Next Monthly Sketch Outing

July 9th (date change) Georgetown Garden Walk
See Monthly Outing page for details.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Dancing with KK and Melanie

My head is still exploding from a fantastic weekend learning from Ch'ng Kiah Kiean and Melanie Reim in the Dancing Lines USk workshop! I published full reports on the workshop on my personal blog (Part 1: KK; Part 2: Melanie). Rather than repeat them here, I just wanted to share a few photos and express my thanks to Urban Sketchers Seattle for bringing KK and Melanie to us. It was like having a mini symposium right in our own backyard! Many thanks, especially, to Gail and Jane for their months of hard work in making the workshop possible.

KK carving twigs

KK demo-ing his tools

KK's demo at the Seattle Center

Melanie at the Seattle Center

Day 1 finale: KK and Melanie sketch Chihuly flowers simultaneously!

KK's demo at the Pike Place Market

Final throwdown at the Market

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Northwest School and Our Newest Urban Sketchers

Every time I sketch in Seattle with the urban sketchers Seattle group I learn something new about our city. Today was an enhancement of that experience because Tina Koyama and I were privileged to share a morning of sketching with Matt Fujimoto and his summer camp students from the Northwest School.
Tina and Matt walking down Pike Street with Northwest School sketchers.
We allowed a peek into our sketch kits while in the classroom. After sharing some more tips ("It doesn't have to be perfect!") and some reminders about the difference between plein air painting and urban sketching ("50 lbs. lighter equipment to carry") we all walked down Pike Street to the corner of Boren and Pike.

Our destination was Plymouth Pillars Park, a lovely little dog friendly green space that gave us all quite enough room to spread out and choose our individual subjects.(Cat friendly, too! There was a tuxedo cat on a leash taking a nice stroll in the park this morning.)

Matt helping his students with their sketches.
Tina (in foreground) getting an overview with Kathryn (seated) of our fellow sketchers at the park this morning.
The newest Seattle Urban Sketchers share their work.
I truly enjoyed seeing our little corner of the city through the eyes of these 11-15 year old sketchers. They drew everything from people to animals to buildings, trash cans, signage and more!
My sketch of the Wintonia Hotel, overlayed by decades of city "furniture".
I chose this view of the old Wintonia Hotel, quite an impressive building, even now. It appeared to be loosely basted into the fabric of today's city with power lines, street car lines and signage. The pair of sneakers strung together by their laces and tossed over a power line seemed to put us firmly into the present.
The hotel currently serves as low income housing. See how it looked in its heyday in this detailed illustration with horse drawn carriages, "new" touring cars, pedestrians and a street car in front. You might even say that we have always had urban sketchers in Seattle. With this new small group from Northwest School I hope we always will.

Urban Sketching with the Northwest School

7/12/17 Plymouth Pillars Park

Sometimes I think about how much more sketching I might have done before age 52 (when I finally did start sketching) if someone had just handed me a sketchbook and a pencil when I was, say, 14, and put the idea in my head. Instead of being wrapped up inside my own angst-filled adolescence, maybe I would have looked around and observed more of the world.

7/12/17 Students hard at work.
I would like to hope that something like that may have happened this morning for at least some of the 13 students at the Northwest School who are learning about architecture and design. For the second year, the school and the Seattle Architecture Foundation invited Urban Sketchers Seattle to lead a class session in urban sketching. Michele Cooper and I talked about our personal approaches to urban sketching, and then we showed some sketches and our sketch kits. Then I handed out a stack of pocket-size notebooks and pencils, and the kids were ready for their field trip! 

Their teacher Matt Fujimoto (former student of Gail Wong) and program coordinator Kathryn Higgins led us to nearby Plymouth Pillars Park. As was the case last year when David Chamness and I participated in the same program, the kids, ages 11 to 14, hardly needed our encouragement – they all leaped in with gusto. It was inspiring and heartening to see their energy and courage.

Other urban sketchers will be leading two more sessions at the Northwest School later this summer.

Teacher Matt Fujimoto helps the students get started.

Program coordinator Kathryn Higgins joins the students for
a little sketching.

Michele is back there in the shade!

Of course we ended with a sketchbook throwdown!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Hat and Boots - Vestiges from the Fabulous 50's

For the first time in a few months I joined Seattle Urban Sketchers on their Sunday sketch outing. And for the third year we've hit the Georgetown Garden tour. Those earlier visits had me at the Georgetown Trailer Park. This year, however, I was determined to get over to the infamous Hat and Boots at Oxbow Park. Created in 1954 for a Georgetown gas station, the historic landmark, was billed as the largest had and boots in America.

First I did a quickish thumbnail:

And then tried pencil and watercolor. 

Fun to be back with the group.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Sketching Vehicles at a Garden Walk

Urban Sketchers Seattle met to sketch the for the Georgetown Garden Walk 3rd year in a row. It was also just a few days before our 8th anniversary as the fist sketch outing in Seattle was on July 19, 2009.

After the 10 am meeting, I parked at Oxbow park. My intention was to make my way south and east as other years I've gone the opposite direction to find open gardens. But an open teardrop trailer across the street immediately distracted me.  I've recently developed an interest in these tiny trailers so I just had to investigate. 

I found young Hannah there selling cupcakes and other baked treats to raise money for Endangered Wild Cats. And I met her mother, Brie. I learned the tiny teardrop was home built by Brie's great grandfather. She and her father restored it and they use it for camping now.

After finishing that sketch, I thought I might continue with my original plan. But no... I remembered in other years I'd wanted to sketch the big, old, Mack truck that serves as a mobile art gallery. It's been there each of the three years we've sketched. I decided this was the year I would finally sketch it.

So..... I went to a Garden Walk and only sketched vehicles!

Well, not quite. I'd gotten there early and stopped at one of the many traffic circles the residents decorate with plantings and sculptures. This is the circle at Flora & Warsaw.

As usual, we met to share sketches and have a group photo.

The Georgetown Castle

7/9/17 Georgetown Castle

The most colorful house in the Georgetown neighborhood also has a colorful past – or maybe a dark one. Known as the Georgetown Castle, the mansion is apparently haunted (though ghostbusters of sorts have been employed to exorcise whatever ghosts are there). Regardless, it was part of the Georgetown Garden Walk yesterday, an annual event for USk Seattle the past few years.

Unlike last year and the year before, I resisted the giant hat and boots at Oxbow Park (though I was tempted) and instead sketched the mansion, or at least as much of it as I could see from the park. The conical turret of the Queen Anne-style house was especially challenging and fun to draw, since I don’t see many of them in Seattle.

7/9/17 Mercedes convertible
The mansion apparently had a fantastic garden that I suppose I should have at least walked through, but I was too distracted by vehicles. One was the Mercedes convertible on the street nearby (you know I can’t resist convertibles), and the second was the BMW motorcycle at the park. Sketching both of those made me think of Florian Afflerbach, the young urban sketcher who died in a motorcycle accident a little over a year ago. Known online as Flaf, he was particularly fond of sketching cars and motorcycles. 

7/9/17 BMW motorcycle
Thinking of Flaf also made me think of Bruno Agnes, an urban sketcher who passed away very recently. A USk global blog correspondent, he sounded apologetic in his last post more than a year ago that he hadn’t been drawing much because his job required extensive travel. 

I didn’t know either Flaf or Bruno personally, but I knew their sketches well. Feeling a bit melancholy, I thought about the importance of making time for the activities we love. It always seems like we have plenty of time to get around to the next sketch. But maybe we have less time than we think.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A Blast from the Past in Georgetown

Seattle Urban Sketchers met in the Georgetown neighborhood this morning at the Bank of America (Georgetown branch) parking lot for July's monthly outing. It was the occasion of the 22nd Annual Georgetown Garden Walk.
On my drive towards the sketchers' meet up, I was looking forward to seeing the historical homes and luxurious gardens that the neighborhood had to offer. It was the first time I had been here with USk. Upon arrival, I received a map of the Garden Walk which listed 59 officially numbered options. Where to start?
As a group of us started walking down Carleton Ave S. towards the only known restroom provided, we saw unusual buildings (one with a question mark worked into the pattern of roofing shingles), a plein air painter working in oils, and lots of invitingly shady gardens.
We reached Oxbow Park and I realized I had found my subject, albeit not a garden. The largest cowboy hat in the world and a matching pair of gigantic boots stood proudly at the end of the park, relics of the roadside attractions of the 50's. These unique buildings have been lovingly restored and moved here from the gas station they previously occupied. The boots were originally used as the gas station restrooms and the hat was the office.

I found a shady spot at the west end of the park where Kathleen was also intrigued by the unusual shaped buildings. As I sketched, Joseph sang Native American songs, played the flute and accompanied himself on the hand drum. Across the street another reminder of the '40's and '50's, a classic teardrop trailer, was all set up as a cupcake stand.
At 12:30 we shared our sketches. It was another beautiful summer day spent sketching in Seattle with the urban sketchers.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Pike Place Market’s Newest View

7/7/17 Waterfront and skyline view from MarketFront plaza

The north end of the Pike Place Market has been undergoing an expansion that finally opened to the public just last week. The new MarketFront has stores, restaurants and other venues and one of the best views of the waterfront from a huge, multi-level plaza.

USk Seattle wasted no time in getting over there for an outing, and I wasted no time in tackling that panoramic view (if I hesitated, I was afraid I’d chicken out). On a sunny but comfortably warm morning, I found a spot on a wide stairway overlooking the Great Wheel, Safeco and CenturyLink stadiums, the viaduct (both north and southbound) and the MarketFront’s plaza.

7/7/17 Billie the Pig
With the tough one out of the way, I relaxed and wandered over to the vendor area, where Billie the Pig (sister to Rachel) was the top selfie spot for tourists. Unlike standing Rachel, who is easy to climb aboard for photos, Billie is seated, so her slippery, sloped backside proved to be challenging for most kids who attempted to ride her.

Billie’s bronze footprints can be engraved with donors’ names and placed in the ground. Likewise, the fencing all around the MarketFront was decorated with thousands of charms engraved with the names of supporters. (Back in the ‘80s, I got my name engraved on a floor tile in support of the Market, so these types of tokens are part of the Market’s legacy.)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Sun and Shade at the Market

Urban Sketchers had a sunny, cool day for sketching in the new area of Pike’s Market called “MarketFront”.  I knew I could spend a long time looking around for inspiration, instead, I quickly settled on Billie the PigBank since I could sit in the shade and still see an expansive backdrop of the waterfront. I don’t think anyone passed by without taking a picture of Billie.  Kids and adults hugged her while smiling big for the camera.  I chose not to put a figure on the pig because the bodies were so fleetingly kinetic.  The pig is a solid mass of bronze, a strong and compelling shape to isolate and admire. I didn’t see anyone drop coins into the piggy bank.  It’s good luck to make a donation.
Billie the PigBank
Next I walked to the north end of the building where a parking sign caught my attention.  Elevated above the street, my vantage point positioned me with an excellent view of the sign, people walking below, a lacy tree and buildings climbing up into the sky. The strong sunlight cast shadows within the sign and on the sidewalk.  All the people had shadows attached, making me think of Peter Pan.  
Public Parking Sign

Finally, for the last sketch of the outing, I looked to the south and found my subject easily, the Joe Desimone Bridge. Sage green and yellow ochre coloration contrasts agreeably with the sleek modern structures in the distance. Bathed in sunlight, the bridge spans a busy street. Public parking signs add a counterpoint of red to aid with directions.  When I first moved to Seattle, finding parking seemed an onerous task.  After sketching the picturesque signs, I’m convinced parking is a pleasure filled escapade.  Just follow the signs, or better yet, as I have discovered, ride the bus.
Joe Desimone Bridge

Sketching the New

The Friday group of Urban Sketchers Seattle got together to sketch the new section of Pike Place Market this morning. I didn't think about how crowded the Market would be during high tourist season. Fortunately, our goal today was the newly opened extension. It has more room and, perhaps, fewer people know about it being there.

I wandered around quite a bit before settling down to sketch. I knew I wanted to sketch the Pig, but a couple sketchers were already there. So I went down to the lower level and did a sketch looking back up, with the high rise apartment buildings looming over the Market. The building just on the right houses Artist Studios but they are not open to the public.

Then I went back up to sketch the newly relocated pig. By then, a young man was staffing a table to sell items for the Pike Market Foundation. A pig footprint in brass set into the patio of the Market requires a $5000 donation!

This pig is sitting, so not as conducive to climbing as the standing Rachel the Pig.  The kids tried anyway.  She is Rachel's younger cousin, Billie who has been relocated from lower down on Western Ave.  She seems very tolerant. 

We shared our sketches in the shade.  Thanks to Greg for taking the group photo. 

A few of us gathered after for lunch.  While waiting for the food, I did a quick pen
sketch of the interior of Pike Brewing

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Ballard Locks Centennial

7/6/17 Salmon Bay Bridge

When I was a kid, one of the places my dad always wanted to take first-time Seattle visitors to was the Ballard Locks. He was apparently fascinated with the need to bring the water levels of Lake Washington, Lake Union and Puget Sound to the same level so that boats could travel among them and the locks’ engineering that made this possible. Standing at the edge of the locks, watching the boats pass through, he would go on and on about this marvel of technology, what it must have been like to construct it, blah blah blah. I was endlessly bored with my dad’s monologue, which I had to listen to every time we visited. I could always think of dozens of places our visitors would most certainly prefer to see, such as Woodland Park Zoo or the Space Needle.

Earlier this week the Ballard Locks (officially called the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks) celebrated its centennial with much media fanfare. Although I didn’t attend the festivities, I decided to go over there this beautiful morning. I’ve sketched the locks themselves previously, even at night as the Christmas ships passed through, but today I focused on the Salmon Bay Bridge, built shortly before the locks opened, which dominates the view. (I sketched a similar view a couple of years ago.)

Now with greater appreciation for what was, indeed, a marvel of technology a century ago (and which has served the region’s water traffic ever since), I also have greater appreciation for my dad’s blah blah blah. In fact, I have heard myself repeat it to Seattle visitors that I bring to the locks. 

Happy 100th birthday, Ballard Locks!