Monthly Sketch Outing

Next Monthly Sketch Outing
Sunday, February 19
Seattle Bouldering Project
900 Poplar Pl S
Seattle, WA 98144

10:00 AM till 12:30 PM

See Monthly Outing page for details.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Joining forces at Wintergrass

This was the 4th year running that Urban Sketchers Seattle Friday group sketched at Wintergrass, the bluegrass festival in Bellevue.  However, this year we were joined by a few sketchers from Tacoma!  In fact, most of the sketchers were from Tacoma.
missing Gloria, who left early
missing Gloria, who left early

For some reason, this year I wasn't that interested in sketching musicians jamming in the hallways.  So I took the skyway across the street to sketch "Fiori" the glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly in Lincoln Square.  Behind the spikes of purple glass is a glass panel waterfall that stretches 3 floors high.

I did find one group jamming away and made a quick sketch in the pocket Stillman and Birn Beta.  Both Frances and Beverly sketched this group from opposite sides.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Ikea Opening

This was the day for which we've been waiting!  The new Ikea store opened this morning.  It was built on the site of the parking lot of the old store.  It is 2 stories and is 399,000 square feet.   It has Washington’s largest rooftop solar array on the roof.    More info about the store.

The store was closed on Tuesday to prep for the opening today.  During that closure, local non-profits were invited into the old store to take housewares for their clients.  The value was about $57,000!

I thought I would be late and miss the opening ceremony as I left home later than planned. Not only did I easily find parking, I still had several minutes to wait, even though my arrival was 10 minutes after the scheduled start!  I lucked out. 

While I waited, I sketched in the background of the area for the ceremony. There was no ribbon cutting.  As is supposedly Swedish tradition, a log was sawed for good luck. I quickly added in the store manager and the mayor sawing the log as it barely took a minute!

Since I was there and the line of people waiting wasn't too long, I decided to take a look around.  Everything seemed larger:  the cafe, the warehouse, the number of carts.  They even stock bicycles now! 
Afterwards I sketched a corner of the new, 2 story building. For both sketches, I used the Stillman and Birn softcover Beta pocket sketchbook (continuing to be inspired by Gabi's workshop).

Monday, February 20, 2017

Revisiting the Seattle Bouldering Project


We first gathered at the Seattle Bouldering Project on February 16, 2014, almost exactly three years ago. Here are two similar views from 2014 and yesterday. The second is drawn from a point a little farther back and offers a broader view of the environment.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Seattle Bouldering Project

 I enjoyed seeing all the amazing athletes climbing the walls at SBP.  The strength and agility was awe inspiring.  I have tried climbing walls with ropes before and know that your body is drained of strength as the adrenaline pumps through your limbs, but to do this free climbing is another thing to me.  Quite wonderful to watch and sketch though.

After leaving SBP I headed down to SLU to do a sketch of a building by Sellen Construction that I have been following at 9th & Thomas St.  The showers came in the middle of my sketch, so I had to find shelter to finish.  Just one of the problems of sketching in the winter months in Seattle.

Sketching bouldering

It's been 3 years since we were last at the Seattle Bouldering Project.  Most of those sketching today hadn't been there before.  I had been on that first outing and today discovered they'd added a cafe to the layout.

Staff gave us a safety briefing prior to letting us loose.  He said, "most of bouldering is falling" as he warned us to stay well away from the walls!

As I did last time, I headed for the children's wall.  It has more handholds and crawl spaces.  Also much more noise.  I'd forgotten that as well as my earplugs!  The kids were a little slower on the wall than adults upstairs.  I just waited for another child to make the climb to add to each sketch of a climber. 

Next I joined the line of sketchers on the second floor balcony to sketch the climbers from above.

Sharing out sketches
Sharing out sketches

Life Drawing on Steroids

2/19/17 Lower level

One-minute poses at Gage life-drawing sessions seem like pure extravagance compared to the real-life drawing practice we got today at Seattle Bouldering Project. Urban Sketchers Seattle discovered it was more like one-second poses as people attempted to scale the vertical walls of the practice facility for rock climbers.

2/19/17 Gesture sketches from the upper balcony.
A recreational venue as well as a training facility, Seattle Bouldering is a huge place with multiple artificial mountains for climbers of all ages and skill levels. Scaling the walls like spiders or hanging upside-down like chickadees, most of the climbers fell eventually, too. “Climbing is 90 percent falling,” we were told by Bouldering staff, and I was very happy to be sketching and not participating.

Almost exactly three years ago, USk Seattle visited Seattle Bouldering, and I remember clearly that I didn’t spend enough time warming up with gestural sketches. This time I heeded my own advice and used several pages of my sketchbook doing nothing but small gesture studies with a brush pen. Always looking for Suhita Shirodkar’s “line of action,” I just kept the brush pen moving. The upstairs balcony offered the best view of the high walls where the more experienced climbers were practicing. It was impressive to see these strong, agile people plan and execute each foothold and handhold.

Once I had loosened up a bit, I decided to make a few slightly larger figures and pay attention to shadows. They turned out to be just as challenging as the figures casting them because the light seemed to be coming from all directions.

From the lower level where I could stand nearly at the same level as the climbers’ thickly padded floor, I finally felt ready to take a larger view of both the people and the strangely shaped interior space.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What is my style?

Recently while going through my travel sketchbooks of the last three years, I realize that every one of my sketches is a sum of every other sketch I have seen. 

Here is a little trip down sketchbook lane.

July 2014 South of France

July 2014, I am in South of France and I am clearly copying objects that fascinate me into the sketchbook like a first-time photographer would go snap-snap-snap with his new camera. Well, to be fair to me, it was the first time I was using a sketchbook as my principle apparatus documenti de voyage, having ditched my well-used DSLR

Also if the teacups and pastries on every other page do not give me away already, I am clearly influenced by Liz Steele’s style.

Apr 2015 Jerusalem. We have been allowed to the Temple Mount on our third attempt in as many days. Rhea (age 13, then) has just been reprimanded at the entrance by a burly security guard for leaving her petite forearms uncovered. I find a cool spot in the portico of the Gate of Chains and have been sketching for a few minutes when a group of pilgrims in religious frenzy start shouting slogans in Arabic and advance towards the Dome of the Rock. Elite Israeli commandoes, armed to the teeth and silent as the shadows take strategic positions. The atmosphere is high-strung. Even the unshakeable Rhea is shaken.

By now I have evolved from sketching objects to capturing the story - at least a good part of the story, I think. I have started including outlines of human figures in my compositions after realizing that travel sketches without people make sad-looking travel sketches.

Sunil Shinde Sketches April 2015 Petra Jordan

April 2015 Petra, Jordan. I have been studying David Roberts for weeks in anticipation of painting in locations he painted almost two hundred years ago. I am shamelessly copying the style of the 19th-century artist and traveler - a lightly washed background, local people in colorful garb in the foreground.

Sunil Shinde Sketches August 2015 Serengeti, Tanzania

August 2015, Tanzania. On one hand, the huge A4 sized spread is daunting. On the other, I cannot control where we stop and for how long we stay as Paul, our Masai driver follows the game. Sitting on the roof of the open safari jeep, I switch to “sketch-nnotating”, a technique Gabi Campanario uses very effectively.   As a story-telling apparatus, it works very well (for him.) 

I must admit this is one of my favorite travel sketches ever.  It manages to capture the passage of time on that lovely sultry afternoon on the Serengeti plains like a time-lapse photograph.

Sunil Shinde Sketches Ot 2015 Helsinki Harbor

October 2015, Helsinki Harbor. I paint this scene sitting on the deck a ferry on a crisp bright afternoon. When it comes to style, it is diametrically opposite to the minimalist style I had adopted in Tanzania. I have recently attended a Michael Reardon workshop and am still under the spell of his hauntingly beautiful brushwork, wet paint melding into wet paint creating attractive results.

SUnil Shinde Sketches Oct 2015 Badami Cave Temples, India

Oct 2015 and I am in cave temples of Badami in Southern India. I have been enamored by the sketches made by Frederick Catherwood in the Yucatan in 1840s. I have been longing to sketch like him - sepia tones, intricate details side by side loose studies.

I am leaving my watercolors in the hotel room by the time I am in Cartagena, Colombia in Dec 2015. Not having to paint leaves me with two times as much time with my lines. I am finally able to add recognizable human figures to the two point perspective that Stephanie Bower patiently taught me.

On a cool spring day in Apr 2016, Rhea and I switched twelve trains to get from Mt. Koya to Mt. Takayama in Japan. A comic-style illustration page of that saga was a wonderful exercise in composition. My Japan sketchbook is mostly black and white - Unipin Fineliner pen and paper.

I continued with the monochrome experiment until I could not figure out a way to describe the vivid warmth of the yellow saffron robes of the monks in Chiang Mai in July 2016. So I dabbed a little paint back in the hotel on the composition that is rendered in James Richards’ unmistakable style.

 Now here I am sitting on four-hundred-year-old steps near the iconic Charminar in Hyderabad in Nov 2016. I have ditched my watercolor pans all together in favor of Dervent watercolor pencils.  The pencils are easy to carry and easy to use.  I like this setup.

This is my style, I decide.

That is until the next time I go to Instagram …

(Follow Sunil's feed on Instagram)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Gabi's Workshop

Great workshop lead by Gabi about working small, which I've never considered since I insist on including as many details as possible! Great learning supported by a meaningful lecture with examples from a variety of small sketchbooks.

Despite the biting wind it was wonderful to be back with the sketching community and to try my hand at seeing and capturing sites in Seattle.

 It was a good challenge to work small and to use some watercolor. It was a fun introduction and encouraged me to do more.

Reactions are welcome. Thanks.

Frank B

Monday, February 13, 2017

Visited Southern California

Almost every couple of months I would visited Southern CA where my children and G-children lived. These sketches were from recent visit, I was particularly attracted by power poles that seen every where, we are in super digital much relay on electric. It does play a major role in landscape, so does sketching/painting as to add vertical interest.
California Palm trees have lots of variety species.. I like this medium size one named Butia Capitata or Caranday Palm (not sure which). Its texture is challenge on sketch and watercolor. I will not tired of repeating them my next trip.


While in Vegas this week for the annual Western Society of Criminology conference, I had some down time right when I arrived and then in a late night wander to do a couple of quick sketches. When I got to the Linq hotel I sat down for lunch and people watched in front of the promenade. Vegas is crazy with colors and textures and designs coming from everywhere. I was wandering around on Friday night after the conference panels and stopped by the Linq bar which had two dancers on diagonally placed pedestals with G-strings and ripped fishnets stuffed with 10-20-50 dollar bills surrounded by neon and hanging gold link chains laced with blue jewels with with loud heavy metal  and slot machines playing in the background. As I sat at the bar sketching I couldn't help thinking about who the dancers were, the artistic aspects of the surroundings, and the sexual objectification and empowerment of women. Why were there not also two podiums for scantily clad men in chaps?   The dancers were positioned above everyone with all eyes on them -- amazingly fit, awesome dancers, with cool tattoos, and attitude. It was hard to think of them as anything but aesthetically interesting and powerful which generated some interesting conversations over the following days with male and female colleagues about the range of perspectives of the psychological, sociological, cultural, and aesthetic aspects of  this Vegas tradition.  

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Pocket Urban Sketching with Gabi

Three small vignettes 
Gabi Campanario kicked off Seattle’s series of Urban Sketchers 10x10 workshops with “Pocket Urban Sketching” – an introduction to using the small sketchbook format. Going back to his roots, Gabi showed us some of the many small books he filled before he ever conceived of Urban Sketchers. The portable format enabled him to sketch whenever he found a moment to capture an image, and he encouraged us to do the same.

“A small, easy-to-carry notebook makes sketching less intimidating and is ideal to create fast drawings on the go,” he said in his handout, and he spent this morning showing 14 sketchers how to put a large picture onto a tiny page.

Three small vignettes 
Amazon campus in the South Lake Union neighborhood was our workshop site. On this cold morning (I sure was glad I wore my down jacket and fingerless gloves!), our first exercise was to create a spread of three vignettes in varying sizes. Making a small-, a medium- and a large-sized image on the same spread gives visual variety and interest to the composition. White spaces can be filled with the date, journal writing and other notations.

Our second exercise was to make a single wide cityscape across the page spread. (This is my personal sketching challenge and the reason I took the workshop: I always feel like I need a large page to capture a large scene, and yet I know it’s just a matter of scaling. I wanted to learn how to fit it all in!) Standing on a street corner facing the Amazon spheres, Gabi demonstrated how he first decides the scope of his composition, then chooses a building to be the relative measuring gauge for everything else that will appear in the sketch.

7" x 5 1/2" page spread
As we started the exercise, my first inclination was to walk across the street to get as far away as possible from the spheres so they would become “smaller” in my eyes. But I wanted the challenge of the full, in-your-face view, so I stood close to the spot Gabi stood for the demo. I was pleased by how much I got into the spread (at left)!

I think both exercises – the three small vignettes and the wide cityscape across a spread – are ideal for travel sketching, because I’d be able to capture more small images in shorter periods of time. We were given 3 ½-by-5 ½-inch softcover sketchbooks (donated by Stillman & Birn) for the workshop, and I think I might use the rest of mine to practice these concepts before the next time I travel.

It was a fun and informative morning learning from Gabi, and it was also a privilege to take a workshop from the Seattle Sketcher!

Gabi demos how he fits a huge scene into a small sketchbook spread.

Gabi discusses the three vignettes exercise.
Chilly workshop participants listen attentively!

A visit to the International District for the January Sketcher's Gathering

In an effort to make more Seattle events, my wife and I took light rail into town and enjoyed a brisk, cloudy Sunday in the I.D.
Pen, ink and watercolor in a Strathmore watercolor sketchbook.

Friday, February 10, 2017

US Bank Centre

2/10/17 view from the second floor
US Bank Centre, a retail/business office building in the middle of downtown Seattle, was a pleasant indoor space for winter sketching this morning for the small Friday sketch group. Three floors are open to the public with lots of art, seating, small tables and wide windows.

I picked a window on the second floor to sketch a couple of the globe lamp posts on Fifth Avenue and a tree between them. Then when I stopped to chat with Anne on the third floor, I looked down over the railing and spotted Steve Reddy sketching a small sculpture on the floor below. He’s a slow sketcher, so I thought I had plenty of time, but I must have caught him just as he was finishing up because I only had a minute or two to look over his shoulder, literally.

For the last few minutes before the sketchbook throwdown, I pulled out a pencil to sketch the back side of the stone archway on the main floor. (Apparently it came from the old Music Box Theatre.) Staying on the back side kept me from attempting all the ornate details.

2/10/17 Steve sketching on the floor below.

2/10/17 back side of stone archway
After lunch, a few of us got a bonus treat: David Chamness works on US Bank Centre’s 24th floor and invited us upstairs. The huge lobby window faces west toward Elliott Bay. Kate and Vivian were happy to simply enjoy the view, but you know me – I couldn’t resist a quick attempt to capture as much as I could without a panoramic sketchbook. My thanks to David for letting me stay a few more minutes to finish up. (In April I’ll be taking David’s 10x10 Urban Sketchers workshop called “Freedom from Worry and Details” to learn how to do this right!)

2/10/17 view from the 24th floor

Private but Public

Something I read led me to this website listing private buildings with public spaces.  A few weeks ago I checked out the US Bank Center building.  The Friday group of Urban Sketchers Seattle met there today to sketch.  It has 3 floors of public lobbies with good views out the windows and interesting art inside.   We all agreed it was a great place to sketch, particularly on this chilly and rainy day. 

I didn't know it when we planned this, but one of our members, David Chamness, works in a firm in that building.  And the firm designed the building! 

From my previous scoping visit, I knew exactly what I wanted to sketch first.  This is a cast stone arch restored from the Music Box Theater which had been on this site in 1928.  And, David told me, it is dedicated to Tony Callison, the founder of the firm where David works.   I also liked the juxtaposition of the old and the new... the new being the Starbucks sign (there were four of them in the building!)

I do like these older buildings with intricate decorations.  So my next subject was the end of a building but looking down an alley.  A modern Amazon building is in the background, above.

As usual, we met to share sketches and have a group photo.  David led some of the staff in his office in a sketching lesson over lunch.  He joined us later to see our sketches and show us his 5 (or 10?) minute sketch.