Next Monthly Sketch Outing

June 25th (date change) Fremont: meet at Lenin statue
See Monthly Outing page for details.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Highland Drive, Kerry Park and Pure Sunshine

6/23/27 Highland Drive

Parsons Garden and the garden’s area of upper Queen Anne Hill have been a favorite of USk Seattle for several years; they’ve become a summer staple. I think the first time we met there was on the 4th of July in 2014. Looking back at that post, I see that I sketched two of the same scenes yesterday as I did then – Highland Drive’s romantic curving wall of globe lamps, and the spectacular viewpoint at Kerry Park.

I’ve sketched Highland Drive with a twig, and ink and watercolor more than once, but I’d never used graphite at that location, so I pulled out my Gekkoso 8B. Kate was sketching a short distance up the drive. She started in the shade, but by the time I put her into the sketch, her bright yellow blouse was blazing as bright as the sun.
6/23/17 Kerry Park

Kerry Park and its dazzling Space Needle-centered skyline is another view I’ve sketched several times, but it’s never been as crowded as it was yesterday. Entire buses and cars periodically disgorged tourists, who rushed up to snap photos of each other in front of the Needle and Mt. Rainier. Instead of working around people blocking my view, I moved to a particularly popular spot for group photos. As mothers ordered their kids into neat rows and couples pulled out selfie sticks, I felt a bit snarky and wanted to shout, “Sure, it’s lovely today, but you should have been here the prior 10 months like the rest of us! We didn’t get this free – we earned it!” 

But I was in such a good mood that I didn’t care. Really, who could blame them when this is what they were looking at:

Friday, June 23, 2017

Parsons Garden and more

The Urban Sketchers Seattle Friday outing was to Parsons Garden area on Queen Ann hill. There were many scenes from which to choose. From the hill, once could look out onto the sound with cruise ships. Or walk down to Kerry Park for the classic view of downtown Seattle and the Space Needle from the north.

I walked along Queen Ann Bldv until I saw this tree.  I kept having to move to get out of the full sun.  The light on my white paper nearly blinded me.  While the day was predicted (and did) to reach over 80 degrees, it stayed cool in the shade and there was a very pleasant breeze.  

Then I walked down the stairs from the bridge. The street below has the same name. Sounds confusing. But I liked the arches.

At the agreed upon time, we had our sketchbook sharing and the group photo.

After which, the three of us who carpooled from the South End had a picnic lunch.
Next we drove the short distance for the Kathleen Keckler's show hosted in Le Reve baker/cafe.  She had many excellent pieces hanging. 

And then.... we drove to Daniel Smith for the recently announced 20% off Flash Sale! I had a list.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Geese and Cranes at Lake Union Park

6/17/17 Seattle skyline from Lake Union Park

USk Seattle’s 10x10 workshop series culminated yesterday morning with a group reportage activity at Lake Union Park. While I didn’t take part in the workshop, I joined the general sketchcrawl that followed in the same location, which is one of my favorite Seattle parks.

6/17/17 Canada geese
I’ve sketched parts of the skyline from the park a few times, most recently last summer, but I’ve never had my panoramic Stillman & Birn sketchbook there. The landscape book was still in my bag from Friday’s outing in Tacoma, so I took advantage of it to capture as many as possible of the 14 cranes visible from that spot (I only got 11, and then I ran out of space). 

As for the Canada geese, I couldn’t have sketched them all even if I had wanted to. There must have been hundreds, including some very sweet goslings and adolescents with fuzzy heads. (Adorable as they may be, there’s no leash law for geese. Watch where you step.)
Panorama detail

Saturday, June 17, 2017

After the last 10x10:

The last class of the 10x10 series in Seattle was a Group Reportage. The class met in the morning at Lake Union Park. The attendees were invited to join some members of USk Seattle in an afternoon sketch outing.

The group was a mixture of instructors, USk Seattle members and workshop attendees. We had a shorter than usual outing as those involved in the workshop had had a long day. That was probably a good thing as it started to sprinkle as we were finishing. We shared out sketches and had our group photo in the shelter of the MOHAI cafe meeting room:

I've sketched several times in this area so I looked for something a little different. These large flowers caught my eye. It was even more interesting with the Space Needle peeking through.

Festival of Sail

6/16/17 Foss Waterway and Tacoma skyline

The day dawned with typical mid-June wishy-washiness: It could end up with “sun breaks” just as easily as it could rain. I took a chance on the former to join Urban Sketchers Tacoma at Foss Waterway, which was the site of this weekend’s Festival of Sail.

6/16/17 Festival of Sail tall ship
With my landscape-format Stillman & Birn sketchbook on the panorama setting, I tried to squeeze in as many as I could of the dozen or more tall ships across the waterway. It was the first time I’d seen Tacoma’s skyline from that direction, so even though my focus was on the ships, I couldn’t resist putting in Old City Hall (left of center).

My next plan was to make a detailed sketch of one of the ships – the only one that had some of its sails up (it’s near the center of the panorama). Since white rigging is always a bother to save out in a sketch on white paper, I took the easy way out and sketched it on red paper.

I always seem to have five or 10 minutes left to kill before the sketchbook throwdown, so I used them to capture the row of snags (one of them was home to a family of flickers) next to the waterway where Natalie and Beverly were sketching.

The morning’s gamble was a good one: Not a drop of rain all day, and despite the chilly wind and thick cloud cover, we had a good turnout of enthusiastic sketchers.

Panorama detail

Friday, June 16, 2017

Mama Duck

Upon our arrival at the site for our sketch outing to the Festival of Sail, I was disappointed that the Mamma Duck was no where to be seen. Upon more exploration, I could just see the tip of her yellow head far down the Foss Waterway. Later another sketcher said she was across from Johnny's Dock, so we resolved to have lunch there in order to sketch the World's Largest Rubber Duck.

Though there was a chilly wind off the Foss Waterway, it didn't rain while we sketched the Tall Ships docked across the way from the Center for Urban Waters. A few members of Urban Sketchers Seattle joined Urban Sketchers Tacoma.  We had an excellent view of several ships with classic Tacoma buildings on the hill behind.   The ship I sketched is the Hawaiian Chieftain

After sharing and the group photo....

most of us decamped for lunch at Johnny's Dock. We could definitely see the big duck from there. Mamma Duck is 61 feet tall and weighs 11 tons!

More Photos:

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Guild 45th and Seven Gables

6/8/17 Seven Gables Theatre

Local media reported last Tuesday that two Seattle theaters, the Guild 45th and the Seven Gables, had closed “abruptly” that day, ostensibly for renovation, but it doesn’t bode well. Part of the Landmark chain, these theaters haven’t been independent neighborhood film houses in a long time, but people who don’t like 12-plex mega theaters in shopping malls were happy to have old-fashioned alternatives.

As soon as I heard the news, I dashed out to the Guild 45th in the Wallingford neighborhood. Someone had taped a handwritten sign on the wall saying, “What next?” alluding to the lack of information about what’s going to happen to the venerable institution. As I sketched the pink art deco building with curved walls, a woman walked up to the windows to peer inside, and she snapped a photo of a sign saying the theater was closed.
6/7/17 Guild 45th Theatre

The next day I stopped in the University District to sketch the Seven Gables. At the corner of Northeast 50th and Roosevelt Way Northeast, this old building is surrounded by tall trees. (That was fortunate for me, because it meant I didn’t have to draw more than three of those gables.) A red “open” sign was lighted in a window, but that was for the Ristorante Doria that occupies the street-level floor of the building.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Visual Timeline at 4th and Madison

It wasn't raining (!) and there were actual patches of blue sky among the clouds on Friday morning when the USk Seattle Ad hoc outing took place. It was a bit chilly (59/60°F) out on the 7th floor terrace of the 4th and Madison building. We had a fantastic panoramic view in any direction which included most of the iconic landmarks one associates with the city of Seattle.
Almost everyone succumbed to the easterly view of St. James Cathedral, so tiny compared to the monolithic skyscrapers framing it on either side. As I sketched, a Boeing jet briefly appeared through the gap on its way to SeaTac airport.
I love the way we have buildings from so many eras standing side by side in the downtown core. I sketched the Seattle YMCA (1930), the cathedral (1907) and the Former First United Methodist Church Dome (1910) as well as the Space Needle (1961) and the Darth Vader building (1979). The original 120 ft. dome of St. James Cathedral collapsed in 1916 and was never rebuilt. The present dome of the First Methodist Church is destined to become part of the new SLS Luxury Hotel, slated to open in 2017. Oh, and I snipped the Smith Tower sketch off my business card and added that previously sketched bit since it's my favorite building anyway. It's the oldest skyscraper in the city. You could see it easily by looking past the south side of the terrace.
We had a great turnout for a Friday. I am always impressed by the hidden gems that urban sketchers find to explore in the city. This lovely public garden is certainly one of them. A personal touchstone for me was the joy of sketching in the terrace garden with my granddaughter who is graduating high school this month. It was her first time with USk Seattle but I trust not the last.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Library and a Walrus

6/9/17 Seattle Public Library

How many icons can a person sketch in one day? When I started out yesterday for the Urban Sketchers Seattle gathering, I didn’t know I would end up sketching several icons, including two on my “must sketch someday” list.

6/9/17 View facing east on Madison Street
The meeting place was the Fourth and Madison Building’s seventh floor terrace – a pleasant outdoor space for nearby workers to bring their bag lunches and for sketchers to catch unusual peek-a-boo views. The one I (and many other sketchers) chose was looking east on Madison Street toward St. James Cathedral at the top of the hill looking very tiny in the steel and glass canyon.

However, that’s not one of the “must sketch” icons I was referring to. For one I went down to the building’s lobby, where a large window faced the Seattle Public Library’s downtown branch. Although I’ve sketched inside this flagship library building several times, I’ve never sketched the whole building, although I’ve wanted to. Designed by Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus, the unusual and striking building has always seemed too intimidating. Yet as I gazed at it yesterday, I had the same feeling I had while sketching in Positano or the Walt Disney Concert Hall in L.A.: The architectural lines are so unconventional and unexpected, who would know if my sketch were wonky? I took it on.

By then I had only five minutes left before the sketchbook throwdown, so I quickly went back up to the seventh floor terrace for the other peek-a-boo view I’d considered: The Space Needle hiding behind the “Darth Vader” (Fourth and Blanchard) Building.

6/9/17 Space Needle and Fourth & Blanchard Building
However, that, too, is not one of the two “must sketch” icons I was referring to. The second one was a walrus on the side of the Arctic Building. One of few old buildings in Seattle with any kind of gargoyles or other cool exterior decorations, it has walruses all the way around, way above eye level. Luckily for me, this one was adjacent to a parking lot, so I could stand next to it instead of on the street, where I would have had to look straight up to sketch. As a bonus, the Smith Tower was right next to it! 

Whew. I think I hit my Seattle icon quota for the year.

6/9/17 Arctic Building walrus and Smith Tower

Friday, June 9, 2017

Views from the 7th floor

The Friday ad hoc group met downtown today.  This is a private office building... so private that the elevators require a key card. But on the 7th floor is a public patio, accessible by a specific elevator. It offers 180 degree plus views of downtown Seattle from a high up vantage point.  It's simply "the Fourth and Madison building".  It was a bit chilly up there but we didn't get rained on. 

The oddly shaped blue building on the right is the The Mark, a sparkling new office building with a hotel.  The older, domed building below it was the First United Methodist Church which was founded over 100 years ago. Now it's "The Sanctuary", part of the Mark. It will be the hotel's events center.

Next was a view of the Space Needle. Can't resist that!

There were some new people but they left before the sharing and photo.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Campus Surprises

6/6/17 UW Quad

While my car was being serviced nearby, I walked over to the University of Washington campus on a spectacularly beautiful afternoon. I’ve sketched these decorative cherry trees in the Quad many times in all seasons, and I never seem to tire of their gnarled branches and huge knotty trunks. As I sat on a bench I’ve used several times before, I started to sketch this old tree, and suddenly I realized it was covered with small leaves sprouting from its trunk. I noticed a similar phenomenon a few months ago when I was sketching the flowering cherries near Sunset Park – blossoms blooming from the side of a tree’s trunk. I’m sure this tree has always had such leaves this time of year, but I had never really seen them before. The tree was mostly in shade, but I decided to focus on the leaves instead of the shading on the trunk as I usually do.

6/6/17 Baby crow
That was surprise No. 1. Walking elsewhere on campus, I saw movement in my peripheral vision: On the ground was surprise No. 2, a baby crow. Not sleek and shiny like adult crows, this young one was dull and somewhat scruffy, and it looked like it was sitting on the ground on its butt, legs straight out. Of course, I quietly pulled out my sketchbook. As I sketched, a researcher seated nearby reassured me that the crow was fine and that “baby crows like to do that.” I wasn’t really concerned, just curious and thrilled that the bird was still long enough for me to grab a quick sketch.

My third surprise of the afternoon came as I left campus to go fetch my car. Walking by Raitt Hall, a building I probably passed nearly every day for the four years (plus graduate work) I was a UW student, I stopped at a pair of ornate lamps flanking the entryway. At the corners of each lamp were tiny gargoyles – two different animals – that I had never noticed before.
6/6/17 Lamp at Raitt Hall

Going on my sixth year as a sketcher, this never ceases to amaze: When I have a sketchbook in my hand, it’s as if I’m wearing new glasses. Things come into focus that I’ve never observed before. But it’s not my eyes that are wearing the new glasses – it’s my brain. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Seattle Space Needle

2017_05_26 Space Needle

Bet you didn't recognize it from my sketch, huh? While wandering through the Seattle Center during Folklife last week with the Friday Ad-Hoc group, I came around the base of the Space Needle just as the sun was casting some great shadows and lighting up the ring of concrete balls that circles the Needle. Last year I spent my time at Folklife sketching all the kooky characters who come to the music festival. So, this year I went for something different.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Lest we forget....

The day before Memorial Day - In remembrance of our war dead and their families......

Though I never want to deal the crowds on Memorial Day itself, for the past few years I have visited Tahoma National Cemetery in the days just prior.  I take flowers to put on grave sites without them and then I do one or two sketches while I think about the sacrifice represented there. 

I went this morning before it became too hot but I still sweltered in the sun as I sketched.  I knew I wanted to attempt the wide scene as The Mountain would be out!  This VA cemetery is situated such that Mt. Rainier can sometimes be seen over the honored dead.  And it was today!  

While sketching a couple people came up to look and talk.  One was Laurie, whose son is buried here.  She started Lion Heart Heroes Foundation.  A couple men also stopped.  Like me, they knew no one buried there but just thought it was the right thing to visit and pay respects.

More details on my personal blog.  

--Kate Buike

Saturday, May 27, 2017

My Finished Montages for the Visual Journaling Workshop

Sketches from the morning session
I was recently honored to be a Seattle 10x10 instructor for the tenth anniversary series of urban sketchers workshops . My workshop took place in two sessions on May 20, 2017, morning from 9-12:00 noon and afternoon from 2-5pm. This is a "dual reportage" of the morning with personal observations as well as a report on the workshop itself from my viewpoint as the instructor.

I'm leaving the original pencil outlines of my modular layout pattern so students can see how I used (or ignored) them. I added color later to the original 3 sketches done on site and added narrative, headlines and ephemera to complete my montage.

I collected 3 pieces of ephemera for the morning: a business card with earthy image from Terra Plata, parking stub for the day, and part of one of the ID cards I made for students.
Here's the morning group for USK 10x10 Visual Journaling Workshop, Sketching a Montage with Michele Cooper, instructor. (Cooper not in photo.)

Afternoon sketches:
Sketches from the afternoon session.
I ended up with more of a radial layout this time, ignoring most of my penciled in layout frames. Again, I'm combining my personal observations with reportage of the afternoon workshop.

I added three pieces of ephemera from the afternoon: my USk business card, partial card from one of my students' ID badge, the demo page from my spiral sketchbook with the actual demonstration sketches done on site for the afternoon class, glued on.
Here's the afternoon group for USK 10x10 Visual Journaling Workshop, Sketching a Montage with Michele Cooper, instructor. (Cooper not in photo.)

Thanks, everyone, for being such an inspiring group of students. It was great fun sharing a few tips and sketching our "sunny" city of Seattle with you!

My USK 10x10 Visual Journaling Sketchbook, WIP

Right now it's 84° in the shade as I work on the finishing touches for my Visual Journaling urban sketchers sketch book. I'm gluing in a few bits of ephemera and adding some narrative to the sketches I did while on location with my students at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle last Saturday morning.

I'm going to have to go inside where it's a bit cooler to finish this up and I will post those results as soon as possible.

For photos taken at the workshop, please visit my Flickr album. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Folklife Friday

This morning I put on my hat and sunglasses and walked down Queen Anne hill to Folklife Festival at Seattle Center.  The Friday Urban Sketcher group was waiting in front of the Armory Building, ready to sketch on opening day.  There weren’t many lines at the food vending trucks and most of the big stages were still quiet.  I found a couple of genial buskers on a central corner and asked if I could sketch them.  They graciously welcomed me and even asked if I had a song request.  I wanted “Leila”.  They knew the first couple of lines only, but did them well. I returned later in the evening and found they were still there, singing energetically. 
Buskers at Folklife Festival
I found another busker near the front door of the Armory.  I liked his look, sound, and the color of his clothes.  He agreed to let me sketch him.  When complete, I showed him the sketch and dropped some cash into his guitar case telling him I hoped he would collect a lot of money.  He said he didn’t do it for the money, he did it for the art.  Just like me.

The Artist
To the right of the busker sat a balloon twister. I couldn’t resist drawing his profile and balloon crown.  I call him Balloon Caesar.  Although quite busy twisting creations for a variety of customers, he was aware enough to free up a hand for my donation.  Good business person!

Balloon Caesar
My last sketch of the day was of a big folk band.  I was looking for a female performer to sketch and there she was, surrounded by musical men.  Beautiful in a black outfit, with unruly black hair and interesting tattoos, her voice was strong and resonant.  I left her as the focal point.  Everyone in the band had something unique to offer.  When the sketch was done, I walked around to the front and spent time just listening.
Big band sounds