Next Monthly Sketch Outing

May 21 Chinese Garden
6000 16th Ave. SW, Seattle WA 98106

Check back for meeting time.

See Monthly Outing page for details.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

May Gathering - Seattle Chinese Garden

Two sketches done at this month's Urban Sketcher's event. It feels so good to get a bit of a sunburn after all this rain. 
Pen, ink and wash in a Moleskine watercolor book.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Seattle Chinese Garden

I missed more than one opportunity to sketched in this hidden treasure, and so  I marked my calendar for our May monthly outing. It turned out a exceptional gorgeous day, I was immediately attracted by the entrance, completed its main part of structure at least. 

Because nothing makes a woman smile quite like fresh bouquet of pink peonies (in fact they were my daughter's wedding flowers). Peony were known back as far as1000BC, native to Eastern China and Europe Mediterranean region. In China, not only the king of flowers, also the must-learn object of traditional style of Chinese painting (GuoHua). Due to its short season (two weeks), I could only find some of them in right corner areas, I felt the fragrance of Peonies breezed into air while sketching!  

Sunday, May 21, 2017

More at the Chinese Garden

Most people don't realize Seattle has a Chinese Garden.  They are familiar with the Japanese Garden within the UW Arboretum but not with this garden adjacent to South Seattle Community College.  There is also a mid-sized arboretum.  It's a lovely place, with so many interesting shapes and areas to sketch. 

This would be my 3rd sketch outing here.  I've already sketched the dragon carp twice, so I chose another scene.  Though I do love that sculpture!  He's the size of a small car. 

The weather was bright sun and very warm.  Some parts of the city might have hit 80 degrees today.  I picked a spot in the shade to sketch this quiet corner with a pond. 

I next did a quick sketch of two statues of generals. They look like the Terra Cotta Warriors but, given their location and lack of protection, they must be copies.

There were a few new sketchers today.

Seattle Chinese Garden

It's a huge challenge for me to draw gardens...I tried the Japanese Garden in the Arboretum last October and was looking forward to trying again at today's sketch outing to the Seattle Chinese Garden in South Seattle...Found a great spot at a little cement table surrounded by lily pads and daffodils. I couldn't decide whether it would be better to listen to Pandora classical or Godsmack while drawing...I opted for Godsmack which possibly contributed to pressing so hard on the paper I almost painted right through it. Whatever the outcome, what a great 78 degree day to remind that summer is almost here...

A Personal Celebration at Seattle Chinese Garden

5/21/17 Seattle Chinese Garden entryway
As the international Urban Sketchers organization gears up to celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, I celebrated my own personal anniversary today: My fifth year since joining USk Seattle!

Almost exactly five years ago, I had to force myself out the door on a cold, rainy Sunday to join USk Seattle at my first sketch outing (at Magnuson Park). Joining any kind of group is difficult for an introvert like me, but I was motivated to participate fully in this “urban sketching” activity that I had recently become so passionate about. Once I got past that initial hesitation, met people and realized how much fun it was to share in our common passion, continuing to attend became natural. I’ve hardly missed any outings since, and I think of USk Seattle as my “tribe.”

Still a little jet-lagged from travel, I wasn’t sure I’d make it to the outing at Seattle Chinese Garden this morning, but I really wanted to as a way of commemorating my personal anniversary. Unlike five years ago, it was a warm and sunny morning, and although I was quite late, I was happy to join my tribe there. In fact, I spent so much time chatting that I hardly had time to sketch! Maybe I’ve become less introverted over the years. In any case, thank you, USk Seattle, for five fun years, and I look forward to all of our sketching years to come! 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017

Way back in January...

A bit of catch-up. Last January the Friday sketchers met at the Nucor Steel Plant just beneath the west Seattle Bridge. I had crossed the bridge many times but never really thought much about the industries beneath my tires. It was a beautiful crispy sunny day in Seattle and I met the group in the Nucor front office. We donned our safety vests and goggles and set off for the plant.


Having grown up on the south side of Chicago, the daughter of a steel family, the terminology was familiar but I’d never attached concrete objects to the words- blast furnace, steel rods, drop a load. The steel mills reigned as the king on the south side. My grandfather started his career in the mailroom of US steel in Pennslyvania. He took correspondence courses to earn an engineering degree and went on to become an executive in the company. My uncles worked for the steel industry; my dad worked as an engineer in steel-related industry; my cousins worked in the mills as a summer job. It was just in our family blood. Walking through the plant I felt like I was walking through my family history. I was entranced.

We had only a few designated spots where we could sketch. The control room was one. You had a full view of the electric-arc furnace, Nucor’s version of the blast furnace. And when they delivered the charge of scrap steel into the vat the blast of heat and fireball was breathtaking.

The next place we stopped was the yard where the scrap metal, a combination of crushed cars, old appliances, recycled rebar- anything that sticks to a magnet is picked up by giant magnets and moved to the melt shop where the electric furnaces melt it down.

We also got a quick walk through the rest of the plant to see more of the process and the resulting steel rods, trucks, warehouses and workers. 

I came away with a new appreciation of the industry and fascinated with the way Nucor has become one of the state’s biggest recyclers. Thanks to Dave Sommers and Tina Koyama for setting up the outing.

Friday, May 12, 2017

In the International District

Though rain is predicted, the early morning was sunny but chilly.  I arrived early for our sketch outing in the International District.  I decided to make this sculptural fountain the sketch for the ID station in my series of public art in Light rail stations. As such, I added the blue and white symbol for the station.  I didn't really like what was in the tunnel.  This is on the plaza over the tunnel station.  I successfully managed to simplify it by not including details of the buildings in the background.  

Cascadia: A sculptural Interpretation of the Basaltic Lava Flows; 1999-2000 by John Hoge"The installation references the cataclysmic events that shaped the stark landscape of central and southeastern Washington.  The basalt formations in this region date to the Miocene period, beginning about 17 million years ago and continuing over a period of 11 million years."  

On to our meeting spot at the Panama Hotel.  It is a National Historic Landmark for its association with the immigration of Japanese.  The Hashidate-Yu Sento, located in the basement of the building is one of only 2 surviving Japanese Public Bathhouses in the USA.

I'd long wanted to sketch the sign.  Since it still wasn't raining, I seized the chance to do so.


Natalie told me it is also a location in the novel, At the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

I walked around the corner nearby, looking for a vantage point from which to sketch another interesting sign.  But then it started to rain.  Time to go back inside the Panama Hotel Tea Room.
Steve and Tom sketching
Natalie sketching
We were a much smaller group today. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Goodbye to more history.

Trying to use the concepts in Sue Heston's 10 X 10 Seattle class I did this sketch of the very old Highway 99 North railroad bridge near Cook Road in Skagit County. Two days ago I drove by the site and WSDOT was in the process of tearing down the familiar wooden bridge to replace it with a modern structure. Just another reason for sketchers to capture our surroundings before they disappear.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Road Trip

My sister and I took a road trip to visit our brother’s family and home near Paso Robles in the central coast area of California. It took three days to drive from Seattle because I wanted to see San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean along Highway 1.
Mt. Shasta, California, from the passenger seat.

Perfect weather followed us down I-5 allowing impressive views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Shasta. Carpeted in a lovely shade of green, Oregon lived up to its name as the grass seed capital of the world.  An agent at AAA encouraged us to stop in Ashland.  Because of her enthusiastic praise of Oregon small towns, we made side trips into Cottage Grove and Roseburg.  The towns were charming; smartly retaining vintage looks repurposed for todays needs. Ashland’s downtown did not disappoint either.  Home to Southern Oregon University and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland is a tourist destination. Colorful historic buildings line quaint boulevards and bright flowers cascade from street lamps.  I scheduled time for a couple of drawings while my companion perused the galleries and retail stores. 
The Brickroom and Renaissance Rose in Ashland, OR
Searching for subject matter, a bright blue building trimmed with gold embellishments caught my eye at once.  Bookended by two equally colorful buildings, the effect was vibrantly cheerful.

A tea shop in Ashland, OR
With time for a second drawing, I chose the Thai Tea building. The arches, long tall poplars and lime green color scheme was someone’s exotic vision realized.
 My companion soon caught up with me to report a shopkeeper informed her Ashland’s real estate was becoming out of reach for the average person to afford.  Sounds familiar.  She also reported Ashland becomes unbearably hot in the summer.

After Ashland, I didn’t have much time to sketch because we were eager to reach Paso Robles.  Even without the opportunity to sketch, it was exciting to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and see some famous San Francisco houses from the driver’s seat.  At Pescadero Beach on the Pacific, yellow wildflowers and craggy rocks met the surf to form a rugged palette. 

Hills in Central Coast California
After finally reaching our destination and settling in, I pulled out the sketchbook intent on capturing the atmosphere of beautiful rolling hills expanding through space.  Deep green groves of trees accent the hills with foliage so dense it looked black.  Picturesque vineyards dot the countryside and fanciful arched iron gates beckon visitors to drive up winding roads for wine tastings under wisteria-laden pergolas. 
Overlook from Hearst Castle terrace.

The Central Coast area is also home to the Hearst Castle, a National Historic Landmark. On top of a mountain, the Hearst Castle has sweeping views of the ranch surrounding the castle and the Pacific Ocean to the west.  The architect of the Hearst Castle, Julia Morgan, was the first woman admitted to the l’Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris and the first woman to receive an architect’s license in California.  She worked with Hearst to create a castle based on European architectural designs.  The castle is a museum of antiquities, well worth the trip and price of admission.  I recommend the movie about Hearst and the castle.  It’s offered in the theatre on the grounds. The castle, gardens, and views are a riot of color, texture and form.  I could have drawn all day.
Morro Rock, Morro Bay, California
On the second day in Paso, we drove to Morro Bay in San Luis Obispo County. Morro Bay is home to Morro Rock, a volcanic plug located offshore.  We drove across the causeway to get a closer look at the rock then retreated to the town for breakfast and a drawing session.  The peacefully bobbing boats in the aquamarine bay brought peaceful thoughts. Morro Rock in the background made it feel distinctly different.  

Morro Bay music store and Thai restaurant.

Later, we ventured a few blocks from the waterfront to visit a bead store.  The bohemian inspired storefronts were brightly painted and detailed with contrasting colors.  My brother was an avid guitar player so I’m sure he visited the pink music store.  The breezy beach vibe in Morro Bay was so laid back and comfortable I wanted to stay forever.   Instead, we headed back to Seattle only taking two days this time, most of the way through rain, no views. Time to plan another trip!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Show opening

The instructors for the Urban Sketchers 10x10 workshops are having a group show!  It opens Thursday, May 4th.

5-8 pm

Center for Architecture & Design 

1010 Western Ave., Seattle

Friday, April 28, 2017

Freeway Park

We were fortunate to have beautiful weather today for our sketching foray into Freeway Park. As a relative newcomer to Seattle (17 years), never having been to the park didn't seem too odd but even some of the native born Seattle-ites in our group had never been to this park before.  It borders the Convention Center and does, literally, span the I-5 freeway through downtown Seattle. 

It offers an interesting mix of concrete structures, beautiful natural plantings and buildings towering over all. 

My first goal was to find the waterfall.  I couldn't find any place with flowing water but I did find something that looked like it could be a waterfall but it was dry.  I sketched it anyway.   The noise from the freeway was really rather loud and constant. 

I continued to explore the paths running in all directions out from the Convention Center.  I found this corner planted with some bright flowers. 

The courtyard just outside the Convention Center held this unusual sculpture depicting George Washington. 

For our sketch sharing, we were joined by David Chamness' group of architect colleagues having a Friday noon sketch outing of their own.   Their sketchbooks came from their firm so they were labelled with the name. 

Lots of photos here:

Sun Break at Freeway Park

4/28/17 Freeway Park
What a lucky break at Freeway Park! It could have just as easily rained (and did earlier in the day), but when a small group of Urban Sketchers Seattle gathered mid-morning, it was already warm enough in the sun to enjoy the whole time outdoors.

Built in 1976, Freeway Park was considered innovative enough to include in the 2016 PBS documentary, “10 Parks that Changed America” (which includes Seattle’s Gas Works Park, too). The five-acre public area isn’t wide open as most parks are. Instead, it has many concrete stair-stepped nooks filled with trees and other plants, art works and even a waterfall (though it was turned off today) that make you (almost) forget that I-5 is just a short distance below.

Occasionally skirting clouds, the sun warmed my back most of the time as I sketched the park’s most open part near the entrance to Convention Center. In the background is the top of the US Bank Centre Building (where we sketched inside a couple of months ago).

4/28/17 Seattle George Monument
by Buster Simpson

A little later I walked around a corner and found “Seattle George Monument,” a sculpture by Buster Simpson. While sketching it, I perceived only Washington’s distinctive profile (facing left). But when I read the artist’s statement about the piece later, I learned that it “simultaneously portrays Chief Seattle (originally Chief Sealth) and George Washington.” The nose cone of a Boeing 707 forms the bottom of the planter beneath the profiles.

I had only seven minutes until the sketchbook throwdown, but I was loathe to squander even a second of outdoor-sketching time, so I used those minutes to sketch a trash can with its top askew.

I’m almost afraid to say it aloud, lest I jinx it: Is outdoor sketching season finally here?

4/28/17 trash can at Freeway Park