Next Sketch Outing

Friday, Nov. 23, Festival of Trees/Fairmont Hotel

Monday, November 19, 2018

Yul Fest

We gathered at Yul Fest in the new Nordic Museum yesterday. It was very crowded, but everyone found something to sketch.

I spent more time than usual wandering as I looked at all the vendors and around the Museum. It opened a few months ago but this was my first visit. I definitely want to go back when it's not so crowded and I very much want to see the special exhibit from Uppsala, "Vikings Begin".
I found a chair and tucked myself into a corner. I forgot to look at the information tags on this ship and stone.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The New Nordic Museum

11/18/18 the new Nordic Museum
Back in 2013 in the early days of the Friday sketchers, we met at the old Nordic Heritage Museum. A bit dark and dingy, the old building in Ballard had a small selection of traditional artifacts and historic exhibits. In fact, the brightest spot was a large hallway display of architectural renderings by Stephanie Bower (see below) showing what the new Nordic Museum building would look like when it was completed in 2018.

11/18/18 Looking down on the main floor
That seemed like a long way off, but today we completed that circle when USk Seattle met at the newly reopened Nordic Museum near Salmon Bay. A far cry from the old one, the new building is large, modern and bright. Although brilliantly sunny this morning, the temperature was only in the high 30s, but Michele and I decided to bundle up for a sketch of the back of the building from the parking lot. Sketching dark glass and steel that met at sharp angles, I experienced strong déjà vu of last August when I sketched the newly reopened Bell Museum in St. Paul, which had also started out in a dark, dingy building.

In addition to the usual museum visitors crowd, many people were there for Julefest, a holiday tradition in its 41st year. Enjoying traditional music wafting out from the auditorium tent as we sketched, Michele and I were going to make that our next stop. Just as we found seats and pulled out our pens, though, the musicians stopped and took a break. We began wandering among the Julefest vendors and got distracted by all manner of cashmere scarves (which we bought!), grog, handcrafted ornaments and Viking horns, not to mention the museum exhibits themselves.

Whew! With all of that grabbing for my attention, it’s amazing that I got a second sketch done at all! Walkway bridges on the upper level connect opposite sides of the building. I picked one to peer over and sketched people queued up for food and shopping for scarves and hats.

I barely skimmed the surface of all that the Nordic Museum has to offer, so I’m definitely planning to return later for a more thorough look.

Architectural renderings by Stephanie Bower in the old Nordic Museum, April 2013. 
(Photo by Carleen Zimmerman)

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Finally Inside

Over the past few years, I've sketched the Amazon Spheres as they were built. And then I sketched them from the outside. Finally, today, I got inside. Some weeks ago I scheduled a "tour" of the Amazon Spheres.

I went into the city via the light rail and did sketches while traveling in both directions.

gel pen in Field Notes Sketchbook

As it turned out, it was simply a ticket to enter and wander as long as I wanted. I first stopped at General Porpoise for a vanilla custard doughnut. I used the time at the table to sketch.

It is a wondrous place and the Amazon employees are fortunate to have it. I'm not sure how much work I would get done there, though! I was there about 2 hours. According to the tiny brochure, there are 2,636 panes of glass in the exterior. Many of the 40,000 plants inside are tropical so the conditions are kept at 72 degrees and 60% humidity in the day time.  It would seem there's even a place to nap.  The woman on the left was flat out asleep!

I'd seen Tina's sketch of the Bird Nest and knew I couldn't leave without doing one of my own. I think it's the most unusual spot within the Spheres.  It is reached by a bridge that is rather bouncy, like a suspension bridge.

Many more photos

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Moses Coulee Nature Conservancy

I was privileged to spend four days at the Moses Coulee Nature Conservancy Preservation with 14 other plein air artists last week. A welcome break from the noisy, honking, crowded cacophony of leaf blowers and construction of the city.

Here is an assortment of wildlife found right outside the front door of the lodge.

A roiling wood stove heated the cabin nicely. A bit TOO nicely for my taste, but my sleeping room was down the hall and perfect for good nights of deep sleep. An introvert, I found the conversation fun and interesting– everyone was talented and friendly– but tiring for this loner. I slept 9-10 hours each night!

Opposite the wood stove was this new addition to the cabin, so I drew it as we chatted about our day's work and adventures from sketching out in the sagebrush.

Here is the lodge itself. This is the first thing I drew on the day I arrived, sketched while listening to the sharp, staccato calls of the small black ducks on the pond behind me.

High above the lake the wind kept blowing my hat off. I drew this huddled against the rocks where there was a wind break.

A half-page, quickly done in front of the lodge. Unusual for me, I painted the colors first and drew the contours last.

I wish I could have drawn the starry night sky, the Milky Way and the longest, brightest shooting star I've ever seen.

Friday, November 9, 2018

High Up at Elliott Bay Book Co.

11/9/18 Elliott Bay Book Co.
Elliott Bay Book Company is one of Seattle’s last remaining independent general book stores. With high ceilings and exposed beams, the space invites settling in for a few hours of browsing thousands of books.

After strolling through the main floor, I headed up to the loft-like upper level, where I found an interesting view of several sketchers down below. I knew the perspective on the towering bookcases would be challenging, so I worked carefully trying to get them right. I must have gotten tired by the time I put in the back walls, though, and my perspective fell apart!

Tucking my tail under, I went into the café for a snack, had a nice chat with other sketchers, and made a non-challenging sketch (requiring no perspectival study) of the café’s countertop. Any book store that sells pencils right next to the coffee, scones and (delicious) biscuits is my kind of book store.
11/9/18 Elliott Bay Books' cafe

Although the basement where readings are given was closed to the public, the manager allowed us to use the space for our throwdown. As always, we had a good turnout and welcomed a few new faces.

Friday, November 2, 2018

New Logo for USk Seattle!

Urban Sketchers Seattle has a brand new chapter logo designed by long-time USk Seattle member and blog correspondent David Hingtgen! Many thanks to David for the beautiful design incorporating iconic Mt. Rainier.

A variation of the global USk logo, our chapter logo is based on the official Urban Sketchers organization Logo Identity Guide, which shows appropriate usage of the logo. If you have questions about logo usage, please talk to Tina, Kate or Jane.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Peacock in the Desert Exhibition

Now that summer is over and Urban Sketcher gatherings are in cold weather mode, I decided to explore new avenues for creativity. Curious about SAM’s current exhibition, Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India, I ordered a ticket and went to the exhibit with a sketchbook, pencil, and pen. My intention was to sketch objects of interest. The size of the collection and the amount of information provided requires time and concentration. To educate myself further, I’ll get another ticket for another day. Today I followed through with my original intention of sketching. Finishing the drawings at the museum, I added color at home because there were so many people and a lot of guards!  

The first thing to greet visitors is Mahadol (Palanquin) ca. 1700-30  Used to transport rulers during festivals, it’s called a portable palace.  Powered by  twelve men, it is now a show stopper.  

Mahadol (Palanquin) ca. 1700-30
There are many examples of arms and armor.  Intrigued by the daggers and swords, the ones with designs including animals and flora are remarkable. 
Sword with dragon and rabbit
An entire military tent fills one museum room.  A mobile palace, the Lal Dera dates from 1659. Made of red velvet and intricately embroidered, the colors are regally symbolic and the interior looks extravagantly comfortable
Lal Dera, a military tent
On another level, the exhibition continues with a large video  projection of scenes from a festival or wedding. Examples of turbans, musical instruments and elaborate methods of transportation fill the room.  An ornate riding seat has a red and ochre fringed parasol to protect passengers against the sun. A velvet persimmon colored seat, heavily carved botanical decorations, and a large tiger with menacing eyes complete the ambitious construction.
Colorful transportation
An elephant mannequin dressed for a wedding procession wears opulent textiles and has reserved seating, The rich shades of red suggests this is no ordinary wedding. 
Wedding elephant

Peacock in the Desert is an opportunity to see historical art from a royal museum in India without having to fly half-way around the world! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Sketches from the Seattle Center Outing

My Sketches from the October Sketch Outing to the Seattle Center.  
The weather was beautiful for a Seattle Fall Day!

The back entrance to the Armory Building (formerly the Food Circus during the 1962 Worlds Fair).
With a peak-a-boo view of the Space Needle.

The Key Arena before they start renovation for the new NHL franchise (formerly the Coloseum during the fair and when the Sonics played there).  This past year home to the WNBA champs, Storm.

Inside the Armory I sat at the Blue Water Bistro and watch the Huskies on TV, ate lunch and did a sketch.

Finally ended my day at the International Fountain, watching the kids in the water, listening to the music from the fountain and sketching the activity while sitting in the beautiful fall sunshine.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Weekend sketches

Last Saturday  I was in Magnolia, an area of Seattle that I'm not so familar. Wide streets, tall, deciduous trees glowing gold despite the gray skies panoramic views--it was all lovely and impressive.  Most of the 10x10 teachers met to begin planning for next year's 10x10 classes. Yep, 2019 will be here before we know it. After the meeting I Yelped for a nearby restaurant and fund Mura Asian Eatery. It was between lunch and dinner so the restaurant was quiet. I had few distractions while I made these quick sketches. 

The next day, Sunday I want to the Farmer's Market in Olympia where the fall colors were just as evident and the people just as enticing as they waited  for their lunch. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Green Man Bun and Other Excitement at SoDo Reserve

10/26/18 Man-bunned fire marshal

Although our outings are always fun and exciting in an urban sketching sort of way, none of us expected the kind of excitement we had this morning at the Starbucks Reserve SoDo store and café. I had arrived a few minutes early, so I was still in my car when hundreds of people suddenly started pouring out of the buildings and onto the parking lot. I was afraid we had chosen to sketch there on the same day as a major convention!

I soon learned that a fire drill was taking place at Starbucks headquarters. Waiting outside in the wind and rain, a few other sketchers and I watched as the fire marshal attempted to keep people from entering, sometimes ineffectively. We decided that his bright green man bun added nothing to his authority.

Eventually we were allowed to enter, and I was grateful that the only fire was the one burning in the cozy fireplace in the center of the store.

10/26/18 Tony sketching by the cozy fireplace.
The first time I sketched at the SoDo Reserve last March shortly after it had opened, a bright red slicing machine had caught my eye, but I couldn’t find a clear view of it then. This time I shared a table with Kathleen, which gave me reasonably good view (except for the continual stream of customers at the counter that I had to dodge). My intention was to simply make a ballpoint InkTober sketch of the retro-looking machine, but I ended up being fascinated by its mechanical workings as a deli worker sliced ham for the sandwiches she was making.

10/26/18 Sandwich maker slicing ham

Another great turnout of the Friday sketchers!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Diwali - Festival of Lights; Feast of Color

I've always grouped Diwali with the other autumn/winter festivals - Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa - but I've never had any direct experience with the event. As soon as I entered the Seattle Armory I was delighted with the color and vitality that was just beginning to build. The armory stage was the main focus. I saw the performers but soon I spotted the staging area where performers waited for their turn. I was enthralled. Sitting on my fold-up stool against the concrete walls of the armory I could watch, unimpeded and largely unnoticed as a rainbow of performers chatted, stretched, practiced, watched and waited. 

Later I went upstairs and found cooking lessons, a delightful puppet show, an art room and an enthralling view of the light-filled kandeel (lanterns). 

Hindus in earlier days set kandeels afloat high, a gesture to invite the spirits of their ancestors moving around to come back home and be with them during the festival time; hence the name akasha deepa (lantern of the sky) or AkashaKandil. Wikipedia

As the sunlight flooded the banners it looked to me like they couldn't help but fulfill their purpose. 

Three USK 10X10 workshops in October Part #2: Jane Wingfield and Eleanor Doughty

[Read  Part 1 of this series, on Andika Murandi's workshop]

The second of my three Fall 10x10 workshops was Jane Wingfield' People in Places, scheduled for October 14 in the Pike Place Market.

I started the morning by getting lost in the labyrinthine market with all its small shops, stairs, hallways, alleys, which don't seem to follow any meaningful spatial organization. I had to stop at a shop and ask for direction. The shop owner didn't seem very impressed with my capacity to follow his instructions (go to the end of the hallways, pass the glass door, turn left, cross the alley by the gum wall, find the wood staircase and so on), but I finally made it to the Atrium.

Jane had prepared nice booklets with the course handout and a folder with Manila paper for each of us, so that we could freely and loosely sketch people without feeling concerned about wasting paper or making a pretty sketch.

She started by showing us many examples of how other urban sketchers depict people in their sketches, from Suhita Shirodkar, to Jim Richards, Melanie Reim, Jane herself and many others.
Jane introduced several techniques to capture the gesture in posture and quickly sketch people with markers, brush pens, or directly with watercolor. After practicing for a while, we ventured in the very crowded Market to sketch people in context. Below are my manila paper sketches practicing Jane's instructions and tips.

A collage of my people sketch practice during Jane Wingfield's workshop. We tried several techniques and took inspiration from the many examples from Jane's printouts.

Below some pictures from the workshop, including our throw-downs and Jane fearlessly standing in a corner of the market for a demo.

Participants at Jane Windfield's workshop People in places and Jane during the demo

The last exercise was a more complete sketch of people in context. My sketch took quite a while. There were a constant flow of people walking around, never stopping, always changing. It was mesmerizing, distracting, and a bit overwhelming, but little by little, and switching between the buildings, the  people and back to the buildings, things started to make sense.

My final sketch of the People in Places workshop. Some of the watercolor wash was done at a later time.

As I did the previous week, I after the workshop I got lunch (a "crêpe du jour" at the Crêpe de France) then I walked around the area with my sketchbook ready. My attention was caught by the iridescent building on the left of the sketch below, as well as by the never ending constructions in downtown Seattle.

Buildings and construction at the intersection of 3rd Avenue and Virginia Street on my way back from the workshop

My third and final workshop was Eleanor Doughty's From Afar: Rendering Atmospheric Perspective in Watercolor. We met at the Lynn Street mini park in East Lake last Saturday. It was a foggy, moody morning, perfect for working on atmospheric perspective. It was also humid and unexpectedly cold.
The goal of the workshop was to learn about atmospheric perspective and practicing rendering it in watercolor using composition and differences in contrast, details, tone, edges, and color temperature. Eleanor had included several examples in her handout of how talented sketchers and illustrators represented space and distance and composed their scenes.

Eleanor illustrated many of those techniques in her demo, then it was our turn to apply them to our sketches. My first sketch was a bit of a mess, but I used what I learned from my mistakes (too much water, not enough water, too many colors, colors in the background too bright, muddy mess) to make a much simpler second version.

My (second) watercolor sketch for Eleanor's workshop on atmospheric perspective. I used Daniel Smith Blue Ultramarine and Transparent Red Oxide on Arches cold press watercolor paper.

By the end of the morning the sun had come up and it was much more pleasant to stand outside. I had a chat with Eleanor, which told me about her recent trip to Japan, Taiwan, and Vietnam, then walked to East Lake avenue. While I was waiting for my husband to pick me up, I sketched the view from this spot, to which I later applied a watercolor wash.

Waiting for my ride in front of the Voxx Coffee, at the intersection of Eastlake Avenue East and Lynn street.

This is all for my 10x10 Fall workshops, but if you are interested there are still 3 workshops in October and November that you might be able to attend (and if you are not in Seattle, there is a chance that similar workshops are scheduled in your area). I'm sure you'll find them fun and inspiring.