Next Sketch Outing

Tuesday, Oct. 16, Japanese Garden

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:

Blue and Orange at Swansons

10/12/18 Swansons' planter display

USk Seattle likes to make at least two regular visits to Swansons Nursery each year – autumn and Christmas. This morning was our first visit of the year, and the pumpkins and other fall displays were out in full force. Looking around at all that orange, I then turned around and saw multiple displays of large ceramic planters organized by color. I knew the blue ones would be especially gorgeous if I could also get some pumpkins into the same composition. I walked around for a long time trying to get the blue and orange together while also taking into consideration the direction of the sun, but I just couldn’t make it work.

I finally settled for doing two separate sketches – first, the blue planters; then an old tractor filled with pumpkins (along with Arlene sketching them).

It was a lovely autumn morning for sketching outdoors – mostly sunny and bright (but chilly – I was very happy that I had grabbed my down jacket on the way out the door, especially for the top-down drive home).

10/12/18 Swansons Nursery

Monday, October 8, 2018

City Shapes 10x10 Workshop with Sue Heston

I know fall is a busy time, but there are still a few workshops coming up in the Seattle Urban Sketchers Fall 10x10 series. Click on the "10x10" tab at the top of the page for the full list and registration details. Meanwhile, here some sketches I've done and a little description of the workshop I will be teaching on November 3!
I like to think of an urban scene as a jigsaw puzzle of interesting and interlocking shapes. What grabs my attention is not always predictable. It could be an unusual shadow shape, or an irregular glimpse of sky between buildings. In this workshop, we will look at ways to use the shapes of the city to create interesting and effective compositions. The class does not require any particular level of skill or knowledge, but you should have some prior experience sketching and drawing. The suggested materials will allow students to use drawing tools they are familiar with.
The class will meet in the lobby of the US Bank building in downtown Seattle. But, if the weather looks promising, we may move a block east to the Convention Center which has terrific views of downtown Seattle and access to the very sketchable Freeway Park.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

ID with WSU

Eh? Urban Sketchers Seattle joined design students from Washington State University in Hing Hay Park in the International District yesterday. There were more of them then there were of us. At the throw down, it was interesting and fun to see how they interpreted the area in their sketches.

I didn't think about it when I asked him, but the young man who took our photo was wearing a UW shirt. He suggested we shout "Go DAWGS!" but the students replied with "Go COUGS!".

 I've sketched the Chinatown Gate before but from the other side. In recent visits to the area I noticed this view and immediately knew I wanted to sketch it. That's the clock tower from King Street Amtrak Station in the background.

Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook. TWSBI Go pen; Platinum Carbon Black Ink; Daniel Smith watercolors

As we were walking to the meeting spot from the ID light rail station, I noticed this view with the Smith Tower in the background. I've now sketched the Smith Tower twice in two straight days!

Strathmore Series 500 Mixed Media paper. TWSBI Go pen; Platinum Carbon Black Ink; Daniel Smith watercolors

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Colorful Hing Hay Park

9/29/18 Chinatown Gate and King Street Station
This morning USk Seattle met in Chinatown/International District with Washington State University interior design students and their teachers, who were in Seattle for job shadowing and to research local resources. 

Over lunch afterwards, instructor Bob Krikac told me that learning to draw by hand is an important part of the curriculum because he believes clients are more receptive to early design concepts when they see them hand-drafted. As someone who obviously values old-school sketching on paper, I was pleased to hear that there’s still a place for that in contemporary design, where so much of the work is done on computers.

9/29/18 Gateway in Hing Hay Park
I’ve been using a lot of graphite lately, which I love for its expressive, tonal aspects and because it is helping me to see and understand values better. But the heck if I was going to use graphite in the colorful ID and Hing Hay Park! First up was a sketch of the historic Chinatown Gate and the equally historic King Street Station peeking behind it. I sketched a similar view last year during the Lunar New Year celebration when it was mobbed with celebrants. By comparison, it was relatively quiet in the ID today.

Several months ago, I sketched a larger view of the dramatic Gateway in Hing Hay Park. This time I got up close, where a guy was eating lunch next to the bright red metal sculpture.

It was a fun morning sketching with the students and USk Seattle on what might be the last day of our streak of beautiful fall weather.

dispatch from Japan: Shimanami Kaido

I’ve been traveling solo in Asia since the end of August and it’s been amazing. I have so many sketches to share with you, but I’ll start with a small but particularly great part of my journey: biking the Shimanami Kaido cycling route in Hiroshima prefecture in Japan. It’s a 70km / ~45 mile cycling path crossing through 6 islands in the Seto Inland Sea. 

I started in Onomichi and went south, and the bridges spanning across the water got longer and more stunning each time. I was struck by how similar the landscape looked to the Puget Sound (a Japanese Seattlite I met there agreed with me). I wish we could have such a nice bike path in the San Juans - or please advise me if it exists already! The route was so easy to navigate, you just had to follow a blue line painted on the side of the road, and all the hills up to the bridges were graded so it was a very accessible ride for all levels. I saw hardcore cycling groups decked out in spandex, as well as people in day clothes casually riding.

The weather wasn’t the best for plein air, but I managed to fit in several sketches during the 3 days I took to explore the area. I feel like I just skimmed the surface here, even though I ended up biking 200 km (125 miles)!
The bridge between Innoshima and Ikuchi Islands. This was maybe 1.5 hours of cycling from Onomichi, so I had a snack and sat on a retaining wall. I liked the contrast of the town cluster below the bridge, and the distant island hills. 

Takara Bridge: this is maybe the most famous one, or at least the one I knew from watching anime. I wanted to show how BIG it is! There were rain clouds looming, so I was going fast with the knowledge I might have to stop at any moment. These islands grow a lot of citrus, so I drank some fresh local orange juice as I painted this, and made sure to include the distant orchards on the farther island. 

Ōshima Bridge: I stayed on this island for 3 nights, so I definitely have a soft spot for this view. Ōshima Island’s main industry is a granite quarry, so I watched boats leaving the stone yards as I sketched, as well as men fishing off the docks in the early morning. The small neighborhood shown here was really charming, with lots of old wooden Japanese houses clustered at the water’s edge. 

Takara Bridge, take 2: I wasn’t that happy with my first painting of this scene, so I found an observatory above the bridge to do a really fast sketch on my way back to Onomichi. it was raining a lot this day, and I needed to catch a ferry a few islands away, so I timed myself to finish in 25 minutes. You can see where it rained on my ink lines.
I was pretty happy with this one because the fast drawing has a lot of energy! But I still think it doesn’t show the scale of the bridge that well…it’s SO big, and really exhilarating to cycle on! 

I’d love to come back to these islands for even longer - you could easily spend a whole month in this area. There are many “island explorer” bike trails branching off the main Shimanami Kaido route with small charming towns and clean, empty beaches. I was constantly torn between wanting to stop to sketch and document where I was, and wanting to continue to see what was ahead.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Sunny Yesler Terrace Park

9/28/18 Looking north up Broadway from Yesler Terrace Park

As a native and lifelong Seattle resident, I’ve seen a few new city parks open, and I’ve usually gotten around to visiting them within several months or a year of their openings. Thanks to Urban Sketchers, today I saw a brand-new park that just opened last month – Yesler Terrace Park – much sooner than I probably would have otherwise.

Formerly the site of the Yesler Terrace public housing development, the 1.7 acre park serves “as a gathering place for current and future residents of Yesler Terrace as well as people who live and work in the surrounding community. The current residents are primarily from Southeast Asia and the Horn of Africa.” A new housing development for a range of income levels was built nearby.

9/28/18 Yesler Terrace Park and the Smith Tower
Having seen only a few photos of the park in the newspaper, I didn’t really know what to expect when I arrived. It’s a wide-open, welcoming space with lots of benches, tables and small sculptures. Looking right past the freeway, there’s a spectacular view of south downtown, the stadium and even a peek at the peak of Mt. Rainier. (And somehow I forgot to take photos of any of it!) If you walk through the park and down multiple stairways, you pass newly landscaped and terraced grounds and eventually end up in the middle of Chinatown-International District. If you are looking for one of Seattle’s most diverse neighborhoods, Yesler Terrace Park would be at its center.

With all of that to choose from, what did I sketch? Streetcar and utility wires criss-crossing Broadway and shadows in the street cast by new construction.

As seems to have become my habit lately, I spent so much time on that first sketch that I left myself only 26 minutes before the throwdown for a second sketch. Looking for the Smith Tower, my favorite Seattle building, I had to sight past one of numerous concrete spheres around the park. It reminded me of one of the early exercises we did in the drawing class I took last month: sketching a ball in the sunlight to practice capturing the core shadow, cast shadow, form shading and reflected light. The whole scene looked like a value study, so study it I did.

This time we had a rain contingency plan that consisted of more than optimism, but luckily, we didn’t need it. The morning turned out sunny, warm and beautiful – a lovely gift for the end of September.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Emerald City Turning Gold

My sketches from ground level to the sky. Zoom sketch here.
Seattle Urban Sketchers met at 2:30pm. for an early autumn sketch crawl on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 22, 2018. I was fortunate to be at this location already, having just finished teaching an urban sketching workshop for beginners through Historic Seattle.
Looking up at my 3rd Story window

I had a view of the Seattle skyline  from a third story window in a stairwell of the Good Shepherd Center. Fall colors were beginning to show amongst the greenery of the "Emerald City".

I watched the storm clouds blow in over old brick chimney stacks and power lines strung with vintage glass insulators.

The 100 year old apple trees on the property stood shrouded in nets as this year's crop ripened for imminent harvest.
Perched on the 3rd Floor stairway landing, I had a panoramic view.    WIP Ink Sketch
Kate chose the beautiful facade and arched entryway, along with other sketchers.
After a slow start, our group grew sizably and we had a great collection of sketches at the throwdown from artists age 3 to over 70. See Kate's and Tina's accounts of this event.
I couldn't resist one last sketch in the parking lot before driving home. The apples were very tempting!
On Wednesday, October 17, the Good Shepherd Center will have it's 4th Annual Apple Tasting with support from City Fruit. Tables will be set up at the south end of the main building and visitors may taste these heirloom apples for free. There will be homemade apple pies and more available.

Historic Seattle/USk Workshop and Good Shepherd Center

Michele Cooper's urban sketching workshop collaboratively presented with Historic Seattle

When Historic Seattle invited Urban Sketchers Seattle to collaborate in presenting a sketching workshop, the partnership was a good fit. Members of Historic Seattle, a nonprofit organization committed to the preservation of Seattle’s historic landmarks, love old buildings just like sketchers do. And Good Shepherd Center, the first project that Historic Seattle worked to save and then manage for community events, was an ideal location for Michele Cooper’s popular First Steps in Visual Journaling USk workshop.

Michele’s students had a fun morning learning the basics of sketching. Then in the afternoon, an optional sketchcrawl at the Center and Meridian Park was an opportunity to introduce her students to an actual outing with the rest of us.

The outing featured many sketchable attractions at Good Shepherd Center and Meridian Park, including the historic Seattle Landmark building itself, a playground, gazebo, sculptures and lots of shrouded apple trees protected from insects in this pesticide-free park. Once I arrived, however, I learned that the Great Wallingford Wurst Festival was just a couple of blocks away! I’m not a fan of wurst, but I am a fan of small community festivals (especially “great” ones), so I couldn’t resist.

As Jane and I walked toward St. Benedictine School, where the wurst family event has been held annually for 35 years, the church’s tower called to me as an ideal exercise in graphite. I had my pencil and sketchbook out, ready to go, but then rockabilly music from the festival called to me even more loudly. Forget the tower – I had more fun sketching this group of lively musicians.

9/22/18 Entertainers at the Great Wallingford Wurst Fest

After hanging out at the wurst fest longer than I had intended, watching kids win prizes at the flamingo toss and other sports, I hurried back to the Good Shepherd Center. With only 20 minutes until the throwdown, I went out to the back veranda, where the columns cast stripes of shadows in the late-afternoon sun.

Many thanks to Historic Seattle for opening the Center to USk Seattle!

9/22/18 Good Shepherd Center's veranda