Next Sketch Outing

July 10 Georgetown Garden Walk

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Iconic in Fremont

6/24/22 J.P. Patches and Gertrude (sculptor: Kevin Pettelle), Fremont neighborhood

As many times as I have sketched in the Fremont neighborhood, I’m still always torn when I visit. On the one hand, Fremont is full of so many beloved icons (the Troll, the Fremont Bridge, the topiary dinosaurs, to name just a few favorites that I’ve sketched multiple times) that I never tire of sketching. But I also feel like I should branch out once in a while and sketch something less iconic or at least previously unsketched. Last Friday with USk Seattle, I couldn’t resist three icons, but at least I attempted one new subject.

The Saturn Building

First up was the sculpture of J.P. Patches and Gertrude, which I had not sketched since 2012, so I felt that a second sketch was long overdue. Since I had initially sketched it from J.P.’s side, this time I went around and took on Gertrude’s side. Probably only natives and long-time locals are familiar with J.P. as the host of a live-broadcast children’s TV program back in the ‘60s. Gertrude, J.P.’s sidekick and “girlfriend,” was actually a man. (Who knew that a man in drag would host a children’s TV show? Quite progressive for the ‘60s, even in Seattle!)

A water tower I hadn't sketched before

As we both sketched the sculpture, I discovered that Paul is also a Seattle native, so we chatted about all the local children’s TV shows we had grown up with. He went to high school with Stan Boreson’s son! I have had no such brush with fame, although my Brownies troop did appear on J.P.’s show once.

Feeling happy and nostalgic, I made a couple of quick thumbnail studies for my 30-day challenge: the Saturn Building, which I had sketched only last month, and a water tower visible from the J.P. sculpture, which I had not sketched before. There – something previously unsketched and less iconic!

The meetup location was the 
statue of Lenin, which I have sketched several times. Although I wasn’t planning to sketch him again, I had about 15 minutes to kill before the throwdown – just enough time for a small portrait.

So the icons won again. It’s a losing battle in Fremont.

New to me in Fremont

Yesterday was our outing to the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. We haven’t been there as a group in years and I haven’t either.

I had a list! Two of the locations were either new to me or had new elements. I skipped a couple of the iconic statues and didn’t have time to get to the fourth item on my list, the dinosaur topiary.

Our plan was to change up the usual method of our sketch outing and meet for lunch at 1130. So I arrived about 10 to start sketching my list!

Sometime in the intervening years I learned about the Berlin Wall fragment. I lived in Germany for five years before the wall came down and had visited Berlin at least twice.

When I arrived, there was a woman sitting on it, which added to the composition.

I read about the Troll Forest installation in the Seattle Times. Kim Hall built the “Troll’s Knoll Forest” arch. I sketched from the opposite side in order to have a view of the troll’s profile. The little hill next to the troll is being gradually developed into Troll’s Knoll Park.

My last stop was the Lenin statue as that was also our meeting place for the sketchbook throw-down. I had sketched there before and in that post is some explanation about the statue. In addition to the red paint on the hands there is now a splatter of paint in the Ukrainian colors.

And, finally, the throw-down:

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Lake Union Park with New Friends


6/18/22 Space Needle from Lake Union Park

Urban sketchers and fans of products from Traveler’s Company and Art Toolkit have a lot in common: They all love documenting their days, and they all love fun sketching tools! Seattle urban sketcher and Traveler’s rep April Wu invited USk Seattle to help introduce urban sketching to users of Traveler’s Company art journaling materials. In addition, Maria Coryell-Martin, developer of the Art Toolkit, gave a demo and showed her popular portable watercolor kits at the event yesterday. It was fun to meet new sketchers, and we hope they’ll continue to join USk at future outings.

The chosen location, Lake Union Park, is one of my favorites, and it was a productive afternoon for me: Several compositional studies, a couple of which made the cut for larger, color sketches. A bonus was the gesture sketches I got of the many critters hanging out near the water.

First on my list of priorities was documenting the Space Needle, which was recently repainted in its original “Galaxy Gold” to commemorate its 60th birthday. I tried a composition with the Needle next to the Museum of History and Industry’s old clock, but I didn’t like it enough to do a full-color sketch. A walk around the park led me to some large purple allium flowers that seemed a perfect contrast to the orange Needle.

As many times as I’ve sketched at Lake Union Park, I don’t think I had captured the Center of Wooden Boats building before. To me, it’s not a very interesting modern building, so I looked for a composition that would frame it. While I sketched, some aggressive Canada geese walked right up to me, honking their demands for food! Anyone who gets in my face like that should know they will be sketched.

April (at right) and Maria (in cap) introduce urban sketching to fans of Traveler's products and the Art Toolkit.

Great turnout of many first-time urban sketchers as well as long-timers!

Friday, June 10, 2022

Summer Workshop

July 29-31 at various locations in Seattle. 

USk Seattle member Gail Wong and Virginia Hein are offering a workshop here at the end of July.  See flyer below for information.  Register by contacting Gail, as indicated at the bottom of the flyer.  If you can't quite read Gail's email, it is glwarc@..

Their book, The Urban Sketching Handbook Spotlight on Nature: Tips and Techniques for Drawing and Painting Nature on Location, is released on June 14!  This is in celebration of this new book and will focus on some of the concepts and techniques presented in this new Urban Sketching Handbook.

Even if you don't attend the workshop, save the afternoon of Sunday, July 31 for a group sketch outing with the workshop participants at Ballard Locks.



Saturday, May 28, 2022

Run to Tahoma


For the last several years I have made it a practice to visit the Tahoma VA National Cemetery over the Memorial Day weekend to do a sketch and meditate on the sacrifice commemorated there.

I also leave flowers at the grave of the first soldier killed in Afghanistan. I make a visit to the grave of a soldier whose mother contacted me a few years ago after I posted a sketch of his headstone. I take a photo and send it to his parents so they can see the flowers that they've arranged to be placed there. And then I leave flowers at the grave of a Civil War veteran.

After having done this for so many years there's not much new to sketch. This year I learned of the Unforgotten, Run to Tahoma. A large group of veterans on motorcycles escorted the remains of three unclaimed veterans from Kitsap County. I did four vignettes sketches on a small sketchbook page. There were over 100 riders escorting the deceased. It was raining slightly so I protected my page and didn't add color there. At home I also collaged the insignia of the sponsoring organizations.

Remember the real purpose of Memorial Day. 


Friday, May 20, 2022

Roosevelt Station on My 10th Anniversary

5/20/22 Roosevelt Light Rail Station

On May 20, 2012, a cold and rainy Sunday, I attended my first-ever Urban Sketchers sketch outing. I usually commemorate my USk anniversary at whatever outing I attend during the month of May each year, so I wasn’t necessarily planning an event to fall on May 20. But as it turned out, today was forecast to be dry and fair, so I took a chance to see who might be able to show up on short notice on a weekday afternoon. Although it was a small group, there was no shortage of enthusiasm.

Last October right before Roosevelt Light Rail Station opened, I sketched its colorful southern entrance. This time I stood at its northern entrance so that I could still include the yellow sculpture that marks the station. Just like the first time, I found the station daunting, and I wished I hadn’t bitten off such a large piece to chew! (Ironically, back in October, I had found a much less-daunting composition and even made a thumbnail to remind myself of it. I liked it better than the larger sketch I had made first. But I didn’t remember until I looked back at the blog post just now and saw it! It’s a better composition, too. OK, next time.)

5/20/22 Roosevelt neighborhood

Feeling a bit cowed by that, I wandered around the station to look for a second sketch, but nothing grabbed me. On an adjacent street, I saw what I thought would make a good composition study, so I pulled out my Field Notes to make a quick thumbnail. Then I found myself interested enough in it that I kept filling in details, and what the heck – the thumbnail turned into a “real” sketch. I like it a lot more than the color sketch I had made first! Hmmm, I’m detecting a pattern.

In any case, I appreciated having other sketchers to share the fun with. I was feeling a bit shy and trepidatious when I went to my first outing, but joining Urban Sketchers has been one of the most rewarding and inspiring decisions I’ve ever made. It’s been a fantastic 10 years, and I hope to continue for many more to come!

Ching, Paul, Sunny and Tina

Thursday, May 19, 2022


This afternoon I was sketch waiting again in Bellevue. I'd heard about this excellent Korean BBQ on the King 5 Evening TV show and put it on my list to sketch.There have been a few trips to Bellevue over the past couple months and today was a good day for sketching.  OBOP

The outside is painted like a food truck.  The small food counter is inside a gas station! I sat in the shade at the edge of the pavement.  One of the Food Mart workers kept coming out to look in my direction.

Once I was finished with the sketch I went into the store.  I showed them the sketch.  And I ordered some BBQ, which we had for dinner. It was very good.  


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!