Next Sketch Outing

Saturday, Sept. 22, 2:30 p.m.: Good Shepherd Center and Meridian Park

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Fire Station No. 2 and Belltown

9/16/18 Fire Station No. 2 and other Belltown landmarks

It was déjà vu all over again.

Just like Friday, I woke today to pouring rain, wondering if I would be alone at the meetup location. An overhang and some large trees would offer some shelter to sketchers who wanted to face Fire Station No. 2 in Belltown, but if we got the thunderstorms and heavy rain forecast by, it wouldn’t be much fun. In addition, the Storm’s WNBA championship parade at Seattle Center was expected to make traffic and parking difficult in the area.

The hardcore who showed up at the start time!
But again, just like Friday, the showers turned into sunshine, and the handful of sketchers who met me at the start time turned into a strong showing by the time of the throwdown!

Despite the blue sky directly above, I was leery that the rain could return at any moment and reluctant to commit to a page-size composition that I might have to abandon. Instead, I decided to make a series of small sketches in Michele Cooper’s montage style. My first stop was Station No. 2, the focus of our outing. Designated a landmark in 1985, the 1921-built facility houses one engine company, a ladder unit, a medic unit and a reserve medic unit (some of which we saw coming out and back into the station as we sketched). 

One of the fire trucks responding to an emergency as we
Next I wanted to capture the Space Needle flying Seattle Storm’s flag. I’m not a basketball fan, but it was exciting to see a women’s team being celebrated as an alternative to the usual Seahawks’ 12 flag at this time of year. (The drops on my Needle sketch indicate that standing under a tree while sketching isn’t necessarily a good strategy when it has been raining all night.)

The historic bell had captured several other sketchers’ attention, and for good reason. From the station that was near the same location in the 1800s, the bell sounded an alarm that could be heard for “nearly 10 miles,” said the plaque. “The horse-drawn engine then responded to the location.”

(Contrary to my speculation, the Belltown neighborhood was not named for this bell, which had an important emergency response role in the 1800s. It was named for William Nathaniel Bell, a member of the Denny party that originally settled Seattle. In addition, Virginia Street and Olive Way were named after his children. It’s a good thing I sketch and blog about my sketches or I’d never learn such local trivia.)

Natalie and Antonella sketching the historic bell.

By then the strong wind had chilled me, so I went to look for coffee. Walking back, I looked up at the numerous cranes and construction sites in Belltown. To complete my montage, I picked an apartment complex going up on Second Avenue and Wall Street (one of many such boxy buildings popping up all over the city).

Once again, hooray for hardy sketchers who say bah-humbug to dire weather forecasts!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Rose Paradise

When my father was in his early 70s he still kept an extensive flower garden.  When I visited, we would walk around the serpentine flower beds and admire various plantings.  He poetically described the size, shape, color. and heredity of each specimen.  In my mind I could hear "Pictures At An Exhibition" by Mussorgsky playing as we promenaded together.   

The Rose Garden at Woodland Park took me right back to my father’s pride and joy, his manicured flower beds.  I heard the same music, felt the same peace. Seeing the gardeners tend to the plots filled me with appreciation for their work and devotion to creating a haven of roses. 
"John F Kennedy". creamy white with pink tips
Captured by the structure of the roses, I realized stems and leaves were almost as important as blooms.  The dark evergreen backdrop of the garden created an excellent contrast to the delicate pink tipped “John F. Kennedy” hybrid tea roses.  
Mardi Gras colors
Determined to get more color on the page, I turned to a bed of bright orange and yellow roses with powerful upright stems and buds ready to burst.  The poodle topiary trees in the background are focal points in several sections of the garden.  I’m certain the color of the roses influenced my choice of a red pen. 
"Memorial Day" has a memorable fragrance
For my last drawing, I let fragrance lead the way.  The “Memorial Day” roses expressed themselves with pinkish lavender color and ruffled edges.  Some of the roses were in full bloom, some were drooping, others had only a few petals left, they all smelled heavenly,

I enjoy the names of roses and got to thinking if there was a rose named Kathleen. I found there are several roses named Kathleen.  You can find a list of roses named after people on Wikipedia. 

Woodland Park Rose Garden

9/14/18 Woodland Park Rose Garden
During the iffy-weather season (and by that I mean September through June), USk Seattle must have a contingency plan for any outdoor event. In August when we planned today’s outing to Woodland Park Zoo’s Rose Garden, it was so warm and sunny that we thought we’d still have a good chance of dry weather by mid-September. Our contingency plan was optimism.

Looking out the window at the downpour as I got ready to leave for Woodland Park, I wondered if I would be standing at the meeting point alone. Only three other sketchers joined me, and we applauded ourselves for being hardcore urban sketchers! Luckily, it was barely sprinkling by then, and in between intermittent spitting, the sun came out! And a little later, many other sketchers joined us.

Although most of the roses were past their prime, the garden was still full of color from late-blooming flowers as well as trees just beginning to turn. (Trivia from the zoo’s website: Spent flowers from the pesticide-free garden are fed to zoo animals, especially the gorillas, who love floral snacks.) The topiary, bushes and lawn were lush and bright green. After all that heat and wildfire smoke, it finally felt “normal” again.

A few weeks ago when a Gage class I was taking met at this same garden, I was intrigued by the fanciful topiary. It was fun tackling one of the funky trees with charcoal, but in the back of my mind, I fully intended to sketch one again sometime in color. I went out to the middle of the garden so that I could place the gazebo in the same composition.

After strolling around a while to admire the well-tended plantings, I walked through the Sensory Garden, which features bells and chimes that can be played, an artificial hill, and other interactive exhibits. I liked the composition of the bright blue poles and slender trees behind them.

Chatting with Carol, who was sketching in the gazebo (she appears in my sketch at the top), I was impressed by her tripod-based sketching easel. She said she learned the idea for it from various urban sketchers who shared photos and instructions online.

Carol's tripod easel

Yay for sketchers who scoff at a little rain!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sketches from Porto, USk Symposium

I thought it was too late to be posting sketches from the Symposium in Porto. But, encouraged by Jane's recent post with her post-symposium sketches, I decided better late than never. So here are some of the drawings I did during the Symposium sketchcrawls and the classes I took. It was the first time I have attended a Symposium, but I hope it's not the last. It was amazing to be so immersed in sketching and surrounded so continuously by sketchers! I am posting just a few sketches here, but more are on Instagram. I am Sue.Heston on Instagram.

This is one of the drawings I did in Jose Louro's workshop. I also took a workshop with Joao Catarino, and both of these guys stretched the way I think of urban sketching.

What? A watercolor? Charline Moreau demoed a monochrome watercolor underpainting technique that was all about values and it really resonated with me!

This was the scene at the Final Sketchcrawl - sketchers as far as the eye could see (over 500!).

And one of my personal favs from a sketchcrawl in the "upper city" to wrap up a picture-heavy post.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Birthplace of Fado

I'd never every heard of the music genre Fado before visiting Portugal during the Porto SymposiumMy first live encounter was at our third sketchwalk at Sé, Porto's Cathedral that sits atop a hill with a commanding view of Porto. I sat and drew the trio below. Afterwards they came over to see my drawing and I asked them to sign it. They did but they hid the signatures not wanting to "ruin the picture".

 I gave them my card which has the USk blog and manifesto on the backside, so they could see other sketches from the symposium. When I returned home I got an email from them asking if I could send a scan so they could use it for their next cd cover. I love it when these unexpected encounters happen as a result of urbansketching.

After the symposium I, like several other sketchers, stopped for a few days in Coimbra, home to one of the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world. It was first  established in Lisbon in 1290, maybe with a different name, and then relocated in Coimbra in 1537.  I ran into this group from the university, just after Tina Koyama had sketched them. 

Then this one in Lisbon. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Bring on the people!

Some people are bothered by crowds. Not me. I love them. Lots of activity, movement and color. Bring on the people and bring out the sketchbook. 

Now that summer travels have wound down, it's the perfect time for more Seattle 10x10 workshops. I'm excited to be teaching two different classes this fall with two variations on the people theme. Sue Heston is also teaching a people class that you can check out here. 

My first class, Sketching People from the Inside Out,  is coming up on Saturday September 15 and just sold out. This class is about people as the focus--standing, sitting, moving--they are the dominant subject, the setting is there but secondary. We're going to start with some very basic exercises to get everyone used to thinking about the insides of people and how we move from the inside out. This isn't a technical class where we learn about skeletons and muscles; instead we're going to work with movement, impulse, anchor points, gesture and mass. 

I've bee warming up this summer as I visit markets and gatherings. 

People in Places

While the first class focuses on people first then the background; the second class we will focus more on the places with people as a part of the scene. We'll look at several examples of different ways sketchers draw people and play with different approaches. We'll work on ways to 'put people in their place' and I'll share some tips on making the scene fluid and believable.

I'm looking forward to having some fun! 

You can find details on how to sign up for any of the Seattle 10x10 classes on Brown Paper Tickets. 

On the road with Mañana: Sketching in Port Angeles and Salt Creek, Washington

My husband Scott bought an old RV that he called Mañana about 5 years ago. She is a bit clunky but functional, and very loved. It's is a relatively small RV, which makes it easier to park and travel around cities.

A couple of sketches of Mañana are shown below. The first is Mañana in our driveway in Greenwood, Seattle, where she usually sits when we are not traveling. The second sketch shows the interior, during our last trip.

Mañana in all her glory, in her usual spot in our driveway

The inside of the RV. There is a kitchen, a propane refrigerator, a tiny bathroom, and a bed, all we need where we are on the road. On the left, my running shirt left to dry after a 5-mile run on the Olympic Discovery Trail.

Last week we took a pre-Labor day trip with Manãna on the Washington coast to Port Angeles and Salt Creek. The day we left there was still some smoke lingering from the forest fires, and the weather was grey, cold, and windy. But we were looking forward to that peculiar sense of freedom that comes from packing our stuff in the RV and just go.

We drove to Edmonds, WA in the late morning and took the ferry to Kingston (no sketches on the ferry: I can't resist the free puzzles left on the tables for passengers to work on) and then drove the 60 miles to Port Angeles.

After a quick walk, we stopped on the waterfront and I found a good place to sketch the view, sheltered from the strong wind. I sat in front of the Feiro Marine Life Center where a couple of young women dressed like tooth fairies were offering to visitors free entrance to the museum and toothbrushes.

My first sketch of the Port Angeles waterfront. I found a comfortable and sheltered place to sit in front of the
Marine Life center and enjoyed the view.

We were also fascinated by the large paintings showing the life of native americans and settlers in the early days of the city. Apparently there were a lot more trees before the European arrived.

Two mural paintings compare, side by side the life of native americans and early settlers in the Port Angeles area
(photo by Scott Doran).
In the evening we drove a few miles west to the Salt Creek/Tongue point camping site. It was almost dark when we arrived, so I only managed to do a quick sketch of the tree stump in front of our RV. 

In our camping spot at Salt Creek. Even at midweek, the campground was almost full.
The second day it was much sunnier but still very windy. In the morning we went for a run on the Olympic Discovery trail, a 100-mile trail on the Olympic peninsula connecting Port Townsend to La Push.

Back to Port Angeles, I did a second sketch of the waterfront, this time looking at the City Pier and the Observation Tower. Even with the sun, I still needed a windbreaker, a scarf, and a hat to keep my body temperature at an acceptable level.

The Port Angeles City Pier with the 4-story Observation Tower.

It was a great little trip and we are planning to travel more with Mañana in the next few months, venturing farther and for longer periods of time to discover the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

El Diablo #3

This was my third time drawing at El Diablo Coffee, on Queen Anne. The first time, several years ago, I went alone and drew the students studying (below).

The second time was with Urban Sketchers Seattle and was the first time I met Tom Ettel. We sat together and chatted as I drew the cluttered counter (center). We have since become good friends and frequent sketching buddies.

This time, Tom, is brother Peter, and I headed to El Diablo again to find it had relocated a couple of buildings north. We sat upstairs and, after disturbing a couple of newly accredited therapists having an intense discussion about their new practice, we got to work. After all the walking around and chatting, I didn't have to finish on site (above).

I'll increase the contrast and add some hatching later.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Queen Anne Library - August 31st, 2018

It has been quite while since my last posts, couple of of them is I have feeling of enjoy more to my other USk fellows who are good in storytelling than myself...not an excuse, right!
Today's sketch outing really gave me a chance to explore deeper of Queen Anne's history. That's exactly I want to say:  Grateful to be part of group!

This Previous West Queen Anne School was later incorporated and redeveloped into condominiums with its origins appearance still remain.
Envy people who live here, beautiful!

Received a water soluble pen from LK Bing who I admire much when attended Porto Symposium. I love it, whenever quick sketching needed. The scene is from 6th Ave W look down south, attracted by the giant landmarks of Standpipe(?) and power poles. This is unique Queen Anne!

New and Old in Queen Anne

8/31/18 Queen Anne cell tower
This morning’s sketch outing in the Queen Anne neighborhood was an interesting time management (or lack thereof) exercise for me. As I approached the area, which is especially rich in older buildings (many of which seem to be in the process of being converted to condos), a crazy cell tower on West McGraw had caught my eye. I decided to make that my first objective. Lacking color, it made a good exercise in graphite tones, and with all those strange shapes and angles, the tower was a fun challenge.

Completely losing track of time (in a good way) in that drawing, I realized I had only about 25 minutes left before the throwdown – and I hadn’t yet sketched any of the architecturally interesting buildings. I hoofed it over to the street where several stood and picked the Queen Anne United Methodist Church to sketch (below). After hastily putting in a few lines, I slammed down a Pitt brush marker for shading, scribbled in some color and power lines, and called it good.

It was great to see such a strong turnout this morning!

8/31/18 Queen Anne United Methodist Church

Queen Anne neighborhood

We gathered this morning outside the Queen Anne Library. It was closed for renovation but there were many interesting public buildings and private homes and gardens to sketch in the blocks around.

Our numbers grew by the time we had our throw down and group photo, though one or two sketchers had to leave early.  Thanks to Kathleen K. for investigating this area for us!  

After we first gathered, I walked down to Top Pot Doughnuts with Tina to use the facilities. We got coffee and then sat at a cafe table to sketch this jumble of satellite dishes.


I walked back up to our starting neighborhood and looked around. I went back to the scene I first noticed. Kathleen told us that this street lamp was part of the history of Queen Anne Boulevard. It has been transplanted to the front of a home owner's yard. In the background is the Queen Anne Masonic Center next door.

I found an image and some information about the street lamp: