Lately my travels brought me to Quadra Island in Canada. For a long time I have dreamed of being in remote Canada. It’s the water and the mountains that always looked so dramatic.
As a mentality, Canada reminded me a bit of France in that I didn’t feel the need to think about the problems of my own country on a near-constant basis. There are other worlds out there! This is the gift of travel.
I stayed at this Air BnB where there was a farm with sheep and a rooster that crowed every morning. I chatted with the owner, Sandra, for a bit. I tried to imagine her life out here, how she ended up on this remote island in Canada and was making it work. Her sweater seemed to be made from the sheep’s wool. She was a very nice lady.
Since I was on Quadra Island as part of a company retreat, we did an art workshop which was a bit like musical chairs with art. You’d work on a painting for two minutes and then switch to a new canvas, one that your teammate had just worked on. It was very fun, and non-competitive, with some of my coworkers saying that I should only be allowed to use my feet to draw. I was happiest with my contribution to the above piece where the solider is reading a letter.
To see some sights around Quadra we went on a boat tour where the first couple hours were a blur of rain and cold. I don’t think I’d been that cold since being in Leadville. Islands materialized out of cold mists, and I’d never felt so lost. Our lives were plainly in the hands of the tour guide. I started to begin thinking how anyone ever settled the region. How did anyone get anywhere with these steep cliffs plummeting into the sea?
During September the upper Vancouver islands breathe mist, and on the water in an open speedboat the wind just seared. After a couple hours of searching for whales, we finally found these sea lions:
Eventually we did find some killer whales which I tried to photograph, badly, until giving up and deciding to just watch them surface. Occasionally the killer whales would pop out of the water with just their head, I had no idea what they were doing.
At the ferry on the way back to Vancouver, I bought a Canadian Vogue since it had Jennifer Lawrence on the cover, and started drawing these two space-cowgirlesque models. I loved how they had Cowboy-Bebop bright colors in Western patterns. They looked like they belonged in their own mini series. I probably look like a logical person on the surface but I love fashion magazines and get obsessed very easily.
The ferry ride was a couple hours so I knocked out this drawing of a Fendi model as well. After drawing digitally for a long time, it felt good to get back to real pen and ink. For these I use just a felt tip pen for the black and a Copic marker for the blue.
Before catching a flight from Vancouver to Toronto, we had a bit of time to kill in Vancouver and found ourselves near Vancouver film school / Gastown, where I saw this Stupid Sexy Flanders graffiti - it was among my favorite things I’d seen on the whole trip, and probably my favorite graffiti of all time. Everyone passing by looked at it.
Keeping up with my Jennifer Lawrence fangirl theme I watched Red Sparrow on the plane, which was probably not a good choice since I was the middle seat and I felt bad that the people next to me had to watch JLaw brutalize naked people in showers. Not sure how that movie passed as approved onto the playable list for Air Canada but oh well - It was pretty good. I followed up by watching Thor: Ragnarok, where the ‘It’s My Birthday’ part almost killed me. No matter how many times I see that movie it will probably always murder me with laughter. The flight from Vancouver to Toronto is almost long enough to watch both Red Sparrow and Thor: Ragnarok but you’ll only get to the wolf on the rainbow bridge part of Thor: Ragnarok.
By the last flight from Toronto back to D.C. I was so wiped out that everything became a metaphor. I was feeling too shy to draw people around me, so I found a Vogue Knitting magazine at the Toronto airport and started drawing the advertisements.
I tried to keep to myself while making these. There was a lady sitting at the gate near me having a fight with her 21-year old daughter, and another lady tried to calm her down. “You should practice mindfulness” the lady advised the upset lady. They were both in their 50s. I myself had no idea what to tell the lady who was having a fight with her adult daughter. The lady was upset that her daughter wasn’t grateful. I thought to myself that you should never expect anyone to be grateful to you, or you’ll be disappointed. I wish I had said this but I never say half of the things I think. I sat like a captive witness, they felt like people in a play.
When life feels like art that is when I know it’s either a good trip or it’s time to sleep.
After setting out from Quadra at 8 AM the previous day, we made it back to D.C at 8 AM. I crawled through DCA to the Yellow Line, the metro spirited me back to Maryland. I caught an uber with a 5-star rated fellow who’d done over 5,000 rides, Jesus stickers adorning his dashboard. On the armrest of the passenger seat he’d arranged stickers that said “GOD IS LOVE”. It reminded me of the only moment I could remember from a Henry Miller book (Tropic of Cancer? Oh god, I don’t know) where someone finds a graffiti that says “GOOD NEWS: GOD IS LOVE”. Once I got home I played Earthbound, fighting birds with sunglasses and hypnotizing snakes, then went to sleep.
A couple days later I made a painting of Hyacinthe Bay at Quadra Island:
I’ll make a few more. It was a very beautiful place.
It was the second oil painting I’ve made in a while after busting a gut at Tilted Sun, which also is getting pretty interesting lately.
The other oil painting I made was this one of the Kingdom of Zeal from Chrono Trigger - I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to pick up the paints lately, but it’s been rarer this year.
Between real islands and imaginary ones, until next time.