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Saturday March 25: International District

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Hardy at Hing Hay Park


3/25/23 Hing Hay Park and King Street Station

I know I say this after nearly every outing, but USk Seattle is made of hardy stuff! The temperature was 35 F on cloudy Saturday morning at the International District’s Hing Hay Park, yet more than 30 turned out for it. By the throwdown, we were rewarded with full sunshine.

Although I’ve sketched the distinctive, modern Gateway many times, it’s hard to resist the bright red sculpture at the park’s entrance. This time, I walked (backward, as sketchers will do) up the street a ways so that I could put the iconic King Street Station tower behind it (at left).

That small sketch didn’t take too long, but after chatting a while with friends, I was thoroughly chilled. Across the street, I looked for a café with windows facing the park, and Go Poke fit the bill. Although I’ve had better poke, I can’t complain: A long row of window seats gave me a view of a park shelter with traditional Chinese tiled rooftops (below).

Hing Hay Park shelter from Go Poke
3/25/23 Light rail riders

Violinist Vicki Ault

On my light rail rides to and from the International District, I sketched a few fellow riders. The best light rail sketch, though, was the surprise when I got off: A violinist and a pianist were performing at Roosevelt Station. I thought they were buskers, but their sign said they were with Bach in the Subways, which I learned is a worldwide program from March 21 – 31. The violinist I sketched was Vicki Ault (with Karin McCullough, pianist). How lucky Seattle is to take part in the delightful program – and serendipitous that I happened to be there at the right time.

Hardy as ever!

Historic places in the ID

We met this chilly morning in the Chinatown-International District.  It was barely 40 degrees, cloudy, and threatened to become rain later.  But about 30 intrepid sketchers met at Hing Hay Park in the heart of the ID.  

From there I branched out to sketch an historic spot that has been on my list for years! The original Chinese message board is at 7th & King on the side of the Louisa Hotel.  It was installed in the 1960's and even predates Chinese language newspapers in Seattle.  In 1982 Seattle Chinese Post was first.  It was how the people communicated.  It's just this green board on the side of the building. On the right, in the distance, is the China Gate and the King Street (Amtrak) Station clock tower. 

It was the coldest part of our sketch outing time.  My hands were encased in fingerless gloves covered by mitten ends except my right index finger, used to hold the pen.  It got so cold I gave up, went to find some coffee at Uwajimaya complex, and sat with Roy while I added color to my drawing.  

After getting warm I headed out again to a spot I'd initially noticed on my walk over to the park from the light rail station.  It was a view of the classic China gate with the historic Smith Tower rising over.  It was nearly throw-down time so I decided it looked good enough in just ink.  

It was wonderful to see so many people braving the weather, so many new people, as well as  Nishant again, visiting from Vancouver, BC.
By the time of the throw down, we were rewarded with sun and a little warmer temps.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Early Signs

 The theme for the week in the Urban Sketchers Flickr group is "early signs of spring". Puget Sound area has had such a cold late winter, pre-spring, that not much is showing around my area.

The weather today definitely felt like spring. I checked and found Soos Creek Botanical Garden is open again for the season so that was my afternoon destination. I did find some early signs of spring there. 

This was the only planting of daffodils blooming in the close-in garden.  

Then I found an "early Rhododendron" and used the bell to frame a portion of it.  

This is a little clump of hellebores.  I don't consider them an early sign of Spring.  They are nicknamed the "Christmas Rose" or the "Lenten Rose".  Mine have have blooming since January!  There were dozens of clumps of them in the garden. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

The South End

We tried something new today. We sketched at two different locations. I hosted the section at the Tukwila light rail station. Only four others came and three of them left early, so no group picture.

This week is the 100 people in a week sketching challenge so the idea was to sketch people at the station. I'm not participating so I sketched one of the sculptures. This is "A Drop of Sustenance" by Tad Savinar.  It is a suspended sculpture illustrating living water, the element that provides sustenance for all creatures that pass through the region.  Until I looked it up, I thought it represented milk, as it is very white!


Then, because the weekly theme in the Urban Sketchers Flickr group is utility poles and lines, I sketched the electric wires for the trains. I stood at the very furthest end of the platform to capture this view.  As the trains arrived, the driver's cab was right next to me.  I smiled and waved, which they did in return.  I made it a quick sketch as it was cold and windy in that spot. 




People Are More Fun with People


As I have annually since 2017, I’m participating in the One Week 100 People challenge initiated by Marc Holmes and Liz Steel. Here are sketches No. 26 – 58, which I did today with USk Seattle. Meeting at Northgate Light Rail Station, we enjoyed a sunny morning with temps in the balmy mid-40s!

A year ago, USk Seattle met at the same station
 to sketch people for the challenge, but only two of us showed up. This year we tried something a little different: We held two outings simultaneously – Northgate Station on the northend and Tukwila Station on the southend – hoping to make it easier for more sketchers to participate. I’m happy to say that Northgate got a good turnout. It’s always more fun to sketch people when you sketch with other people! And I think all of us put together sketched way more than a hundred people.

The previous day had been a good warmup, and by today I hit my stride capturing lots of tiny gestures. Every year I’m reminded of how much fun it is to sketch lots of people this way – I don’t know why I don’t do it more often! 

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Outdoors and Indoors at Seattle Center


2/25/23 KEXP radio's cafe

After we had to make a last-minute venue change on a cold afternoon yesterday, we were afraid USk Seattle might have a small turnout at the Seattle Center, but as usual, our hardy members didn’t disappoint! Gathering at KEXP radio’s café (now managed by Caffe Vita), we had our choice of sketching anywhere at the Center or staying cozy inside the café.

Already chilled from sketching the rally in support of Ukraine before the outing began, I warmed up with a mocha and Ching’s company inside Caffe Vita (above). A huge venue with large windows on one side, it was a fun place to make a backlit sketch.

Climate Pledge Arena and Space Needle

Fortified, I wandered around outside for a while, looking for an interesting composition. It’s been so long since I’ve sketched at the Center that I was feeling sentimental about the Space Needle. I didn’t have to go far to find this view of it behind Climate Pledge Arena (left).

Chilled again, I was thinking about going back to Caffe Vita when I spotted Sugar Bakery & Café across the street (it’s hard to resist a café so blatant about its primary ingredient). I grabbed a table with an ideal view to make another portrait of the Needle. I know it’s easily recognizable even if I get it wrong, but I always think it’s important to get its proportions right. (It’s my civic pride as a native.) I suddenly realized that the top of the Needle is made up of five stacked ellipses (below) – no wonder it’s challenging to draw!

Throwdown around KEXP's concert stage

A strong turnout regardless of the temp!

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Rally for Ukraine

2/25/23 Rally in support of Ukraine, Seattle Center

Coincidental to USk Seattle’s sketch outing at the Seattle Center today, a rally in support of Ukraine was happening at the same time. In addition to the bright yellow and blue Ukrainian flags and wraps that participants wore, the primary visual focus was a tidy arrangement of children’s shoes and boots on the ground. Until I Googled it later, I was unaware that the shoes represent the hundreds of children who have died since Russia invaded Ukraine one year ago.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

LNY at Asian Museum

We met at the newly renovated Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park today.  They were having a Lunar New Year Festival.  We arrived before that started so were able to sketch in nearly empty galleries.

This piece used to be displayed in the main Art Museum downtown.  Some/One is made of thousands of stainless steel military dog tags by Do Ho Suh.  He completed it as an assignment for the Rhode Island School of Design to express identity through clothing. He thought about his identity as a Korean in the USA and recalled his mandatory service in the Korean military.  The dog tags "reduce individual lives to a handful of letters and numbers." The sculpture takes the shape of Asian armor.  

Reduction is made of porcelain by Kondo Takahiro.  "The 3/11 triple disasters in Fukushima triggered Kondo to create this series of sculptures, which are modeled after himself.  Seated in a meditation pose, he is pondering the essence of the world". 

Mak Fai Kung Fu & Lion Dance Association performed a live Lion Dance.  The walls of the hall are all stone so it was so loud! I escaped the room before they started.  I was finishing my sketch of this sculpture when the dancers set the lion heads down in front!

Above it I added a sketch of a piece of "White Rabbit" candy that I was told is the most popular in Asia.  It was given to participants in today's activities. 

A few sketchers had already left by the time we gathered for a photo.  

Thursday, January 26, 2023

The new greenhouse

We had visited the old University of Washington Greenhouse a few times. This was our first visit to the Biology Greenhouse in the newly built Life Science Building. It is many times larger than the old one. Manager Katie Sadler was our wonderful host. She gave us a quick tour, noting the central hallway is longer than a football field.

As with previous sketches in the old greenhouse, I like to sketch something that illustrates the workings of the facility. I chose a table with this odd selection of items: a foot tall cone, a jar of small cones, a colored tape dispenser, and a large jar of ground cinnamon.

The Costus barbatus had huge leaves and some interesting blooms. I added the corner of the door to give the sketch a semblance of location.

The hanging pitcher plan might be my favorite of this group. It reminded me of a friend of a friend who grew many such plants in his personal greenhouse. I always enjoyed seeing them when we visited.

UW Biology Greenhouse


1/25/23 UW Biology Greenhouse Bromeliad room


It may have been cloudy and chilly on Wednesday, but USk Seattle members stayed toasty-warm. Sketching inside the University of Washington Biology Greenhouse, we were dazzled by all the plant species we could sketch. Completely rebuilt and newly reopened at the end of 2022, the greenhouse is open to the public weekly, but we got an exclusive visit to ourselves so that we could sketch at our leisure. What a treat!

It had been nearly 10 years since USk Seattle met at the UW’s old greenhouse facility, which was in the same location but much smaller. After facility manager Katie gave us a tour,  I spent a while just walking through the various labs trying to focus. If I’d had all day, I might have comfied up with a stool and picked one plant to do a detailed botanical study, but with Urban Sketchers, I felt more like making a variety of vignettes instead. I started with a corner of the Bromeliad Room, also called the Tree of Life Room, where Kim was sketching an enormous dark red and green Vriesea imperialis (above).

Inspired by the imperialis’ gorgeous hues, I spotted a slightly hairy, carnivorous Nepenthes alata (blossom? leaf?), also known as a tropical pitcher plant, in similar colors. The bold vein pattern on an Alocasia micholitziana, also called green velvet taro, seemed like it should be easy to sketch, but its completely matte surface had no reflection or shadow to help me with form. The pitcher plant was easier in that regard.

Two fascinating and beautiful plant parts

In the few minutes before the throwdown, I made a quick sketch of some plants against a corridor window.

Facility manager Katie giving us tour and corridor plants.

Many thanks to UW Biology for giving USk Seattle full run of the place! We certainly intend to make this venue a winter mainstay.