Next Monthly Sketch Outing

Sunday, Aug. 19, 10 a.m.: Bell Street Pier & waterfront
See Monthly Outing page for details.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Greenwood Spiritual Side

One thing I like about Urban Sketchers outings is that they take you to new places. This past weekend, I got a chance to experience the 'spiritual' side of Greenwood.

First stop in the itinerary is the Sakya Monestary, a Tibetan Buddhist temple set in the middle of residential area. Several things caught my attention right away: the bright colored exterior, the bell-shaped stupa (chorten) with the prayer wheels, and the snow lion statues, among other things. I whipped out my iPad with procreate app for this one. The lion statue was drawn using a continuous line drawing method. The stupa is such a prominent feature that I drew it twice. I sketch all linework on site then add the colors later on.

The Stupa (Chorten) with Prayer Wheels, and Snow Lion Statue

Sakya Monastery building and Chorten

I walked a couple of blocks to the next stop, St. John The Evangelist Catholic Church. This time, it's analog time with my trusted papermate marker and moleskine sketchbook. I applied the same method that I use to sketch interior spaces – I reduced the scene into basic shapes without worrying too much about the correct perspective. It turned out to be more challenging than I thought; I miscalculated the height of the tower, and got caught up in detailing the brick texture. In the end, I decided to go back to the basic and not stressing out about the little mistakes. After all, urban sketching is all about 'capturing the essence of space'. In the end, it turned out to be a pretty productive sketch outing.

St. John The Evangelist Catholic Church

Sunday, August 12, 2018

There's a Tibetan Monastery in Seattle?

Who knew? Not me. I can't tell you how many things I have seen in Seattle because of Urban Sketchers.

I liked this glimpse of the bell shaped stupa through the trees. The monastery's website explains that the stupa is a memorial to one of it's founding lamas. The drawing shows a bit of the surrounding neighborhood, the traffic circle in front of the monastery and a couple of other urban sketchers who are appropriately bundled up for what turned out to be a really chilly day in August!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Two Houses of Worship in Greenwood

8/11/18 Sakya Monastery
Sixty-eight degrees with overcast skies! Ahhhh!

Despite my relief that the heatwave had finally broken, I was still miffed that this morning’s forecast called for rain and even thunderstorms. Couldn’t the rain wait until after our sketch outing? In fact, it did wait until the throwdown, so we all stayed dry while sketching the Greenwood neighborhood.

Our sketch outing featured two places of worship within a couple of blocks of each other: The bright yellow and red Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism and St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church. I’ve sketched the monastery’s front entrance flanked by twin lions before, so today I went for the large bell at the side of the building. The bell is surrounded by stands of percussion instruments that make a soothing rattling sound when spun. Arriving before the other sketchers, I had seen someone come out of the monastery, walk around the bell and spin the instruments before stopping for prayers at the entrance.

Sketching St. John’s was a second attempt for me, too. More than five years ago I stood on the opposite side of the church and struggled with both the perspective and watercolor. At least I didn’t have the challenge of watercolor this time, but the perspective was no less a struggle. Giving it a shot with Eduardo Bajzek’s graphite method, I had a new difficulty: trying to make sense of the confusing values. The brightest spot on the building was the barely visible left face of the mitered top (the curve reflecting the sky), yet the sun (hiding behind thick clouds) was lighting the right side of the rest of the church.

8/11/18 St. John the Evangelist Church

The weather report didn’t scare away any sketchers! In fact, we welcomed several new faces, including Gigi, who was visiting all the way from Rio de Janeiro (front row, second from right).

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Fearless and Undaunted at the Northwest School

8/9/18 The Northwest School's garden in downtown Seattle
Sometimes when I talk to people who are interested in the idea of sketching but haven’t yet started, I can sense their fear and hesitation. So many obstacles in their minds – real and imagined – keep them from putting pencil to sketchbook. Fortunately, only adults seem to be afflicted with this hesitation; kids have no such fears. Once in a while I have the opportunity to see children with their sketchbooks, and it’s a happy sight.

For the third year, the Northwest School and the Seattle Architecture Foundation invited Urban Sketchers Seattle to lead class sessions in urban sketching. (I reported on my experiences from 2016 and 2017.) Here’s how the school describes itself:

“A vibrant, intellectual home. A warm inclusive community. A dynamic liberal arts education for grades 6-12 that prepares students to think critically, act compassionately, and discover their place in the world.”

Whenever I take part in this program, I feel some envy that I never had a school like that to go to when I was their age! Among the wide and varied curriculum the pre-teens can choose from is a design and architecture class, and that’s where Urban Sketchers fits in.

My blind contours
A show of hands indicated that about half of the dozen kids enjoyed drawing, and the ones who did were primarily interested in drawing from their imagination. After talking briefly to the students about my experiences as an urban sketcher, I passed around several of my sketchbooks to look through. Their teacher, Teresa Wang, then led us in a few rounds of blind contour drawing. The kids especially enjoyed doing blind contours of each other, the results of which were hilarious, based on their responses!

After that, we all went outside to the school’s garden for some urban sketching. With nothing more than the pocket-sized notebooks and pencils that I had brought along for them, the kids went at their task with gusto. Even the ones who didn’t express particular interest in drawing chose their views and put their pencils to paper immediately. I was taken by how seriously they approached their assignment: to draw what they see, not what they imagine. The results were impressive.

I left feeling hopeful that they will take their undaunted selves into adulthood to continue drawing as fearlessly as they did today. I wish everyone could do that.

Northwest School students sketching hard.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Catching up.

To fit everything I liked about this view at Bothell Country Market into one drawing I had to do some squishing. Might be time to get a landscape sketchbook with longer pages, but then habits die hard.
I gave a private lesson at Suzzallo Library at UW. My student and I sat side-by-side and drew this view at a comfy table. 

This view of Suzzallo was drawn with my class from Gage Academy as a demo.
The atrium across the street from the market on Winslow Ave in Bainbridge, drawn a few weeks ago with Urban Sketchers Seattle.
Sitting on a blanket with my partner, as we drew The Shelter on the east side of Green Lake.
A sketch from behind an antique shop in Wenatchee, where I'll be giving an Urban Sketchers-themed "sermon" at the Unitarian Church this Sunday, followed by a workshop at Radio Station Gallery and Pub.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Last Summer for Bothell Country Village

Bothell Country Village is a unique place where character abounds. Naturally it is one of the favorite sketching locations for Seattle Urban Sketchers, who met there today for what may be the last time. The property has been sold and the village will be dismantled after April, 2019.

I wanted my composition to look like a patchwork quilt, with some old and some new "pieces of fabric." Except my quilt is made of the fabric of time.
Fading into history
Keepsake Cottage Fabrics has been at "The Barn" since 1984. The owner, Julie, told me they will have to relocate to a warehouse and try to continue their business online.
Sketching from across the street under the covered porch by the bakery.
The windmill originally came from a wheat farm in Waterville, Eastern Washington.
I was surrounded by blue lace cap hydrangeas and borders of summer flowers in full bloom as the day turned from a cool, overcast 60°F to a pleasant partly sunny 70°F towards lunchtime.
Ann was on the front porch, documenting all the beautiful bolts of fabric lined up along the wall.
Tina was across the street on the covered boardwalk, sketching the barn with graphite and kneaded eraser.

Meandering paths lead you through a whimsical world of duck ponds, home decor, restaurants, one of a kind toys, gifts, antiques and more.

It seems there is never enough time in the 2-3 hours that we spend sketching during each outing. How could you possibly document it all?

See IG and Flickr tags #uskseattle for more sketches from our outing on Friday, August 3.

A small family runs their flower stand at the Friday Farmers' Market. June 1 - Sept 28, 2018

For the last time: Bothell Country Village

8/3/18 Keepsake Cottage Fabrics at Bothell Country Village

(I’m just back from nearly three weeks in Portugal, including the Urban Sketchers symposium in Porto. Though I don’t express it often, experiencing the thrill of sketching with 800 people in a foreign land doesn’t take away from the joy I feel each time I meet with my local tribe. Chatting with sketchers worldwide reminds me that not everyone is fortunate enough to have a local group to sketch with regularly, and I am always grateful for the friendship and shared passion I enjoy here with my homies.)

A few months ago, if you had asked if I could ever tire of sunshine, I would have vehemently answered, No way! But having been spoiled by sketching under the Mediterranean sun for most of July and hearing complaints from local friends about the heatwave we missed here at home, I woke this morning to drizzle and overcast sky and said aloud: Hallelujah! I’m home!

We were saddened to hear the news several months ago that Bothell Country Village, a Bothell landmark since 1981, would be closing next year. USk Seattle has met at the colorful and charming shopping center several times, but upon hearing the news, we vowed to sketch there again for possibly the last time. Somehow I had managed to miss those previous outings, so I was especially eager to have the opportunity to sketch there.

Keepsake Cottage Fabrics is one of 40 local businesses that will be displaced next spring when the Village closes. Normally I would be annoyed to be wearing a raincoat and socks in August (one of my core values is to be sockless from May through September) and even more annoyed that the shadows were difficult to see under a cloudy sky. But this morning I was OK with both. Practicing the graphite techniques I learned in Eduardo Bajzek’s symposium workshop, I had a hard time resisting spots of color to depict the bolts of fabrics on the shop’s long porch (or for that matter, resisting all the colorful signs and decorations throughout the Village). But I was OK with that, too. A gray medium for a gray morning on my first outing back at home seemed right somehow – and felt great.

Good to be sketching with my homies again -- and by the time we had our throwdown, the sun came out!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Rugged Methow Valley

A weekend road trip to the Methow Valley with my family was a sketching adventure from beginning to end.  Leaving city traffic and noise behind, we wound our way east through forested mountain roads. Catching glimpses of waterfalls cascading down rocky cliffs and pulling off to look at the turquoise waters of mountain lakes were lead-ins to the rugged beauty ahead.
Cascade Mountain View
After arriving at our destination, my first sketch was the view from the cabin deck. Conifer trees dotted the dry grassy landscape and led to a mountain vista.  Methow Valley is a place known for seasonal hiking and cross-country skiing. Due to the heat, almost 100 each day, we limited our excursions to early morning and late afternoon. 

Pearrygin Lake swimming and kayaking
Pearrygin Lake family picnic

Pearrygin Lake State Park saved the days.  We cooled off by swimming in the clear cold water.  After a dip, the weeping willow trees and stark mountain-scape surrounding the lake inspired several sketches. It was satisfying to see many family groups camping and picnicking in a state park. 
Spring fed pond floating
Back at the cabin, the children hoisted floating devices to a spring fed pond about 200 yards away.  With oars made from found pieces of flat wood off the forest floor, they paddled around while I sketched their progress. 

Firefighters in the Cascades

We were surprised to find a helicopter landing pad right next to the pond.  Firefighting pilots kept landing to either refuel or get water for firefighting efforts near Cutthroat Trail.

Monday, July 30, 2018

USk Workshop: GOOD BONES | Seattle

Didn't make it to Porto? Well, come to a workshop here in Seattle!! Join experienced sketcher and Urban Sketchers instructor, Stephanie Bower, for a celebration of summer sketching at home!

There are two spots left for local sketchers in the USk Good Bones | SeattleAugust 16-19 at the beautiful campus of Seattle Center. We'll work indoors, outdoors, we'll cover perspective and an intro to watercolor...and we'll join Seattle Urban Sketchers for a sketchcrawl the last day!

More info is HERE.  Hope to see you!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Shady Gilman Village

We again went a little further afield to Gilman Village in Issaquah. I'd suggested it as I've enjoyed sketching there. All the shops and restaurants are houses, buildings and other structures preserved from Issaquah's historic past.  Fortunately there were lots of trees and shady spots as we needed it. 

Brittany attended for the first time here in Seattle and brought her 5 month old baby. We've had some young children come with sketchers but this is the first time I've seen a sketcher with babe in arms (so to speak).  How delightful is this?  

Today's group of sketchers, including 2 more young ones:

As I waited for sketchers to arrive, I sat in the shade and on the rear hatch of my car to sketch the meeting spot, Issaquah Coffee Company.  I tried using more hatching.  

It was getting increasingly warm early and was nearly 90 degrees by the time we finished. So this view of some pink tutus was not exactly what I would have preferred but it was from a shady spot.  The man sat down for about 5 minutes and ended up in my sketch.  Don't sit still or I'll draw you...and you don't even really have to sit still!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Cooking up a Surprise in Hip and Historical Columbia City

In a show of solidarity with our fellow sketchers in Porto, Portugal, Usk Seattle met in the Columbia City neighborhood today. We knew that the participants at the Porto Symposium were attending workshops and sketching on the street in Portugal at this very same moment.
The hip and historic Columbia City Neighborhood at Rainier Ave and Ferdinand
A sketchers' party on the street. Kate on pastry security duty.
Kate made badges and signs for our "Porto Pity Party" and Michele and Kate cooked up a surprise for those who met at "Geraldines" corner this morning. There were fresh baked Portuguese style pasteis de nata and our own Starbucks coffee to start the day. Patrick, USkSeattle friend and baker, came through with the tasty egg custard tarts. Thank you, Patrick! In true urban style, we spread a Portuguese print tablecloth over the Seattle Times newspaper box (Hi, Gabi!) and everyone helped themselves.
The Myers Music Street Clock leaned over in curiosity to get a closer look, much as the Clerigos Tower in Porto curiously peered at what was going on around it. (A nod to Isa Silva for a witty symposium logo)
The clock across the street was once located on 1st Ave

As we walked down Rainier Ave toward the Columbia Branch Library, Kate and I talked about the dramatic changes in the neighborhood since it was built. The branch's landmark 1915 building is the smallest of the libraries built for Seattle with gifts from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919).  The branch itself dates to 1909, two years after Columbia City was annexed into Seattle.
Sketching the Carnegie Library front door and patron
Carnegie would be astounded at how the library is used today.

Not only can you pick up a great book for your summer reading, you can play a game of chess, catch up on your email, research anything online or even engage in a popular art activity.
You can download and print a coloring sheet for your branch. Coloring sheets are available for all 27 Library locations. What a great way to start your urban sketching skills!

We are also celebrating the 9th Anniversary of the founding of Seattle Urban Sketchers. Kate had signs made up for that, too, which we proudly displayed at our sketchbook throwdown. See Kate's blog post with more photos.
Then we had lunch at Pagliacci.

Two Celebrations

The Urban Sketchers 9th International Symposium is happening right now in Porto, Portugal. Several of the sketchers from USk Seattle are there. For those of us who aren't, Michele and I threw a "Porto Pity Party" at our sketch outing today in Columbia City. It was complete with pasteis de nata, the Portuguese pastry specialty that everyone there is raving about. Chef Patrick of Patrick's Cafe and Bakery took the challenge of making them for us. Everyone agreed they were delicious.

 We met again to share sketches. Our second celebration was the 9th Anniversary of the first Urban Sketchers outing in Seattle which was 19 July 2009.

While I had another location in mind, I walked down to the Columbia City branch of the Seattle Public Library. It's a lovely old Carnegie building that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It opened in 1915.   I added some ephemera from the day with the detail sketch of the pasteis de nata.