Monthly Sketch Outing

Next Monthly Sketch Outing
Sunday, May 15
King Street Station
303 S Jackson St

Sketch the station or surrounding International District or south Pioneer Square.

Meet at 10:00 AM
End meet-up at 12:30 pm
Let's meet outside the station if it's nice weather; inside if it's raining
See more info on the Monthly Outings tab.

See Adhoc Outings for additional sketch events during the month.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Coffee, Electric Cloud and Lenin's Boot

Most drivers would feel a bit frustrated when the bridge alarm goes off just as you approach the Fremont drawbridge. It means about a 5-7 minute delay in getting where you were going. For me, though, it meant an opportunity to sketch the little drive through coffee stand from the comfort of the passenger seat in the car. No distracting traffic in the opposite lane! I did the sketch in the time the bridge was open and finished the color later.
I managed to get two small sketches in before sharing with the Seattle Urban sketchers today.
Electric Cloud Coffee is a drive through stand located on the south end of the Fremont drawbridge. They are known for their breakfast burritos and hemp lattes.

My 5-7 minute view of Electric Cloud Coffee
Read about the history of the Lenin statue here
I arrived late for our outing in Fremont this morning. We had an alternate location in case of rain, but the sun was breaking through the clouds by the time I got there. No time to sketch the whole statue of Lenin, so I settled for a quick 20 minute sketch of the boot. Wish I could have done a sketch of the workers resting in the square as the sun finally came out.
Workers on break in the square near the Lenin statue.

20 minutes to sketch Lenin's boot in a rain puddle with sun breaks.
PM-Columbia City Coffee Break
AM-The Station Coffee House, Beacon Hill

It was a true Seattle cultural day for me, with morning and afternoon coffee breaks, sketching in Fremont and lunch with the sketchers out on the sidewalk tables at PCC nearby.

Why was I late? My husband wanted me to try out a cool coffee shop in the Beacon Hill neighborhood. We went there first, then over to Fremont so that I could sketch with Seattle USK. After lunch at PCC we explored the shops in the Columbia City neighborhood, where they have some kind of dark chocolate whiskey cake at the bakery. I'm calling it a scouting trip for upcoming sketch locations.

Rocket, But No Saturn

5/27/16 Kwanjai Thai Cuisine on N. 36th St.
Despite last night’s downpour and the early morning’s drizzle, our sketch outing to the Fremont neighborhood stayed dry and downright pleasant! After our initial meetup in front of Lenin’s statue, I didn’t have to go very far for my first sketch: the tiny Kwanjai Thai Cuisine on North 36th Street. You’ll probably guess that it wasn’t the cafĂ©, as cute as it is, that caught my eye – it was those humongous high-tension power line towers behind it. It’s hard to sketch in Fremont without capturing at least a glimpse of them.

By now I’ve sketched many things Fremont is known for – the topiary dinosaurs, the infamous statue of Lenin, the Solstice Parade’s nude bicyclists – but one I hadn’t yet checked off my list is the Rocket, and another is the planet Saturn atop its namesake building across the street. I circled the block twice, often walking backwards, trying to find a way to get both the Rocket and Saturn in the same sketch. Somehow there was always a tree, a building or just a clumsy composition keeping me from what I wanted. I finally settled on the Rocket alone, but I know there must be an angle I missed. Next time I’ll catch them both.

5/27/16 The Rocket

We had a great turnout on this weather-iffy day, including four sketchers joining us for the first time! Welcome to Jean (a student from Taiwan), Ching (who moved here from Australia), Suzette (visiting from Baltimore) and Amy (who heard about us from Suzette minutes before Suzette came to meet us)! 

Back row, from left: Jean, Susan, Marcie and Ching. Front row: Marvin, Tanya, Michele, Sue, Suzette, Nilda and Tina. Behind us: Vladimir Lenin.
(Not pictured: Amy and Vivian)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

King Street Station Marker Sketch

2016_05_15 King Street Station USk

My sketches from Sunday's meetup at King Street Station were done with my usual Faber Castell Pitt markers. I spent almost two hours drawing the ornate capital on one of the columns on the upper level. Sketcher Lin made a guest appearance during the course of my sketch. After I called it done, I wandered outside for a few quick, notan-y sketches. I kind of wish I had spent more of my time on the middle one with the curved awning.... Next time.

But by far the best part of the day was discovering that a couple of my Flickr "buddies" had been taking Stephanie Bower's class this weekend and getting to meet them IRL!!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Visible Light Sources

I usually compose horizontally, but the tall ceiling at the King Street Station and the ornate detailing pulled my gaze upwards so that's what I chose to draw from the hard wooden pew-like benches in the main room. Determined to get it all done in two hours, I dove in with no pencilling, racing to capture as much detail as I could. The only thing I added after the time ran out were the dark reflections on the shiny floor.
Coincidentally, the day before I had drawn another vertical sketch at Fuel Coffee in Wallingford, and noticed another similarity- the visible light sources. I do a lot of squinting at my subjects now, trying to reduce the visible info to tone only. Color can be eye-catching but it's not part of my current self-imposed curriculum.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

King Street Station

My sketching spot at the little park across the street from the King Street Station was prime location for me to have the honor of serving as the local who train-goers and Sound Transit riders could ask directions. A half a dozen or so luggage-hauling travelers swung by to ask how to get to the train and to the Light Rail. Oh and the Geico sign was one plane that flew by four times in the hour or so I was sitting there so I tried to quick-draw it every time it went by.


I sat directly behind Stephanie Bowers and tried. Really I tried to do the perspective thing...

But then it was getting close to departure time for the next train. And people make such interesting shapes. 


Drizzly King Street Station

5/15/16 King Street Station
I was hoping the spectacular summer weather we had Friday at the Sculpture Park would hold out until this morning, when Urban Sketchers Seattle met at King Street Station. I’ve sketched inside the station at least a couple of times, but I wanted another crack at the outside, which I hadn’t sketched in nearly three years. Alas, the day dawned cool and drizzly with no hope of sunshine.

As a warm-up, I climbed the stairs to the station’s upper level to capture some of the amazing details all over the ceiling, on the walls and on the columns (below). The building has been so beautifully restored that you could close your eyes and turn in any direction, and when you opened your eyes again, you’d have something amazing to sketch.

I still had hopes for an outdoor view, though, so I pulled on my hood and walked across the street. Using a brush pen kept the sketch fast and loose, and sitting under trees kept my page mostly dry through the ongoing drizzle.

5/15/16 station interior detail from second floor
This weekend was Stephanie Bower’s “Good Bones” workshop, the same one I took a couple of years ago, so her students joined us today, including sketchers from Portland, Vancouver, B.C., and even as far as the Midwest. During the sketchbook sharing, it was impressive to see the results of Stephanie’s instruction and influence. Several sketchers I chatted with were ecstatic that they finally “got” perspective. I remembered fondly feeling the same way when I gave myself a “final exam” at the very same station two years ago.

Sharing sketches inside King St. Station

Saturday, May 14, 2016

May sketch outing coming up

May Sketch Outing
Sunday, May 15
King Street Station
303 S Jackson
We can sketch the station, surrounding International District or south Pioneer Square.

Meet at 10:00 AM
End meet-up at 12:30
Let's meet outside the station if it's nice weather; inside if it's raining. 

See the Monthly Sketch Outing page for details. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Eagle Wins

5/13/16 Calder's Eagle
Riding the bus into town this morning to meet Urban Sketchers Seattle at the Olympic Sculpture Park, I swore I would sketch something different this time. I’ve sketched at the park at least three times with USk in as many years (twice in 2014, in fact, and once in 2013), and somehow I managed to sketch Alexander Calder’s Eagle every time. But darn it if I found myself magnetically drawn to it again. No wonder, I suppose – it’s arguably the most visually compelling piece there.

I’m not the only one who thought so: Of the seven sketchers who stayed for the sketchbook sharing, six of us had sketched the Eagle!

At least I sketched one thing at the park that I haven’t sketched before: A fashion photography shoot in front of Seattle Cloud Cover, the colored glass wall on one side of a pedestrian walkway.

5/13/16 Fashion photo shoot in front of Seattle Cloud Cover

Six out of seven sketchers recommend Calder's Eagle!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Vintage Cycle and sidecar

1967 BMW with Stieb sidecar ('30s) drawn at last Saturday's Tacoma gathering - Harley-Davidson in Fife.
Pen and ink in a Stillman & Birn Zeta series sketchbook.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Relaxing In Mexico

My wife, friends and myself spent a week in Zihuatanejo (Zihua), Mexico for a little R&R.  We stayed in a timeshare resort that was right on the beach a short walk from the town center.  As you can see, while others read in their lounge chair, I brought out my pens, brushes and the acuarelas (watercolors).
Over the eight days, I ended up with 16 sketches.  Mostly I spent as much time as I wanted to capture the scene, but occasionally I had only a few minutes while the rest of my party was shopping in a small local shop.  Hope you enjoy the series as much as I enjoyed spending my vacation time sketching in a small Mexican beach town.  This would be a great place for the annual symposium if it could be held in April/May rather than July.  

Also thanks to Jane, I had the Urban Sketchers Manifesto in Spanish so that I could share with the locals what I was up to.   I enjoyed the interaction with the people as they shared their home town with me.  Gracias!

Cruise Ship in the Bay

Hobie Cats waiting for a customer

Hot afternoon poolside

Local beach community of Playa La Gatas

Bay view from favorite restaurant (Zihuatanejo across bay)

Playa La Ropa

First evening dinner on the beach
Small shops in Zihau
Local parish church with local traffic policeman
View from our bedroom terrace
Rocks at Playa La Madera
Building covered with stuffed trophy fish
Local fishing fleet in Zihua
The flea market shops in Zihua
Women sitting and talking in plaza

View from our unit of Playa La Ropa

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Farewell, Flaf

5/7/16 sketched in the Maple Leaf neighborhood
On my walk through the neighborhood yesterday, I was still thinking about Florian Afflerbach, the German urban sketcher and architect who was killed in a motorcycle accident Thursday at the age of 35. Using the name Flaf on Flickr, he was well-known for his fabulous sketches of cars and motorcycles. Even though I never met him, I felt his enthusiasm for urban sketching and especially his passion for motor vehicles in every drawing he made.

A few blocks from home, a pale blue Vespa was parked in a driveway. Thanking Flaf for inspiration, I sketched it in the summer-like sunshine. On a day like that, just breathing the floral-scented air makes me feel lucky to be alive. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

"Travel Sketching Essentials", May 22 at Daniel Smith

Venice, with jet lag...
The past few years, I've had the great good fortune to get to travel, sketch, study, and teach abroad. And part of what has been fun is looking for new tools and seeing what other sketchers around the globe use to do their drawing and painting.

So as our summer sketching season ramps up (and I prepare to leave again for six weeks, including teaching at the USk Symposium in Manchester!), I wanted to share that I'll be giving a talk and quick demo at Daniel Smith Seattle on Sunday, May 22 from 1:30-3:00pm

Called "Travel Sketching Essentials", I'll show and talk about the equipment I use when I've made my easel light and small, the tiny stool that fits in my backpack and weighs nothing, the palette I made and use on location (see below), the travel watercolor brushes and paints I've found and use.  If you are interested, I hope to see you there!

Melting at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, sketching with an amazing group after the USk Singapore 2015 Symposium.
In Singapore, Cambodia, and Thailand, the paints in our palettes never dried! This photo shows the palette I made that I
now use everywhere I travel. I'll provide a template for making your own at the talk.
Thank you Laurel Holmes for this photo.
Angkor Wat in Cambodia..painting where it is hot and humid is very different
from sketching in Seattle! You have to strategize differently about how to layer paint.

Cropped sketch from Angkor Wat...

Venice last summer, sketching with Marc Taro Holmes in Venice.
Thank you again, Laurel Holmes for this photo! After this trip, I ditched
this stool for a smaller one I found before heading to Asia with only carry-on luggage...