Next Sketch Outing

Friday, Jan. 25, 10 a.m.: SAM lobby

Monday, January 21, 2019

Say Hi to USk Albuquerque-Santa Fe

Some of you may know I have been traveling in New Mexico this month. I have done a lot of sketching, and I plan to get a post up with lots of sketches soon. But I wanted to put up these sketches I did with the USk Albuquerque-Santa Fe chapter on Saturday.

The first thing I do when I travel is check for a local USk group - and I lucked out here. I had to laugh when the organizer, Jay, said it wasn’t going to be a very exciting sketch outing and, because of the cold, they were meeting at a Starbucks! Just like home, except for the cowboy hats! But I had a great time with lots of chat about art supplies, sketching and I even found someone to reminisce about Porto with.

And it turned out to be perfectly warm if you found a sunny spot outside. So I sketched the lovely view of the parking lot with Domino’s Pizza in the background. Seriously though, if you are in NM, look these guys up ‘cause they are a ton of fun and they love to sketch!

Gothic Splendor

It was a large group with many first timers that came for Urban Sketchers Seattle's afternoon outing  to the UW Suzzallo library yesterday. The Gothic splendor of the quiet reading room attracted many.

Throw down and group photo.


Thanks to Sean for taking the photo.  At least three are missing. 

I chose a section of that Gothic splendor for my sketch subject.


--Kate Buike

Friday, January 18, 2019

Up for Grabs

Carol, Natalie, Peggy and Alice examine a sketchbook. I wonder who finally grabbed it? ;-) 

USk Seattle held its sixth annual Gab & Grab this morning. Held at a public library, it’s an opportunity for show-and-tell of our favorite sketch supplies and a place to swap books and materials we are no longer using.

I love sharing and reusing resources this way, and it’s always fun to hear about new tools and materials people have discovered. In fact, I had fully intended to document the event by sketching it like I did last year, but I got so involved in listening to the show & tell and taking photos that (gasp!) I forgot to sketch!

Thanks to everyone who brought in things to share and for participating!

Good grabbin'! This wasn't all of it -- some of the goods had already been snapped up by the time I took this photo!

Kate shows off her new Lamy pen that she got from
the Lamy flagship store during her recent trip to Germany.

Alice shows us how her DIY easel is assembled. She learned how to make it on YouTube videos.

Peggy, who participates in the USk postcard exchange program, showed some of the many cards she has received from international sketchers. 

Anne explains how she archives information from books that she wants to keep for reference -- and then gives away the books to lucky recipients like the rest of us.

Sue tells us about the proportional divider that she is finding very helpful in correctly scaling her sketches.

Carol shows us her erasing guide and explains how it is used.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Dry at Last!

1/11/19 Amazon Sphere and Space Needle in South Lake Union

Café Suisse is a cute venue in the South Lake Union neighborhood. Filled with lots of fun, colorful décor in a Swiss theme, it also offers a wide variety of pastries, including many that are gluten-free. Greg would have loved all the GF goodies, but I was there without him (he didn’t miss out; I got him some muffins to go) to meet Natalie and Kathleen.

1/11/19 Cafe Suisse
Right outside the café, I spotted a peek-a-boo view of the Needle near the Amazon Spheres. It was chilly but dry! After being rained in for what seemed a long, long time, it was wonderful to sketch outdoors again.

After that, I needed a warm-up. I dashed into the café, where Kathleen and Natalie were already settled in. I had planned to sketch other patrons, but in the direction I was facing, the chairs remained unoccupied. Although many decorative items filled the space, I simplified the composition significantly to focus on the challenging perspective of the tall chairs. Sketchers often bemoan the perspective difficulties of architecture, but personally, I find interior perspective to be just as difficult.

A new group selfie technique!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Germany in winter

My husband and I took a 3 week trip to Germany to see the Christmas Markets.  We were gone 27 November to 18 December.  This is a summary of the trip.  For the full account, see multiple recent posts on my personal blog, which include links to the photo albums, too. 

We lived and worked in Germany from 1981 to 1986 and we've been back a couple times since, though not for many years now.  One of the experiences we missed were the Christmas Markets so that was the motivation to travel at this time of year.

Departure day was 27 December.  The trip was not as bad as what some have experienced, but I believe this was our worst trip ever due to delays. I managed only one sketch at SeaTac.  I certainly could have done a lot of people sketching.  But I do not like flying and all this delay and anticipated missed connection gave me low level anxiety that just didn't have me in the mood to draw.


One of recurring themes was the prevalence of Lamy stores and displays!  I encountered a rather large display at the Frankfurt Airport.  They were also in every Karstadt (a department store chain).  Our first stop was Heidelberg and my first outing the morning after we arrived was the Lamy Flagship store.  Lamy HQ and factory are on the outskirts of the city but not open to the public.  

I got to pose with the big pen.  Lamy also sent one to The Goulet Pen Company and Brian Goulet posted about it on Instagram. It's taller than I am! 

My first sketch was earlier that morning out the window of our hotel.   The sky was clear and there were subtle colors of the sunrise.

We moved on from Heidelberg to Dinkelsbühl, which is a walled city that survived the 30 Years War.  It is described as the German's Rothenburg as it is less touristy.  

This is our street and hotel.

After wandering around town, lunch at Weib's Brauhaus, which was close by. I did a sketch of the decorated window within view of our table.

The next day I sketched one of the city gates. And then sheltered under the porch of a shop as it started raining. That was looking down the street to the markt platz and the Christmas tree.

On the way from Dinkelsbühl to Nuremberg, we stopped in Stein, the location of the Faber Castell HQ and factory.  There was no tour available for either the Castle or the factory.  But I did shop in the store.  If you want to read more about that, see this blog post. 

It was raining Tuesday morning, 4 December, so we waited until about 1300 to go out. I did a sketch of the view out our window while we waited for the rain to pass.

Walking through the shopping district, we passed a Staedtler Welt (World) store. In the window was a man in period dress making pencils in the old fashioned way. "The roots of the name can be traced back to 1662, the year in which references to Friedrich Staedtler as a pencil-making craftsman were made in the city annuals of Nuremberg."

 Later in the afternoon, I went to the Durer house.  

Our next move was on to Trier. Himself doesn't normally take selfies, but he relented during this trip and we took several.  But I'll only share one here: at the Trier Christmas Market!

The next day was predicted to be a rainy day, so spent a few hours at the archeological museum. I did a sketch of a famous 3rd century sculpture: The Wine Ship. As usual for museums, only pencil was allowed.  So I left the sketch as is.

We next moved on to the medieval Mosel village of Bernkastel-Kues.  Actually, it's two villages, separated by the Mosel.  We stayed in the less interesting Kues.  But it was a short walk over the bridge to the old town of Bernkastel.  

Monday, 10 December, was perhaps the best weather day yet.  Though it was only about 45 degrees, it was sunny.  I walked over the bridge from Kues to Bernkastel.  I sketched one of the most photographed buildings there:  the Spizhaeuschen from 1416.  I sat at a table outside a closed cafe.  This was my view most of the time:

With patience, though, I got it done.

On my way back across the bridge, I stopped half way to sketch the view back to town with the castle ruin above.  There was a convenient bench right there.

Next on our itinerary was Cochem, also a medieval town on the Mosel. It's most famous feature is the castle.  I've been in it before but now it was closed for the season.   I sat on a step that is probably part of a small dock or tie up location for boat(s). It was so cold, I only got part of it done before my fingers were frozen.

Back to the hotel to warm up and then went out again in the afternoon to finish. This is one of my favorite sketches of the trip.

The next day I made a sketch of a city gate from 1352.


The final stop was our former home area and we stayed just outside our town of Kusel in a hotel that was a favorite even then, 30+ years ago.  Part of that stay were two visits to our former "home" castle, Burg Lichtenberg.  It's one of the largest castle ruins in Germany by size of area.  There are two boundary walls.  This is standing on the inner one.  

Fortunately, our trip home was uneventful.  I look forward to seeing everyone at a sketch outing soon.  

Friday, December 21, 2018

A Chilly Farewell

12/21/18 Farewell, ugly viaduct!

We’ve all known for years that the viaduct would be demolished in early 2019. I could have chosen any warm fall day to do it, but instead, I waited until it was 39 degrees to make my farewell sketches.

12/21/18 After being chilled to the bone making the
first sketch, I retreated to Starbucks for this window sketch.
We all have a love/hate relationship with the dark, formidable viaduct, but however we might feel about it, it’s coming down in February.

Walking under the viaduct toward the Pier 55 Starbucks where I was meeting Sue and Antonella on this chilly morning, I passed many people in small tents or nothing but sleeping bags; they use that viaduct as their rooftop each night. Feeling my fingertips go numb as I sketched, I wondered where they would go when their “home” disappears in a couple of months.

I think the only other sketch I have of the viaduct is one I made from the ferry terminal walkway three years ago.

By the way, the scope of the top sketch is very ambitious for me, and I was quietly freaking out as I blocked in the composition. But I remembered what I learned in Gabi Campanario’s “Pocket Urban Sketching” workshop a couple of years ago, which helped immensely.

Sue and Antonella braved the cold to sketch with me.

Farewell Viaduct

I think this is the first time I have ever sketched the Seattle Viaduct, and sadly, it is also the last time. Scheduled to be torn down in early 2019, it will be replaced with a shiny new tunnel. I met up with Sketchers Tina and Antonella this morning to commemorate the last weeks of this Seattle icon. I have driven on the viaduct many times, and I know that many Seattlites are taking “last” drives through town on it, documented with photos and video. But this is the view I will keep in my memory.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

kirkland daytrip

I had some work stuff that took me to Kirkland last month, and just scanned those pages of my sketchbook recently. After my meeting, I spent the afternoon sketching around downtown, naturally! This second visit to the east side, ever. It was easier to get there on public transit than I expected. 

My favorite spot was the pavilion at Marina Park, a small bay right by downtown. I liked those trees which visually cut out the structure, and the view across Lake Washington is pretty great even when it's raining on and off. It was super windy and quite cold, so these sketches were done quickly. My favorite part of the above drawing are the two simple trees on the far right.

very small (2"?), very fast sketches of a nice moment I chanced upon - teens hanging out on a pier together, undeterred by rain - and the colors of the Heritage Hall building surrounded by yellow autumn leaves.

I sketched this while drinking one of the best bubble teas I've ever had (on this continent at least ;). While a lot of Kirkland is new, this part of downtown feels older and cuter than most of the town.
I was trying out a new watercolor set - Derwent Inktense pigments - which my mom had just sent me for my birthday. Thanks mom! I love them. They're so saturated, you can get very bright colors on the page even though they're dry pigments!

Last one! This is kind of a color/mood study. I'm learning that the hue of your lines really affects the mood of your drawing. I used a Kuretake Zig chisel marker, watercolor pencils, and watercolor for this one. The colors were amazing when the sun peeked out - bouncing off all the bright yellow autumn leaves, which were just past their prime. I miss leaves already :(

Monday, December 17, 2018

a weekend of USK

This was my first visit to Swanson's Nursery! It lived up to the hype. I'm a houseplant enthusiast so I appreciated the variety here, and I ended up buying some stuff....for me and for my friend who is getting married next week. The café was great, love the soft/bright greenhouse light, and of course being surrounded by plants. I would come here to hang out if I lived nearby.

Seattle Urban Sketchers took over the big table!

I sketched the reindeer in the last few minutes before throwdown. A nearby mom turned a special moment into an educational opportunity...I guess? Had to capture it in my drawing.

The Sunday meeting was in a very different space from Swanson's - sterile instead of warm, metal instead of wood. This was 1/4 of a 360˙ view I shared with Tina, Kathleen, and Susan.

I was very attracted to the tall buildings outside the windows so I started my drawing by using them as landmarks, making sure I got all negative spaces in to keep some white areas. Then I used some opaque Nicker poster paint - which I've just started playing with - for the metal window panes. using values for these instead of line made them way less of a pain in the butt to deal with. And just going over it once more in a darker or lighter value gives them dimension!

Finally in pen I added in the library patrons. As I sketched, I realized that most of the people at the tables had quite a lot of backpacks and bags with them. I'm glad there's a space for these folks to go and stay warm and dry during the daytime at least. The library is one of the only places in the city where you can go and use free WiFi, go to the bathroom, etc, and not get chased out or have to buy something.

by the way, the scanners upstairs (also in most Seattle Public Libraries) are good quality, fast, and free! I scan all my sketchbooks and anything larger than 8.5x11" in them, including these drawings!