Monthly Sketch Outing

Next Monthly Sketch Outing Sunday, August 16, University of Washington crew house and stadium area.
See more info on the Monthly Outings tab.

See Adhoc Outings for additional sketch events during the month.

Monday, August 3, 2015

World Wide Sketch Crawl--A day in Olympia, Washington

Saturday, July 25, 2015
Sketch Crawl AM: the Legislative Steps and Olympia Capital Campus
I recognized Jane sketching at the base of the legislative dome.
It took me almost 3 hours to travel from where I live in North Marysville to the Washington State Capital Campus in Olympia, where Seattle Urban Sketchers were to meet at 10 AM. Roadwork, detours, two previous accidents, etc.- it's a whole other story. Needless to say, I arrived late.

Knowing that we would be sketching at the Olympia Farmers' Market later in the day, I parked my car there and rode the DASH shuttle bus to the meet up with Seattle and Tacoma Urban Sketchers at the Legislative Building steps.

We are taking part in the 48th World Wide Sketchcrawl. 


As I got off the bus, and stood there for a moment to orient myself, a voice in the air called my name. There was Kate, one of our USk Seattle contingent, choosing a spot to sketch near the bus stop in case more sketchers arrived. She had all the information needed, including helpful maps of the local area that she had printed out ahead of time. We also got new badges that Kate had prepared just for this occasion, The 48th Quarterly World Wide SketchCrawl Day in Olympia
Thank you, Kate and Jane!
Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook, Micron pen, watercolor and a special badge!

I knew I had an abbreviated amount of time to sketch at the first location, so I chose a less challenging viewpoint that I had spotted on my bus ride up from the market.

It was amazing to think that people all over the world were sketching simultaneously today. While I was waiting for everyone to arrive for a group photo, my cousin from nearby Tumwater stopped by and surprised me! It was a nice sized group (at least 20 or more) from far and wide who shared their sketches at the end of the morning. Time for lunch!


Sketch Crawl PM: Olympia Farmers' Market
We moved straight down Capitol Way from the Legislative Building to the Farmers's Market for lunch and the afternoon half of the sketchcrawl. (See DASH map above)
The sign says "Make half your plate fruits and vegetables". Easy enough to do if you order a Gyro and Horiatiki Salata (Greek village salad) from Pithos Greek food stand.  Each food stand has at least one large picnic table for its customers. Some of us brought our lunch over to the huge covered stage and dining area in the center of the market, where Tracey Hooker and his band provided the day's live entertainment.
I spent a lot of time sketching my lunch while the band played on stage.
After sketching my lunch, then eating it, I only got a few speed sketches of the bass, trumpet and guitar players just as they finished their set.  It wasn't until later that I discovered that Tracey D. Hooker is a Grammy award winning trumpeter! I did get to see Tina's sketches of the performers before we said farewell.  I have long admired Jane's sketches of the market and now I can say it's one of my favorite places to experience as well.
Most of the sketchers drifted off during the afternoon to resume their own itineraries, but three hardy souls met in the little corner park to share our sketches at 3:00.
PM sketches shared in the little park at the market
I trust that all those taking part around the world have also enjoyed their own experiences today during the 48th Quarterly World Wide Sketchcrawl!
Saturday, July 25, 2015

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Seattle Seahawks Training Camp Day 2


I was fortunate to get invited to go to Day 2 of the Seahawks Training Camp. I had a lot of time to sketch while standing in two ultra long lines. It was a beautiful 90 degree day and there wasn't a lot of shade. They had some misting fans set up to cool the throngs which really felt good! After I finished the sketch of the field we went down to the field and I was fortunate to have two players sign my sketch, Thomas Rawls and Deshon Foxx. I was very close to getting Bobby Wagner and Doug Baldwin but they were called away.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Sailing into the record books at Shilshole

As the Seattle Urban Sketchers Ad Hoc outing began this morning, Seattle had already broken two incredible all-time records:  the most number of 90-degree days in a year yesterday. Ten! And we are likely to tack on at least one more today, with a high of 91 in the forecast, and the heat advisory has been extended into Sunday. It’s not only been hot, though, it’s also been extremely dry.

At 10:00 am this morning our situation was not yet so extreme. At Shilshole Bay Marina we found shady spots and cool breezes as we met near the water near the Leif Ericson monument. Unofficially, we reached approximately 83°F by the time we shared our sketches at 12:30.
A few urban sketchers enjoying a perfect summer morning at Shilshole Marina. Sketches by Michele Cooper
Blue Skies and Breezes - Looking across the Marina to the Sunset West Condominiums - Michele Cooper
A few more sketches came in after this shot.
USk Seattle Sketchers Ad Hoc outing at Leif Ericson Monument, Shilshole. A few others are missing from the photo.
Update: On my way home this afternoon, the outside temperature on my car dashboard read 91°F and 93°F as I drove north on I-5 through a few of our little micro-climates. It was at least that high for a while at home in Marysville while I ran errands this afternoon. Sketchers who live in Seattle might want to report how it went for them this afternoon.

Shilshole in the Sunshine

7/31/15 Leif Erikson memorial at Shilshole Marina

Last summer when Urban Sketchers Seattle met at Shilshole Marina, the morning started out chilly and foggy, though that burned off quickly. Not so today for the Friday sketchers – we had full-on sun, clear, blue skies and excellent opportunities for shadows. Although I sketched Leif Erikson’s statue last time, the shadow opportunities prompted me to take a wider view this morning to capture the whole memorial to Nordic immigrants. On one side of each of the stone markers is a plaque engraved with individual immigrants’ names and the year they arrived.

I stood in full sun to make this sketch, and it took me longer than planned because the one you see above was the second try. The first (mis)try is shown below. Shortly after beginning, I saw that my proportions for Leif were all wrong – so I abandoned the sketch immediately.

Abandoned quickly.
Now that I’m going on my fourth year as a sketcher, I still think of myself as a beginner, though I’ve also gained much experience from daily sketching. It occurs to me that nearly four years of experience does not prevent me from making mistakes like the abandoned sketch. What four years of sketching has given me is the wisdom to realize (most of the time) that when proportions are wrong, no amount of futzing is going to make the sketch look right, so the best solution is to start over quickly. During my first couple of years, I would have kept going, not really understanding why the sketch didn’t look right. Even if I understood that, I would have continued anyway, trying to fix it. After wasting an hour or more, I’d come to the same conclusion: The sketch still didn’t look right.

If abandoning a bad sketch immediately is all I’ve learned in four years, I’m good with that!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

more summer



Finding 'old' Seattle yesterday in Volunteer Park; 
capturing long shadows and beautiful historic vegetation. 
A memorial to this long, hot summer that offers us 
cool evening breezes and a warming sun.

Imagine, looking for shade in Seattle.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Relics and Rain at Salty's on Alki Beach

This has been a very busy weekend for Seattle Urban Sketchers as well as those attending the Singapore Symposium. I finally have time to scan and post a few sketches.
Friday, July 24, 2015
Seattle Urban Sketchers' Ad Hoc outing started out with an overcast sky at Salty's on the Alki shoreline. Built over the water on its own pier, the restaurant is known for exceptional views of the Seattle skyline. Bronze salmon sculptures swim among relics of the old West Seattle Bridge in the aquatic-looking landscape at the entrance to the parking lot. The idea of recycle, repurpose and reuse has come to a whole new level. Owner, Gerald Robert Kingen calls it his "urban reef" in this video tour.

I barely noticed when the rain began as I stood halfway up the covered entry steps looking down at the giant lobster, a bronze sculpture by Lee Emmons. A pipe full of recycled water occasionally creates a "bubbler", splashing on the rocks nearby. More pieces of the old bridge form a habitat for the lobster as well as for the giant bronze crabs on the other side of the steps.
Sometimes your subject just stares right back at you.
Sketchers in Singapore enjoy famous chilli crab as I sketch a bronze lobster at Alki Beach. Thanks for the badges, Kate!
We all got badges, expressing solidarity (and a little bit of envy) for fellow sketchers attending the Singapore Symposium this weekend. Just for the occasion, I cracked open a new Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook and used my DYI Altoids travel kit.

Kate and I decided to wait out the rain and warm up inside the cafe. We got a table at the window and Marvin joined us as we sketched the misty atmosphere from our elevated view.
It seemed unfair that the rusty pilot house of the Kalakala was beached at the edge of the parking lot, forced to gaze through empty portholes as a tourist excursion sailed out toward two massive cruise ships on the opposite shore.

Once the #1 tourist attraction in Seattle, the Kalakala remained an icon to many of us who grew up in the area. I remember seeing her underway in Lake Union and moored there at the north end. Gabi wrote an article and sketched from a kayak when it was moored in Commencement Bay. The Urbanist documented the last ride of the Kalakala in January of 2015.
Much like the skeletal remains of a prehistoric bird, the pilot house, piston and drive shaft of the Kalakala are strung out along the edge of Salty's Restaurant parking lot.




Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sketch Day in Olympia

What a treat to have so many sketchers in town - to share some of my favorite haunts. I don't often sketch on the Capitol Campus but once in a while I head up the hill to attempt the daunting task.

The last time was there was May 22, the day of the teacher's walk-out. The demonstrators filled the capitol steps with signs announcing, "It's time!" (to fully fund the schools). On that day I didn't have time to finish the sketch, not having enough room to fit the top of the dome on the page. Yesterday I finished the drawing by taping another sheet to the original.


After finishing I walked across to the Korean Memorial where the wreath laying ceremony commemorated a number of veterans who had served in that war. It was quite a nice ceremony. 


We migrated to the market, the place I most often sketch in Olympia. The peppers have arrived - not the full range of varieties, but it's a start.


Thanks to Kate Buike for organizing the day. I hope we can do it again sometime.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

World Wide Sketchcrawl Day in Olympia

Urban Sketchers Seattle and Tacoma joined together for the 48th World Wide SketchCrawl Day in Olympia.  We met at the "Legislative Steps"... the large stairs into the Capitol building.

This facade is so impressive but I found it a little overwhelming in its architectural grandeur.  I sketched a side view with the dome from across the street.



As I'd arrived, staff at the Visitors' Center told me that there would be a wreath laying ceremony at the Korean War memorial this morning.  It was in commemoration of the anniversary of the end of the war.  I was a bit late getting over to the site and the ceremony was all but over.  However, I had time to pay tribute with a sketch including the wreaths.  The flags are at half mast in honor of the military killed this past week in the shootings in Tennessee.





We met back on the Legislative Steps to share our sketches.  I'd seen Michelle taking photos at the Korea memorial and she stopped by to look at our sketches.  She took the group photos:





Then we went on the the Olympia Farmers Market.  I again found the scene too  large and chaotic.  I followed Jane's advice and just sketched a portion of one of the vegetable stands.


Greenlake PCC


I walk to this market almost every day for my breakfast, so I thought I should make a record of it. I drew leaning against the window on a wooden bench seat until my legs fell asleep. If someone stood or sat in front of the thing I was drawing, I just drew some other part of the scene until they moved. I had planned on adding color, but I think I'll leave it as is.

Olympia: From the Legislative Building to Tarot Cards

7/25/15 Legislative Building, Olympia, Washington

For the 48th quarterly World Wide SketchCrawl, Urban Sketchers Seattle as well as sketchers from Marysville to Bainbridge Island gathered at the steps of the Legislative Building in Olympia for a day of sketching. The morning was cloudy and 60 degrees – the world’s best outdoor sketching weather, if you ask me!

7/25/15 detail of lamp post
I have been wanting to sketch the Capitol building for a long time, so my first mission was to walk across the boulevard to the top steps of the Temple of Justice building and face the Capitol squarely. The sun stayed behind clouds most of the morning, which was great for sitting outdoors, but I was hoping for a peek of sunshine to help me with shadows. At 11 a.m. when the building opened to the public, I could hear the “Star Spangled Banner” playing somewhere. The flags were at half-staff for the five military service members who were killed Sunday in Chattanooga.

Since that sketch took more than an hour, I spent most of the remaining time before the sketchbook sharing wandering around to see the beautiful Capitol campus that I rarely see. I made a mental list of a number of things I’d like to sketch the next time I visit. I did squeeze in a quick detail sketch of one of the lamp posts in front of the capitol.

7/25/15 performer at Olympia Farmers Market
Next on the itinerary was to meet up again at the nearby Olympia Farmers Market, which is a smaller and cozier version of Pike Place Market, but just as colorful and fun. That’s where I got my people-sketching fix. During lunch, the jazz band Tra-La-Lu performed on the main stage, which is an actual stage – no casual buskers, these guys! I regret that their set ended before I could sketch the trumpeter.

Interestingly, I found both a palm reader and a tarot card reader working this market, and both seemed to have a continual stream of clients as I sketched them. If there’s a connection to be made between our state governance and the need for psychic services, I’ll let you make it.



7/25/15 palm reader at Olympia Farmers Market

























7/25/15 tarot card reader

Friday, July 24, 2015

Old and New on Alki

The ad hoc outing met at Salty's on Alki.  This venue offered the opportunity to sketch pieces of the (now scrapped) historic ferry,  Kalakala.    In addition to parts of this poor old ferry, there was also a newly painted Astronaut. 

The traffic wasn't as bad as expected, so I arrived at 9am, an hour early!  I found my 19th (of 25) Astronaut on the Town on the porch of Salty's restaurant.  I settled down to sketch it while I waited for the sketchers to arrive.






Aquarius by Xavier Lopez, Jr.

Other than the astronaut, I really wanted to see and sketch the remains of the Kalakala.  I got as far as getting the ink drawing completed when it started to rain.  I tried using an umbrella but it was broken.  I finally gave up and sought shelter in Salty's for a beverage and a snack.  Michele and Marvin had the same idea so we sat together, talked and sketched the scene out the windows.
Marvin, before the rain, also sketching the Kalakala
Teri sketching the lobster sculpture; this was her first sketch outing with us
As we were sitting at the table, a woman came up to us to ask, "are you Urban Sketchers?".  Why, yes, we are!  Hopefully she will join us in future.

Fortunately, the rain stopped when it was time to share sketches.



Group inside the Kalakala:  standing:  Marvin, Michele, Frank, Suzanne, Teri, Kathleen; kneeling: Tina, Kate (Gwen, Linda and perhaps another sketcher left early) Teri was new today.... welcome Teri!


After lunch, I finished my Kalakala sketch with a suddenly very hot sun beating down on me.   This image of the sketch shows the special name badge I made for today:  "Singapore Pity Party"  a joking commemoration of our missing the Urban Sketchers Symposium happening now in Singapore.  Frank shared his experience of having ridden on the Kalakala in 1966!  He also told me the hunk of metal next to it is the crank shaft. 


Salty’s, Ma Kai and Seacrest Park

7/24/15 fishing pier at Seacrest Park

Salty’s on Alki Beach was today’s destination for the Friday ad hoc sketchers. Not so much the seafood restaurant itself, although some sketchers did end up eating there, but more for its décor – a few large, rusty remains of the Kalakala, the iconic Art Deco ferry that is unfortunately long gone, and another Astronaut on the Town.

7/24/15 "Aquarius," by Xavier Lopez Jr.
I started the morning at Seacrest Park, a five-minute walk from Salty’s, where dozens of fishermen were trying their luck for salmon at the pier. I tried to be discreet, but the bored fishermen weren’t seeing much action on their lines, so eventually I attracted a lot of attention. They seemed to get a kick out of seeing themselves or each other in my sketch. (I hear about sketchers whose subjects are offended when they realize they are being sketched, but I have yet to encounter a “victim” who wasn’t delighted!)

Reveling in the downtown Seattle skyline and gloomy, overcast sky coloring Elliott Bay a steely gray (do you think maybe I’m a native?), I walked through the park back to Salty’s. On the restaurant’s porch was “Aquarius,” an Astronaut on the Town painted by Xavier Lopez Jr. Since the restaurant wasn’t open to the public yet, I thought I’d be safe sitting with my back against the front door, but it turned out that a wedding was about to take place. A bride nervously teetered down the stairway on spike heels with her entourage, while others frantically kept the groom inside until she was safely out of sight. I finished that sketch quickly to get out of the way before the wedding guests started appearing.

My plan was to sketch the Kalakala remains in the parking lot next, but as I was looking for a good angle, it started spitting, and then the spitting turned to full-on rain. By then I was already walking through Seacrest Park again, so I dashed into Marination Ma Kai, a Hawaiian café, near the fishing pier. I would have preferred sketching outdoors, but on the other hand, a musubi snack and a table with a view of their deck wasn’t so bad, either.

By the way, today’s sketch outing was good-naturedly dubbed the “Singapore Symposium Pity Party”! Although I am sad to be missing out on all the fun and sketching that I’ve been seeing on social media (#USkSingapore2015) this week, I have to say I much preferred wearing two hoodies this morning to sweating in the Singapore humidity! (Yes, I’m definitely a Seattle native.)

7/24/15 view from Marination Ma Kai cafe

7/24/15 view from Marination Ma Kai cafe

A few sketchers within the rusty remains of the Kalakala.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Willowtown, Brooklyn Heights, New York

A few years back while visiting New York we stayed in a brownstone on the corner of Jaralemon and Willow It's in a little pocket of a neighborhood called Willowtown, between Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights. Nestled in America's first suburb, Brooklyn Heights, Willowtown has it's own identity. It also has a number of distinctive buildings all very old and packed wall-to-wall up and down the street. This group of houses painted in spring-like pastels always catches my eye. So awhen I was there in June I perched myself of the steps of the River Deli to see what I could record.

Just a bit further south on the Valentino Pier in Red Hook, I found some people watching the sun set behind the Statue of Liberty.