Next Sketch Outing

May 20: Roosevelt Station; May 21: Blue Poppy Day

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Indie Bookstore Day


4/30/22 Third Place Books in Ravenna

Today is national Independent Bookstore Day. Arriving a few minutes before it opened, I got a parking spot that gave me a similar view of Third Place Books in Ravenna as I sketched last year for the same event.

When the doors opened, people who had been waiting outside cheered, setting off the store’s festive mood. Kids got free balloons. I spun the wheel for a chance to win great prizes (mine was a piece of candy). I don’t think I’ll get around to all of Seattle’s indie bookstores this week to complete my passport (the day has been stretched out until May 9 this year to ease crowding), but I’m doing my best to support a few

After a drizzly morning, this afternoon turned out surprisingly sunny and warm. I decided to take a top-down ride to Capitol Hill. Ada’s Technical Books & Café, where Urban Sketchers Seattle had sketched years ago, has a cute storefront that was probably a house at one time. I hadn’t been in that part of Capitol Hill since before the pandemic, though, so I didn’t know that an outdoor restaurant seating shelter had been put up – blocking my view of the store from across the street. As I sketched, I sadly thought of sketcher Lynne Cotie, who passed away last year. She was the one who had suggested that we sketch at Ada’s back in 2015.

4/30/22 Ada's Technical Books & Cafe

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Perfect sketching day

Yesterday we celebrated Earth Day by joining Urban Sketchers worldwide 'There is no planet B to draw'.  Hashtag USk4Earth.  We visited the Kubota Japanese Garden south of Seattle. 

We were at least 21 people, including several first timers and April, visiting from Vancouver! 

I don't live far from the garden and have been there often.  I first chose a spot with two other sketchers with a view of a stone lantern and tiny waterfall from the pond.  This is in the new 100% cotton Hahnemühle watercolor sketchbook. I'm still deciding whether I like it. 

As I wandered slowly back to our throw down spot, I noticed this scene with the Terrace Overlook. I spent less than 10 minutes doing the ink sketch and colored it later. 

more photos

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Sunny Kubota Garden

4/23/22 Kubota Garden

Terrace Overlook

Watching the weather forecast compulsively and scheduling on short notice are paying off as a spring strategy for USk Seattle: We were rewarded with sunny 60 degrees and a clear blue sky this afternoon at Kubota Garden!

Although I had been to Kubota with a Gage class last summer, I think I hadn’t been to the garden with USk since 2015. The Terrace Overlook had just been completed then. The year prior, we had sketched a team of Ishigaki (stone wall) builders at work on the terrace. It was good to be back with USk in all that lush greenery (especially since the last time I sketched there, I could use only graphite!).

Using my favorite CMYK primary triad, I started with a sketch from behind the Terrace Overlook (at right), where a Japanese maple made a lovely, warm blur between layers of green. 

Then for my second sketch, I walked down into the lower garden area where the beautifully top-lit round bushes caught my eye (top). For that one, I used more “realistic” hues. Looking at the two sketches together, I am encouraged to continue pushing myself toward using a primary triad, even if it’s not comfortable. I think the triad sketch is a lot more lively . . . what do you think?

Ahhhh . . . it was heavenly to sketch in the warm sunshine! I dare not say the “S” word out loud for fear of scaring it away again!

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Statuary Easter parade

I saw on Instagram that the Interface sculpture was dressed for Easter by @statuestylistgroup On Friday, I went to the park once it warmed up and the SNOW melted! More people than usual stopped to look and chat. I even gave out one USk card.

The characters are Bunny from Christmas Story, Mr. Chicken, Pink lady, per they stylist group's post about it.

 This is in Gene Coulon park, Renton. 


Saturday, April 16, 2022

San Fernando's on Rainier


RIP to this restaurant building in my neighborhood. It stood on the corner of Charles St. and Rainier & was demolished early this week. The last bits of rubble were carted away on Thursday. 

I couldn't find much about the history of the building, but I did learn that before this there was a Vietnamese restaurant here. Vanishing Seattle has an amazing historic photo of 900 Rainier in the olden days, looks like it was a gas station.

So, in honor of all that, I wanted to sketch San Fernando's Roasted Peruvian Chicken before it was demo'ed. The building kinda had the energy of an animal waiting to be put down, which made me feel sad and aware of my own mortality :(

I'll very much miss the fried yuca and pollo smells as I walk past, and the creamy green salsa they included with your order. Family minivans would fill up the small parking lot on weekends.

this part of Rainier Ave is changing incredibly fast! There are now all these plywood cubes covered in Tyvec, chain link fencing and closed sidewalks... not my fave, but I have to remind myself that more housing is very needed here. This block will be home to a new 8 story residential/retail building.

And btw, San Fernando's is moving down to SeaTac and they'll reopen in a few months!

Sunday, March 27, 2022

The Saga of Dharma Ko Dhunga

“We had to find a virgin to pee on the masts,” Peter Tucker, aka Dorjé* tells me, “It’s required for the renaming ceremony." He got a 12-year-old boy, a friend’s son, to do the honors. 

The recipient of that honor is the Chinese junk I stand before as Tucker and I talk. It sits perched on stanchions. The keel is about one foot off the ground, the deck is at least 15 feet up. My husband and son first spotted it being hauled to the boatyard in late January, two yellow pontoons keeping it afloat. “The deck was totally underwater. It’s a good thing I had it tied to the dock all around.” 

Built in 1918 the junk spent its youth in Southeast Asia—Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong—until it came of age in Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong. "In 1945 they decided to make it into a Cris Craft. You know The African Queen and all that." A Chinese/Canadian architect bought it, named it Mai Su Li (possibly 迈 苏 李), and brought it to Nanaimo Harbor in British Columbia. Tucker bought it in ’93. When Tucker asked the former owner about the meaning of the name, “He said he named it after his kids, Michael, Susan, and Lee.” So much for Chinese culture. 


Tucker, a Seattle lawyer who was instrumental in getting the Dali Lama to Seattle for the 2010 festival, Seeds of Compassion, is a fitting owner for this unique boat. He is a character himself with a very storied history, and I only know what he told me in the hour or so that we visited. 

We spoke as he stood amidst the ship’s contents—moss-covered ropes, bright orange lifejackets, yellow pails—all spread out on a bright blue tarp. He told me he was born in Canada in 1961 and believes his mother was a young Irish immigrant banished to a Catholic home for unwed mothers and forced to give up her baby. He was in eight foster homes before he was three when he was adopted by the Tuckers. At 18, he was working as a carpenter in British Columbia when he crushed his spine. The Canadian government offered alternative training to injured employees, so he studied graphic design intending to pursue a degree. A friend intervened and convinced Tucker to study music instead. He still plays music with a group called, Smokey Coal and the Short-Bus Riders. Somewhere along the line he studied law and became a lawyer. That’s where our time ran out, but I’m sure there are still stories upon stories aboard the man and his boat. 


One could draw an analogy between the transformation of the Chinese Junk and the transformation of its owner. Over the years they’ve each weathered many storms, been remodeled and renamed, and yet still stand out among their peers. They've come up to here. If all goes well Dorjé will soon set sail in Puget Sound riding the wind to collect stories, the boat's new name painted on the stern, Dharma Ko Dhunga - Vehicle of Wisdom.

Dorjé's planning sketch of his boat, drawn on the back of 4 paper placemats from a local Chinese/American restaurant. You know...the ones with Chinese horoscopes printed around the rim. 

Friday, March 25, 2022

Yoshino Cherries


Today was another beautiful afternoon for cherry tree sketching. My second favorite place is the small grove of Yoshino Cherry Trees at Renton City Hall. The flags are at half mast in honor of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She died this week at age 84.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

In the Pink at the Quad

3/22/22 University of Washington Quad

Do we know how to pick ‘em, or what?

We’d been watching the University of Washington cherry blossom live cam for weeks and the weather report for several days. Today seemed ideal for both the weather and peak blooms – USk Seattle’s cherry blossom outing was on!

The last time the group met at the Quad was in 2019. Knowing that the fleeting blossoming of the iconic sakura trees draws crowds of thousands, the UW had discouraged visitors the last two springs when most people were still unvaccinated. This year, the UW welcomed petal peepers back – and it was truly wonderful to be back.

Most years, I’ve shied away from the Quad’s buildings and stayed close to the trees. This time I pulled back – partly for a different view and partly to stay out of the dense crowd. It was a good opportunity to put in some of the campus’s oldest and most beautiful buildings.

I daresay spring has sprung! 

We know how to pick 'em!

Thursday, March 10, 2022

People at Northgate and Volunteer Park


3/7/22 Northgate Light Rail Station

After being promised a day of sunshine, we were welcomed by chilly gloom at Volunteer Park, but USk Seattle showed a strong turnout for a weekday afternoon anyway. I, for one, was just happy to be out sketching with the group again!

My sketching goal this week is to finish the annual One Week 100 People challenge with – what else? – at least a hundred sketches of people. (The challenge allows for drawing from photos, but what’s the fun in that? I insist on doing mine “live.”) I had really hoped (and expected) to finish today at the park, but I only got 66 through 84. In previous years, I usually hit a hundred in three or four days and then kept right on going. Because I wasn’t comfortable going out in public last year, I focused on selfies (and only made it to 58 at that). This year I’m way off my game. It has taken me most of the week to warm up!

On Monday I invited other sketchers to join me for an informal outing at the Northgate Light Rail Station, where I managed to catch 26 through 47. It was fun to meet and sketch with Joyce that morning.

3/7/22 Northgate Light Rail Station

OK, one more day left in the challenge . . . you can bet I’m going to knock out those last 16, come hell or high water.

A good turnout for a weekday afternoon!

Joyce and Tina at Northgate Light Rail Station

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

home office


Once, long ago, my good friend Shelby gave us a tour of her parents' home: one of those gorgeous old North Capitol Hill mansions. Her dad's home office -- a small room on an upper floor, with corner windows looking out over Lake Washington & filled with African sculptures, kid art, and loose papers strewn about everywhere -- struck me as a place I would like to draw. A few weeks ago, I heard that they going to move within a few months, which compelled me to the owner, Michael, if I could document that room.

Despite Michael assuring me he "left it unmolested" I was a bit devastated to see that all the papers and mess had been cleaned up before I arrived. Well, they are moving, and there was still a lot to take in. A clump of lanyards, relics of events pre-2020. Masks, elevated bowls, figures, and animals mingle on every surfaces. A few leftover scrolls of building plans lean over in the corner. 


While my watercolor dried, Michael gave me a tour of his collection, which spans several rooms. He told me the origin of each piece: Ivory Coast, Yoruba, Congo. Also the purpose of each one: none of these were meant to be strictly decorative, despite how they decorate most of the house presently. I wondered a lot about where they came from and who might have used them. Michael has traveled the world, but spent a lot of his youth in Africa, and feels artistically connected to this form of sculpture. So do I! I love the personality of each sculpture -- each are so specific, but you can feel the specific emotion they convey with face and body language. The contrast and balance of curve and straight lines has been inspiration for my own drawing work for a long time. 

Later, Michael and I ended up going out to dinner and talking about art and life! It was really fun to make that connection I never would have had without location drawing!

Saturday, February 26, 2022

A meaningful anniversary

 First, today is my 10th anniversary with Urban Sketchers. It was on this day that I attended my first sketch outing with USk Seattle at the Stinson-Green Mansion. No matter what, I intended to do a sketch today.  It's been quite a journey as I made so many friends and learned so much.  Urban Sketchers has been the joy of my retirement.

In the spirit of Urban Sketchers, I wanted to make it something meaningful, showing the world. Given what's going on right now, I went over to the Ukrainian Community Center that is at the north end of my suburb. I'd thought there might be a gathering or protest. It was as quiet as always though with a few cars outside.


Saturday, February 19, 2022

Foggy in Maple Leaf


Fog can feel gloomy if it hangs around all day, but I don't mind if it burns off by noon.

I enjoy the challenge of drawing fog. It completely changes the way I see ordinary views. Fog teaches me how far away familiar things are. With nothing but tones and values, and most details hidden, those ordinary views seem fresh again.

On one morning, the sun appeared briefly as a flat white disc, then disappeared. I kept applying a light layer of graphite to the page, knowing that the sun would reappear. When it did, I pulled out my eraser.

The temperature on these foggy mornings was in the 30s and low 40s F. These were all sketched through windows in my house in the Maple Leaf neighborhood.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Morning sketches


This morning's sketching started early with a "Draw with Me" session of Sketchbook Skool at 9am. After the drawing session I went for a short walk around my neighborhood complex and did some sketching. First is just an ordinary fire hydrant. And a discarded mask. Ugh.

I've sketched our water tower a few times and this is just another view from another street. It's painted with evergreen trees so it blends in. On the same page, also the storm drain with the warning plaque that "Puget Sound Starts Here... Only Rain down the drain".

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Fremont Dinosaurs


2/12/22 Topiary dinosaurs near the Fremont Cut

Today dawned with a cloudless sky that was forecast to remain all day. Thinking about where I wanted to sketch on this rare, sunny day, Fremont came to mind. The last time I had sketched in the Center of the Universe was during a cloudy June USk outing back in 2019. I was well overdue for a sketch visit.

Miraculously this afternoon in that busy neighborhood, I found a parking spot not too far from the famous topiary dinosaurs. I had sketched them previously back in 2014 from the other side of Canal Street so that I could see both the mama and her baby. This time I stood in Google’s empty parking lot, where I could see most of the baby and its mama’s long neck and body. Walkers, runners and bike riders went by in a constant stream on the Burke-Gilman Trail alongside the Fremont Cut. I sensed that everyone was rejoicing a sunny weekend afternoon in February.

Although my weather app said it was 55 degrees, the harsh wind from the Lake Washington Ship Canal made it feel a lot colder to me. Still, it was wonderful to sketch under a clear blue sky that made me optimistic: Could spring be around the corner?

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Another dragon

I just learned today that the suburb where I live has four dragons.  Well, according to this article there are three but last year I found a fourth in a home owner's yard.  There is the Roof top Dragon in town center.  There is a second, well, chronologically, the first, high in the lobby of Wizards of the Coast.  I saw her during an event in 2002 but have never gotten back into the building to sketch. And now I discovered one in the fairly new development at "Southport" on Lake Washington. 

This is Brienne.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Back to Sketching!


It has been a long time since I last posted anything on any blog.  Instagram is easier when you are short on time.  So I haven't done much here or on my own blog.  

Now that I am retired from teaching at the UW and slowly moving into retirement from my other work,  I should have more time to post my sketches.  This is my basement office at least one side of it.  I was working on a nice little pocket sketchbook made by Wiltfried Pathius from the Netherlands.  This has light brown paper so adding whites is a great way to make certain things pop in a sketch.  I think I will dedicate this sketch book to sketches of my house.  I will draw the other view looking in the opposite direction next.  

This was done Sunday for our Zoom meet up.  Nice to see so many people show up even on zoom! Happy New Year and a good start to 2022!