Monthly Sketch Outing

Friday, October 24, 2014

A two month sketching summary

I have not had the opportunity to post my sketches in a while. I have been undergoing an exploration of my life and career and I have not had a lot of time for posting my sketches as I have generated them. So here are the high lights from two months of sketching.

 I recently started taking a class on technical writing at the University of Washington. This has given me plenty of great sketching opportunities around campus.

I also enjoyed walking the historic Queen Anne boulevard, which winds around the top of Queen Anne and offers spectacular views over the city. The view from Bhy Kracke Park was particularly spectacular.

I visited the recently remodeled Bellevue Botanical Gardens. The gardens now sport a recently completed garden gate, gift shop, visitor center and office space. I was attracted to the Japanese Garden that doubles as a stormwater detention facility.

Finally, there was this month's sketch outing to Capitol Hill where I captured some great sketches along Broadway.

I plan to begin posting on a more regular schedule and look forward to seeing everyone at future sketch outings.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Capital Hill stroll

Starting from the community college I made my way west down Pike looking for a fun storefront bathed in sunlight and a good Americano. I found the coffee at Stumprown and the storefront at Sun Liquor - Seattles early leader on the small batch hooch scene.

From there wandering up across broadway I stood beneath the enormous street trees in front of Lost Lake on 10th and tried wash first then ink. Shadows and the tree canopy defined the image. The result is punchy and more like a comic book.
Working my way back to meet the group with not quite enough time for a sketch I sat behind Tina and scrawled a quick center perspective across the sculpture court. 

Looking back on these, I wouldn't change a thing about the path but would start with the loose sketch and end back at the school with time for a longer sketch, more confident with my drawing and sitting on the grass in dappled sunlight!

Seattle Central Community College

At Sunday's meet up, I drew this because I liked the way the trees in the corner park at Pine and Broadway filtered the view of the Broadway Performance Hall and the main building of Seattle Central Community College beyond. Rather than working front to back, I began with the building forms and then overlaid the trees for a transparent feel.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Central Seattle Community College and the Broadway Market

Before we went to Capitol Hill I had visions of sketching the old buildings and some of the icons there. The combination of sunshine, balmy temperatures, crowds of people and sumptuous fruits and vegies compelled me to shift my focus. Rich colors and lots of people -- sketching magnets for me. 

When I perched myself, however, I just couldn't get the lines I wanted with the combination of paper and pen that I had brought. So I folded my stool and hiked across the street to Blicks for something that would soak up my pen and colors and slow down my lines - Japanese mulberry paper. 

It really was the kind of day you just want to drink in or capture it to put in a bottle - or a drawing - before we have to head indoors for the winter. 

I stuck around a bit after the group and got two more sketches that I just finished with color and scanning. The colors of the tomatoes and the shapes of the people were what appealed to me.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Working inside on a sunny day in October?

I was so sorry to miss today's USk Seattle sketching, but alas, when it rains it pours (metaphorically in this case, as what a beautiful day in October(??!!) it was--I remember sitting with Gail in the pouring rain as we sketched pumpkins a few years back...)...anyway, I am happy that it's pouring lots of work, however it did require that I chain myself to my drawing table all weekend.

So, here are two sketches I did a few weeks ago, both sketched and painted on site.
One, my first Huskies game, feeling obligated since we now have TWO kids at UW wearing purple. We went with our neighbors who are both UW grads, sat in the first row on the field!

Two, was at an overcast day at the Center for Wooden Boats with my friend Beanne's Cornish class, a sketch of the quirky Oar House...I love CWB, it's like an oasis in the city, a spot that time somehow forgot.

Seattle sketchers, I hope to see you in November, if not sooner!

Summer in October on Capitol Hill

10/19/14 Broadway and Pine

The October gatherings of Urban Sketchers Seattle the past two years have been at pumpkin farms – Craven Farm last year (which was really cold) and Fall City Farm (which was rainy) the year before. This year we broke from tradition and met in the Capitol Hill neighborhood near Seattle Central Community College, and someone must have danced the right sun dance, because we got summer – 70 degrees and a nearly cloudless sky! 

10/19/14 Broadway Farmers Market
From the corner of Broadway and Pine, red and yellow cranes caught my eye. I could see no less than four, but I could fit only three into my composition.

At the Broadway Farmers Market, I captured a busker singing in the bright sunshine, but not before wandering slowly through the colorful produce and flower stalls, wishing summer were just starting.

In the last 15 minutes before our meet-up time, I sketched a line of trees growing on the SCCC campus grounds. Actually, what first caught my attention was the very top of the Space Needle hovering over a rooftop like a spaceship.

Rain is predicted for the rest of the week, and I can already see clouds gathering on the horizon, so today was a special treat right before we all get out our Polartecs and parkas for good.

10/19/14 Seattle Central Community College

Zoka's in Tangletown near Greenlake.

Since moving a mile south of our old place, Zoka's has become our morning stop on the 2-mile walk to the gym. They've already memorized our orders, and often give us multiple punches on our frequent-flyer cards. Most importantly, the music is low-key and the atmosphere library-like, though the many bookshelves are oddly empty.
I drew the interior years ago with the Sketch Pistols, another Seattle area drawing group.

October sketch outing

October Sketch Outing 

Sunday,  October 19 10 am to 12:30 pm

The regular monthly Sketch outing will be on Capital Hill.

Meet at Seattle Central Community College at the sculpture on that red brick plaza.
1701 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98122

Monday, October 13, 2014

More NYC

When you travel with non-sketchers it's tricky to pull off sketches without holding up the crowd. So when I was visiting with my family in NYC I had to grab a few minutes here and there to do quick sketches. One day we headed up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I decided to do another conglomerate drawing-- things I saw while riding in our Uber car.
I started with the pipes next to the posts holding up the viaduct, I added the FedEx truck and pretty soon we were there at the Met, so I took a few minutes on the steps. I reality there's a LOT more space in front of the museum.

We walked across the park to the Natural History Museum, another monumental building with arched windows and entryways. I let the others go inside while I sat on the steps.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Three of Six Swans, a sculpture by Tory Franklin

I joined the Ad Hoc group this morning to sketch Mad Campus, a free public art exhibition at UW. Tory Franklin created this piece (only partly shown here) based on the Grimm fairy tale Six Swans. The artist identifies with the theme of perseverance in the story. (
The metal swans are wonderfully set in a massive redwood tree just off of W. Stevens Way NE..

Mad Campus

Ad Hoc Friday Sketchers  met at the University of Washington campus to sketch the sculptures of the Mad Campus exhibit.

One of our number had been before and offered information and suggestions about the choices.  I first sketched 2 of the Six Swans by Tory Franklin From the info on the map:  "A princess tediously labors to free her brothers as the fairy tale of the Six Swans comes to life in a large redwood in the Medicinal Herb Garden. These life-size puppets tell a story of perseverance, a quality Tory recognizes in her own artistic practice. She combines drawing and printmaking to create her many public installations."  I only sketched two of the six swans. 

Next I found #3, the Lone Stranger (Inflated) by Piper O’Neill "Inspired by carnival prizes of the 1940’s, a 28-foot-tall inflated cowboy reassigns meaning to a relic of the past. Piper’s work  often explores the themes of nostalgia and inherited histories. In her words, 'I am always looking backwards to make sense of what is in front of me'"

I still have enough time for one more quick sketch.  I'd noticed some color over a rise back toward our meeting place.  It turned out to be #5, Global Bloblem  by Paul Komada.
"A patchwork of diverse national flags brings into view complex issues, such as globalism, climate change, and international strife. Paul was born in Seattle but spent his formative years in Japan. In his studio work he uses knitted materials to elicit feelings of warmth and care."

We met to share sketches.

Four of us had sketched the swans

Cold Mad Campus

10/10/14 Sylvan Grove Theater
Maybe I was just grumpy about the cold, damp fog that enveloped me in chilliness. For whatever reason, most of the art I saw this morning on the University of Washington campus – part of Mad Art Seattle’s Mad Campus sculpture exhibit – wasn’t very inspiring. If truth be told, I’d have to admit it was probably me who wasn’t inspired, since the other Friday sketchers certainly came away with inspired sketches!

My first sketch was of something that I did find inspiring, but it wasn’t part of the exhibit. Walking through the Sylvan Grove Theater, it’s hard not to be moved by the classical beauty of the four Ionic columns. Of course, I wasn’t so moved that I sketched all four – the capital of one was enough.

After wandering the campus to see most of the 12 pieces in the exhibit, I somewhat half-heartedly settled on Burnt in Time, by Brian Widmaier (below). According to the flier description, a group of 12-foot obelisks “showcases the surrounding surfaces and reveals the steady progression of time.” Hmmm.

10/10/14 Burnt in Time
Still uninspired, I sat on a bench to munch a protein bar, and the crinkle of my wrapper attracted numerous geese. I took advantage of their attention to sketch a few.

Chilled, I decided to get coffee at Suzzallo Library. Out on Suzzallo’s steps, I looked up at Gerberding Hall’s tower, which mocked me with its formidable gothic self. Normally, I would run the other way, screaming. But fortified with caffeine, I pulled out KK’s bag of tricks: a few sticks and India ink. No, the sticks and ink don’t give me KK’s superpower, but they somehow make me fearless enough to take on something like that gothic tower (so I guess they give me a different superpower!).

In fact, I felt so cocky that I did one more twig and ink sketch, this time of The Legend of Jerry Roundtree, a sculptural work by Seth Friedman (the pyramids and cubes next to the trees, below). You can probably tell I was more inspired by the trees than the sculpture, but that’s OK. By then the others showed up to share sketches, and that improved my mood.

10/10/14 Canada geese

10/10/14 Gerberding Hall

10/10/14 The Legend of Jerry Roundtree

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Caffe Appassionatto Roaster

A former student from my first year of teaching in 1998 invited me to draw the roaster at Caffe Appassionatto Magnolia. A bit of a challenge to draw through the highly reflective glass, and I'm sure I've misconnected some piping to the wrong ducts, but it was a nice relaxing hour with an equally nice latte, on the house. Thanks, Maitland!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Red Hook

Red Hook, the south Brooklyn neighborhood stretching below Atlantic Avenue to the Hudson River, is a place of contrasts. Sleek minimalist condos sit inside 19th century red-brick warehouses. The smell of salt water is halted by sewage reeking from pipes un-repaired since Hurricane Sandy. Construction cranes hum alongside dilapidated buildings. Wildly reviewed restaurants buzz just a few paces from the local bodega. 

One of the neighborhood's distinguishing characteristics is the open sky. The buildings are short compared to the city, especially across the river in Manhattan. The proximity to the water gives Red Hook the feel of a beach town, but definitely not a resort. It's just the kind of place artists and young urban famlies crave--cheap rent (until a couple of years ago), parks, plenty of real estate to renovate.

Red Hook Impressions

We visited Red Hook this year to celebrate the one year anniversary of Hometown BBQ. I wrote about their opening in a post last year. This year I had some time to explore and do some sketching in the neighborhood. I stood on the streets and did my thing. Here's a map of the neighborhood (I took small license to use this even though it's a sketch from a map):

Van Brunt is the main street running from Atlantic, a main thoroughfare in Brooklyn, to the water. I started with the Ice House and its neighbor, Bait and Tackle, the local watering holes and the places to find people who know Red Hook.

The first two buildings on the right -- The Ice House and Brooklyn Bait and Tackle, Van Brunt Street, Red Hook

Further down the street you pass chic urban shops, vacant lots, galleries, rusted trucks, and a custom-made bicycle shop among the array of businesses. Kentler International Drawing Space attracts my attention every time I visit, but I haven't managed to make it in to see what it's all about. Hers's a few street images:
Kentlery International Drawing Space - Red Hook pedestrian - sign for local bagel shop

Dry Dock Wine and Spirits - Van Brunt and Van Dyke
Hometown BBQ sits at the base of Van Brunt on Reed, just across the street from Fairway market, a massive grocery store selling everything from quarters of beef to Brooklyn Kombucha. Around the corner from Hometown on Conover is the legendary Sunny's Bar, owned by the Balzano family since 1890 and currently run by Sunny Balzano, "The Grandfather of Red Hook." You can read about Hometown and Sunnys in my posts from last year.

A new addition to the neighborhood is the Hometown Shack--where they smoke all the meat on wood-fired smokers. Two shipping containers handle a couple of smokers and a couple more sit outside next to the gravel yard. In the summer you can get your ribs and sit at the umbrella tables taking in the smoke flavored salty air.

Hometown Shack, Red Hook near Valentino Pier

A few paces from the Shack Louis Valentino, Jr Park and Pier locals can fish while enjoying possibly the best land view of the Statue of Liberty in New York. The park and pier are named after a firefighter and parks lifeguard Louis J Valentino who lost his life while searching for wounded fellow firefighters.

The lower Manhattan skyline stretches along the water, dominated by the new World Trade Center. I happened to be there on September 11. 

World Trade Center from Valentino Pier, Red Hook

We visited the Red Hook Initiative, a local non-profit that serves the neighborhood by providing job training and many other services. That's a story in itself. This quote by it's founder Jill Eisenhart, describes Red Hook aptly: 

"If you ask an outsider what makes Red Hook special, they'll talk about the parks and open spaces, the waterfront views, the cobblestone streets, the great businesses, churches and agencies that creat the fabri of the community. If you ask someone from Red Hook, they'll tell you the secret: It's the people who live here." 
From Images of Red Hook, by Thomas Rupolo

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Reckless Video

Greg and I have been renting our weekly movies from Reckless Video for most of the 25-plus years that we’ve lived in the Maple Leaf neighborhood. Back when the movies we rented came on VHS, Reckless was located on the west side of Roosevelt Way Northeast at around Northeast 90th. At some point, a mysterious night fire turned Reckless and the other small businesses on that block into a blackened shell. But like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, Reckless reopened a year or two later on the same block of the east side of Roosevelt, where it stands today.

The movie medium we rent has gone from VHS to DVD to Blu-ray, but Reckless remains the same. We could probably save a little money by using Netflix or other entertainment services, but we couldn’t get honest opinions about films we are considering from Netflix or discuss the nuances of our favorite TV series with Amazon. We enjoy the simple ritual of walking over to Reckless to return our weekend movie on a sunny Sunday afternoon, or dashing in from the rain on a Friday night to select a movie and then afterwards picking up Chinese takeout from Snappy Dragon across the street.

Neighborhood video rental stores are almost extinct, and even big box places like Blockbuster apparently can’t compete with on-demand entertainment services. I don’t know how much longer Reckless will be in Maple Leaf, but as long as it is, we’ll keep getting our weekly movies there.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

2014 Convocation at University of Washington

I missed last weeks sketch outing because I was at the 2014 Convocation ceremonies at the University of Washington to help our son Matthew celebrate the beginning of his 4 years at University of Washington.  Not to pass up the opportunity to document this day, we got there early enough so I could grab a sketch of the ceremony,  sketched the entrance to the Presidents Picnic tent while waiting in line to get in and sketch inside the tent while enjoying our lunch.
2014 Convocation Ceremony
Waiting to get into the big tent while being entertained by the marching band.
Inside the Presidents Picnic Tent