustrator, and a series of postcards by this illustrator.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Gakugeikai (School Festival)

The audience (mostly the younger kids sitting at the front) taking in the class plays that were presented at the our kids' community school...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

pomegranates.. and chestnuts (and a nice surprise)

I picked up some pomegranates at the local store; the real challenge is drawing the bright red seeds inside!

To my surprise I found a lone sketch of some chestnuts that my father did on October 9, 2010 on the very back sheet of the sketchbook I used today. It was likely one of the last sketches (if not THE last) he ever did; he was already very weak at that time. It was one of those contemplative moments as I thought how similar we really were in our choice of subject matter, medium, composition... With the inclusion of my daughter's earlier sketch of some gourds, this sketchbook now contains three generations of drawings. (As an added twist, the day I started using what I thought was a new pad -- October 9 this year during a trip to Banff-- is exactly 2 years since my father's sketch...  I felt like my father and I continue to have some sort of dialogue about our sketches even though he is no longer around!)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

weekend Youtube ritual

 Spending time at the computer letting my son watch his favourite tank engine clips on Youtube has become a bit of a weekend morning ritual for my son and me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

sweet dreams...

 Our five-year-old daughter sleeps, exhausted from another full day.

... her sketch of the gourds from the previous day. I'm impressed by kids' abilities to capture the essence of things.

Monday, November 12, 2012

this year's gourd collection

 Every year for the past few years I've given in to the craving to buy an assortment of gourds. This is what we ended up buying this season. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012


one purely for my kids, who helped put this thing together...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Whyte Avenue panorama

Whyte Avenue on a cloudy winter day...

Mendelssohn's "Elijah" at the Winspear

On a whim, we decided to go and hear Mendelssohn's oratorio Elijah, performed by the Edmonton Symphony, the Richard Eaton Singers, and soloists at the Winspear Centre. Here we wait as some members of the orchestra warm up, while we anticipate the entry of the massive choir...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chucho Valdes Quartet at the Winspear

Some doodles of the legendary Cuban jazz pianist and composer, Chucho Valdes at the piano, with his quartet (bass, drums, and congas)... playing this evening at the Winspear Centre as part of his most recent North American tour.

I first encountered the music of Chucho Valdes in Vancouver in 1998, and it blew me away. Four years later, he was to play in Edmonton (where I had moved), but unfortunately for me, that concert was cancelled at the very last minute. So when I heard that he was playing again at the Winspear Centre this year, I jumped to get tickets.

Monday, October 22, 2012


 Three poses of my son watching more Thomas the Tank Engine clips... unfortunately, these look like three different boys.

As my son (who is two) develops, I am able to relate with him in more interesting ways, and through this am beginning to imagine what my own father must have felt as he saw me grow. But I am surprised to see parts of my father in my son in small gestures, smiles, and eccentricities...which has brought me great comfort. Unbeknownst to him, my son is ministering to me.  

Friday, October 19, 2012

volunteering at a casino

I had to take a day off work to volunteer at a casino on behalf of a school group I am involved with, and this probably marked the first time I had set foot into one. Working in the cash cage (with the vital assistance of a casino advisor) meant seeing a bit of the inner workings of this world, witnessing the hefty amount of money that moves through the establishment, and becoming a bit more familiar with the strange relationship between charity and gambling.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Banff National Park... some more mountains

 More mountain peaks from Banff...

Cascade Mountain, as seen from the town site, and some especially jagged ridges that form the north end of the Fairholme Range, as seen from the main parking area at the entrance to Lake Minnewanka.