Next Sketch Outing

Dec. 13: Holiday Hold-up on Zoom

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Glowing FFT


"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Space Shuttle". The Museum of Flight's Space Shuttle Full Fuselage Trainer has a glowing red nose. When I read about it on their social media, I just had to scoot right over to see and sketch it.

They wrote, "Santa's asked us for a little help delivering presents this year, so like magic, our Space Shuttle Trainer became
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Shuttle
Had a very shiny nose
And if you ever saw it
You would even say it glows!”
You can spot his shiny red nose through the window of our Space Gallery from 4PM-7AM daiy!"

I parked across the street to sketch from the car.  I started to rain hard enough that it was difficult to see in the growing darkness. 

Due to new WA state coronavirus restrictions, the Museum is again closed to the public.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Another loss

My destination yesterday was a location close to the Museum of Flight. The Boeing and Museum communities have suffered a loss. Long the only nearby eatery  Randy's will close for good on November 15. The Seattle Times has an article about it.

I drove by every time I came and went from my shift as a Museum volunteer and I'd always thought I would stop at some point to check out the inside. I had no idea it was full of memorabilia and would have been such a good sketching venue. The big lesson during the pandemic is not to wait to do something. This is not the only, and probably won't be the last, opportunity I've missed due to my rigorous self isolation during COVID-19. 

Today there was a long line outside and I suspect that will be the case until it closes. The pandemic is not the entire reason it's closing as the lay offs at Boeing have had a negative effect.  Plus the owners are in their 70's. 

I parked across the street to do my sketch.

Thursday, November 5, 2020



Every year, I look forward to sketching the vibrant colors of autumn. It’s a bittersweet time of year because I know our too-few outdoor-sketching days of summer are over, and we’ll soon have months and months of clouds and rain. In the same way that the Japanese are said to appreciate the fleeting beauty of cherry blossoms, I feel the same about fall foliage: Its appearance is brief, and a strong windstorm could take down most of the leaves overnight.

Although I always go leaf-peeping by car through other neighborhoods, for this post, I chose only sketches I made within walking distance of my Maple Leaf home during the last two weeks of October. I haven’t traveled outside Seattle in more than a year, but I don’t have to walk far to appreciate this fleeting beauty.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

1000 mile drive

 one of my great goals for this year was to go on a long scooter ride/camping trip with my friends in the Snack Pack Scooter Club. Although I wanted to go out for like 3 weeks, we settled on 7 nights, which was actually plenty. the plan was to go east into the desert and we had a wonderful route planned out. but unfortunately the week we had blocked to ride was the beginning of the horrible fires that blew smoke all over Washington in mid-September. the poor air quality was one thing, but many roads were closed and the wildfires too close for comfort. so halfway through we changed our plan to be entirely on the west side of the mountains. however we still made the most of it!

we really limited our stops and spent as much time as we could outdoors & ate grocery store meals to avoid coronavirus contact, but we still found ourselves inside a few times. we didn't go in places that were too crowded, and obviously wore masks whenever we were around people, but we were aware there was a risk anyway. all of us got tested and quarantined once we were back in Seattle.

Day 1: I planned the first two days of the route & took the pack to City Hall Saloon, a dive in a tiny town north of Enumclaw. there are a lot of fun things to draw in the saloon's outside patio, like weird tiny motorcycles! the fires had by then reached the east side of Mt Rainier, so we discovered that many places in this area had lost power and people were panic-buying supplies. 

Day 5: many days later, the next thing I got a chance to draw was this beautiful rocky river by Verlot, in Mt. Baker National forest. the smoke was all over us by this point but it made everything look very soft and hazy. This was my favorite camping spot. it was so mossy and peaceful. My friend Alexander also took some time to sketch here (he's in the picture).


Day 6: we were freezing on this route (the sun being blocked by smoke makes everything much colder) so we stopped at Toby's in Coupeville while waiting for the Port Townsend ferry. Lots of stuff to sketch. in drawing this I fell back in love with my fude nib pen. 

Day 7: Timothy planning how to get us to Hama Hama in the most scenic possible way, using a motocycle riding app that takes you on curvy roads. We were breakfasting in a cafe by a small airport in Jefferson County, which was full of hanging little model planes.

Day 7: the main goal for the rerouted journey on the west side was to eat oysters. I finally got to see the famed white Hama Hama oyster hills. a million shells create mounds as tall as a small house It was only $1 more to get 3 dozen oysters than 2 dozen oysters, so we had a feast, and added to the piles.

Day 8:  Signs warn about fire danger in the Olympic National Forest. it rained on us that night, which was a chaotic camping experience, but allowed some relief from the smoky air quality for the last bit of riding back to Seattle. 

bonus: here is our route, with camping spots numbered. There were so many stunning roads, I can't even believe I live here. looking forward to go out next year and hopefully make it to the wild east this time. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Scootering to Portland

In August, I was dying to get out of Seattle while the weather was warm enough for me to ride anywhere. Over 5 days drove down to Portland on my scooter, camping one night each way, and slept in a hammock in my friend's garden while in the city. My scooter friend accompanied me for one night.

Because I was avoiding the interstate highway, I took the long scenic route around Mount Rainier, over Mt. Saint Helens, and southwest through southern Washington into Oregon. And on the way back I went due north on the pretty side roads parallel to I-5 and the Columbia River. We stopped for a roadside burger at Scaleburger in Elbe off Route 7.

Before finding our first camping spot, we stopped in Morton for an outdoor beer and talked to an old timer at the pub about his Burning Man days ("not this year") and how the town has changed.

I didn't get much time to sketch because there was so much driving. On my last day, my phone died while I was camping in the forest, leaving me sans map in the middle of nowhere. I pulled into the first drive through espresso stand I found and the barista let me charge. While I waited, I drank a cappuccino and sketched their rusty pickup truck/sign. As thanks, I did a quick watercolor of the espresso shack and gave it to them.  

 It was a great and challenging ride!

Monday, October 19, 2020

daily drawing 2

The second chunk of my daily sketch endeavor. I'll keep this going until at least the end of October. 

10/4: Pono Ranch in Ballard. nice sketching spot close to the bridge - big patio with industrial stuff scattered around, fun to draw! it was incredibly empty while we were there despite being a weekend.

10/5: Neon Boots in Belltown. quick pint with studiomates to do an inktober sketch. the shirtless guy at the table behind was playing magic the gathering.

10/6: Hellbent Brewery in Lake City. I went up here to work on a commission (to draw the brewery) and felt super content with life over the fact that people pay me to do stuff like this sometimes. My friend Dan met me there after I was done working. 

10/7: breakfast outdoors at Bounty Kitchen in Queen Anne, after errands.  

10/8: at the studio, friend Eric gave his MFA lecture presentation from inside the storefront window as we sit outside on the sidewalk. it was so great to attend an event like this, it's been so long!

10/9: Citizen Coffee in Lower Queen Anne. I'm going to all the outdoor cafes I can before winter starts. Seems like this place is better during bar hours, but they close early now. 

10/10: first date with a guy from Hinge - we got coffee and then took a long walk around Central. it was nice. / view of the South Park Bridge, where I ended up because I was dying to ride my scooter somewhere. 

10/11: my apartment. it poured rain all day long and I had a zoom call with my friends from the East Coast in the evening. 

10/12: Pike Place Market. I was craving a doughnut, but all the places close before 3pm now :( at least I got to sketch this part of the market, which I haven't done before. 

10/13: another work meeting on The Lotus in SLU. Jonathan tells me about his family dog who was just "sent to the farm".

10/14: it was super nice outside, so I biked over to the park on 12th Ave by Ba Bar to do work on the picnic tables. I sketched this group of people having lunch together. 

10/15: met a couple friends at Chuck's Hop Shop, but they wouldn't let us sit outside without a reservation (despite 80% of tables being vacant), so we bought beers and sat at a sidewalk table across the street & sketched. I'm really enjoying painting trees all sorts of non-green colors lately. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

daily drawing

I've been making a point to do one solid sketch every day. It's an answer to my desire for a bit more structure in my life. I live alone & am self employed & single so I have to account for all my time by myself. day in day out. No more regular events anchoring the months. With all the wildly scary and depressing news out there, it’s important to fall back on something positive and immediate. 

I’ve been daring to go out for coffee again (outdoor seating only) while the weather is still nice. It’s been comforting to sit in places where I can overhear conversations and watch the world go by as I sketch, as all urban sketchers can appreciate. And making sure I do something every day that grounds me and consistently makes me happy is therapy.

Here are the first 12 days of my project, September 22 - October 3.

9/22: morning coffee at Broadcast on 20th Ave, listening to two guys chat in Arabic (?).

9/23: work meeting with my writing partner Jonathan. he's working as the caretaker of the Lotus, a 1909 floating lodge moored by Mohai. great views of Lake Union from the cabin!

9/24: dinner at my friends' place in Capitol Hill. we drew Sara while she participated in a distanced performance, which took place over an hour long phone call. it involved a 3 way call between her, a stranger, and a robot prompting conversation & narrative.

9/25: grocery run to Lam's Seafood Market on King St, my favorite food store in the neighborhood. I've wanted to draw this place for a while. Sketching it made me notice how the awnings were attached to the original part with lots of different materials.

9/26: A Saturday where I forced myself to not work on client projects. I ended up at Ada's Technical Books on 15th Ave, where they now have street parking partitioned into distanced tables & chairs. REALLY hoping all this outdoor seating stays a thing forever.

9/27: Sunday plein air club meetup. We ended up at a picnic table on Seattle University campus. drawing those boring buildings in the background was surprisingly fun. 

9/28: Feeling lonely, I went up to Bhy Kracke park to take in some sunlight and eat a bag of Dick's. the way a guy was encouraging his dog to fetch made me laugh. 

9/29: we watched the presidential debate in the studio, everyone was on edge and I dissociated by drawing this.

9/30: I landed at this cafe i've never been to before, London Plane. It's a really nice, very distanced place to sit and sketch in Occidental Square. 

10/1: my scooter friends and I took a little ride down to Burien to eat donuts and sit in Seahurst Park and do the first day of Inktober (clearly I got a head start). it was a smoky day, and the bluffs came in & out of view.

10/2: my sketch friend Alexander has wanted to draw this tower on Swedish Hospital on Jefferson St so we met up and sat in the parking lot across the street. I've discovered my side-hobby of feeding crows peanuts goes really well with my outdoor sketching. 

10/3: biked to London Plane again, where I ate a massive cinnamon bun all by myself and drew trees turning fall colors. Pioneer Square has really changed in the last few months. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020


 It was on this day in 2012 I was invited to be a USk Seattle blog correspondent. I thought it would be good to do a post to commemorate my 8th anniversary.

I miss everyone! I miss sketching together! I've continued to sketch, mostly from my car. I'm also sketching almost daily, but some of it isn't Urban Sketching.  

I've just completed a series on the local fires stations. I sketched each on location from my car.  We have so many reasons to be thankful for fire fighters, even more so now! 

It started at the end of April when I was driving around the main section of my suburb looking for something to catch my eye. It was Fire station #11. It's one of the more uninteresting buildings. But that's the challenge, isn't it?

At right of this sketch is a depiction of the enameled metal mural, "Untitled" by Harold Balazs.

It wasn't until July that I decided to make the series. Next was Station 17 and also King County Fire Department 40. It’s another boring building so I parked off to the side to at least get an interesting angle.

On to Station # 12, in the “Highlands” neighborhood. It was a more interesting building and there was even a fire engine outside, but too far from the building to fit into the composition normally. I sat in the shade of a tree this time. I had my mask ready in case I was approached, but I wasn't.

The next day I went out earlier in the morning  to avoid the heat. This is Station Number 14. It’s over near Wizards of the Coast. It's also the "M.G. 'Scotty' Walls Training Center". I found very little about him, even on the Fire Department's website.

I'm on a roll. The next day, it was Station #16 with a more interesting design. There is the tall hose drying tower. A small shelter in front covers a memorial bench with the inscription, “In recognition of volunteer firefighters. King County Fire District 25. 1945-2003"

After this, it was a waiting game.  I sometimes see the fire engine parked in front of my closest station, #13.  Every time I was out over those weeks, I drove by the station to check whether the engine was out. And that morning of September 5th, it finally was!  Of course, it drove off very soon after I'd begun the sketch. But I followed my axiom, “draw first what’s most likely to move”.

The tall tower is for drying hoses. I’ve actually been inside this station when they had an open house just after construction finished a few years ago. I remember they told us the massive gas kitchen stove was made to automatically shut off when the fire alarm went off! No one wants the fire station to burn down because they left food cooking on the stove as they rushed off to fight a fire! 

The fire truck drove back in just as I was finishing. The driver called out, “did you put me in it?”. When I mentioned that to Himself, he said, “you should have said: ‘No, you drove off!'” I never think of clever come backs.

I'm looking forward to when we can meet as a large group to sketch.  Until then, "stay safe and carry on sketching"! 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Pink Disc, Yellow Sky

9/12/20 Maple Leaf neighborhood, early afternoon

Although we have our own deadly fires here in Washington State, the Seattle area has been covered by a blanket of smoke since Wednesday that originated with Oregon’s equally devastating wildfires. The smoke here is not nearly as thick as it has been in Oregon and California; photos and sketches of those areas show the sky as dark orangey-brown. Here in the Puget Sound area, the sky is more yellow than orange.

On Friday when I tried to look at the sun, it was still too bright to see with bare eyes, so I knew the smoke wasn’t too bad yet. I recalled the thick smoke we had two years ago from fires to the north, when the sun was an orange ball that was easy to look at with unprotected eyes.

Today the expected “super-massive plume” fully arrived. I kept looking for the sun, but behind the smoke, the sky must have been partly cloudy, because it was nowhere to be seen most of the day. I stood at our bedroom window in the early afternoon to capture the weird yellow light and low visibility. The “unhealthy” Air Quality Index was 185 (under 50 is considered “good”).

9/12/20 the sun is finally visible around 2:40 p.m.
By mid-afternoon, the clouds behind the smoke must have parted because I suddenly spotted the sun – a coral pink disc that, by contrast, gave the yellow sky a bluish-gray cast. Under any other circumstance, I would have called that pink “pretty.” It’s not often that I can sketch the sun by viewing it with unprotected eyes: Other than the smoke two years ago, the only other time was the moment of totality during the 2017 solar eclipse.

This smoke is terrible, but it’s not nearly as terrible as fleeing for my life as so many are from fires engulfing parts of the West Coast. I’m grateful to be safe. I’m grateful for all the firefighters working day and night to put the flames out.