Monthly Sketch Outing

Next Sketch Outing Sunday, April 19, Seattle Chinese Garden in West Seattle

See Adhoc Outings for additional sketch events during the month.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Urban Sketchers Symposium

Singapore 2015

Registration is still open for the International Urban Sketchers Symposium in Singapore July 22-25.

Join the amazing faculty for top-notch programming open to sketchers of all levels, experience, and backgrounds!

Workshop passes and Sketching passes are still available – standard registration is open through May 31.

For more information about the Symposium including schedule and registration information, please visit    The link is also found on the right hand margin here... just click there on this logo.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sketching OUT/LOUD at Seattle's Chinese Garden

We chose the Chinese Gardens for our April outing for a couple of reasons. It's been on our wish list for a couple of years, awaiting further development. Also it seemed a perfect combination of structure and landscape to participate in Sketch Out/Loud 2015 (SKOL), a month-long celebration of landscape architecture introduced by Richard Alomar, an urban sketcher and landscape architect in New York City.

I did a little research about SKOL2015 and the Chinese Gardens, so I had my hashtag and mental preparation. When I sat down to sketch, however, I forgot all about the landscape aspect and just honed in on the main gate to the courtyard.

It was a lovely day and the shadows were strong, nice for value range and strong contrasts. My first piece started as a thumbnail, but I just don't have the hang of simple thumbnails.

The few peonies that were still in bloom were lovely. Would love to see the whole garden in bloom. 

My last piece I used a bamboo pen -- pretty much the same as using a twig. I thought it fit the subject matter. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sketches from Sketchcrawl at Seattle Chinese Garden

Last Sunday was a fabulous morning for sketching!  You couldn't ask much more.  I had been to the Seattle Chinese Garden in 2011 and this was the first time since then that I had been back.  It was nice to see the plantings that had matured and new planted areas that were done.  I can't wait until they get the larger pond developed.  Here are sketches both from this last Sunday and the sketch I did in 2011.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Window View

Rainy and windy in Skagit so I looked out the window at the utility pole on our alley and used cover stock with some watercolor to get sketching practice. Enjoyable exercise.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Back to the Library

The Friday Sketchers met on the campus of the UW, in Suzzalo Library.  Yes, we have come here in the past, but that library if full of interesting things to sketch.   I wandered into the Espresso and Market place, drawn by the interesting clock, which stood about 7 ft. tall, parts of which were made of copper.  After that, I went to the great staircase, full of arches and wonderful interplay between lights and darks.  And even tho we've come here several times, I know I will be glad to come again, as one of the sketchers showed her sketch of the atrium part of the Allen Library extension, where delightful models of various flying birds hang from the ceiling!!

Vera's Diner, Ballard, Seattle

Donna and I had breakfast at Vera's in Ballard and lingered long enough to each do a sketch. Here's mine:

Trying not to get caught sketching these folks at Elliott Bay Bookstore.

Spring Courtyard of Seattle's Chinese Garden

A little late for posting this view of the Chinese Garden's Spring Courtyard from last Sunday's outing. Arrived a little early but fortunately the gate to the courtyard was open. What a tranquil setting.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Burke Saturday

Thanks to Tina for making the Burke Museum arrangements! Great place to sketch because of the setting and the variety of subjects and their challenges. I had a good time and it was good to see fellow sketchers again.

Chinese Garden - Seattle

Great day for sketching, beautiful location and good turnout. The Garden is a work in progress and it will be fun to come back here to sketch and paint the new amendments and completed construction.

Pen and ink with watercolor in a Moleskine sketchbook.

Seattle Urban Sketchers are Welcome Guests at Seattle Chinese Garden

"Welcome, Guests of the Garden" - This stone with beautiful Chinese calligraphy greeted visitors today at the Seattle Chinese Garden and was translated for me by three young women visiting from China. I was in West Seattle to sketch with Seattle Urban Sketchers at the monthly outing on April 19. Our balmy spring weather was back (67° F!), but with a bit of a nip in the breeze.

I didn't get very far down the sidewalk towards the garden, since the view of the south facing wall was dappled with springtime light and shadow. It was a dramatic introduction which stopped me in my tracks.
Friend and fellow sketcher, Kate found the perfect rock to start her first sketch.

"The humble gate" decorates the entrance on the sunny south wall of the garden. Sketch by M. Cooper
Pat, Jane and Kate find the rocks, courtyard, and sculpture completely in harmony with nature.
My DYI Altoids mini-palette makes it easy to sketch while standing.

More than two dozen varieties of tree peonies and several herbaceous peonies donated from Luoyang, China, were planted by volunteers in 2012. It is hoped that these 400 peony rootstock will create the largest public peony garden on the West Coast. Although the early spring weather has caused many to bloom already, Dewey (a volunteer and tour guide) says that there are still some that haven't bloomed yet. They will be ready to view next weekend at the Peony and Bamboo Festival. There will be a lion dance at 11 am on Saturday, April 25.

I stood on the sidewalk on the way out and wrote the "Welcome Friends" Chinese Calligraphy.
On this page, I wanted to explore the Yin Yang aspect of the garden.

I put a few finishing touches to my two sketch spreads. To see them, please visit my Flickr Photostream.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Perfect day in the Seattle Chinese Garden

Urban Sketchers Seattle were graced with a perfect spring day to enjoy the Chinese Garden.  I was looking forward to this sketch outing as I knew the weather would be good and I had never been to this garden.

It did not disappoint.  I arrived a bit early and simply stopped at the first view. 

After finishing this first sketch, I wandered around, enjoying the garden and looking for a second scene to sketch.  The huge carp sculpture was, perhaps, my second favorite place in the garden!

A carp becomes a dragon.... this is the "Dragon Seeker" sculpture.  According to traditional Chinese tale, a carp that could leap the high falls of the Yellow River at Dragon Gate (near Longmen, Zhejiang) would be transformed into a dragon.  This Dragon Seeker was made in Thailand over 100 years ago. More recently, a Seattle couple had it in their garding in Kuala Lumpur.  When they returned to Seattle, they donated him to the Chinese Garden.

As I was lingering in the Knowing the Spring Courtyard, I started to hear music.  I gravitated in its direction and found Michael playing the traditional Erhu.  Such beautiful music was a perfect end to a perfect sketch outing in this lovely Garden!  He allowed me to make a couple photos.  I also did a very fast sketch. 

Group photo in the Knowing the Spring Courtyard

More photos here

Burke Museum Masks

I'd planned to draw dinosaur bones but the clutter of artifacts downstairs was more my thing. A work order was called in to fix the lights in the display case that went out every few minutes, making the glass reflect only me and Donna and the room behind us, providing an extra challenge not unlike trying to draw the other side of a street through busy traffic. I'll be going back on free Thursdays to draw often. There's a lot of tempting busy-ness to capture.

“Opening Day” at Seattle Chinese Garden

4/19/15 Dragon Seeker stone carp and main pavilion

At today’s Urban Sketchers outing, Gabi and I were chatting about the unbelievably beautiful weather – 65 degrees with a clear, blue sky – and how today’s event should be deemed “opening day” of outdoor sketching season!

The Seattle Chinese Garden in West Seattle was, indeed, an apt location for our opening day – a gem of serene, open landscaping with a traditional Chinese courtyard and pavilion at its center. (Thanks to Logan Bingle for the intro information about the garden!) I wandered around for quite a while trying to focus on a composition I could manage. With all the lovely plantings and peonies in bloom (though past their prime now), we had a lot to choose from, and I knew I had to select carefully or I’d end up overwhelmed.

The stone carp, a Dragon Seeker, grabbed my (and many other sketchers’) attention. According to a traditional Chinese tale, said the placard, “a carp that could leap the high falls of the Yellow River. . . would be transformed into a dragon.” This carp, which was donated by a Seattle couple, was made in Thailand more than 100 years ago. The main pavilion is in the background (my composition judiciously cropped off most of it so that I wouldn’t get bogged down by the architecture and all those tiles!). Halfway through my sketch, I paused to watch the drama of a tiny bird that chased a bald eagle out of its territory! I spotted the eagle several times throughout the morning.

After enjoying the garden a bit more, I settled on a wider view of the stones, trees and bamboo plantings (as well as Pat sketching in the foreground) surrounding a smaller pavilion.

4/19/15 Sketchers in the garden.
By the way, have you heard about Sketch Out/Loud? It’s an initiative by urban sketcher and landscape architect Richard Alomar. Working with the American Society of Landscape Architects and Urban Sketchers, Richard is promoting Sketch Out/Loud in April as part of World Landscape Architecture Month to encourage urban sketching among landscape architects, architects and designers worldwide. If you sketch parks, plazas, streets, front yards and other examples of landscaping this month, post your sketches with the hashtag #skol2015.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sketching at the Burke Museum

It was fun going down to the Burke for a late morning sketch outing.  I focused most of my time on the Native American Mask that inspired the design of the Seahawk's logo.  I ended up doing several vignettes if that portion of the museum and caught the family whose is pictured with Kay a couple of times in the museum.  I used pencil which is not my typical medium and used it on Handbook watercolor paper which has a rough texture.  I think the pencil would have worked better on a smooth finish paper.

An Urban Sketching Event at the Burke

Kay Tyllia, right, sketching with a young participant.
Urban Sketchers Seattle enjoyed sketching at the Burke Museum so much in March that we went back for more. This time we were invited by the Burke to create an event that would encourage other visitors to sketch at the museum, too. The Burke provided sketching materials and a clothespin line where participants could hang their work.

It was tough competing with 65 degrees and sunshine outside, but the museum managed to entice a few visitors indoors. We all found new artifacts to sketch, and Kay was especially enthusiastic in encouraging young sketchers to participate.

Sketch by Tina Koyama
Thanks to Frank Bettendorf, Gail Wong, Kay Tyllia, Steve Reddy, Donna Allen, Tim Taylor and Mark Ryan for volunteering today, and many thanks to Eva Childers and the Burke for inviting us to this event! 
Frank and the big guys
Steve and Donna
Gail sketching the Seahawks logo inspiration
Mark sketching the Terror Bird
Sketches by Mark Ryan
Sketches by Kay Tyllia
Sketch by a Burke enthusiast

Sketch by Tina Koyama

Friday, April 17, 2015

Fremont Coffee Redux

Unable to make the Fremont Coffee meet-up, I went today for my first bike ride of spring. I drew from the same vantage point about 5 years ago. Here's the new one, followed by 2010's version.