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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Holy Smoke! Intrepid Sketchers make their First Steps Into Visual Journaling, a 10x10 USK Workshop in Hazy Seattle

Saturday, August 25

Seattle wasn't its usual bustling self with sidewalks and parks full of locals and tourists enjoying the last weekend in August. Unhealthy air quality caused by smoke from wildfires burning in Canada and multiple states has taken its toll on all outdoor activities for the past few weeks. Air quality announcements advise people at risk to stay indoors. How would this work out for beginning students coming to my USK 10x10 First Steps Into Visual Journaling Workshop?

I handed out badges and pencils as my full class arrived. We loaded up on coffee, quiche and breakfast goodies from the Grand Central Bakery and pulled up our seats at the long wooden table inside the Arcade. I had planned for everyone to start the day with some quick warm up exercises. We covered materials, lettering, simple figures, how to use watercolor pencils and water brushes with or without pens, and more!
Warm up exercises and getting to know our materials
Many of my students were healthy enough to brave the unhealthy air for just a 10 minute dash out into the square for some first steps in sketching figures. They were practicing my patented 6-stroke method!
In my bag was a packet of handouts with illustrations on brick buildings and alleyways.

I had planned to go out onto the cobbled square with my students around noon for a demonstration and assignment but the air quality app I was using was in the orange zone; hazardous, limit outdoor activity, no strenuous exercise!
I stepped out of the big glass doors onto 1st Ave S. to check on the visibility and smoke factor for myself. As you can see, there was so much haze that things started fading out only a block or two away. There were so few people in this usually busy Seattle tourist area that you would never know that it was a summer weekend in August. Even Occidental Square had few people other than a food line provided by local charities for the homeless.
So it was on to plan "B". Just in case we were smoked out, I had a digital handout ready. I sent step by step instructions to everyone's smart phones illustrating how to take the first steps into drawing and painting cars. I call it Cars: Inside the box. I demonstrated each step. Carefully avoiding the "P" word (perspective) the approach is to draw and connect simple shapes. Everyone amazed themselves with their results. You can see how well they've done when you see the "throw down"  below.
I asked everyone to share their favorite sketches of the day on the old wood bench in the Arcade.
Intrepid new urban sketchers meeting the challenge safe inside the Grand Central Arcade
Thanks to my fantastic students and everyone at the Grand Central Building for accommodating the weather situation. I loved sharing some tips and techniques with this group and can't wait to see you at the next USk Seattle outing! You have what it takes to be an urban sketcher wherever you go! You took off smokin'!

Thanks also to Tina Koyama, who popped in to cover this event for Seattle Urban Sketchers blog.

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