No Otters

Again.  The last time I visited the Point Defiance Aquarium the sea otters weren’t in their exhibit.  Today, again, I was disappointed.  They are my favorite wild animal and Pt. Defiance has the 2nd best exhibit of the ones I’ve seen on the West Coast (I like Vancouver BC best).

Edit [see my comment below]

I visited the Zoo & Aquarium free using my reciprocal entry from Museum of Flight for National Volunteer Week.  There is a long list of places that are letting each others’ volunteers in for free this week.  Many of them I’m already a member or have reciprocal admission from a membership.

I didn’t wander very far as it looked like it might rain.  I did a quick sketch of the red wolves.


A few more photos here.

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Trailer Park Mall

After meeting Daniel Smith, four of us from Urban Sketchers Tacoma had a brief sketch outing in Georgetown.

This is a very funk, artsy neighborhood, south of Seattle.  I’ve heard it described as the oldest neighborhood of Seattle.  It’s my go-to place for urban sketching.

I chose the Trailer Park Mall as my subject.  I’ve sketched there before but never on a Saturday when they were open.  The weather was summer-like so many people were out and about and hanging out.

I was pleased to discover The Conservatory is finally open.  I’ve walked by it for years, wondering if it ever was.  The man in the cafe said they’d been open for 7 months.  And I was delighted to learn they host a Drink and Draw!  It is every other Sunday afternoon, 3-6pm, $10, long and short poses. Models are in costume.

the stage, viewed from one of the tables.

Their website is nearly useless.  The guy told me the Drink and Draws are posted to their Facebook page’s “Events” section.  Click the “More” button to find the”Events” page.

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Meeting THE Daniel

Daniel Smith is a well know name in artists’ paints.  But it’s also the name of the founder, whom we were invited to meet yesterday – Saturday, 9 April – at the Seattle mothership store.  I took some notes on his talk.  There may be errors but I was writing as fast as I could……

Store manager Joe greets people arriving.  He gave out DS watercolor dot cards, samples of their watercolor sticks, a DS pin, and lost of handouts.   I really liked having the pin!

Daniel and a display of Primatec paint-outs and the minerals from which they are made.

Dan moved from Michigan to Washington in 1970 after graduating from Olivet College.  He worked as a printer but also had a studio.  After some years, he thought he might try making his own printing inks and paints.  It was a real shoestring operation…. he sold a motorcycle to have money for equipment.  He lived in a storefront on Capitol Hill  and later bought a house in another neighborhood.

The first year, he made $1300.  The second year $16,000 and the third year $160,000.  That’s when he quit his job as a printer.  His home had increased in value, he refinanced and with the equity bought a gas station into which to expand the business.  He also started to carry some paper.

As the business grew, he moved it to 1111 W. Nickerson for a 5000 sq foot space and opened a retail store.   [I looked it up on the map… it’s near the Fremont Cut.  He didn’t think the building was still there.  Looking at Street View, there is something there.]

I’m not sure of the time line, but some time later he moved the business to the building next door to the current location on 1st St.  He was 10 years there and then moved into the current building.   [According to John, they also now have a 20,000 sq ft distribution center in Tukwila, where product and ingredients are stored].

He grew the business from 1975 to 1992.  He described himself as obsessed with it.  In 1992 he turned the management over to Bill (didn’t hear his last name) as CEO.  Dan  moved away to Eastern Washington and later to South Dakota, where he and his wife Nancy live now.

Nancy and Daniel

Bill got sick and later died.  Meanwhile, the IT manager, John Cogley, had become more involved in the overall management while Bill was sick.  After he died, Daniel named John as CEO.  John later bought the business, so is now owner and CEO.

John Cogley

John started with the Daniel Smith company 30 years ago as a computer programmer.  He interacted with every part of the company in order to integrate all the IT systems.  He said he loved the manufacturing.

These days, as owner and CEO, he interacts with suppliers and other companies.  He’ll be at Fabriano, in Italy, next week!

The Daniel Smith company (DS) has a geologist/mineralogist who sources the minerals used in the Primatek pigments.  His name is Bruce.

DS also employs two chemists to maintain absolute consistency of the paint they manufacture.  John described one as a PhD chemist and the other as a research chemist.  “They ain’t cheap”.   Every single batch is approved by a chemist at every step of the manufacturing process.

John went on to describe in detail how the paints are made.  It may be that DS is the only company that rigorously tests light-fastness with a Xenon Fadeometer.  So when the information on a paint says it is light fast for 200 years (or more), it has been proven to be so in this very high tech machine.

Then he took us on a factory tour!  This is the second one I’ve had the privilege to take.  They shop was quiet with no one working today as it is a Saturday.  During the previous one, they were working and we saw everything in action!  No photos allowed, though.

The Hobart mixers are like your Kitchen-Aide (which they make) on lots of steroids!  They are huge machines that are decades old.  “They last for-ev-er!” John said.  Their newest was bought from the CostCo bakery department!  One of them is 43 y/o and sometimes runs 24/7 for days on end.

A couple gems from John:  “If technique is important, always use distilled water” (with watercolor paint).   “Making paint is like making cake”.

Thank you to Joe, Daniel, John and everyone else involved.  This was an excellent presentation.


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Sketching Rainbows

As we normally do during winter and shoulder seasons, we planned an indoor venue for today’s Urban Sketchers Seattle ad hoc outing.  However, we had a taste of summer…. bright sun and over 70 degrees.  We planned to meet inside Elliot Bay Books on Capitol Hill.  But nearly everyone decided to sketch outside.

I had my eye on the rainbows.  These weren’t the rainbows in the sky after rain.  These are rainbow crosswalks.  They were painted in June 2015 in celebration of Gay Pride week.  “The city picked locations by working with community members to pinpoint heavily used streets and spots that have been sites of assault based on sexual orientation, Murray [Seattle Mayor] said.”

The first one is on the walk to Blick’s art store.  I also liked their paint tube & palette sign!   I plopped myself down on the sidewalk.  I was nearly done with the ink sketch when some workers asked me to move so they could spray away the dog poo on the curb!  Gladly!

Thanks, guys!

The second location I spotted while doing a walk around after having arrived early.  It’s near the Comet Tavern.

Once back in the bookstore, I noticed Steve Reddy’s books on a shelf.

middle shelf, two books on the right

We shared sketches at a table in the Oddfellows cafe inside  Elliot Bay books to share  A few of us stayed for lunch there.

More photos, including some of nearby Cal Anderson park.

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Watson’s Nursery

Urban Sketchers Tacoma met at Watson’s Nursery in Puyallup for the first Saturday sketch outing.  A lot of people came… I think the finally tally was about 30!  Several new people enjoyed themselves.

I arrived early enough to scope the place for preferred sketch subjects and make a few photos.  Those are all here, along with photos of sketchers taken later.

As it was still a little chilly outside, I started inside.  These are glass mushrooms.

My kit:
I’ve been using the coroplast support more.  It has a hole cut in it just the size of my large pill bottle water container.  That way, I don’t spill the water!  It’s big enough to hold the size paper I usually use and my small palette.  Binder clips both hold the palette and rag but also brush and pen.

Once it warmed up a bit, I went outside to sketch the charming little cottage.  Alison sat down after I did, so I added her to the sketch.

We did not do our usual sharing of sketches and group photo.  We had reservations in the small cafe, which was filling up so we thought we should claim our tables.  We shared sketches there but didn’t have a group photo.  These are just a couple tables.  I think we had 5 in all!

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Find Snoopy

Every April 1st, the Museum of Flight mounts a special exhibit (wink, wink).  Today’s featured a valuable new acquisition:  the Sopwith Camel flown by WWI Flying Ace, Snoopy.

“The British manufactured Sopwith Camel was one of the best fighters for the Allies in WWI.  The aircraft on display here is one of 28 flown by Snoopy, the WWI Flying Ace, during his service.”

“The Museum’s Camel is the 3rd aircraft Snoopy crash landed behind enemy lines. The aircraft ws stored on the famly farm of a ‘mademoiselle’ who sheltered the WWI Flying Ace near Pont-a-Mousson on the Moselle River in France”.

As I have done for the past 3 years, I went over to the Museum to see what wonderful new item might be on display.  There was both the new artifact and a scavenger hunt:  “Find Snoopy”.  Many of Snoopy’s WWI items were to be found around the gallery.   I found them all and there is a link, below,  to the photos to prove it.

This is such an important find that a local TV crew came to document it.  Jim Dever of King5 Evening magazine interviewed Chief Curator Dan Hagedorn.

After all the fuss quieted down, I spent time sketching this excellent addition to the Museum’s collection.  It will remain on display through the weekend.

Lots of photos here.

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Garden in the sun

What a beautiful day!  Sunny and warm.  I checked that Soos Creek Botanical Garden is now open for the year again.   It’s not very far from my home and a beautiful place to sketch with several different garden environments.

I had intended to sketch a sculptural fence I’d seen there last time but it was gone.  So I sketched a small bridge and then a large bell.

On my way home, I stopped at my favorite view point for Mt. Rainier and did another sketch.

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Tap on, Tap off

A few of us planned a trial run on a sketch outing to the new Seattle Light Rail stations at the University of Washington (UW, pronounced U dubb) and Capitol Hill, as well as sketching the new street car line on Capitol Hill.

I invited Feather to join us and we traveled together.  I was her guide to using bus and light rail here.  She mentioned how often we had to tap out Orca cards (Metro prepaid travel cards) at the yellow card stations to pay for trips.  Hence the title of this post.

As we were there early, we wandered the upper level, looking at the views.  And we were interviewed by local TV about the changes in the bus routes.  Yesterday, (Monday) as the first work day after a major change in routes, with some being eliminated due to the new Light Rail route.   I called my husband to record the afternoon news and we did not make it on.

Michele coined the term “Hop Sketch” as were were hopping on an off transit to sketch the stations!

She also made us accordion fold sketchbooks.  I filled most of mine!

My focus today was on the art in the stations.  Every Light Rail station has its own art.  I’m hoping to do a series this year sketching the art at each station.  So now I’ve got a head start.

At the UW station, the art is in the walls.  “Subterranium by Leo Saul Berk.  Aluminum & Polycarbonate 2015  Glowing blue perforations in the walls and ceiling of the station’s central escalator chamber make for a subterranean version of a planetarium.  Berk’s hatch patterns correspond to the geologic layers behind the station walls and were inspired both by geotechnical drawings and a visit to a deteriorating barn with light streaming through holes between its exterior battens.”

Next, it was on to the Capitol Hill station.  It was hard to get a good view of Jet Kiss by artist Mike Ross.  My favorite view was mid-way up the escalator.  “It features two A-4 fighter jets deconstructed and re-assembled in a kind of frozen mid-air embrace. This monumental sculpture is created from two decommissioned A-4 Skyhawk fighter jets.”

While Michele sketched the street car, which I’d already done some weeks ago, I sketched more art in the station.  Walking Fingers by Ellen Forney.  She is a local cartoonist, Capitol Hill resident, and professor at Cornish College of the Arts.

We had a group photo in the station when we shared our sketches.

All the photos are here.

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Spring at Swanson’s

Spring seems to have arrived, both by calendar and by weather.  It was a beautiful, mostly sunny day that wasn’t too chilly.  Urban Sketchers Seattle met at Swanson’s Nursery to enjoy the spring flowers.  We sketch there at Christmas time and just this year decided to try another season.  It offers lots of out door spaces with interesting arrangements as well as indoor setting if the weather in inclement.

I chose to do a two page spread of several vignettes.  Tulips, the Adirondack chairs at the entrance, glass sculpture and plants in the warm cafe and a display of garden sculptures and plants.  There are 2 green men and a sun in splendor.

We shared sketches and had our group photo.  A few stayed for lunch in the charming on-site cafe.

After lunch, it was really sunny and I wanted to stay to do more sketches.  But I felt the need to get on the freeway and past the stadiums before the Bernie Sanders rally-goers were on the road!

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Watercolor paper

I’m still on the search for the best paper for my purposes.  For the moment, I’m using Stathmore Series 500 Mixed Media.  I get it in sheets and tear to fit my sketchbook.   However, I’m still looking.

To that end, I went to a demo at Daniel Smith Eastside today.  Store manager, Cindy, offered a hands on demo in which we put several kinds of paper through their paces.  She explained about sizing and other technical terms.  She recommended always doing the same tests on any new paper and then keeping the test sheet for future reference.   We tested how the paper handled artist’s tape, masking fluid and pencil mark erasure.  We painted and tested blending, glazing, etc.  I also added fountain pen marks to see how easy it was to draw on the paper and then paint over.

I didn’t take any photos during the demo but the above are the test sheets and hand outs.

Of the several papers tested, my top three were (and they are the top three in the photo, left to right):

  1. Fabriano Artistico bright white 140# soft press
  2.  Arches natural white 140# cold press
  3. Canson XL watercolor 140#

I didn’t buy any today.  I need to check my stash to see whether I already have some!   I still have several full sheets of the Series 500 Mixed Media.  However, in the disc bound book I’m using now, I can easily add different papers.

In case you’re wondering, the other papers that didn’t make my cut:

Arches 90# hot press
Strathmore 400 140# cold press
Fabriano Artistico true white 140# hot press

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