Journey Around The World – Etosha National Park, Namibia

Travel Sketching, Trip Around the World 2013

Driving through Etosha Pan in Etosha National Park, Namibia          August 24, 2013

After leaving the Okavango Delta in Botswana we headed west to Namibia and Etosha National Park.  Etosha National Park is one of Namibia’s largest wildlife parks and contains with in its boundarys what is known as Etosha Pan which is a salt flat left over from a long dry lake bed in the Kalahari Basin.  This is a great place to see animals in the dry season as they stay close to the watering holes.

I was able to do a lot of sketches while we were there. These sketches were done mainly in coloured pencil that I reworked back home in my studio with the help of photographs Lyn and I took.  Drawing and painting wild African animals has been a huge departure from painting Canadian Landscapes but I believe that as an artist it doesn’t really matter what the subject is as long as you feel passionate about what you are painting and drawing. As someone once said a picture has to pass through your heart first before you should paint it.

With this idea in mind we camped that night inside of the park in a camp ground which is protected by a high fence and so we didn’t have to worry about the sound of roaring lions in the middle of the night.  After dinner we walked a path that took us to a watering hole where we could watch the animals come down to drink.  With my sketch book I drew black rhino’s just as the sun was setting.  I think that I would be hard pressed to find anything more interesting than that.  They also made good subjects as they didn’t move too much.


Journey Around The World – Bolivia

Travel Sketching, Trip Around the World 2013

Driving South from La Paz  to the Uyuni Salt Flats           July 19 to 24th, 2013

After leaving Puno, Peru on the shores of Lake Titicaca we headed south into Bolivia through the high arid plains known as the altiplano.  We spent a couple of days in La Paz, which is considered the highest capital city in the world at 11,975 feet. We stayed at a small hotel in the central area of the city and made up our own walking tour as we went.

The Witches Market also known as La Hechiceria was really interesting in that they sold witch craft supplies with lots of obscure and strange products necessary to carry out traditional spiritual rituals from the Aymara world. Dozens of vendors line the streets and sell everything from dried frogs, snakes, owl feathers, llama fetus as well as the usual things like post cards and key rings.  Good times.

While I was in La Paz  I read a book called “Marching Powder”, by Rusty Young;  A true story of friendship, Cocaine and South America’s strangest jail. If you are planning a trip to La Paz this book is a cautionary tale and will give you an interesting perspective on drug smuggling and prison life in Bolivia. You can also visit this prison which is now officially closed.

Back on the road to the Uyuni Salt Flats we ran into a road block in Oruro that lasted for about twelve hours which offered me the opportunity to sketch and paint.  When the road finally opened again it was getting dark and so we pulled over to a road side stop to camp for the night. In reality it was more or less a garbage dump and make shift memorial for unfortunate travelers.  I normally only post pictures of my art work for this blog but sometimes a photograph tells the story better.

The salt flats at Uyuni are the largest in the world at 4,086 square miles.  We spent a day driving on the flats and for the most part it looks like snow.  A popular tourist  excursion is to drive to Incahuasi “island” in the center of the salt flats. The island is covered in very large cactus and offers a really good vantage to see the salt flats from a higher view point.  The sketch I did of the Cemetery of Trains was inspired from this day trip.  It is a place very close to Uyuni and unique in its own way.  It seems like the kind of place Pink Floyd would have used for an album cover.

Journey Around The World – Lake Titicaca, Peru

Travel Sketching, Trip Around the World 2013

Home Stay on Amantani Island, Lake Titicaca, Peru       July 17, 2013

Our trip to Amantani Island started with a day at Puno which is a city on the shores of Lake Titicaca in southern Peru. We found that it was very cold at night even though it was July.  This is in large part due to the altitude of 12,507 ft.
Arranging a home stay on Amantani or Taquile Island can be done easily from Puno.  This was an amazing cultural experience that was another high light of our time in  Peru.  This was also another great opportunity to sketch and gather material for future paintings.

On Amantani Island we stayed at Isabel’s Bed and Breakfast.  There were no cars on the island and so the absence of cars was quite a pleasant experience.  People live a traditional life style of fishing and farming the land. This was another one of those places I could go and paint for the summer that is like going back in time.  It reminded me of the Mediterranean in that it was arid and rocky, plus it was hot during the day.  At the time that we were there they were building a hospital on the island and so things may have changed a little since our visit.

As part of this excursion we spent the following day exploring Taquile Island as well as visiting The Uros, a group of 42 man made islands inhabited by the Uru people.  The islands are made out of totora reeds and have to be replenished with more reeds as they only last for about 3 months in the water. This is the big tourist attraction on Lake Titicaca and is a fascinating place to visit.


Journey Around The World – Machu Picchu, Peru

Travel Sketching, Trip Around the World 2013

A Day To Remember At Machu Picchu                July 13, 2013

We boarded a bus this morning at 5:30 am, a short ride to the top of the steep mountain road where Machu Picchu is.  We arrived just as the sun was coming up, and we were able to see an amazing view over the valley.

As an artist I felt like a little kid having a birthday; the opportunity to paint and sketch in a place like this does not happen as often as I would like. The day went by rather quickly and I managed to get a couple of watercolor sketches done.  I also took a lot of reference photo’s in the hope that I would be able to paint some pictures back in my studio.

The sketches I have posted here were all done in my studio almost a year after visiting Machu Picchu.  Sometimes I will do multiple sketches together on one page.  I find that making a collage of pictures together makes a good trip souvenir and is a fun way to do preliminary drawings.


Painting and Sketching On The Sunshine Coast, British Columbia

Plein-Air Painting, Sketching, watercolour painting

One of my favorite painting trips each year is to the Sunshine Coast which is just north of Vancouver, BC.  In past years while I was still working full time as a chef, a couple of weeks away from the grind of cooking was an opportunity to sketch quietly by the lake or in the woods.  Now that I am working full time as an artist I guess I can say that this is a chance to get away from my studio and just paint.

The sketches and paintings shown below were all painted on location with the exception of the watercolor of the cedar tree which was done in my studio. Over the years I have done a lot of sketches up at this cabin and these pictures are just a small sample of the last twenty three years.  For me this place has given me a lot of inspiration and the opportunity to experiment with my art work.

Spending Time In The Forest

Plein-Air Painting, watercolour painting

This week I wanted to share with you some of my recent paintings and sketches from the forests here on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. I find that I paint in different styles depending on the subject matter and where I am.

If I am on the road and sketching in a city with lots of people around my working style will be more about line work and simple watercolor washes. The private side of my self is saying “This is great!, I love this, but lets get this done quickly and get out of here”. When I am out in a forest or any place in nature where there are less people I tend to work in a slower more methodical way.

Producing art by its very nature is a solitary process and for me I can settle down into a longer working session with less distractions and delve deeper into the subject matter when I am out in nature.

The picture of Salal bushes in the forest at the top of this post I spent all afternoon painting. It is very easy to get lost in the moment and do this.


Journey Around The World – Cuenca, Ecuador

Travel Sketching, Trip Around the World 2013

A Day in Cuenca                     June 21, 2013

After leaving Banos, we drove south through the Andes to Cuenca, which would be our last stop before arriving in Mancora, Peru.

Cuenca is a city of around 260,000 people that has become a very popular place to retire.  Our impression of Cuenca is that it  would be an easy place to live with plenty of cheap restaurants, beautiful colonial architecture, museums and a national park near by for hiking and exploring.

I managed to do some simple sketches while in Cuenca.  The sketches were all done in black pen and I gave them simple watercolor washes later on.  I don’t always find it easy to sketch in public but that is the nature of the beast.

Sometimes I meet local artists as a result of sketching out doors and so this can be a rewarding exchange of thoughts and experiences.  Once I settle in to the place I am sketching I tend to be too busy to notice or care about people looking over my shoulder. All of my out door sketching practice in South America would be a good  warm up for painting and drawing in India, but that is another story down the road a bit.


Journey Around The World – Banos. Ecuador

Travel Sketching, Trip Around the World 2013

Waterfalls and Hot Springs                         June 18, 2013

As we were leaving Tena we stopped along the way to go caving.  This was a mud filled adventure climbing up through a cave with very little light with a stream flowing through it and bats to keep us company.  We were covered in mud by the time we got back to the truck and so when we arrived at our camp site near Banos we were happy to have a warm shower.

Banos or Banos de Agua Santa (Spanish for Baths of Holy Water) is a tourist town in the mountains on the edge of the Amazon Jungle known for thermal hot springs located around town.  There are also over sixty waterfalls in the area.  We stayed here for a few days and explored the town site and hiked to Pailon del Diablo or Devil’s Cauldron which is an amazing waterfall worth visiting.

While on this trip we were looking for places that we would come back to and stay for an extended period of time.  Banos is like a tropical version of a mountain town and I would love to go back there and stay for a month or two.


Weed Painting Challenge

Plein-Air Painting, watercolour painting

I thought that this week I would take a break from posting about my journey around the world in 2013.  In real time I am working on new watercolor paintings everyday.  I decided to enter into another on line challenge about painting weeds in their outdoor location.  Painting outdoors is a very different experience compared to studio work.

In the studio I have the luxury of stopping whenever I need to.  I can use a hairdryer to dry my watercolor painting and most important I have a comfortable chair.  The biggest advantage to painting in the studio is that you can control every aspect and stage of the painting with in reason.

This painting challenge on face book is hosted by James Gurney, author, illustrator and an exceptionally talented artist.  His out door painting studies are an inspiration to many artists at different stages in their development. To see his blog and the Weed Painting Challenge you can go to and look for weed painting challenge in the index.

The title of my picture is Persicaria and Driftwood and was painted by the Fraser River in Richmond, BC. just a few miles from home.


A Journey Around the World – Banff, Alberta, Canada

Travel Sketching, Trip Around the World 2013

The Castle in the Rockies, Banff.                       May 18th, 2013

We were back on the trans Canada Highway heading east to Banff, Alberta today.  Lyn and I lived in Banff from 2000 to 2004 and so as we are driving along past so many familiar places it was easy to reminisce about our experiences.

The title of today’s blog is a reference to The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel that was built in the 19th century as one of Canada’s grand railway hotels. It is nestled at the foot of Sulfur Mountain very close to the natural sulfur hot springs and a short walk from downtown Banff. The hotel was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway and was advertised as an international tourist resort.

The watercolor sketch of the Banff Springs Hotel was done on location at a Place called “Surprise Corner” on Tunnel Mountain Drive.  It offers an excellent view of Sulfur Mountain and the hotel. The other two sketches are of Cascade Mountain and The Sawback Range.  The sketch of Cascade Mountain is a less typical view and is usually seen in photo’s as the back ground to a picture of Banff Avenue.  “Rain Storm over the Sawback Range” was also painted on location just west of Banff on the 1A Highway that is a great alternative road to take if you want to go to Lake Louise from Banff.