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Sept. 22: Columbia City

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Library and a Walrus

6/9/17 Seattle Public Library

How many icons can a person sketch in one day? When I started out yesterday for the Urban Sketchers Seattle gathering, I didn’t know I would end up sketching several icons, including two on my “must sketch someday” list.

6/9/17 View facing east on Madison Street
The meeting place was the Fourth and Madison Building’s seventh floor terrace – a pleasant outdoor space for nearby workers to bring their bag lunches and for sketchers to catch unusual peek-a-boo views. The one I (and many other sketchers) chose was looking east on Madison Street toward St. James Cathedral at the top of the hill looking very tiny in the steel and glass canyon.

However, that’s not one of the “must sketch” icons I was referring to. For one I went down to the building’s lobby, where a large window faced the Seattle Public Library’s downtown branch. Although I’ve sketched inside this flagship library building several times, I’ve never sketched the whole building, although I’ve wanted to. Designed by Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus, the unusual and striking building has always seemed too intimidating. Yet as I gazed at it yesterday, I had the same feeling I had while sketching in Positano or the Walt Disney Concert Hall in L.A.: The architectural lines are so unconventional and unexpected, who would know if my sketch were wonky? I took it on.

By then I had only five minutes left before the sketchbook throwdown, so I quickly went back up to the seventh floor terrace for the other peek-a-boo view I’d considered: The Space Needle hiding behind the “Darth Vader” (Fourth and Blanchard) Building.

6/9/17 Space Needle and Fourth & Blanchard Building
However, that, too, is not one of the two “must sketch” icons I was referring to. The second one was a walrus on the side of the Arctic Building. One of few old buildings in Seattle with any kind of gargoyles or other cool exterior decorations, it has walruses all the way around, way above eye level. Luckily for me, this one was adjacent to a parking lot, so I could stand next to it instead of on the street, where I would have had to look straight up to sketch. As a bonus, the Smith Tower was right next to it! 

Whew. I think I hit my Seattle icon quota for the year.

6/9/17 Arctic Building walrus and Smith Tower


  1. Nice work -- love the walrus! FYI, I haven't been able to access your personal blog for two days now, I keep getting an error message saying the blog has been removed. I hope it's still available somewhere??

    1. Thanks for letting me know, Alex! I don't know what's wrong, but I'll check it out.

  2. Yes. I like that walrus one too. Nice foreground and background depth.