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Saturday, Feb. 24: Gab & Grab

Saturday, February 24, 2024

The Gab & Grab is Back On!

Natalie recites limericks she wrote to honor the USk Seattle admins.

After a four-year pandemic pause, USk Seattle’s formerly annual Gab & Grab is back on! If I counted right, this was the seventh edition of our popular winter event. On Saturday we met in the Greenwood branch library to swap unneeded art supplies, chat over lunch, and talk about sketching or materials.

I filled a huge bag that was so heavy, I could hardly carry it out to my car! I swore I would only give at this G&G – the intention was to clean out my studio, not refill it – but I couldn’t resist grabbing a couple of things, including a nearly full box of premium grade Tombow Mono pencils!

Score: Tombow Monos!

I had intended to take photos of our five full tables piled with loot before the grabbing began, but I forgot. The photo shown here was taken after we were nearly done. Unclaimed materials were donated to nearby Seattle ReCreative, an art community center and thrift store specifically for art and craft supplies.

We were a lot more excited at the beginning of the Grabbin' than shown in this photo, which was taken toward the end.
A member brought along Clementine, a sweet dog she was sitting.

The highlight of the brown bag lunch was when Natalie concluded the event with limericks that she had written to honor each of the Seattle USk admins. In the style of the NPR program Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, members participated by filling in the name of the appropriate admin based on the clues in the limerick:

Simplicity, no frills or drama
diplomatic as Barak Obama
when she sketches she stands
pencils neatly at hand
cuz she’s short and on point, Ms. Koyama.

We have never once heard her complain,
she gives workshops in snow, heat and rain
with whatever’s nearby
she is cheerful, that’s why
students soak up superb tips from Jane.

At McMenamins most of us ate
while Tina first sketched her plate
then this admin explained
(wearing outfit handmade)
what to do, when and how, thank you Kate.

An expert on nose, cheek and chin,
perfecting the tones of the skin
she’d rather sketch people
than some famous steeple
which also does well, dearest Kim.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

New Year Dragon


Urban Sketchers Tacoma invited Seattle to their regular third Wednesday outing. Today we met at Southcenter Mall to sketch their impressive dragon.

Almost everyone did sketch the dragon.  Some of us did another scene as well.  

Since I'd already done two views of the massive 25 foot tall sculpture a couple weeks ago, I chose a different view...from above.  I also drew it on a larger sheet of paper.


There was still some time left in our session, so I sat in the hallway to sketch a view of the lanterns hanging from the ceiling. 

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Back to the Burke Museum

We met yesterday at the Burke Natural History Museum on the campus of the University of Washington.  There are three floors of artifacts and exhibits. 

I spent some time on the ground floor with Indigenous artifacts.  I drew in pencil in the gallery and then went out to a lobby table to ink and watercolor.

I later found the prep room for mounts interesting.  Friends I knew in college were biology grad students who did mounts for our university museum.  I've seen the process up close.

This is the skull and front leg of a Grizzly Bear from Woodland Park Zoo.  It will eventually be cleaned by the museum's colony of beetles.  The braincase was removed to allow sampling of brain tissue.  "This is typical for zoo animals who go through a necropsy to determine cause of death". 

That's the tail of a whale skeleton in the background.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The Burke Nearly to Ourselves

2/14/24 Mastodon replica, Burke Museum

2/14/24 Columbian Mammoth

The last time USk Seattle met at the Burke Museum was right before the pandemic hit, so it was high time for us to visit again. I started on the top floor where all the paleontology labs are and some of the museum’s best specimens, like the Columbian Mammoth. I’ve sketched it from the other side before, so this time I focused on the skull and those incredibly long tusks (at left).

Next I looked through one of the lab windows to sketch a grizzly bear skull (below). A former Woodland Park Zoo resident, the bear was being cleaned and preserved.

2/14/24 Grizzly bear skull

My last stop was the Mastodon replica. The first time I sketched it was from the staircase above. Spotting Janet in a corner, I went to the opposite side of the gallery so that I could capture her in the composition and show the scale of the enormous beast (top of post).

On most visits, the museum has been filled with young students on field trips. On this Wednesday afternoon, we sketchers had the place nearly to ourselves, which was an unusual treat. The Burke is back on our list as a winter-weather standby!

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

The Anderson School, Bothell

A small group of sketchers - including someone for the first time - met at the Anderson School in Bothell @mcmenamins this rainy afternoon. The local residents helped as guides for those of us who hadn't been here before. (Thank you!) I even got to meet the chickens, who came running up, clucking away.

Some got soup, others got coffee,  but everyone got some good sketching down. As always, it was great to see what everyone came up with - at least one caught some natural PNW rainwater to add a little extra "je ne sais quoi" to the sketch. 💦😊💦

#uskseattle #urbansketch #pencilsketch #watercolors #penandink #rainyday

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Gingerbread Village @ Sheraton Hotel

Had fun with this crowd today. Most of us sat in the hotel lobby, and some wandered outside and got some good sketching in. Though the Gingerbread Village was smaller than in years past, there was no shortage of subjects to be drawn! 

We had a couple of first-timers join and a number of the veterans too, so all in all, a great mix to round out 2023. Happy New Year, everyone!

#uskseattle #urbansketchers #usk 

Friday, December 15, 2023

I found the mouse

We met at the Museum of Flight today.  Everyone seemed to enjoy sketching there.  Even if one doesn't like sketching aircraft, there are other subjects, including people. 

Because I'm a volunteer there, I've sketched a lot at the Museum.  Today I chose to sketch the oldest aircraft in the collection, the Caproni Ca 20.  I learned more about it in a recent Curator Q&A with Mathew Burchette. This is the world's first fighter plane, built in early 1914.  Unlike all the others in the collection, this aircraft has not been restored.  

The Caproni family stored the plane in Italy for more than 85 years...most of the time in a monastery.  Museum staff dismantled it for shipment.  The plush mouse is there because there were so many mice running around in the barn where it was stored!  I never knew about the mouse until Mathew's Q&A video. 

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Warm and Dry at Wallingford Center


12/9/23 Wallingford Center

View of N. 45th Street from Chocolati

“All-day rain, 100% precipitation” said my weather app. Ya think? For once, it was accurate. Despite the downpour outside, USk Seattle stayed dry inside Wallingford Center, which has become a winter mainstay for us. Although it’s technically a retail center, it’s deserted all year round, even during the holidays. Nicely decorated with trees, wreaths and stockings, it was quiet except for the music, and we enjoyed having the place to ourselves.

Before settling in there, though, I took a short, soggy walk through the Wallingford business district and then ducked into Chocolati, which makes the best mochas in town. Grabbing a great window seat, I sketched the buildings across the street and a man in the opposite window seat (at left and below).

Fellow patron at Chocolati

Nourished by the mocha, I made my way back to Wallingford Center and wandered around a bit. I don’t usually attempt large, interior views because I don’t want to work on all that perspective, but I thought I’d give it a shot this time (top of post). Without getting fussy with measurements, I just eyeballed the perspective and focused on values. Despite the obvious complementaries, I’ve never blended red and green together this way, but the color mixing I’ve been learning with watercolors has made me more adventurous with watercolor pencils, too. Ho, ho, ho – a festive combo!

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Rainy UW, Cozy Suzzallo

11/19/23 Gerberding Hall, UW campus

Other than my weather app lying, USk Seattle had a terrific outing at Suzzallo Library and the University of Washington campus. Seeing that it would be dry all afternoon, I took a confident walk around campus to see what color I could still catch in the trees. As soon as I found a composition I liked, it started sprinkling. Taking cover, I looked around for something to sketch and spotted Gerberding Hall’s tower behind a tree with some yellow leaves remaining (above).

It stopped raining, so I ventured out again to the composition I had been attracted to first – University of Washington Tower peeking behind some yellow and orange trees. Halfway through, it started raining again, and this time it was serious. In denial (“It’s not supposed to rain today!” I shouted to no one in particular), I kept going until more of my sketch was running off the page than staying on (below).

UW Tower and campus trees

Holding the book open but cover side up so that the wet sketch wouldn’t smear the one on the opposite page, I dashed into Suzzallo Library, where smarter sketchers had been all along.

While my drenched book and I dried off, I sketched a few students in the graduate reading room, where an impressive number of brave sketchers were taking on the room’s daunting Gothic vaulted ceiling. I stayed with the relatively safe stained glass window and a few of the beautiful chandeliers.

Suzzallo Library's graduate reading room
Suzzallo window

Even when the weather app lies, it’s hard to complain: With possibly one of the best turnouts of the year, USk Seattle filled two large tables with their sketchbooks at the throwdown. And with four A5-ish size sketches, it was one of my most productive USk outings.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Don't forget the UW Quad in Autumn!


Everyone crowds into the Quad at the University of Washington to see the cherry blossoms. So it astonishes me how empty it is during the fall when those very same cherry trees burst into flames. The tree trunks - as always - make for interesting sketching but the colors were the big draw for me.

Lots of folks - students, tourists, all kinds of folks - stopped by to comment and chat.  It was a gas.  I'd recommend it!