Sunday, January 29, 2012

Break Forth Canada 2012

Before the main assembly
 This weekend was Break Forth Canada 2012, a huge Christian conference (advertised as 15 000 attendees) taking place locally here in the city, at the Shaw Conference Centre (and other nearby venues).
This has been the third time that I have attended this widely successful event, and although spiritually and mentally exhausting, the whole series of worship assemblies and sessions always leaves me invigorated, encouraged, and excited in my faith... 

The main assembly Saturday night, with Anne Graham Lotz speaking to a crowd of thousands

Tony Campolo speaking at a session
Joe Amaral speaking at City Centre Church
City Centre Church, formerly the Paramount Theatre

Tony Campolo speaks, this time at the main assembly
At a session presented by Gary Thomas

Robin Mark, on worship leading

Friday, January 27, 2012

evening bus ride

an evening bus ride home after work.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

the kids paint together

The kids painted together for the first time, and I got in on the action. This is perhaps my first time using a larger pad of watercolour paper with a larger brush (my daughter usually gets the privilege of using these), and it was very freeing.

winter tree

What began as an intent to sketch a few character homes ended up as a sketch of a tree covered in snow. With the weather now fluctuating to slightly above zero, this snow will soon disappear.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

story time

Story time at a pre-school class... my daughter is in there somewhere, finally overcoming her shyness and getting in on the action. Momotaro was one of the stories yesterday.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

the cold commute on the bus

It's been a frigid week, with temperatures down to minus 31C. Rather than take the train this morning, I rode the bus all the way to the office to avoid the 5 minute walk downtown. A green scarf and pink hair add some colour to an otherwise drab, cold and bumpy bus ride...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

kabocha blushing

My efforts in getting used to the combination of gasenshi paper and gansai paints continue... this time I was drawn to the colour variations of kabocha squash I bought at the local T&T store. Each one has its own character and personality, more so than most other vegetables in the produce section. These small and round kabocha seemed to be blushing, and I found their apparent modesty rather cute.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

precast concrete plant

Some industrial buildings nestled behind a major roadway create some interesting miniature skylines on this bleak and cold winter day...

the dead of winter arrives

My son naps on our bed after a trip to the library...
Apart from an early cold spell in November (down to the minus 30s Celsius), Edmonton has had a very warm winter. It had actually gone up to plus (plus!) 7 or 8 degrees a few weeks ago... but the real thing is upon us yet again, which means an extra 15 minutes preparing the kids, warming up the car, etc. etc.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

green anjou pears

 I am fighting jetlag, and am up at 3am sketching pear after pear after pear...

These are some of the results as I opened up a set of gansai (顔彩, Japanese paints) that I bought for the first time a few weeks ago, and I used them on different kinds of paper: a regular sketchbook that takes watercolours, a Muji comic strip pad that doesn't , and gasenshi (画仙紙, a type of Japanese art paper) that lets colours bleed. Gasenshi seems most often used nowadays  for etegami, which my mother used to create with coloured pencils and send the old fashioned way. I've not used gasenshi before, and rather enjoyed the way colours bleed together (something I haven't yet been able to exploit...)

These pears will become a compote some time this afternoon, using my mother's favourite recipe...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

cartoon strip paper

Muji (無印良品)in Japan sells some interesting items despite its deliberate low key aesthetic, including tiny pads of paper intended for drawing comic strips... I bought one thinking that the little squares would force me to think a little differently, drawing things as thumbnail sketches and nothing more.
(Going onto their website, I was surprised to find that they now sell houses as well.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Village Vanguard PAPA: The "Exciting Bookstore"

"EXCITING BOOK STORE," read the bright neon sign tacked onto an otherwise bland and utilitarian building in suburban Nagoya.

Skeptical, I walked in to this local "bookstore" through a set of unceremonious doors, and found myself in a different world, with the thought "this is an exciting bookstore..." rushing through my head.

Amongst the strategically located shelves of books (many of them from smaller publishers), there was a cacophony of various quirky, sometimes kitschy, and usually sensible merchandise, ranging from clocks, bags, shirts, hats, keychains, stationery, CDs and DVDs, and an assortment of objects one didn't even know existed, all displayed from floor to ceiling in a rather haphazard way. Categories of items meld from one to the next, along with the sounds of different genres of music playing from little portable stereos, again placed strategically throughout the place; you can get lost in the intimate and maze-like setup, surrounded by interesting stuff, stuff, and more stuff...

I ended up buying two hats for myself that were much more colourful than what I would usually be comfortable wearing.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

near Isshya Station, Nagoya

Two quick sketches by Isshya Station in Nagoya while I wait for a ride... 

by the main arterial road, 
at a local convenience store...

Interesting seeing some of the minute changes since the Google Streetview images were taken...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

the baths at Centrair

 In a previous post from September,
I mentioned that there was an onsen at Centrair (technically it is a sentou, or a bath house).

This time around, I had the time to give the place a try. As a modern facility it lacks the charm of a more traditional bath, but has a great view of the tarmac, Ise Bay, and on a clear day, Mie Prefecture beyond. The panorama includes the large cargo vessels quietly and gently moving across this major maritime shipping route which, as shown here, can be a thing to contemplate. (Incidentally, the Port of Nagoya is Japan's largest and busiest).

This also marked for me the first time sketching in the nude.

samurai armour

 ... a final post on a series of sketches from Nagoya Castle...

There's a display of various items related to the warrior class of the time Nagoya Castle was in use as a military stronghold, including this impressive 1847 set of armour. It is referred to as a "go-mai-dou gusoku", denoting that the torso piece is a 5 piece type.

Each year, on May 5th, "Children's Day" is celebrated in Japan. Typically associated with boys (whereas March 3rd, "Hinamatsuri" is associated with girls), families decorate their homes with miniature (but sometimes quite elaborately crafted) versions of samurai armour as a sign of hope that the children will grow strong and healthy.

At my mother's place in Nagoya, I found the one that was bought for me by my grandparents when I was born, and I shipped it back to Canada... hopefully in time for this May 5th, for my one year old son. That is another sketch...

some other items on display... a short sword
a pair of decorated metal stirrups

Friday, January 6, 2012

the long trip...

The trip from Nagoya to Edmonton, door to door, takes a good 23 hours... a taxi ride, a bus ride, three plane rides, and a final car ride home. Travelling alone means a lot of time to kill, which translates into many sketchable opportunities. (I think I had about 30 sheets on this rather long day.) But nothing beats the hugs from the kids that meet me at the end of the journey. 

at Centrair in Nagoya
at Centrair in Nagoya

Narita Airport nearing dusk

at Narita... eating and talking

on the long plane ride
at Vancouver International Airport

an unexpected upgrade on the last leg...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Nagoya Castle: grade 4 pictures

 ... continued from this last post...

Outside the reconstruction site, some lively paintings of Nagoya Castle by grade 4 students at Habashita Elementary School close by adorn a wall. I am struck by the variety and purity of interpretation... there is much to learn from these.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Nagoya Castle revisited

southeast turret

 ... continued from this post...

Most of the original structures have been lost in the air raids of 1945, but one can get a sense of the complex defensive arrangement of walls, moats, and structures that were placed around the tenshukaku. Above the elegantly curved stone retaining walls, all wood members were fully fireproofed with plaster (including the eaves... apparently it was more important to build the soaring, detailed rooflines and risk conflagration than get rid of them...) The current tenshukaku was built in 1959 and has a concrete frame and foundation, but its exterior is faithful to the original timber structure.
Nagoya Castle tenshukaku (main keep)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hommaru Palace reconstruction site at Nagoya Castle

 A few days ago I had the opportunity to visit Nagoya Castle for the first time since grade 6.

What excited me the most was the Hommaru Palace reconstruction site, where I spent a good hour or more sketching and observing the exquisite craftsmanship and care taken in building an important cultural artifact. What can`t be expressed here is the soothing (and magical, almost spiritual) aroma of wood that fills this indoor site...