Next Sketch Outing

Friday, Sept. 27: Danny Woo Community Garden

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. 

Good-Bye, Viaduct; Hello, Fresh View

9/6/19 The last stump of the viaduct coming down.

It seems like we’ve been saying good-bye to the viaduct for a long, long time. Kate recalled a sketch outing at the waterfront in 2013 when we first started hearing news about the viaduct’s impending doom. I missed that one, but I began my own good-byes last December, when a few other sketchers and I got together to sketch the viaduct. Then there was the official farewell party and closure in February, when I walked on the viaduct for the first and only time.

Once the action got under way, I went back to sketch various parts of the viaduct in MarchAprilMay and June. Last week I went back yet again to sketch the last remaining stump (top of post), which is slowly being demolished even as I type this (viaduct demolition, it turns out, is not a bang but a whimper).

Enough already. I’ve said my good-byes, the viaduct is (mostly) gone, and it’s time to greet the bright view that is now visible after being hidden for decades behind that dark gray mass. Seattle USk did just that this morning, and it was refreshing to see familiar things in a new light – literally.

First I walked to the edge of a parking lot east of Alaskan Way to face west and sketch the Pier 55 building and some cranes behind it. Although this building is not particularly special to me, it’s the first time I’d seen it from that spot. Note the green Starbucks umbrellas in front of it . . .

9/13/19 Pier 55, Alaskan Way
9/13/19 Facing downtown from the waterfront

For my second sketch, I went to that Starbucks and faced east to sketch whatever buildings I could see from the outdoor table I shared with a couple of other sketchers (at right). It’s the same vantage point I had last December (below) – except now I could see the buildings. (And the same HUGE sale is going on next door.)

It’s a bright, new waterfront.

12/21/18 Here's how the same view looked last

Monday, September 9, 2019

Edmonds Classic Car Show

for the last two years, I've been sad to miss the Greenwood Car Show due to being out of town, so I was excited to see there was an alternative in Edmonds. It was actually my first car show ever, but certainly not the last. it was cooler than I thought it would be! Something about classic cars is really attractive to urban sketchers everywhere...something I discovered at the Symposium this year.

The only way it could have been better is if there were more motorcycles & scooters. Why not?? There were only one or two present at the show that I saw. I'll definitely go to a vintage scooter/motorcycle show. 

 I enjoyed the little personal touches on some of the vehicles, like the little flags on this old Ford (?). I met the owner, named Dennis, and he told me some fun facts about it, such as: the license plate, 191-030, tells us it's made in 1930 (first and last two digits) in October (middle digits, 1-0). there were two models in 1930, so you have to know which part of the year the car was made in to get the proper replacement parts for it. amazing that you still can get those for this 90 year old vehicle.

One of the 15 classic VW Beetles, all unique from each other! I liked the styling of the old luggage on top. At this point it was pouring buckets so I sheltered under an awning with some of the owners who told me about their cool VW gang -- they all go on drives and go camping and stuff together. It's a whole community. 
 A little further down the Volkswagen area, I drew this charming rusty cerulean microbus (1964 Kombi) with an attached tarp. The owner, Chris, was REALLY pumped about my drawing and we started chatting, he gave me a chair to use while I painted, and eventually he offered me a ride back to Seattle (since my ride home was leaving soon and I wanted to stay longer). It seemed like a cool opportunity so I took him up on it. We drove back with Chris's girlfriend and their dog in front, with me sitting on a lawn chair in the main cabin area. We all had to lean to one side of the van on curves to help it out with turning! It was incredibly loud with the engine (no insulation inside); seems like the vehicle has seen some harsh winters before Chris got ahold of it. We exchanged contact info after the ride so hopefully there are more opportunities to sketch cool old VW cars in my future. I love these encounters that happen as a result of sketching!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Elvis Sighting at Edmonds Car Show

9/8/19 '50s Chevy at the Edmonds Car Show
9/8/19 Elvis sighting!
Driving up I-5 as my intermittent windshield wipers took care of the drizzle, I was afraid I might be the only sketcher at the Edmonds Classic Car & Motorcycle Show. I was very wrong! Undeterred by the “chance of showers,” a good size group of USk Seattle showed up, and we were even rewarded with a little sunshine in time for the throwdown.

Although a bit smaller than the Greenwood Car Show (which I’ve sketched many times), Edmonds’ show was no less enthusiastic, and oldies music matched the vintage of many classic cars on exhibit. Even Elvis was there, dressed in a bright pink shirt and Hawaiian lei!

I felt a bit wistful sketching the bright red 50s-era Chevy (top of post), not because of the car but because of the maples behind it – just beginning to turn. It’s always hard to let summer go.

Since I don’t sketch in Edmonds often, I took advantage of the opportunity to include some local architecture behind a mint green ’68 Chevy Biscayne – the Edmonds Theater. Built in 1923, this single-screen theater has been owned and operated by the same family for more than 30 years.

9/8/19 Edmonds Theater and '68 Chevy Biscayne
After the throwdown, a few of us went to lunch at Las Brisas Mexican restaurant, which conveniently seated us on its patio facing the street. While splitting my burrito with Natalie, I had a great view of a ’71 AMC Javelin. (All of us concurred that even if you’ve had practice sketching contemporary cars, the proportions of vintage cars are especially challenging! They are somehow always longer than they could possibly be.)

9/8/19 '71 AMC Javelin
Just as I got back into my car, it started pouring and continued raining all the way home. Impeccable timing, USk Seattle!

Undeterred by a little drizzle!

Lunch with a view at Las Brisas

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Resurrecting the Western Flyer

The Western Flyer  - John Steinbeck's escape into environmental science

The shipyard next to Boat Haven Marina in Port Townsend is a health and fitness clinic for big boats. The Hawaiian Chieftan sits on drydock. Rumor has it that Pete Townsend’s yacht comes in for check-ups. Big cabin cruisers, a shiny  sky-blue 80 foot sailing yacht, a ginormous rusty metal fishing boat all scatter the boatyard. The star of the show these days, however, is the Western Flyer.

This eighty foot wooden former sardine fishing vessel, originally named the Gemini, was the home of authorJohn Steinbeck and biologist Ed Ricketts back in 1940 when they embarked on their 4-month long journey documented in the book Sea of Cortez: A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research. "The boat itself is an historic artifact—"a symbol of adventure, freedom, camaraderie, or perhaps even refuge for John Steinbeck," (Western Flyer Foundation) who was at the time under public attack for his novel Grapes of Wrath and it’s depiction of America during the depression.

Steinbeck and  Ricketts hired Anton "Tony" Berry and his fishing vessel. Once in the Sea of Cortez, habitat to an unmatched collection of sea flora and fauna, Steinbeck’s attention was fastened to what he saw. He documented the unqualified inter-dependence of sea-life, unwittingly writing the first supplementary textbook for the study of ecology. The book documents the scientific findings and tells the story through Steinbeck’s narrative.

Built in 1937 as a purse seiner, the Western Flyer, first fished for sardines out of Monterey Bay. After the epic journey documented in the book it returned to Monterey and continued sardine fishing until the early 50’s when it went to Alaska as a fishing vessel. In the 60’s it fished in northwest waters, then caught crabs in the 70’s. It changed hands several times during the next few decades ending up in Anacortes where it hauled salmon to canneries.

In 2013 it was salvaged from the dregs of Puget Sound where it had sunk twice during the previous winter. Several entrepreneurs made plans to revive it for moneymaking purposes. Finally in 2015 it was purchased by a geologist, John Gregg, with the dream to restore the vessel exactly as it had been when it made the historic voyage that became the birth of today’s science of ecology.

It’s an awesome sight to see the work being done by Port Townsend Shipwrights Co-Op to restore the boat to its original state. Remnants of the original hull are stacked near the warehouse. The skilled boat builders work long hours, steaming wooden planks to shape the boat’s hull. Countless school field traipse through the shipyard learning about the history of the boat and it’s role in exposing our planetary interdependence. The owners expect the ship to be finished in 2020 and hope to use it as a floating classroom for the study of marine biology. If you get a chance to visit Port Townsend check it out. The site is open to the public and welcomes visitors.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Another One Bites the Dust

9/2/19 former University Christian Church
The day before I left for the Twin Cities, I was driving through the University District when I saw that bulldozers and excavators were busily gutting the former University Christian Church. Built at the turn of the 20th century, it was an active church until last year, when its congregation apparently moved to Lake City. More recently, some social service organizations have used the building, but that was just temporary. I started seeing the writing on the wall – literally. When graffiti appears and people start using alcoves as their bedrooms, it’s clear that a building’s days are numbered.

I didn’t have time to sketch it then, but I saw that the ‘dozing was going fast, so I was afraid it would be flattened by the time I returned home. I took advantage of free street parking today to take a look. Relieved to see that at least some of the Gothic structure still remains (the part I like to sketch most anyway), I regret that I never sketched it when it was still whole.

Most likely it will be replaced by yet another box like these across the street.

More boring boxes.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

More sketch outings in Eastern King County on their way

Urban Sketchers Seattle now has an Eastern King County "branch." Administrators for the new Urban Sketchers Issaquah/Sammamish  have decided to start out by being part of USk Seattle. Sketchers usually meet on the 3rd Wednesday of each month. Info and messages about these outings as well as sketches can be posted on Facebook:

The sketchers who will be coordinating Issaquah/Sammamish are  Mardie Rhodes, Rosa Veilleux, and Pam Mauk

A new tab on this blog, 
"East Side Sketch Outings," announces sketch outings for the Issaquah and Sammamish areas. "Upcoming Sketch outings" will continue to list outings in the greater Seattle area. 

Upcoming outings include:

September 18, 10 am
Boehm's Candies & Chocolates
255 NE Gilman Boulevard
Issaquah, WA 98027Meet just outdoors

October 16, 10 am
Issaquah Fish Hatchery
125 W. Sunset Way
Issaquah, WA 98027
Meet by the bridge over the Issaquah Creek

November 20, 10 am
Crossroads Shopping Center
15600 NE 8th Street
Bellevue, WA 98008
Meet by the stage

Feriton Spur

Despite being the Saturday of Labor Day weekend and further east than usual, we had a good turn out for sketching at the unusual Feriton Spur Park. We even coped with a brief bit of rain.

The most obvious feature was the red caboose. Many people did sketch it, as shown here at the throw down.

And I did chose it for my second sketch.

In my first sketch I wanted to document the Google campus. Feriton Spur Park is a joint venture between the City of Kirkland and Google. It cuts right through the Google Kirkland campus. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

cycling in Noord Holland

long time no post! as some of you know, I spent 6 weeks between late June and early August in Europe, and taught workshops at the USK symposium in Amsterdam (absolutely amazing experience, full of good sketching vibes). I hope to share some of that work with you in our review meetup in a couple weeks! In the meantime, here's a few sketches from my adventures post-symposium in Noord-Holland.

 I ended up in this region mostly because I needed to book something last minute and almost everything was already full and/or out of my budget price range. I stayed in a 500 year old B&B above a restaurant in a tiny town called Bovenskarspel, a 10 minute bike ride from canal town Enkhuizen (above). I just spent the four days biking around that small city & the countryside. A lot of it, surprise to me, was all mega-agricultural land owned by Monsanto and Sygenta, etc. so it wasn't cute. But biking down south took me along the Markermeer and farmlands and tiny towns, marked by the church steeples on the horizon, like the below sketch I made at sunset.

One day, I realized I wasn't going to make it to the restaurant I was excited about eating at before they closed (because I spent too long sketching!!!) so I just went to the closest one I could find, in a town called Wijdenes. The burger at their only open restaurant was actually one of the best I've had in my life (caveat: I was extremely hungry). This was the view from my outdoor seat (below). Just to my left, all the tables were taken by this weird motor-bicycle gang that passed me on the road earlier. Literally bicycles with really loud motors, all identical. The waitress said my drawing inspired her to look at her town and "the things she sees everyday" with fresh eyes. That made me really happy.

I finally made it to the small city Hoorn just a couple hours before sunset. It was way cuter than I thought so I was kinda mad I didn't have time to explore as much as I wanted. There was a huge historic harbor and a cool old tower (below) in the center of town with a lively restaurant at its base. Two things I miss constantly about Europe: the church towers chiming the hours, and the outdoor dining/drinking culture.