my Christmas Card


I wasn’t sure if I’d get one finished this year – after working on those Calendar months to finish up the 2017 DBSL Calendar my eye was tuned to look for more complicated scenes.  The past few weeks have run along at a pretty insane clip if I am to be honest.  In any event, I came home last Tuesday and gave myself an hour on the couch to relax.  I was looking up at a set of older paintings from 2014 that are hanging on our living room wall and thought of one of them, I could re-do that one in a Christmas theme.  So that’s exactly what I did.  It was a nice small piece to get me back to sketching again too.

I’m about to start my last week of work for the year.  This Friday we head to Rossland to be with Frank’s family for Christmas.  I’m looking forward to the time away, for the change in routine and time to work on hobbies.  I asked for several new sketching books for Christmas and have visions of hours tucked in reading through new books and working on new sketches.

I have a few goals for my art in place for 2017 – hopefully there will be some fat pockets of time to start exploring some of them in the coming weeks.

Happy holidays, I hope for anyone reading that you have some slower periods these next few weeks to enjoy some time to yourself!

2017 Calendars are here!


Hello everyone!

After hours of painting and then even more hours in Photoshop and InDesign, I am thrilled to announce that the 2017 Calendar is now LIVE in my Etsy store!  This is the fifth year of production, which I cannot believe.  There are probably a thousand quotes applicable to this moment, but to try to summarize succinctly I’ll go with this:

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it.  The time will pass anyway.”    - Earl Nightingale

Five years have gone by since I started Design by Streetlight?  Wow.

The link to my store is at the top of the site or right here.  We’ve got the Classic 8×10″ Calendar stocked and ready to go, AND this year we are introducing a new size!  Full sheets at 11×17″, with a proper full month calendar below to write in appointments, track events and note down schedules as needed.  This idea came to me last year as I was searching for a calendar for our kitchen.  There was an absolutely beautiful calendar sitting in Indigo, but it didn’t have proper calendar months.  I reluctantly returned it to the shelf but thought to myself, I should change this on my calendar for next year!  So there it is.


I hope your year has been fabulous and that as it winds down you can find moments of peace against the chaos that is the holidays.  For me, I’m feeling the wave of accomplishment as we send the 2017 Calendar off to the presses.  I can clear my desk both literally and figuratively and dive back into drawing again!

Merry Christmas!



1st Urban Sketchers Calgary meetup


Back in July I joined up with a few other people for our first Calgary Urban Sketchers meetup!  It was fantastic.  I stumbled onto the community about a year ago and wondered how I could have possibly missed out on it all this time.  Calgary didn’t have a group set up at that time, and I debated on getting something started by myself, but the decision was taken off my hands when another wonderful individual decided to go ahead and get the ball rolling.  His name is Ernest and you can see his work here.  There were four of us for this first meet up and it was fantastic!  I was in the company of total strangers and we had so much to talk about!

We met for coffee at Higher Ground in Kensington, then found a set of benches to sit together and sketch on.  We were together for about two hours.  We talked about our processes, and I got to learn more about fountain pens – something I’ve been debating on purchasing for myself but hadn’t done any research on yet.

What was great about the Urban Sketch meet up was the support and the company.  It helped me stick to what I was drawing.  For someone newer just starting out who might be a little less confident, it was great to have other people there that you could discuss approach with.  We all had different takes on how to work on our drawings too.

Here’s a shot of the outcomes of our first session together: IMG_5449


We wandered Kensington together for a bit afterward, and then I settled onto the benches looking out over the 10th Street bridge into downtown.  I’d just finished reading Gabi Campanario’s Urban Sketcher’s Guide to Architecture and Cities, and wanted to try framing in a scene while sitting on site.

It came out like this:


Not too shabby I thought!  Less heavy on paint than normal but for an early sketch I was pretty pleased with it.  I do want to get more practice with overall cityscapes and I’m finding it’s that balance of too much to too little detail on all the buildings that I need to play with.

Thanks for stopping in!

some people practice



Hi!  Sorry this image is not an ideal size for a blog post – it’s so long it had to be sized to fit the blog I suppose!

So in the interest of getting better at capturing people I went down to the C-Train platform on Parade Day to catch parade goers leaving the route.   It was great practice sitting on a bench and drawing as quickly as I could while people waited for the train.  They were relatively stationary, brightly dressed, and not really aware of me there at all.  Paint was added the next morning, over coffee, in the brightness of my home study.

I did garner a little attention while working on this, both on the C-Train platform and after it was posted to Instagram.  While on the platform I had a relatively intoxicated man offer to show me his own artwork.  I just responded with saying ‘Sure!’ and then turning back to my stuff and he ambled away relatively quickly.  For times like this, I’m finding keeping my headphones in is pretty effective in letting me focus on what I’m doing and avoiding (to a small extent) being distracted by onlookers.

The next bit of attention was much more welcome!  Calgary Arts Development saw my post on instagram thanks to me using their hashtag #YYCLCL to show my creative living in Calgary.  They are going to feature the instagram image on their blog for August!  It made me very excited — and then immediately made me wonder the last time I’d posted on my own blog.  Oops.

At least I have a backlog of images to post.  I’ve just been having so much fun burying myself in sketching that I’ve given no thought to posting it on the web.  Instagram is so great for sharing work instantly – no pun intended.

Thanks for stopping by!

Urban Sketching along Riverfront Avenue

I thought it would be fun to share some of my progress sketches to show a bit of my process as an extension of what you can typically see of my finished work on Instagram.

Summer is in full swing now and I have been taking more steps to get outside, get over my shyness of drawing in public, and get into drawing on site more than from a reference photo.  First thing I have to say about it is this: Urban Sketching is addictive!  Its a bit of a rush doing it on site, and actually, shorter pockets of time seem to make me a little more effective.  I have been carrying my smaller sketchbook with me (Moleskine A4 – which in plain english is 8 3/4″ by 11 3/4″) and I’m finding the sketch size is starting to adapt to the size of the page.  I have an even bigger book (11 3/4″ by 16 1/2″) which I tend to keep closer to home but who knows, maybe one of these days I’ll drag that one out on site to see how big I can comfortably go.

To start:



The scene.  There is a wonderful pathway I walk on my lunch hour some days to get out of the building.  It was just put in a few years ago, and it still smells of fresh mulch and the river which is a welcome scent, always.  It’s just on the edge of Chinatown and I’ve looked down the street at this angle SO many times thinking how impossible it would be to capture that.  But what a view, no?  The Chinese Cultural centre right at the end is this great focal point, and the Element on First building just went up in the last year or two as well.

Twenty minutes on the grass with sketchbook and pencil got me here:


I know it’s a little hard to see.  The pedestrian walk sign helped me frame in the buildings, and the curb framed in the lower part of the scene.  This took me to the end of my time on my lunch break so I stopped here and went back to the office to finish out the workday.  I should also note that there was a guy in construction gear napping in the shade about ten feet away from me over his lunch break (I assume!).  This would normally have been enough of a deterrent for me in the past to be able to sit down and sketch like no one was watching.  I had to remind myself if he can nap there comfortably, I can sketch there too!

Once home:


I could start the inking process.  I decided to move the height of the pedestrian sign upward to frame in the buildings a little better.  Cars and people were added in for scale.  I’m getting more comfortable and enticed with cars.  As for drawing people? I feel like I’ve unlearned all of my previous fashion illustrations skills and now need to relearn how to draw their movement with adequate but not overbearing features.  Moving right along…


Adding in darks.  This part I struggle with, as I suspect do most of us starting out.  I’m really happy with the dark emphasis I ended up putting into the dome tower for the finished piece – but at this stage of the game I couldn’t fully embrace it.  Teachers in the past would suggest squinting at the scene to see darks stand out more, but ultimately you have to make the call.  Essentially what you are doing with dark stretches is remove minor details to draw attention to bigger features.  I find for myself trying to get it to look like something out of an old comic book is a good end point for my first pass with adding in blacks.

Next up: Paint!


My favourite Urban Sketcher always says to paint the sky first.  This is still a process in learning and experimenting for me as I try to figure out wet in wet washes vs. allowing hard brushstrokes to show.  I’ve also really embraced the splatter technique at this point.   I love that it contributes to a looseness in the scene.  ’Make messy’ has been my motto of late.  Messy is much more preferable to me these days than perfection.  I think it looks better and it’s so much more fun to do.

To recap, pencil sketching was a 20 minute on site process over my lunch hour on Thursday.  Inking with blacks took place at home Thursday evening in two sessions, 20 minutes while dinner was cooking and probably another 30 to finish up between dinner and an evening workout.

The first stretch of color above was added in Friday morning.  I am extremely lucky to be able to work from home a few times each week.  I log into work at seven, and have made it a habit to set the coffee maker for 6AM every day.  This way I am out of bed at six regularly, and on telework days I have just shy of an hour to get some creative time in.  What a difference it makes in a day – trust me!  At seven AM I had to log into work. I left the sketchbook on the floor beside me, open to this page to wink at me throughout the workday.  It allowed me to process where to add colour next and to plan out finishing the scene.



The end result.  This took about an hour after work to bring it from the image above into the finished piece.  You can see the added blacks along the left tower – that’s what my eye is drawn to first when I look at this scene.

This stuff is SO much fun for me.  There absolutely existed a large stretch of life where I would have thought ‘I could never do that’.  And now I can.  The entire process on this thing was probably between 3 and 3.5 hours start to finish.  Finding a solid 3.5 hour stretch in any day is hard.  Finding 20 minutes over lunch, and another twenty while boiling rice and broccoli, and then another 40 minutes in which I could have been sleeping but was instead slapping paint on a page is doable.  This is what I remind myself.

I’ll put the finished piece up in my Etsy shop for purchase and I want to get a print for myself to hang in my cubicle at work.  I’m really happy with this one!

Thanks for following along!