Next Sketch Outing

Sunday, Oct. 20: Third Place Commons

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Out of the rain

What a great place to be on a wet and rainy northwest day. A few sketchers from Tacoma and four of us from Vashon spent the morning sketching amidst an amazing display of taxidermy set in very realistic dioramas at the Bass Pro Shop south of Tacoma. After reviewing our sketches we enjoyed lunch in the on site restaurant. A wonderful lodge-like atmosphere, helpful staff, good food and always great urban sketcher companionship made this another wonderful outing. 

Friday, October 11, 2019

Ground Level at Columbia Center

10/11/19 Smith Tower

Around the time when the USk Friday group was still fairly small, we met a couple of times at Columbia Center, Seattle’s tallest skyscraper, mainly to sketch from the Sky View Observatory on the 73rd floor. Back then, the admission was nominal, and apparently it was the city’s best-kept secret because we had the place to ourselves. Now it’s a “destination,” the price has gone up to $22, and even on this off-season day, tourists were queued up for tickets by noon.

USk Seattle members opted not to pay the sky-high price, though several chose the Starbucks on the 40th floor. It’s not the 360-degree view of the observatory, but for the price of a latte, you can sketch through numerous huge windows facing west and north.

Though the Starbucks view was tempting, I wanted to face south to sketch the Smith Tower, my favorite Seattle building. Near ground level, Columbia Center has three atrium floors that have been improved significantly since the last time we sketchers met there in 2014 – many more well-lighted public areas with lots of tables and other seating. I found one that allowed a great view of Smith Tower without going out in the chilly but sunny day.

The rest of the morning, I wandered around the three atrium levels hunting victims. I chose two hapless guys who only wanted to eat their lunch in peace without getting sketched. The one I sketched from above was irresistible: He was only a few feet below me but separated by a glass partition. Columbia Center is all about views that are difficult to get anywhere else in the city.

10/11/19 Columbia Center Atrium

Paul, a visiting sketcher from New Zealand, knew he would have to leave before the throwdown, so we took a photo at the
initial meetup. Great to have you sketch with us, Paul!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

A Seattle Welcome at the Roastery

10/10/19 Main roaster at Starbucks Roastery and Reserve
When Florida sketcher Lee Kline told us he was in town this week and wanted to sketch with USk Seattle, we decided to give him an appropriate Seattle welcome – at the Starbucks Roastery and Reserve, of course. It makes for a convenient indoor/outdoor venue: Its Capitol Hill neighborhood is sketch-worthy if the weather is amenable, and if it isn’t, there’s always the fascinating copper tanks and pneumatic tubing that “usher the beans through the building.”

Although the sunshine was inviting, the temperature was only in the low 40s, so I opted to stay indoors. Sharing a table with Lee, David and Natali on the Roastery’s lower level, I had a good view of the main roaster. Nearly five years ago on my second visit there, I attempted this same roaster from a different angle and got lost in all that crazy tubing. This time I bit off a simpler composition that I thought would be easier to chew, but it’s still a complicated mess. Oh, well – the company was fun, and the overpriced coffee and pastry were delicious.

Thanks for coming all the way to Seattle to sketch with us, Lee (in the center)! (Not pictured: April and Ellie, who bravely
sketched outdoors.)

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Freeway Forest

This morning my calendar announced: Today is the day to sketch at the Convention Center and Freeway Park with Interior Design students from Washington State University!  

After selectively packing my sketch kit, I walked with a light load to the bus stop.  Quickly determining the bus was not exactly on schedule, I pulled out my toned sketchbook and drew the townhouse across the street.  I was two-thirds into the building when the bus suddenly arrived.  Pitching an open pen and sketchbook into my sack, I boarded the bus.  It’s a travesty to treat pen and paper so crudely!  I made amends after my sit down by recapping the pen and folding the sketchbook properly. 

Taylor Ave townhouse

It was great fun to meet so many students studying Interior Design.  They were a hard-working and charming group of designers.  I sat at a table with a student and we both drew the complicated scene out the West window of the Convention Center.  Although critical of my perspective, I called it done and moved on to a view of Freeway Park.  
Ornate building, home of ACT

For my last drawing of the day, I used a sheet of excellent paper held down with green tape and red ink. I love the concept of a forest growing over a freeway.  The evergreens have enchanting shapes and the vines cascading over I-5 soften the rush of traffic. Freeway Park was completed by Lawrence Halprin & Associates under the design direction of Angela Danadjieva.   

Freeway Park

Convention Center with WSU

10/5/19 View from Convention Center
As has become an annual tradition, Washington State University prof Bob Krikac and his sophomore interior design class joined USk Seattle for a sketch outing this morning. He brings his class from Pullman to Seattle every fall as part of the curriculum, and their week ends with urban sketching. An avid sketcher himself, Bob believes in the importance of drawing from life and encourages his students to keep a sketchbook. For us regular USk Seattle sketchers, it was fun to have lots of young energy at what was probably the largest gathering we’ve had in a long time.

Since we knew the weather could be iffy in October, we chose the Convention Center and Freeway Park for the outing – convenient for both indoor and outdoor options. While I waited for the group to assemble at the fountain, I made my InkTober sketch with the white Uni Posca pen I’ve been trying out with my trusty red Field Notes. 
10/5/19 Convention Center fountain

Once we all got up to the Convention Center’s top floor with its floor-to-ceiling city views, I picked the one with cranes (of course). The overcast sky made it tricky to see values, so it was a good opportunity to pull out my red/blue pencil. (Only three cars on the freeway. . .? Perhaps a post-apocalyptic scene. 😉)

Although I didn’t have time for a sketch at Freeway Park, I was happy to see that many students wandered out to enjoy its unusual nooks, crannies and fountains.

WSU sophomores and USk Seattle had the Convention Center nearly to ourselves!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Autumn at Danny Woo Community Garden

9/27/19 Sixth Ave. South, Chinatown/International District
The Danny Woo International District Community Garden is a favorite of USk Seattle during the transitional seasons. If the weather is on our side, we can sketch the terraced gardens and distant views of downtown Seattle, but if not, we can duck into the cozy Panama Hotel Café across the street. Today we lucked out, and the chilly morning eventually yielded to sunshine in time for the throwdown.

9/27/19 entrance to Danny Woo Gardens
Happy that I wore my down parka, I was still cold with the brisk wind coming up behind me from the Sound as I sketched the view looking down Sixth Avenue South from Kobe Terrace Park at the top of the garden (left). The row of bright yellow trees punctuated by the ID’s iconic red street lamps caught my eye (and as soon as I finished, I realized the perspective of those lamp posts was way off!).

My self-photobombing aim was a bit off, too.

After getting some hot genmaicha from the Panama Hotel Café to warm my hands, I pulled up my hood and went back out – and immediately saw the next view I wanted to capture: It was the trellised entrance to Danny Woo Gardens framed by more yellow trees (above).

Monday, September 23, 2019

RAF Red Arrows

The RAF Red Arrows are on a tour of North America. They stopped  today at the Museum of Flight. They've been on this tour since August, flying Hawk T1 jets.

AJ and I got there early to claim a good viewing spot. I sketched another person also waiting.

The larger team made two exciting fly overs. Two aircraft landed and parked in the Museum's lot. The other 10 aircraft taxied to the far side of Boeing Field.

It started raining as they landed, just to make this British team feel at home. I did my sketch of the static aircraft in the rain, under a large umbrella, Pete Scully style! I did go inside to get warm, dry and to do the painting.

After finishing it, I went out to see the displays in the Museum lobby. I asked which pilots flew the aircraft I sketched. I got one signature (#12, David Simmons, aircraft on the left). He graciously offered to get the other pilot to sign it so took my sketch upstairs #11) 

I culled 120 photos down to 30. 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Definitely not a She-Shed

It was fun sketching today in the Queen Anne neighborhood around the library.

Along with several others, I sketched those sheds.They were covered in debrie, moss and almost falling down.  Definitely not "She-Sheds"!

Ellie arrives by scooter.

Susan and Victoria had matching Lamys on a lanyard!

Many of us were interested in the old sheds in a nearby alley. 

The throw down and the group photo were both inside the library as we had a meeting, today, too.  There were several sketchers new to the group....Welcome All! 

Eric is missing from the above group.  

Our meeting was a discussion of the experiences had by those who attended the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Amsterdam this summer. We also talked about experiences and lessons learned from other symposia.

Ellie’s Scooter Plus Symposium Sharing

9/14/19 Ellie's Aprilia Scarabeo (with Kate's Prius behind it)

Ellie Doughty rides an adorable Aprilia Scarabeo scooter. When USk Seattle met in the Queen Anne neighborhood today, I didn’t get farther than the meetup point because I wanted to sketch the scooter right there where she had parked it. Bonus: I knew she wasn’t going to move it anytime soon.

Our sketch outing was in a slightly different format than usual. After sketching, we had our throwdown in the Queen Anne branch library conference room. We then stayed on for a brown bag lunch and informal presentations by those who attended the Amsterdam symposium. In addition to sharing information about their workshops and other symposium experiences, several participants passed around their Amsterdam sketchbooks. Since I had very little opportunity to see Seattle sketchers while there, it was especially fun to hear about everyone’s experiences and see their sketches.

Sharing symposium experiences

We all liked this alley!

Welcome to Reema (front) visiting from Minnesota!

Friday, September 13, 2019


Back in August of 2013, Urban Sketchers Seattle had an outing specifically to sketch the Viaduct as it was to be torn down soon. Well...

Today we sketched at the waterfront where the viaduct is mostly gone. It has been demolished over many months and some Seattle Sketchers have documented the process. I have not visited there since the demolition started so I was surprised at how open the area is now.

There are some still sections left and it was a popular subject today. We had 13 sketchers who braved Friday the 13th as well as possible rain. At the end we gathered around a statue of Ivar and his beloved gulls (more on that later).

Most of the sketchers stayed to share lunch obtained from the walk up Ivar's Fish Bar. Some of us went out to feed french fries to the gulls. Here's Tina offering some to one of gulls perched there for easy pickings.

I sketched this viaduct section in front of Big Fish Games, in the Maritime Building across from the ferry terminal. Himself referred to it as a "via-chunk" when I showed him the sketch later.

As I walked down the way from the light rail station, I took note of some scenes I might want to sketch. This Ivar's running clams weather vane caught my eye, out at the end of a pier. The Ivar's Acres of Clams restaurant and the walk-up window are just around the corner.