USk Line to Color Workshop May 1-3, 2015

Monthly Sketch Outing

Next Sketch Outing Sunday, February 22, Starbucks Roastery

See Adhoc Outings for additional sketch events during the month.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Urban Sketching in Spain

It was in 1998 when I first visited Spain. Since then, no other travel destination has compared to my two favorite Spanish cities, Barcelona and Sevilla.  It made sense that 17 years later, I would want to spend my 40th birthday returning to beautiful España this past February! And she didn’t disappoint…

More so than my first visit, I really connected with my Spanish-influenced heritage. Maybe that’s why I love it so much -- it reminded me of growing up in a Filipino home.  The cuisine – empanadas, arroz caldo, chicharron, pastillas de leche – looked and tasted very familiar. The Spanish colonial buildings are reminiscent of some of the homes I remember in old-town Manila. There is so much to be inspired by in Spain, from Picasso's paintings, to Gaudi's awe-inspiring designs, to the islamic architectural influence in Andalucia. I could literally stand on any street corner and find something interesting to draw. Here are a few of my favorite sketches from the trip!

La Sagrada Familia - Nativity Facade

La Sagrada Familia - Passion Facade

Barcelona Pavilion designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Basilica at the Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey

Patio de las Doncellas (Courtyard of the Maidens) - Royal Alcazar of Seville

Patio de las Muñecas (Courtyard of the Dolls) - Royal Alcazar of Seville

3-min sketch on the left and 10-min sketches on the right

Here's a timelapse of the 3-min sketch (above) - Alley in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona:

Friday, February 27, 2015

After class, Wintergrass

Since the Ad Hoc outing of Seattle Urban Sketchers was scheduled just 15 minutes away at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue, I drove over there after my Kirkland class this afternoon. Tina and Natalie were still there after sketching all day during "Wintergrass".

You could purchase tickets to see performances by legends and featured performers, or just wander the hallways and lobbies to see impromptu groups forming up and playing together.
In the hallways of the Hyatt Regency, Bellevue, WA today.
In one of the hallways on the main floor, a group of about 13 people were in a circle, facing each other. John played bass and another musician played the "Dobro" guitar. There were banjos and more guitars, fiddles and singers. All this was played at a very polite level of volume, taking advantage of the acoustics in the hallway. At one point bystanders closed in and began singing along as the musicians played an old classic, "Let the Circle Be Unbroken." The quiet, understated volume lent a very touching, tender quality to the music.

Upstairs in another hallway, Mack was playing his favorite instrument, a Gibson guitar that he bought for $600 in 1972. "That was a lot of money then", he said, "I turned 66 years old this year, and it's still my favorite."

Terrific Music and Foreshortened Limbs at Wintergrass

While sketching most of the day at Wintergrass, the annual multi-day bluegrass festival, I discovered a particular challenge of sketching jammin’ musicians: all those foreshortened limbs! But I love bluegrass, and there’s nothing more fun on a drizzly winter day than sketching to terrific music in a comfortable indoor venue. Last year, it was one of my favorite Friday ad hoc Urban Sketchers outings, and this year was even better.

In addition to scheduled concerts and lots of impromptu jamming, the festival offers lots of booths where vendors are selling various stringed instruments, including some lovely mandolins I sketched. Shoppers were encouraged to sit and try out instruments, and thankfully those players were slightly slower-moving sketching targets than jammers.

After sharing our sketchbooks, most of us took a break for lunch, and then Natalie and I stayed for more sketching in the afternoon. It’s a good thing we did, because we bumped into Michele, who couldn’t come in the morning. Since a group of three sketchers constitutes a sketchcrawl, we took a selfie.

Natalie, Tina and Michele at the post-sketchcrawl mini-sketchcrawl.


The Friday ad hoc group met for the 2nd annual outing to Wintergrass, a bluegrass music festival in Bellevue, WA. 

I was there enough early to start a sketch while awaiting others.  This is the Wintergarden atrium.  There are comfortable chairs and very tall bamboo plants, still with the red lanterns from Chinese New Year.

This is a composite of various groups of musicians.  The two standing on the right were actually together.  But then they stopped playing and the group broke up so I couldn't get the rest of them.  The same happened with the man on violin.  I decided I could squeeze in one more musician if I could find one sitting down.  I wandered the hall until I found one!

I've been drawing from live, short-pose, costumed models at AFK Drink and Draw every week.  I don't post them here as they're not Urban Sketches.  However, the practice had noticeable effect today as I am now able to draw people quickly. 

Got to talking with a vendor who asked about the sketching we are doing at the gathering.  I showed this one and she said, "That's Cliff!"  She recognized the man on the right from the sketch!  It helped that he has long white hair and beard.  She said he's a well know teacher.

My final sketch is a vendor.  This is Gary, a mandolin maker in Renton!  It's  Cedar Mountain Mandolin Company.  It's not so good a portrait as he was moving a lot, talking with customers.  The mandolins held still, though!

We gathered in the Wintergarden Atrium again to share sketches and have a group photo.

Left to right:  Vivian (new, from Stephanie Bower's "Good Bones" workshop last weekend!), Natalie, Tina, Lynne (back), Kate (me; front), Gwen, Nilda, Nancy.

After the outing, most of us had lunch together there. Then I went over to the UW bookstore.  It's smaller than the main one.  I saw this display with all of Gabi's books, the post card set (from the Urban Sketching book) and some appropriate supplies. 

Line to Color Workshops for 2015

Two great opportunities to take the Line to Color Workshop this year.  Frank Ching and Gail Wong will be giving their Line to Color Workshop in Orange County the weekend of May 1-3.  Enjoy the warm weather and Beaches along the Pacific Coast Highway.
We will be sketching at Mission San Juan Capistrano and the Laguna Beach area. For more information  click the Line to Color Icon in the header above.

In late August or early mid September we will be doing the workshop in Portland Oregon.
If you are interested in that workshop contact Gail Wong at the following email address gail(at)glwarc(dot) com.  Further information on that workshop to come.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Seattle Asian Art Museum

I was unable to attend this month's sketch outing because of a sudden change in another event I had scheduled. The event took place on 10th Avenue right beneath Volunteer Park. I took the chance to walk the beautiful park in the sunshine and sketch the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM).

The SAAM is a particularly enjoyable drawing experience because of the building's geometric Art Deco facade. Its tight corners, easy proportions and smooth curves make it an excellent drawing exercise. The building's position in the landscape of Volunteer Park also creates a wonderful composition and a chance to study the juxtaposition of geometric and organic forms.

In addition, the building's flat facade removes the need to worry about perspective and emphasizes the scale of people and objects. Most of the depth comes from the people surrounding the building and the size of objects in the scene such as cars. This is an excellent example of the way human scale can define a building.

The SAAM building was constructed in 1933 to house the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). SAM moved to its current location in 1991. The building was refurbished and opened as the Seattle Asian Art Museum in 1994 and continues to hold the majority of SAM's extensive collection of Asian arts.

At the time of this drawing, SAAM was hosting an exhibit of Japanese Pop Culture work produced by the artist Mr. Mr.'s art is produced in a pop culture style similar to Andy Warhol's work, using anime and Japanese pop culture. The exhibit focused on the impact of the Japanese tsunami and nuclear meltdown in 2011 and the many ways that Japanese culture has dealt with the catastrophe.

If you are looking for a good beginning urban sketching exercise, the Seattle Asian Art Museum is a good project. Its flat facade allows for a detailed study of proportions while minimizing the distraction of perspective. In addition, the museum and park offer many other drawing opportunities and cultural events.

Good Sketches start with Good Bones...

This past weekend was another 
Good Bones workshop at Seattle's iconic Pike Place Market.  The weather was so unusually warm and sunny that the market was just packed, and it was hard to find places to sketch.  But this group of intrepid sketchers was GREAT, and they weren't daunted!  If you can sketch in the crowds of Pike Place Market, you can sketch anywhere pretty fearlessly!

Friday covered basic perspective, Saturday was basic watercolor for sketchers, and Sunday, about half the folks showed up to join a large crowd of Seattle Urban Sketchers at the Starbuck's new Roastery in Capitol Hill.  

Thanks to Jane and Kate for setting up the USk date to allow the workshop folks to participate was amazing to see everyone's sketches.
Thanks to Pentalic and Bee Papers for sponsoring this workshop by providing TWO wonderful sketchbooks for everyone!  They are the same sketchbooks that I love and use, thanks so much to Joe at Pentalic in nearby Oregon for these wonderful books!
Thanks so much to all those who participated in this past weekend's workshop.  I hope you'll continue to sketch, and I hope we'll see each other at future USk sketchcrawls!

March 20-22 is the next Good Bones workshop that will cover Advanced Perspective-- two+ point perspective, slopes, and more.  There are three open spots in that workshop, so please contact me if you are interested!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

March Montly Outing

March 15

Burke Museum
University of Washington campus
17th Ave. NE & NE 45th St., Seattle
Parking info is on this page

Meet at 10am just outside the entrance to the Museum. 

The Burke Museum is offering Seattle Urban Sketchers a special group discount for our sketch outing on Sunday, March 15! The regular price for general admission is $10, but on that day, we’ll get in for half price -- $5! To take advantage of this deal, please identify yourself as an “Urban Sketcher” at the front desk and mention the half-price discount.  The staff will have the promotion in their log for the day, so they’ll be prepared to offer the discount.

Please note that pencils and colored pencils are allowed in the galleries, but paints are not.  We're checking on pens, so will update when we know more.  Also, you might want to scale down your sketch bag:  "Large bags are not allowed in the exhibit galleries. This includes large purses, backpacks, shopping bags, briefcases, large totes and baby bags."

Update 2/28:  Pens are not allowed; stools are allowed.

The Burke is home to an amazing variety of collections, from full-size skeletons of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals to the original native American mask that inspired the Seahawks logo. The mammoth tusk that was discovered in Seattle last year is there, as are human artifacts from 17 cultures. Great stuff to sketch for everyone!

For those who don't want to pay the entry fee, there are interesting indoor and outdoor locations around the campus. 

Huge crowd, Amazing sketches!

So fun to once again join the massive crowd of Seattle sketchers at the flagship Willy Wonka-ish new Starbucks Roastery and Tasting Room.  Thanks to the Good Bones Workshop sketchers who joined us, the sketches at the end were all just utterly amazing. What a talented crowd!

Testing out a new 6x18 watercolor block at the Tasting Bar in the new Starbucks. Thanks, Sunil,
for keeping me company!

coffee and crows.

A good morning at the Stabucks; full of activity and coffee.
So great to see all the Urban Sketchers out and working so hard. 
A great urban scene with accompanying crows.
Working in soft pencil and concentrating the urban form into shapes.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Pike & Minor

I was feeling a little bit under the weather when the Seattle USk group met this past Sunday but I managed to do a couple of sketches. Here is a view, standing in front of the new Starbucks Roastery and looking up Pike Street toward the domed First Covenant Church.

Sketchcrawl from Starbucks Roastery

It was great getting back into it from a long hiatus.  I haven't been to a sketch crawl since the August, so it was nice seeing everyone on Sunday.  It was a great turnout!
The Roastery was pretty overwhelming with a lot of stuff to sketch and a lot of people.  I found   a nice place to sit by the window and sketch, getting an over view of the interior space by the coffee bar.

I tried to watercolor on site but the Noodlers Ink needed more time to set on the paper.  I just decided to sketch in ink the rest of the time and wandered outside to sketch the signage on  Melrose St.  and then found the entrance to Melrose Market.  It is hard to find because it looks as if you are entering a private restaurant but is really just one of the establishments in the Market.  I feel that we just scratched the surface of places to sketch in the area.  This is definitely a great place to hang out if you can find parking.

Inside Starbucks Reserve Roastery

Melrose Market
Melrose St.

February Sketch Gathering - Melrose & Pike Seattle

Went into town with Tamra and had breakfast at the Corner Cafe (1000 Madison St.), great food and staff. Walking down to the gathering I came across this view and went back to sketch it after the morning meetup.

Our daughter had a music performance at CWU (Ellensburg) that afternoon, so getting back for the afternoon sharing wasn't possible.

Pen & ink with a watercolor wash in a Moleskine watercolor sketchbook.  

Monday, February 23, 2015

Talk about a coffee buzz...

It was definitely happening Sunday morning as out 35+ urban sketchers milled about inside and outside. I thought I'd approach this month's location by perching myself on a street corner, but when the morning's blue skies and warm sun were replaced by clouds and cool temps I adapted to the indoor climate and buzzing atmosphere. I started trying to draw accurately, gave up and went for the feeling of activity and busyness. It was all pretty complicated and somewhat overwhelming and yet it was interesting ... and warm inside.

... waiting for their lattes. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

USk Seattle at Melrose and Pike

What a group USk Seattle had today at the new Starbucks Roastery on Pike and Melrose! At the end of the session, we filled the sidewalk along the south side of the building with sketchers and their sketches. The number of unique viewpoints, individual style, as well as the obvious high level of accomplishment was astounding. I wish I could have looked over every sketchbook at least one more time.

I arrived about 25 minutes early and couldn't find street parking no matter how many times I circled the block. No wonder! We had approximately 40 people there in our group, not to mention the "regulars" and other Seattle denizens out for a nice Sunday morning cup of coffee and/or breakfast.
Sketches by Michele Cooper-Feb 22, 2015
As I sketched the classic-looking pale green Vespa parked outside the Melrose Apartments, a woman leaned out of her top story window and called out to me: "Are you sketching the Vespa?" "Yes," I answered, "Is it yours?" "No", she replied, "but I was just on the phone with my mother, who's an artist, and I told her-Guess what? Somebody's out on the street sketching the Vespa!" For a time there, I experienced a "New York" kind of moment.

February Outing

It was great to go out again with the Urban Sketchers, especially to the new Starbucks Roastery which I hadn't yet had the chance to visit. It was very busy, but I was lucky enough to snag a seat with a great view of the main bar, in the center of which were these copper-and-glass apparatus containing various coffee beans, which were connected via these gracefully twisting copper tubes to the giant hammered (what else, copper) tank that is the roaster (in the background, with the star-over-R logo).

After a while, I took a step outside to get some fresh air and came across this house, whose siting was so peculiar that I had to draw it. I tried a different technique in pen.

A photo for reference: