Saturday, July 31, 2010


shadow, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.

as I leave my hometown again for another year, something always remains, as an imprint or shadow.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

a new start, with new marks. Sort of.

new marks, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
In the last while I've been feeling paralyzed when confronted with a blank page, not least because I've been feeling really dissatisfied with my attempts to draw people, either faces or figures.

Part of this is lack of practice, but part is also that I've gotten into a rut. I believe that we make characteristic markings when drawing, in exactly the same way that we have a characteristic way of making letterforms when handwriting. The muscles of the hand move along familiar paths that are as habitual to us as gait, and so naturally these familiar movements cause us to draw in the same way. This seems to be how it works for me, anyway.

So, in an attempt to shake myself up, I thought I'd at the very least change my tools. I normally draw in a small notebook with a pen or mechanical pencil, because that's what I normally have with me when I'm waiting, and I normally draw while waiting. But since it's summer, I pulled out a larger pad of paper, and a pencil I found in my old room at my parents house, and took an entirely different grip, the kind where the shaft of the pencil lies on the inside of your hand. And while my son slept, I quickly got this.

I'm not displeased with it or anything, but even with the change of tools and grip, I still got something that looks an awful lot like this earlier version. Perhaps, because the features of his face are still so familiar to my eye, I can't help coming up with something very similar.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

summer colour

summer colour, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
in answer to Stephanie's question about what drawing stuff one takes on holiday:

aquabee co-mo sketch pad
moleskine cahier (not that I think the paper is great, but the book is just the right size)
no. 12 rhodia gridded pad - I like the fact you can tear sheets out, and it's small enough to fit in a pocket
pigma micron pen
watercolor kit, filled with tube paint, mostly
neocolor II crayons
inktense pencils
a pencil that you can wash, (or whatever they're actually called - you can brush the lines with water)
pentel brush pen

Since I don't really do any heavy-duty finished art, on vacation or indeed at any other time, this is pretty much all I need and certainly versatile enough for me. I pretty much just draw what's around me and colour it in, but I do like having a couple of different types of coloring materials to play with. 

Conspicuously absent is the Exacompta basics sketchbook that I am normally so fond of, but at this time it's half full, and a bit bulky for travel. Also, I wanted to practice using paper I haven't used much lately, in this case the Aquabee Co-Mo sketch pad, which, like the Exacompta, is slightly textured and heavy enough for light washes. That's what everything is lying on in this picture, and if it weren't in a slightly annoying softcover, spiral bound format, I would probably use it a lot more often. I've sometimes thought of tearing the pages out and binding it myself, but that's a whole other project for another time. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bluegrass at sunset

Bluegrass at sunset, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
I was lucky to have again been able to take in a day of the Vancouver Folk Festival, which is just as magical as it was when I first started going in 1981. The old hippies are getting older and greyer, but no less colorful, and there's a certain timelessness to the magic of sunset on Jericho Beach park, illuminating the main stage shell.

I don't actually *love* bluegrass, but it had been a long day, with lots of sun and wandering from stage to stage, along with a visit to the beach and a swim in the (very, very cold) waters of English Bay, so neither I nor my children had any inclination to move to the twilight stage when Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder took to the main stage.

The surreal moment of the evening was when the MC introduced the guy who was going to introduce Ricky Skaggs - "you may know him as a movie actor, but he is also a patron of the arts....etc". Who could it be? We all know that movies get made in Vancouver, but which actor could possibly be here, with sufficient pull - and motivation - to get himself on stage to make an introduction of a bluegrass icon? "Please welcome" the MC went on, "Mr. Stephen Seagal!"

Stephen Seagal? Seriously? at a folk festival? Canadians are polite, Vancouverites hospitable, and Festival goers accepting and inclusive. There was enthusiastic, if somewhat puzzled, applause, from those who were old enough to remember his almost ubiquitous presence in the action movies of the '80s.
Still, why not. If Seagall is a Buddhist, why not a bluegrass fan, a lover of music, and certainly, why not a patron of the arts. It's just more proof that anything can happen at sunset on the third weekend of July on a beautiful beachside in Vancouver.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Holiday yarn

Holiday yarn, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
Yarn doesn't count when you buy it on holiday, and besides just this month I cleaned out my stash and got rid of the horrible novelty yarns (eyelash yarn, boucle, etc) that were taking up valuable room that could be taken up by this instead.

My heart always beats a little faster when my SIL Julie of Valley Yarn asks "do you want to see what I have in right now?". Even if she hadn't given me a beer first I would have still said yes :)

This is all sock yarn - Madeline Tosh in jade, Handmaiden Casbah in Masala (we think) and Fleece Artist Trail Sock in Hemlock. I was going to start winding them, but for now I think I will just keep them in a heap and pat them fondly as I walk by.  Meantime, I'm still thinking about some other skeins of softness I had the chance to pat, and it is unlikely I will make it home without this pile getting a little bit bigger. 

Also, this:

Whisper cardigan, WIP

I started working on this during the World Cup, because you really only want to be knitting stockinette and not taking your eyes off the screen. Finally it is starting to resemble an actual garment, and possibly the softer, squishiest garment I've made yet.

It's Hannah Fettig's Whisper Cardigan, in the Malabrigo Baby Merino I got two summers ago from Julie, and sat in my stash for a while till I found the right project for it. Even after World Cup, it is the ideal project to take on holiday, as it is easy to knit while talking to family, and dead easy stockinette that you can't make a mistake on, not even if your sister has brought out this. Oh, how I love the lower mainland.

Now drinking