Sketching English Bay Beach, Vancouver

Sketching English Bay Beach, Vancouver


This week I went down to English Bay in Vancouver to do some sketching.

I was down there rather early around 9:00am because it promised to be a scorching day and I knew that the beach would fill up soon with people enjoying the good weather.

With coffee and a sandwich and sat on one of the benches on the promenade.

The seagulls were cawing and kids were playing and screaming in the surf.

There were six to eight large vessels lining up to enter the harbor to the right. The ships to be just hanging on the distance horizon.

I particularly wanted to get the background mountains as they had very interesting shades of greys and purples through the haze.

English Bay Vancouver

Field Art Supplies

I took my A6 field sketchbook with me a 2B and a 2H pencil.

These fitted conveniently in my little belt bag and I had my phone with me as well, so I could take some photos.

I had my hat and sunglasses because it promised to be a really hot day this is now the middle of summer in Vancouver and the beach is a popular destination.

Loads of people were jogging along the promenade riding their bikes and pushing their kids in their buggies.

There were still the remains of the Pride parade ribbons which was the previous night.

This was Sunday morning.


I started to sketch out with my horizon line and then the edge of the surf. The sea here is very common at English Bay in Vancouver and the waves just lap at your ankles.

In fact, I’ve never seen a storm on this coast at all, but maybe that’s just because I haven’t been down there when it’s been raining.

Three Sections

Anyhow I did my sketch.

I divided the page into three horizontal bands with the sky, the sea and the sand.

I wanted to make sure to pick up the three distant mountains in the background.

On the far right there was the small curve of a cove which was slightly raised with boulders and had a few fir trees at the edge of the drawing.

There was a huge log of a Redwood tree that the city plonks on the beach for people to sit on and there happened to be one right in front of me, so I just drew it.

There was plenty of people on the beach, but I didn’t add them into my sketch.


I did attempt to show the clouds in the sky.

It was very difficult with just my pencil.

Clouds are subjects that I find challenging to draw.


The sea was mainly low flappy wave and I added plenty of little horizontal lines going across the page indicating the motion of the sea.


For the beach sand, I really drew many dots (and I think it is called pointillism) just to show the texture of the sand.

Although it was very smooth sand, it still had a grainy texture that’s why I tried to express it with dots.


The three areas on my page, the top, middle and bottom the top being the sky with the clouds, the middle being the ocean with the waves little horizontal dashes and then in the foreground the beach with the dots.

There probably are other ways of depicting these textures, but this is where I am in my art journey.

I added a signpost which I couldn’t read that was stuck in the sand.


I did enjoy the hour I sat at the beach. It was glorious fresh air, lovely sunshine and it wasn’t too hot although it was promising to be 28C degrees today.

I didn’t want to be there much longer.

Studio Sketch

When I got home, I made a cup of tea and took a bit of a rest.

Then I got out my perpetual nature journal because this is where I wanted to add this drawing.

To me nature is all the outdoors on the Earth where we live. It is the environment we live in and our relationship within it.

I don’t believe that nature journaling is required zoom in on one little ladybug or a leaf, it can certainly be the landscape around us as well.

With my 2H pencil I just sketched out in the bottom right hand of my August page in my perpetual nature journal.

I sketched out the main structures in this drawing.

I then went over it with a 0.5mm black pen just to give the shapes some form.

Colored Ink

As I am continuing to work with my Windsor and Newton drawing inks as my current favorite medium, I wanted to once more practice working with them.

I used my inks to colour in the sea, the trees, the mountains and the beach.

I was very aware of watering these inks down.

Inks are unforgiving and once you’ve laid them on the page you really can’t move the color.

In this way inks are not at all like watercolors.

I used a very small brush, I think it was a number 4 and slowly added the impression of the landscape that I was drawing.

Black and Grey Pen

After leaving it to dry I went back in with my black pen.

I also had a grey pen just to add some textures to the log to the sand to the water and to the trees in the distance.

Improvement as an Artist

I would like to be a better artist.


I know that if I keep practicing, I probably will be better, but the art I can do today is the best I can do.

I would love to be able to do a pond of waterlilies like Monet, just for the hint of the image in the painting and I do admire his work.

I’m also a huge fan of Van Gogh’s work with all his many brushstrokes.

Hobby Artists and Colored Inks

At the moment I’m still learning art as a hobby artist.

I’m getting better with my pen work and I’m getting a little better with my colored ink work although that still is going to require a lot of effort.

This is probably the fifth painting I’ve done with colored inks, so I’m still learning this medium so very much.

Perpetual Nature Journal

The third thing I’m really starting to enjoy is working with my perpetual nature journal .

Where it becomes an ongoing journal.

This Year

It is divided into twelve months and each month I can do the drawing of that month within the page and date it for the year.

Next Year

Then next year in August I can come back and do another drawing and add it to the August page.

I do believe there is further potential for other types of perpetual journals and I’m looking into that as well.

I do enjoy doing these artworks.

I find it greatly meditative and relaxing.

I believe creating simple art brings mental clarity and this is what I’m enjoying as well.

Vancouver Art Map

Creating an Art Map

I have an art map for all the field sketching I do in and around my local area.

I created it by copying the map from Google and drew the outline of the coast on to a large piece of paper.

I plan to frame my Vancouver Art Map and hang it in my studio one day.


I added this week’s art outing to my Vancouver Art Map.

The position was very close to where I drew the Canada Geese and the Inukshuk pen and ink before.

Clearly, I need to venture farther afield in my sketching life soon.

Aspiring Artist Activity

Take your field sketchbook, some pencils and an eraser and go out to a local beauty spot in your area.

Field Sketch

  • Choose a composition that appeals to you.
  • Sketch it out keeping it simple spend at least 30 minutes on this sketch.

Studio Sketch

  • When you get home crack open your perpetual nature journal and start working either in pen and ink, colored inks or whatever art medium is your favorite now. For example, last year I really thought I was going to become a watercolor painter, but I did struggle with it as it was hard. This year I’ve moved onto colored inks and I’m trying to work with this medium as much as possible.
  • Make sure to enjoy what you are doing.
  • Spend at least one hour on your studio sketch and finish it off the way you like.

Thank you for sharing your day with me,


Alison Hazel

Author Bio: Alison Hazel

Alison Hazel is a hobby artist and she shares her ongoing journey about becoming an artist later in life. She creates simple art that anyone can make. She hopes to inspire you to reach your creative potential in the area that suits you.

Read more about Alison’s story.

Send Alison a quick message.

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