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Outings cancelled until further notice

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Another one closed

The Jules Maes Saloon in the Georgetown neighborhood closed in March after 132 years.  It was one of the oldest bars in Seattle.  I only learned of the permanent closure this week so went to sketch it before the exterior changed. 

I sketched in the shade on the sidewalk across the street. This is one of only a couple times I've sketched outside my car since March. I wore a mask for the longest period yet, about an hour.

It closed during the WA Phase 1 shut down. Per a PI report, it closed permanently last week, in part due to a 27% increase in rent. The Georgetown neighborhood used to be industrial funky but has started to gentrify a bit. The owner said he might try to relocate to White Center.

There are murals on the south side, including a Henry. The white mural in my sketch is by @overallcreative


Thursday, July 16, 2020

The Jaisalmer Sketchbook

In November 2017, I returned from a two-week Rajasthan trip happy, grinning ear to ear and with two sketchbooks brimming cover to cover. I was so productive with my sketching that it only took me the four days I spent in the frontier town of Jaisalmer, amidst the majestic twelfth-century World Heritage fort, to fill my second sketchbook.

Sonar Killa – the Golden Fort – is set in the Thar desert in northwestern India, less than two-hundred miles from the India-Pakistan international border.  The glitter of the yellow sandstone walls in the early morning sun is dull and metallic, reminiscent of the precious metal that the fort is named after. It is as much a breathtaking sight today for a modern traveler as it must have been to a merchant plying the silk route when the Mughals ruled India in the fifteenth century.  


We had found ourselves a room with a jharokha – an overhanging enclosed balcony situated on top of the bulwarks, with a sweeping view of the surrounding town and the landscape. A young scion of the family that has owned the eight-hundred-year-old haveli – a traditional Indian mansion – for several generations was responsible for its conversion to a tastefully decorated boutique hotel. Many such families still own apartments and mansions on the fort, passed as an inheritance from generation to generation. The fort has been continuously lived-in since olden times, the narrow streets buzzing with the sounds and smell of day-to-day life, adding lively charm to the ancient walls.

 

I took every opportunity I could find to slip out of our room and situate me in one of the many nooks and crannies of the fort to sketch. One such early morning sojourn led to the discovery of a portal hidden behind a carpet-sellers display. The opening led me along a narrow ledge behind a succession of gun-turrets, to a gun-slot where I squeezed beneath the barrel of a tremendous gun, one that had stood poised to protect the fort for many centuries.

In Nov 2017, I was deep into the preparation of my Middle East adventure to travel in the footsteps of probably the original urban sketcher of them all. The Scottish artist David Roberts had traveled through Egypt and the Holy Land in 1838-39, to sketch through direct observation, the landscape mentioned in the Bible, the first time such an ambitious project was being undertaken. Looking back at my sketches of Jaisalmer, I notice I had already started experimenting with David Roberts’ inimitable style – juxtaposing locals in colorful garb against monumental architecture. Fortunately, psychedelic colors and majestic architecture are both to be found in abundance in Rajasthan.

My wife Monica and I bivouacked on the sand dunes of Thar under a star-studded sky. Our guide, a local villager with mustache thicker than my thumb, had cooked a hardy meal for us over ambers plucked from the roaring campfire. After serving us the piping hot daal-baati – crisp wheat balls baked and then mixed with spicy lentils, doused with dollops of ghee, the guide used an empty five-gallon plastic water jug as a banjo to provide beats to the folk songs he sang for us. On our way back, our jeep got stuck in the sand. Leaving the driver to wrestle with it, Monica and I hiked a dune to arrive at an ancient cemetery with the fort gleaming on the horizon.

 

My goal for the trip was plenty of line-and-wash - “wash where there are no lines and lines where no wash is needed”.  As I sat down for sketching, I found myself drawn to the strong architectural lines and the squiggly curves of the Devanagari script (and Rajput mustaches.)  I felt like I had barely scratched the surface of Jaisalmer in the four days I was there. It is only a matter of time, I am sure before I go back to Jaisalmer, which I already consider in my favorite top 5 walled cities of the world.

 

Sunil Shinde lives in Seattle with his wife, two daughters, and his golden retriever, Oscar. He has been an ardent urban sketcher since 2013. When he is not traveling, he is building an AI-based population health product in stealth mode. You can see his sketches here.



Sunday, July 12, 2020

Celebrate USk Seattle's 11th Anniversary!




Hello, sketchers! We hope you are doing well and staying creative during these difficult times. Since it will still be a while before USk Seattle is able to organize sketch outings (we follow King County’s restrictions for “social and recreational gatherings”), we wanted to offer some ideas and resources to stay inspired, engaged and sketching:

To celebrate USk Seattle’s 11th anniversary, we’re having a party on Zoom on Sunday, July 19, 12:30 p.m.!


Share one urban sketch (following our Manifesto, please) that you’ve made during the pandemic, and tell a brief story about it. The invitation link will be sent out on the Google group mailing list and in the Facebook group. You do not need your own Zoom account to attend. To learn how to use this popular videoconferencing app, please see Zoom’s helpful tutorials.

Here are more ideas:



  • The current Phase 2 restrictions allow five or fewer individuals to gather outdoors. Call a few friends and meet somewhere to sketch together (socially distanced, of course)! For those who feel safe in large public areas, this is the easiest way to get back into the social spirit of urban sketching. And please share your sketches online so that everyone can enjoy them! Our Facebook group continues to grow daily. On Instagram, use the hashtag #uskseattle.
  • Keep sketching on your own and share online. See our location suggestions below.
  • Get inspired by the many online resources for classes, tutorials, interviews, presentations and more on urban sketching and other types of art (see below). Some instructors who normally offer in-person workshops worldwide have taken their workshops online, which means that even non-locals can enjoy the same benefits as locals. Take advantage of these great opportunities to improve your skills while staying in the safety of your home.


Sketch Location Suggestions


See this list for dozens and dozens of exciting locations where we have sketched previously. If you’re unfamiliar with a place, use the blog’s search tool to see what others have sketched there. Here are some of our favorite large, outdoor spaces:

Alki Beach
Bellevue Botanical Garden
Fishermen’s Terminal
Gas Works Park
Jack Block Park
Kubota Gardens
Lake Union Park
Leschi Park and Marina
Magnuson Park
Olympic Sculpture Park
Volunteer Park

Online Resources


USk Talks are live on USk Instagram Saturdays at 9 p.m. PDT. Rob Sketcherman in Hong Kong interviews two urban sketchers (usually symposium instructors) from around the world. Each interview ends with an urban sketching challenge, and participants are invited to share their results on social media with the #USkTalksChallenge hashtag. The programs are available for later viewing on the USk YouTube Channel.

Sketching Play Lab with USk instructors Suhita Shirodkar and Paul Wang: 90-minute Zoom sessions focus on exploring elements of design.

USk Portland 10x10: Rita Sabler offers workshops with a choice of in-person attendance (maintaining physical distancing) or on Zoom. (Kate participated in a Zoom workshop and found it well done.)

Studio 56: Free offerings and interviews on Zoom with urban sketchers who teach for Studio 56. Some online workshops are available for a fee.

Sketchbook Skool: Many online classes offered, some of which are related to urban sketching.

Several urban sketching instructors are now offering workshops online, including Michele Cooper and Shari Blaukopf.

"The Mind of Watercolor" by Steve Mitchell is Kate’s favorite watercolor YouTube channel. Many free tutorials available.

Urban sketcher Teoh Yi Chie, better known as Parka, offers hundreds of product reviews and demos on YouTube. Some online courses are also offered for a small fee.

Daniel Smith owner John Cogley offers frequent presentations and artist interviews on YouTube. (The Seattle Daniel Smith store is closed but plans to reopen Sept. 8. All in-person events remain cancelled through the end of 2020.)

Thursday, July 9, 2020

sketching black owned businesses


Your Family Auto repair shop & Cafe Selam Ethiopian Restaurant on E Cherry St.


In the wake of the recent wave of BLM movements, my friend Alexander and I have been meeting up in the Central District to make a point of sketching, patronizing, and learning about Black-owned businesses in our area. To be sure it's a small gesture, but it feels good at this moment to connect my sketching practice and what's been going on in the country for the last month or so. It's also been fun to meet some of the neighborhood characters & some of the shop owners. 

I'm now making myself show people what I drew before I leave the spot. Trying to make connections in the community and spread positive energy! Everyone likes feeling appreciated, and drawing their stuff is one way to do it.


Ezell's Famous Chicken on 23rd. I had never eaten there before, and spending like $11 on a combo meal made me full for the entire day. They even accidentally (?) gave me an extra piece! Ezell's claim to fame is that Oprah apparently flew in some of their fried chicken to Chicago because she was craving it so hard. 



Fat's Chicken on E. Cherry & MLK. This was the most fun sketch we did. Not only is this corner building really wonky and neat details, the owner (who I unknowingly put in the sketch, sitting outside the orange door) was so psyched about our drawings they gave us free to-go cocktails. I also ate some more chicken here, which was super tender and crispy. That might be enough fried chicken for me for the rest of the summer, but it was worth it. 


Finally, here is Tana Market just down the way on E Cherry. I had become familiar with this Ethiopian bodega from buying canned beers from its well stocked fridges for our other nearby sketch outings. If you want fresh baked injera, this is the place! Alexander drew the juice bar across the street, while I was more attracted to Tana's awning and simple storefront. When I showed the drawing to the guy at the register, he did not react at all. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Shade Trees

7/8/20 Roosevelt neighborhood

The temperature was 72 and sunny. With an errand to run, I took the top down on the Miata for what seemed like the first time in years. Taking the long way through neighborhoods on my way to the pharmacy, I pulled off near Ravenna Boulevard on a street where huge trees offered handy shade. I took longer than I needed to finish this sketch, just to prolong the joy.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Sign of the Primes

Dozens, maybe a hundred, parked Amazon vans may be a sign of this Quarantime.

This is another spot where I've wanted to sketch for a while now. I first noticed all these Amazon Prime vans a few months ago. They are in a large, otherwise empty, lot on the edge of the center of my suburban city. There must be at least a hundred of them! With more people not going into stores, we're buying on line for delivery. Amazon is obviously a big part of that. In addition to the gray Prime vans, there are dozens of white Herz rental vans.


On my way back from an errand, I decided to stop to get this sketch done. I found a nice shady spot to park the car with a view of this line of vans. From there I did a "dashboard" sketch (tm Steve Reddy). I didn't get a hero shot as the vans all got driven away before I'd quite finished. As I often do, I didn't think about doing an in-progress photo when I saw the drivers gathering. It was a good thing I didn't plan on putting a lot of detail into the further vans as I'd only just gotten the first wash laid on when they all drove away!

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Houses of Maple Leaf

6/13/20 Maple Leaf neighborhood

A couple of years ago I began a series of sketches to document the architectural styles of my Maple Leaf neighborhood. Most were “portraits” of individual houses I found especially charming or that exemplified the various styles I see around here. I usually stood directly across the street, and on warm, sunny mornings, it was sheer delight (and extremely challenging, I might add) to spend close to an hour trying to capture these homes.

I continued the series last year, and my intention was to keep going this summer. But now I don’t feel I should stand on the sidewalk for an hour while pedestrians may be trying to get past me safely. Stepping 6 feet away each time I see someone coming is difficult to do while sketching.

I’m undeterred, however. I am taking notes on houses that face in directions that I can find safe spots to stand for a while. And I have also changed my approach to this series. The sketches do not all have to be color portraits as I have made in the past. Quick, small sketches also tell a story, especially when shown together.

Above are three small sketches I made while standing on the corner of Northeast 80th Street and Fourth Avenue Northeast. Eightieth is a busy, noisy arterial that leads to the freeway entrance, so pedestrians rarely walk where I stood. Within 15 minutes, I simply pivoted to make each sketch. I’ll let you decide which one is not like the others, but they all tell the story of Maple Leaf architectural styles.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Long Live C.H.A.Z.




Welcome to the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, established June 8, 2020. 


A couple days ago, the police vacated the east precinct here in Capitol Hill, Seattle. Protests have been raging outside it basically nonstop for the last week. Tear gas and flash grenades were deployed against protestors for minor “infractions” which only stoked more anger over police brutality. I joined the protests a few times and trying to do reportage sketching felt absurd in the middle of what was essentially a war zone.

leftover barricades from the protests mark the porous threshold of the CHAZ.



In light of that, it was really amazing to go to the Hill last night and experience the new "Free Capitol Hill" that has emerged in the wake of the conflict. The difference on Wednesday night compared to Sunday night is extreme: with no police presence, people are peacefully watching films in the street, spraying pro-BLM graffiti, dancing in the streets, discussing social justice. There's a co-op where you can get free food and water. Everything is donation only. 95% of people are wearing masks, both for health and to conceal identity.


the Rancho Bravo patio was an outdoor medic station last week; now it's more of a place to convene and hydrate.


Now that the violence has left with the police, it feels good and correct to document what’s happening. I tried to sketch for clarity, and drawings don't run the risk of accidentally exposing people's identities if they don't want to be seen here. I think it’s important to share as truthfully I can what is happening in our city, especially small moments, like this one: 

A black man got on top of a parked truck and shouted out "Black Lives Matter" to the crowd. More and more people responded back to him. When he was done leading the chant, he shouted "I love you", to which the crowd responded "I love you too". It was really tender.




It was shocking at first to see how much graffiti is getting put up right out in the open, but after reflecting for a few minutes I decided that it's our city; we get to express ourselves how we want. 



The POTUS has been tweeting about the C.H.A.Z., unsurprisingly he feels very threatened by what it represents. “these ugly anarchists must be stooped [sic] immediately.” No one can know what is going to happen next (I've just read that the police want to take the precinct back) but being in CHAZ last night felt really important. If you're local, hopefully you can visit to see what "ugly anarchy" really looks like. And to be clear, I don't think this should be the end of the protests here; the demands have not been met. But it is definitely an interesting development I don't think anyone could have imagined a couple weeks ago. 

Friday, May 29, 2020

Theme of the Week: Thumbnails!

I use thumbnails is several different ways.

Most often I use them to help me figure out exactly what I want to focus on in a scene. So often in urban sketching we are confronted with a busy urban scene and it can be hard to hone in on something specific. So I like to play around with different aspects of the location to determine what would make a good larger sketch as in this series of thumbnails I did while in Oaxaca Mexico. I did the smaller thumbnails first then the larger drawing of the church.





Another situation where I use thumbnails is to understand value in a scene. Often I see color before I see value. If I do a black and white thumbnail, especially if I use pencil or gray marker to fill in value, I can end up with a stronger sketch.





A third, and less common, way I use thumbnails is just to understand the layers of a scene – foreground, middle ground, background. Where do things in the scene fall? What is closer? What is farther away? This gives me a pathway as I set up a sketch or painting so I’m familiar with what goes where. I use this more in planting a larger painting.



Sometimes I use thumbnails to try out different color combinations.


The four situations above are ways to familiarize myself with the scene. They warm me up and help me find my bearings on the page.

The fifth way is thumbnails as minis, finished sketches, just small.



Try it out! It's easy, quick and low risk. 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

We’re All Still Together


Maple Leaf water tower sketched from my car on my way home
from an errand.
By far, the best part about Urban Sketchers is that it brings together people who share a common passion. Those of us who attend outings regularly have come to rely on the ongoing infusion of camaraderie, creativity and fun. It’s been very hard the past 12 weeks since our last sketch outing.

Missing my tribe, I was thinking about how our founder Gabi first began what eventually became the global Urban Sketchers organization. Long before there were sketch outings, this blog or the international symposium, Gabi had noticed that people around the world were doing something he enjoyed doing himself: sketching their surroundings from life. He knew this because he had seen them posting sketches on Flickr, the image-sharing website. Initially, Gabi created the Urban Sketchers Flickr group so that sketchers could easily find and view the work of like-minded people. That’s how it all began – individuals sketching in their own parts of the world and sharing online. That’s why sharing online became an important part of the Urban Sketchers Manifesto.

It’s going to be a while yet before we can meet again. Until then, Kate, Jane and I encourage you to keep sketching your surroundings from life and share your sketches online. We waited all winter and spring for the best sketching weather that’s just ahead! Let’s not waste it. Take a walk, stop wherever you feel safe, and sketch whatever you see. Go out in your car and sketch through the windshield. Step out into your own backyard, or simply look out your window. Show us your part of the world. We’re all still together, even if it’s only virtually.

Share your work and participate by viewing the work of others:
  • On Facebook in the USk Seattle group
  • On Instagram by using the hashtag #uskseattle
  • On Flickr in the USk Seattle group

These thumbnails took less than 5 minutes each to make while on one of my daily walks through my neighborhood. Try it!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Weekly Theme

Are you looking for a source of drawing prompts? While we can't yet meet up for a sketch outing, we can still draw together. Gabi Campanario started Urban Sketchers on Flickr and there still is a global USk group there. Each Monday a weekly theme is posted. I've done this, on and off, since 2012. It is found in the discussions section of the group: https://www.flickr.com/groups/urbansketches/discuss/ 

Even if you aren't on Flickr, you can share your sketch of the weekly theme on our Instagram at #uskseattle or Facebook groups.  There's also no reason why you can't explore past weekly themes and post your sketches. 

Here is my very first weekly theme sketch, which was boats.  I hadn't done any drawing in about 40 years at that point! (Throw back to Stephanie Bower's challenge from USk Talks!)



This week's theme is "your nearest public transport stop ". I did a dashboard sketch (thank you, @steve_reddy for the term) from the safety of my car.  The parking lot behind the bus stop is for a gas station, coffee stand, and a food truck.  It was just a little too busy for me to want to sit outside to draw.  


Monday, May 25, 2020

Urban Sketchers are Alive and Well!



How do you arrange a meeting that can accommodate people from all over the world? You do your best. And that's how I "attended" the second ever Urban Sketcher's admin meeting at 6:00 AM on Sunday May 24 on Zoom. I did my best.

Once I got into the meeting, I could see there were a lot of folks online. I scrolled through the five screens of participants—that’s five screens with 20 participants each screen—and saw many I knew. There were sketchers from Brazil, Spain, Indonesia, Hong Kong, England, New York, Florida, and everywhere in between. It felt like a family reunion!

The goal was to share ideas and challenges and to inspire chapters to stay active during the pandemic. Several admins shared activities and ideas they have done in their groups.

USk Singapore, for example organized a “Circuit Sketch Break” for 28 days from April 7 through May 4. They posted 28 prompts for sketching from home, had sketchers submit their work and had a drawing for a prize at the end. They have since extended the submission deadline so people can continue to be inspired to sketch.

USk Dubai launched a “sketch at home campaign” with weekly prompts and submission instructions. They plan to publish the sketches in a journal. Here is a sample of their prompts:
Week one: Food
Week two: Through the window
Week three: My partner in lockdown

Several others shared what their group has been doing or not doing. They shared their successes and frustrations, asked questions of others and basically just hung out sopping in the vibe of being among so many active sketchers again.

At the end we had the traditional throw-down, or in this case a hold-up, where sketchers held their work up to their camera so we could see. Many had sketched the meeting; some just held up a sketch they had done recently. It was all quite fun and made me realize how much I miss the USk family.  

I have felt pretty sluggish about sketching during this lockdown period. The USk Talks have been fun. (Thank you Stephanie Bower, for your talk and challenge last month). And the USkTalk challenges have been interesting, although I’ve only done a few of them. But this meeting was like a good cup of coffee. Time to wake up! In Thurston County where I live we will be able to gather in groups up to 5 people beginning in June. Hopefully King County will be able to do the same pretty soon. Until then, I hope you are all safe. And keep sketching!

Hold-up of our zoom call sketches. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Eight Years with My Tribe

5/20/12 Magnuson Park

When I set out to go to my very first Urban Sketchers outing exactly eight years ago today, I was kind of nervous. I had known about the Seattle group for several months, but as an introvert, I wasn’t very keen on the idea of doing anything with a group where I didn’t know anyone. I’m not a “joiner”; I’m more of a stay-at-home-doing-my-own-thing kind of person. But I also knew that sketching with others was a part of the Urban Sketchers manifesto. And I was also curious: Were there really lots of other people in Seattle who like to do the same thing I do?

Indeed, there were. The first sketcher I met at Magnuson Park that day was Kate Buike, who immediately welcomed me. Later that day I met Jane Wingfield (the three of us have been co-admins for USk Seattle for several years now). Eventually I met many other sketchers who have become friends, not just fellow sketchers. Seeing each other regularly and doing together what we all enjoy most, we have become more than a “group.” We are a tribe – people “with a common culture.”

During those eight years, it never occurred to me to stop participating in sketch outings. (I think the only ones I have ever missed were when I was out of town or indisposed.) It also never occurred to me that the outings themselves might someday stop.

6/16/12 Habitat for Humanity at Seattle Center
I’ve gotten used to a lot of things about living in the coronavirus age; after all, I’m naturally a stay-at-home person. What I miss most, though, is Seattle USk outings. I’m still sketching as much as ever. But I miss my friends, our camaraderie, and our shared passion for urban sketching.

Shown here are sketches from some of my favorite USk outings in 2012.


7/21/12 Tacoma Museum of Glass

8/19/12 Georgetown

9/2/12 Fish ladders, Ballard Locks

10/21/12 Columbia City

11/18/12 Seattle Art Museum

12/7/12 Gingerbread Village

Thursday, May 7, 2020

My World is Smaller, But the Joy Remains

4th Ave. NE and NE 85th St., Maple Leaf neighborhood, facing south

As I’m sure every other urban sketcher has found, sheltering at home is frustrating. Being outdoors for exercise and fresh air is approved of and even encouraged, so we’ve been walking daily around the neighborhood. That’s a pleasure in itself – we are discovering beautiful houses and gardens we otherwise never would have noticed – but I can’t stop for a sketch the way I easily could in my pre-pandemic life. The sidewalks are narrow in Maple Leaf, so if a pedestrian came by, I would need to step into the street to allow them space.

Facing east

Nonetheless, where there’s a will, there’s a way. I realized I could stand on a traffic circle to sketch and easily stay farther than 6 feet from any passing pedestrian, and I’m also safe from cars. I made these four sketches from the same traffic circle over the course of a month at about the same time of day.

Facing north

My world has gotten very small. Except for four sketches I made from my car, this intersection a few blocks from home is the farthest I’ve traveled for a sketch in two months. Staying close to home requires more work; it’s not as easy to find a composition that grabs me. On the other hand, when my expectations and standards are low, the shimmer of sunlight on a slender maple is enough to keep me happy. The joy of “showing the world, one drawing at a time” is the same, even when the world is a four-block radius.

Facing west

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Old Silo

Off SW 167 in Auburn, WA is an old barn and silo that I've wanted to sketch for a long time and never got around to it. It's at the exit for Emerald Downs racetrack. One of the most interesting buildings has already fallen down during the period that I've thought about stopping to sketch.

My car hasn't been driven much and the battery has suffered for it, so I took a long drive on the freeway to charge it up. I thought this could be a good day to get off at this spot to do a dashboard sketch of the silo from the car. There was no one around so I could have gotten out of the car to sketch but it was raining quite steadily.

I finally remembered to take a hero photo.






Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Learning to see

11/2/11 Maple Leaf neighborhood

When I first started sketching, I spent a lot of time looking at the work of other sketchers online, and one thing struck me right away. While I was naturally dazzled by the sketches of glorious cathedrals, monuments and other world-famous structures, what caught my attention were all the equally marvelous sketches of ordinary residential scenes. How are these people able to sketch an alley or parking lot and make it look fresh and exciting? What magical power do they possess that makes this possible? As a brand-new sketcher, I knew it would be a long time before I learned that magic, but I was eager to begin.

The sketch at the top of this post is one of my earliest urban sketches; it’s dated Nov. 11, 2011. Still too self-conscious to sketch from the sidewalk, I took my baby steps by sketching out the windows of our house. It would still be several months before I had the nerve to show up at my first Urban Sketchers outing, but my spirit was willing: I was driven to show my world, one sketch at a time.

Nearly nine years and more than 7,000 sketches later, I have sketched on four continents. My subject matter has included a few world-famous scenes, and it has also included many, many mundane, ordinary scenes.

During those years, I’ve learned techniques and approaches from excellent teachers, many at Urban Sketchers symposiums, that helped me refine and shape the style I use today. As grateful as I am to all of them, none handed me the super power I kept thinking I would eventually find.

It turns out that there is no magic, at least in terms of techniques or tricks. Any sketch I have ever admired – whether it’s of the Eiffel Tower or a fire hydrant; the pyramids of Egypt or a utility pole – was made by a sketcher who had observed so closely and fully that I couldn’t help but see what they saw. That was the “magic.” And it turns out that all those teachers did try to give me the super power I was looking for: Every one of them told me that drawing was about seeing. But I didn’t always understand.

Below is a sketch I made a few days ago. I still have a lot to learn, but now I realize that the most important skill I have to learn is to see. In fact, I now understand that as a sketcher, I have only one job: To observe so closely and fully that I can make anything look interesting, even the mundane. And by observing that closely and fully, even those things I see every day become fresh again.

(This post was inspired by Stephanie Bower’s #USkThenAndNowChallenge to look back at our own old drawings, share them and reflect on what we’ve learned since then.)

4/25/20 Maple Leaf neighborhood