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Friday Oct. 26, Starbucks SoDo Reserve

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Three USK 10X10 workshops in October Part #1: Andika Murandi's Sketch 'n Chill in Occidental square

Back in June, I signed up for three of the Fall USK Seattle 10x10 workshops. They usually fill up very fast and I didn't want to miss them. I didn't realize until the first one that they were back to back on the first three weekends in October. It has been an intense period of sketching and learning.

I got in a routine: prepare my sketching bag with the right supplies the previous evening; the morning of the workshop get up, eat breakfast, and travel to the workshop location. After the three hour workshop, get some lunch and take some time to walk around and sketch some more. I know what you are thinking: poor you, all that sketching...

My first workshop, on October 6th, was Andika Murandi's Sketch 'n Chill: No-Stress Interior Sketching. We met at the Grand Central Bakery on Occidental Square in Downtown Seattle, a beautiful space with plenty of seating.

Andika started the workshop discussing the importance of line quality and making us practice drawing straight lines in all directions, then he showed us how to look at different types of interior perspective and simplify them into big shapes. He demonstrated those concepts by sketching the Grand Central Bakery atrium starting from the large shapes and working his way to the details.

With all that information in our heads, we spread around the Grand Central Bakery atrium to work on our first sketch; after a throw-down, we divided into two groups and moved to different local coffee shop for a second sketch.

My first sketch of the Grand Central Bakery atrium, looking straight at the entrance towards
Occidental Square in one-point perspective.

After the first sketch, half of the attendees moved to Caffe Umbria. This was a more complex space and we were able to practice more of the tips and approaches that Andika discussed in his demo. You might be able to spot other urban sketchers in the room.

I loved the workshop. Andika was clear in his explanations and generous with his time and tips and I learned a lot from the exercises.

After the final throw down and some food, I decided to take a walk downtown. It was a beautiful fall day, unusually sunny and warm for Seattle. I wanted to get to Westlake Park later in the afternoon, and on the way I passed the Seattle Art Museum with the huge Hammering Man sculpture. I loved the light, the colors of the buildings, and the perspective, so I decided to stop and sketch the view. For the non Seattleites, the Hammering man is a 48-feet, 26,000-pound kinetic sculpture created by Jonathan Borofsky and installed in 1992 to honor the working class men and women of the world.

The corner of 1st Avenue and University Street.
On the left, the Hammering Man sculpture in front of the Seattle Art Museum.

Here I am in WestLake Park, where a protest had been quickly scheduled after the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. I arrived early enough for a sketch an empty WestLake Park,  follow by a sketch of some the people at the rally.

Westlake Park, on 4th Avenue between Pine and Pike streets. The first sketch was done first, when the park was almost empty, and the second during the protest rally after the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
What a beautiful, satisfying, and exhausting Saturday.

[Stay tuned for Part 2 with workshops from Jane Wingfield and Eleanor Doughty]

Color and Dance at Diwali Festival

10/20/18 Dancers at Diwali festival
Although I had heard of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, I didn’t know that Seattle held a festival for it until last year, when I saw correspondent Ujjwal Mahajan’s sketches of the event. As soon as I did, I put the festival on USk Seattle’s calendar so we wouldn’t miss it this year. Held at the Seattle Center’s Armory last Saturday, Diwali was full of color, music, dancers, food and everything else I enjoy about festivals.

I spent most of my time near the main stage, where small groups of women performed traditional dances wearing vibrant, colorful costumes. Capturing their fast, flowing movements was a fun challenge.

When I needed a break, I went upstairs, where quieter activities were taking place, like a cooking demo. I missed the names of the dishes that were being prepared, but they involved simmering onions, beans, other vegetables and lots of spices. It was difficult to concentrate on sketching with the delicious smells coming from the demonstrator’s pots. “Whatever you eat should have lots of colors,” she advised, and every dish “should have six tastes.”

10/20/18 Cooking demo

10/20/18 Applying henna
With a few minutes left before the throwdown, I stopped to sketch a young woman applying henna in intricate patterns to the hands and wrists of other women and girls. The henna came out of a small tube like the kind used in cake decorating. The patterns were so beautiful that I was tempted to have my hand done too, but she had a huge line of people waiting.

This festival was so much fun to sketch that I would love to see it become an annual fall event for USk Seattle!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Eleanor Doughty Sketches from Afar

10/20/18 Ellie gives a demo at tiny Lynn Street Mini Park.

On a chilly, foggy morning, I went out to what must be Seattle’s tiniest park ever: Lynn Street Mini Park on the east shore of Lake Union. That was the location of Ellie Doughty’s USk 10x10 workshop, From Afar: Rendering Atmospheric Perspective in Watercolor. Stopping by for a quick sketch and a few photos, I couldn’t take the workshop myself, but from all reports, it was an inspiring, well-organized experience for her students. And she couldn’t have picked a better day to focus on atmospheric perspective: Boats and buildings on the near shore were in marked contrast to the foggy landscape on the opposite side of the lake.

A great morning for atmospheric perspective.

Not Diwali

We rearranged our usual schedule to attend and sketch the Diwali Festival at Seattle Center Armory.  Except I didn't sketch the festival...more on that below. 

As I often do, I traveled by light rail into Seattle. While parking was no problem at the station, the train was standing room only, crammed with University of Washington fans headed for the game. So it was a sea of purple.

When we arrived at noon, though it was the start time for the festival, almost nothing was set up. The welcome and dancers on stage did start on time and the lanterns were hung from the ceiling.  

Since the festival wasn't fully underway, I decamped to sketch something I'd had in the back of my mind. Typewriter Eraser, Scale X is a sculpture of a large-scale typewriter eraser by Claes Oldenburg. I sketched it in it's previous location in the Seattle Art Museum's Sculpture Park. A couple years ago it was moved here, in front of the Frank Gehry designed MoPop (Museum of Popular Culture, formerly the Experience Music Project and the Science Fiction Museum). Just to add a third Seattle icon, I included the Space Needle.

At that point, I could have gone back to the festival. But, since I still had over an hour and I'd brought my MoPop membership card, I decided to zip through the Marvel exhibit. I knew there were a couple sculptures that I might want to sketch. This Spider Man photo op had a convenient bench right in front, so it's the one I picked. I got to see some people doing cute and funny poses with it. This little one was the best!

Our sketch throw-down and our group photo:


More photos of sketch outing.
Photos from the MOPOP Marvel exhibit

Thursday, October 18, 2018

RIP Twin Victorians

When I ride my bike home from Capitol Hill, I always pass these dilapidated Victorians tucked on the very end of a street ending at the I-5 cut cliff. I thought they were the same, but when I started drawing them I realized they were quite different from each other - still twins, just not identical. I sketched them in April. Each time I passed by after that, I noticed slight changes to the houses – new tags, more windows boarded up or broken.

Someone on Etsy bought a print of this, and let me know that she used to live on the second floor of the one on the right & sent me a photo of her former living room. She had this to say about it:
"it was a pretty cool house, pretty dumpy but it had lots of charm. It was built in the 1890s and it was one of the first houses built on that side of capitol hill. (They didn't even have roads back then, just horse trails!) The houses were converted to triplexes, and I rented the middle unit from a older lady who had inherited the property from her family. She recently died, and I think her daughter sold it to developers. All of the tenants were evicted last November so they can tear it down to build a 40-unit building."

process pic - watercolor over loose graphite sketch

Well, you can probably guess where this is going. When I biked past this spot last night, there's nothing there - the houses are gone. Demolished at some point in the last two months. Apparently some squatters started a fire in the right side house, which sped up the process. I'm sure yet another boxy ~modern~ apartment building will be shortly erected in their place.

But thanks to sketching, I won't forget what was there before. I can only imagine how the view out of those bay windows changed over the 120 years they stood on Capitol Hill, looking over South Lake Union. They predated roads on this part of the neighborhood! I mean, the city itself hasn't been around much longer than these houses were.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A Colorful Afternoon at Japanese Garden

10/16/18 Gray heron at Japanese Garden (with a koi swimming by)

With the weather forecast predicting today’s sunshine, we took a chance last week and scheduled a sketch outing, even though it was still seven days away, when conditions could easily change. I kept my eye on the forecast, and our optimism was rewarded. I think it may have been USk Seattle’s most colorful outing ever!

As I entered the garden, I overheard people chatting about a gray heron in the pond, and I assumed it would be gone by the time I got there. To my surprise, he was still taking his time preening atop a rock, so I couldn’t resist grabbing him first while I could. Amazingly, he stayed the whole time I sketched.

After that I walked around the whole garden to take in all the color lighted by the low afternoon sun. A weeping willow growing nearly horizontally over the pond was challenging but, again, irresistible.

Expecting to have only my usual 15 or 20 minutes left before the throwdown, I was surprised to see that I still had a half-hour. Plenty of time for a third sketch! A stone lantern by the path was filled with shadows ideal for hatching. I’d already done an InkTober sketch for the day, but what the heck – I could get a head start on tomorrow.

For a short-notice weekday, we had a great turnout!

Have you ever seen so many colorful sketchbooks?

Monday, October 15, 2018

Taichung Nights

As some of you know, I attended the AsiaLink Sketchwalk event in Taichung, Taiwan (kind of like a smaller USk symposium focusing on Asia), a nice finish to 50+ days of travel sketching. I stayed a few days after the event ended on October 7th, hoping to explore/sketch the city more with visiting sketchers (since we really didn't make it out of the central district)...but pretty much everyone else left either for home or Taipei by the next day. Oh well...I'm used to traveling alone.

And I really liked Taichung – moreso than Taipei, actually - so I didn't want to leave, either. Maybe because the weather is better? Or because I met so many nice people there? It didn't look much different from Taipei but my experiences were overall better.

I went to about 10 different night markets in Taiwan, and each one was unique in terms of its vibe,  gastronomical offerings, and layout. But always the lights were bright, the crowds lively, the food cheap and delicious. 

These mixed-media drawings are from my pocket sketchbook, which I bound myself with colored cardstock paper  - made for quick and dirty drawings. I was playing with capturing the light/dark values of these night scenes quickly, as well as the impressions of life in the market. I used Posca markers for the large yellow/pink marks, and a variety of media (correction fluid, brush pen, markers,  etc) for the rest.

Zhongxiao Night Market - sketched while eating tempura fried carrots on a sidewalk. A giant Daruma beckons you inside for fresh seafood.

 Not actually a night market (or at night) but this shop, Chun Shui Tang, claims to be the origin of bubble tea. The food AND drinks were really great. One of the few hyped up restaurants I went to on my travels where my expectations were not only met but exceeded!

Fengchia Night Market main road - the biggest market in Taichung! Sketched this while waiting in line for takoyaki. It was a long but fast moving queue - usually I just stood in line for what had the longest line out front and it was usually a pretty good strategy.

Back page: lady waiting on scooter, and collection of stamps from the Taipei metro. Each station has its own souvenir stamp!! The colors of ink correspond to the train lines - it was super exciting to go into a new station to see what the stamp was. Stamping culture is really big in Taiwan and I am right there with them.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Houses of Maple Leaf


Unlike Queen Anne, Capitol Hill or other areas where you can still find grand, stately homes, Maple Leaf is more of a working-class neighborhood. Houses here tend to be modest one- or two-storied Tudors and American Craftsman styles that would be considered too small by contemporary standards. To get a second bathroom, people have to add on a dormer or, more likely these days, tear down the original and build a new larger house.



As a Maple Leaf resident for more than 30 years, I’ve seen many changes, but most of them have happened in the past decade or so. When a new house started going up last spring just a block away, I realized I couldn’t remember exactly what the house that it replaced looked like . . . probably just another small Craftsman that had been there for a century (our own Craftsman is nearly that old).



Whenever I travel, everything seems exotic, even ordinary homes, yet the houses in my own neighborhood seem too familiar to sketch. But suddenly I was saddened that I couldn’t even recall the house that had been torn down – one I had passed nearly every day.



During the past spring and summer, I decided to spend much of my sketching time walking around in my own ‘hood to observe the different kinds of architecture and generally appreciate the older houses I take for granted. In fact, the presence of small, older houses is a big reason we chose to live here, and I wanted to preserve them in my sketchbook before more are torn down. You can see the whole series on my personal blog. Shown here are some of my favorites. The last one is the new house (still under construction six months later; please note the size of the houses next to it).


Friday, October 12, 2018

Fall color and odd ball gourds

We  went to my favorite place to sketch the pumpkins and fall colors: Swanson's Nursery. I didn't sketch any orange pumpkins, though. 

One of the odd pumpkins is this heirloom one with lacy color. A staff person told me its variety is called "One too many" referring to it's appearance of blood shot eyes after drinking too much!

The throw down included 3 different interpretations of the colorful bird houses. Mine is upper left, Carolyn's lower right and one of the new sketchers to join us was Mary Kay, with the small one. 

There were a few sketchers who were new to our group today.

I almost always sketch something with these raven sculptures. Odd swan neck gourds and a white pumpkin were also part of the display.

I was one of the three drawn to (so to speak) the colorful bird houses.

Lots more photos here: