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Saturday, August 13: Olympic Sculpture Park

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Old Favorites at the Olympic Sculpture Park


8/13/22 Calder's Eagle framing the Needle

After the blistering heat of the previous outing, USk Seattle lucked out today – a mostly sunny morning with temps in the mid-70s! Although we’ve met at the Olympic Sculpture Park several times, and I’ve also sketched there on my own, the group hadn’t met at the park in five years (the last time was part of our Pity Party Weekend after the Vancouver, B.C., West Coast Sketch Crawl was cancelled). I was happy to get back there again, especially on such a perfect morning.

I was so happy, in fact, that I made no attempt to resist the cliché image every photographer likes to capture at the park: the Space Needle under the legs of Alexander Calder’s vermilion Eagle. Nine years ago, I made a nearly identical composition, and when I looked back at it, I realized how much the surrounding trees had grown. The first time I had sketched it, most of the Needle’s body was visible; this time, I barely framed its head.

Richard Serra’s Wakeanother work that I have sketched before, called to me again. The series of gracefully curved monoliths needs people nearby to show their scale, and David sketching it gave me just that.

David sketching Serra's Wake

Leading up to and between those two sketches, I made a couple of other small sketches. One was a study for a full view of The Eagle that I decided was better as a thumbnail. The other was of Roxy Paine’s Split, which is one of several works at the park that I have avoided. It’s a shiny, metallic, realistically shaped tree that, in a sketch, can look just like an actual tree – I don’t really know how to draw it so that it’s obviously an artwork. I tried a small composition in black and white that probably looks like an ordinary tree.

Paine's Split
Calder's Eagle

The trip downtown was an opportunity to sketch more than sculptures – people! I caught several light rail commuters and even yoga students at the park participating in the largest class I had ever seen. Still rusty from the pandemic, my people-sketching skills needed the practice. 

Link light rail commuter
Link light rail commuter

Link light rail commuter

Link light rail commuter
(the only one besides me who wore a mask)

Link light rail commuter

Yoga students

Monday, August 1, 2022

A Sizzling Good Time at Ballard Locks

7/31/22 Park at Ballard Locks

On the sixth day of our record-breaking heatwave, USk Seattle met at the Ballard Locks, where every bit of shade was occupied! As the culmination of their “Spotlight on Nature” weekend USk workshop, Gail Wong and Virginia Hein invited USk Seattle to join their students in the afternoon. Although I didn’t participate myself, I heard that the workshop had a fantastic curriculum based on their new book of the same name.

As it had been all week, finding a good composition was secondary to finding shade! I’ve also been missing sketching people, since I’m still not hanging out much in heavily populated areas. I took advantage of the park’s festive summer atmosphere to sketch people sitting or laying about in the grass, listening to live music.

I was happy to have some time to catch up with Virginia, whom I have sketched with in her hometown of L.A., in Tacoma at the West Coast Sketch Crawl and at various symposiums. Toward the end of the outing, we walked over to the locks, which she hadn’t yet had a chance to sketch. As we chatted under shady trees, I made a couple of quick thumbnails of the Salmon Bay Bridge and the apartment buildings on the south side of the bay.

Despite the scorching day, we had a great turnout. Although I generally wilt in high heat, I was happy I made it to the hottest USk Seattle event of the year (we hope!).

Rock-star co-authors and co-workshop instructors Gail and Virginia!
Great to see you and catch up with you, Virginia!

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Double Fun in Queen Anne

7/23/22 Seattle skyline from Kerry Park, Queen Anne Hill

USk Seattle’s outing in upper Queen Anne was two events in one: A celebration of our 13th anniversary and also participation in the 76th quarterly World Wide SketchCrawl.

Prepared for the meetup at Kerry Park and its sweeping skyline view, I brought along my panorama-format Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook. I pack the book whenever I travel, expecting to see and sketch some new skylines, but I haven’t traveled much since 2019. It had been a long time since I’d sketched the Kerry Park skyline (I think 2017 was the last time), so I decided to pretend I was a tourist in Seattle and sketch the postcard view of the Space Needle (unfortunately, Her Majesty Rainier was hiding behind the thick overcast). Plenty of actual tourists stopped by to snap their selfies as I sketched (and some asked me for help taking their photos) – it was a popular spot.

Detail view of the panorama

After that, I took a walk around the Queen Anne neighborhood, which I dearly love for all its beautiful, old homes. (My first apartment was in Queen Anne, so it’s also nostalgic.) Along the way, I made a small sketch of Queen Anne United Methodist Church.

Circling back toward Kerry Park for the throwdown, I made a brief stop at Parsons Garden, which always feels cool and serene compared to the touristy skyline. I caught some girls picnicking just before a mom came by to break up the fun.

In the early years, USk Seattle used to try harder to make our outings coincide with the SketchCrawls, but truthfully, we admins don’t always remember to check the dates when planning. Lately it has fallen by the wayside. But after we sent out the announcement for the Queen Anne outing, Parker Gambino, enthusiastic urban sketcher and SketchCrawler, informed us that the date coincided with the 76th SketchCrawl. Formerly an active member of USk New York City, Parker now lives in Seattle. I was grateful to him for reminding us of the SketchCrawls again.

What a great turnout – I counted more than two dozen at the throwdown! 

Toward the center in baseball cap is Parker.

No, this isn't the throwdown... this was Stephanie's impromptu Gab & Grab! She generously gave away several heavy bagfuls of sketchbooks.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

New Park


This morning I went to the South Park neighborhood to scout out a new park, The Duwamish River People's Park.  It's partially under construction but there was still a large area to explore.  Most interesting to me was the active Osprey nest.  

I always like a good juxtaposition.  My subject was thus the large nest and the aircraft in the Boeing lot across the river. 

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Lots of Umbrellas


7/13/22 U Village

University Village used to be one of my favorite places to sketch when I was first starting out. Easy to get to and with plentiful free parking, it was a convenient location to practice sketching people, trees, hanging floral baskets and especially tables with colorful umbrellas. USk Seattle has met there several times, too. In more recent years, though, parking got competitive, and then U Village underwent a huge, lengthy renovation that made going there difficult and messy. It fell off my list of go-to spots.

Part of that big re-do was adding lots of ramp parking, and now it’s easy to go there again. I don’t know if it was part of the renovation or a general pandemic response or both, but the retail center seems to have added even more umbrella’d tables! A sketcher’s paradise!

U Village is back on my list, and when USk Seattle met there yesterday, I think the other sketchers enjoyed it, too. In both of my color sketches, I took advantage of all those elements I mentioned enjoying there – people, trees, hanging floral baskets and especially all those umbrellas. (The woman at the table is sketcher Michiko and her 2 ½-year-old son standing on a chair. I was so impressed by how unbelievably patient he was the whole time his mom sketched!)

I made two quick thumbnails right before the throwdown to include more of the retail buildings and cars all around. Whatever you like to sketch, U Village seems to have it.

I even found a new-to-me shop that carries art supplies!

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Mafia at the Museum

Every year for 19 years, Renny Doyle organizes an elite group of detailing professionals who volunteer their travel and time to come to the Museum of Flight to clean and polish the aircraft in the Aviation Pavilion. Their main focus is the Air Force One and then the B-29.  His group is called "The Detail Mafia". 

This was my fourth year sketching them as they work and I am so impressed and grateful with the service they provide the Museum. 

 I did two small, about A5 size, sketches of crew polishing the Air Force One engines


Then an 8x10 of three doing "sequential polishing" on the B-29

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Back in Georgetown


7/10/22 Oxbow Park in Georgetown

Although it’s not too far, I rarely sketch in Georgetown except with USk Seattle. After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the (normally) annual Georgetown Garden Walk was back on this year – and we lucked out with a gorgeous day.

My blog shows me that I have sketched the historic Hat ‘n’ Boots at Oxbow Park at least three times – why not a fourth? My only regret is that the few people in the park didn’t seem to want to walk close enough to the boots to put them in for scale.

After that, I spent more time walking than sketching (the public restroom was quite a trek), so I had time for only a couple of quick ones: a clock tower covered with scaffolding and a busy view of the Interstate 5 bridge with lots of the horizontal and vertical lines I love. It was good to be back in Georgetown, especially with USk Seattle!

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Iconic in Fremont

6/24/22 J.P. Patches and Gertrude (sculptor: Kevin Pettelle), Fremont neighborhood

As many times as I have sketched in the Fremont neighborhood, I’m still always torn when I visit. On the one hand, Fremont is full of so many beloved icons (the Troll, the Fremont Bridge, the topiary dinosaurs, to name just a few favorites that I’ve sketched multiple times) that I never tire of sketching. But I also feel like I should branch out once in a while and sketch something less iconic or at least previously unsketched. Last Friday with USk Seattle, I couldn’t resist three icons, but at least I attempted one new subject.

The Saturn Building

First up was the sculpture of J.P. Patches and Gertrude, which I had not sketched since 2012, so I felt that a second sketch was long overdue. Since I had initially sketched it from J.P.’s side, this time I went around and took on Gertrude’s side. Probably only natives and long-time locals are familiar with J.P. as the host of a live-broadcast children’s TV program back in the ‘60s. Gertrude, J.P.’s sidekick and “girlfriend,” was actually a man. (Who knew that a man in drag would host a children’s TV show? Quite progressive for the ‘60s, even in Seattle!)

A water tower I hadn't sketched before

As we both sketched the sculpture, I discovered that Paul is also a Seattle native, so we chatted about all the local children’s TV shows we had grown up with. He went to high school with Stan Boreson’s son! I have had no such brush with fame, although my Brownies troop did appear on J.P.’s show once.

Feeling happy and nostalgic, I made a couple of quick thumbnail studies for my 30-day challenge: the Saturn Building, which I had sketched only last month, and a water tower visible from the J.P. sculpture, which I had not sketched before. There – something previously unsketched and less iconic!

The meetup location was the 
statue of Lenin, which I have sketched several times. Although I wasn’t planning to sketch him again, I had about 15 minutes to kill before the throwdown – just enough time for a small portrait.

So the icons won again. It’s a losing battle in Fremont.

New to me in Fremont

Yesterday was our outing to the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. We haven’t been there as a group in years and I haven’t either.

I had a list! Two of the locations were either new to me or had new elements. I skipped a couple of the iconic statues and didn’t have time to get to the fourth item on my list, the dinosaur topiary.

Our plan was to change up the usual method of our sketch outing and meet for lunch at 1130. So I arrived about 10 to start sketching my list!

Sometime in the intervening years I learned about the Berlin Wall fragment. I lived in Germany for five years before the wall came down and had visited Berlin at least twice.

When I arrived, there was a woman sitting on it, which added to the composition.

I read about the Troll Forest installation in the Seattle Times. Kim Hall built the “Troll’s Knoll Forest” arch. I sketched from the opposite side in order to have a view of the troll’s profile. The little hill next to the troll is being gradually developed into Troll’s Knoll Park.

My last stop was the Lenin statue as that was also our meeting place for the sketchbook throw-down. I had sketched there before and in that post is some explanation about the statue. In addition to the red paint on the hands there is now a splatter of paint in the Ukrainian colors.

And, finally, the throw-down: