Memorial Day 2015

Since my return to sketching, I’ve sketched at a veteran’s memorial near each Memorial Day and Veterans Day.  It is a tribute and a meditation of the sacrifice.  Today I went to Tahoma VA National Cemetery.   Tomorrow it will be very crowded with all those attending the official ceremonies.  Today, there were people quietly visiting their fallen loved ones and leaving flowers.

I left flowers at the grave of the only Civil War veteran buried at Tahoma.

I also brought flowers for the grave of the first soldier killed in Afghanistan.  However, his grave already had flowers.  So I left mine at the nearby grave of another soldier KIA in Afghanistan.

I then settled in to sketch the marker of the soldier I’d picked for today’s sketch.  My choices are random.  This one had a wreath and was just across the street from the above grave site.

This year, I later looked up more information about the soldier.

Tahoma is beautifully situated.  There are tall trees all around.  Today, the clouds hung low, gray and threatening.  On a better weather day, Mt. Rainier can be seen towering in the near distance and adds even more majesty to this holy ground.

I saw coins on several headstones.  I looked it up when I got back home.  There is some debate about the tradition and the meaning of denominations of coins.  However, it is generally regarded as a token of visitation.

I’ve done something each year:
2013 it was raining so I sewed bears for Fisher House


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2015 Folklife

You just never know about the weather for Folklife Festival. Two years ago it was too hot and sunny. Last year it threatened rain but turned sunny.  This year it was cloudy and chilly the entire sketch outing.  This was the Urban Sketchers Seattle Friday group’s second annual outing to Folklife.  We go when it first opens so it’s not as crowded as later in the weekend.

My route included bus, lightrail and monorail.  These sketches were done on a page in my pocket sketchbook while on the lightrail from Tukwila to Westlake Center.

As usual, I arrived early.  I had a coffee to keep warm and sketched this sculpture outside the Armory.  It’s a sculpture with the base of the Space Needle in the background, above.

My preference would have been the Trad Stage, with traditional Celtic music.  But it didn’t start live music until 1600.  So I opted to attempt a sketch of the Spruce Street Marimba band at 1100.  It was the opening act on the Fountain stage.  There was a lot of action!  These are 5th graders and performed a half hour show without sheet music. They had it all memorized!  I’ve heard them before and they are fantastic!  Their teacher is on the left.

I did some wandering and looking at the various vendors.  I stopped to listen to these buskers and did a quick sketch.  The dog seemed bored with it all.  They are the Dunghill Rooster Strutters.    I dropped some cash in the guitar case and they gave me a CD!

There were just 6 of us today.

Thanks to John for the group photo.   Kate, Anne, Gwen, Evelyn, Kathy, Susan

More photos from the festival here.

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Foss Waterway

Urban Sketchers Tacoma held our regular montly Wednesday outing at the Foss Waterway Seaport.  I think I was not alone in hoping to have sketched outside.  But it was cloudy, foggy and chilly.  We all opted for inside, which was very interesting.

I was fascinated with this whale sculpture!  Half of us included it in our sketches.   I drew the “guts side” that shows how it was built.

This is a Gray Whale. The project demonstrates the amount of plastic trash in the ocean.  The skin of the whale is made of 9,000 plastic bags, braided together by students at 15 schools.  The Whale’s skin shows a map of the Pacific Ocean and the Great Pacific Gyre in which ocean currents pull trash from American and Asia into the center of the Pacific Ocean.  The skeleton is made by high school art students.  It is made of disposable plastic
forks (stuffed into 2 Liter soda bottles).  The vertebrae are milk jugs.  The ribs are small cups used in many school cafeterias.

In April 2010 a gray whale washed up on shore in West Seattle.  Scientists found approximately 30 plastic bags and other plastic trash in it’s stomach.

Before I saw the whale, I decided I’d draw a montage of diving equipment from different eras.  After sketching the whale, I returned that that plan.  I don’t know the date of the yellow equipment as there was no info card.  It looks current and modern to me, though.

Sharing sketches.  The staff were excited to see them, too.

We were a relatively small group today:  Ken, Pat, Betsy, Darsie, Kate, Charlie.

More photos are here.

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Nib tests

After watching Marc Taro Holms’ Craftsy class, I decided to get some better drawing nibs for my sketching at Fort Nisqually.  I draw with dip pens there because the fountain pen was not yet in use in our time period.

I ordered 3 different nibs from Jet Pens.  The Zen Comic G came 10 to a pack.  In the Craftsy drawing class I’m watching now, the instructor says a nib is good only for one drawing.  Really?  I can’t image that a few lines on a 5×7 page are going to wear out the nib.  But I’ve got 10 nibs just in case.  They are on the right and a single one is on the right, next to the case.

The Brause Blue Pumpkin is the large nib on the left.  I ordered three.  In the middle is the Brause 66 extra fine. I also ordered three.

At left is how the loose nibs came:  each one was pressed into a single packing peanut.  I thought that was a brilliant method!

I tested them on the same paper I use at the Fort.  I smudged the extra fine (rooster head on middle right).

I think I like the line quality and performance of the Zen the best.  I’ll have all 3 in my kit, though.

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Country Village Shops

Once again, Urban Sketchers Seattle met at a place I’d never been: The Country Village Shops in Bothell.  There was a scene I wanted to sketch everywhere I turned.  I’d go back every day if it wasn’t 30-90 minutes away (30 min on Sunday; 90 minutes the rest of the

The property started as a farm, with the original farmhouse built in 1901.  Since then, the property has had a checkered existence, declining to a “den of thieves” in the mid 1960’s.  It was saved by Rod Loveless, a residential land developer, in 1979.

When I looked at the site on the internet, I knew right away my first sketch would have to be this crazy chicken!  It was built in 2006 when Rod decided the Village needed a mascot.  It is made of recycled chunks of styrofoam and fiberglass.  The chicken is 16 feet tall.

Though it looks old, the Courtyard building was completed in 1994.

I had just 10 minutes before meeting back up with the other sketchers.  I dashed off this sketch of the frog fountain in my pocket sketchbook.

There were several new people today.  We shared our sketches and then had a group photo.

I have more photos of sketchers and from around the property here.

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Debut at Fort Nisqually

Yesterday was my debut as an Interpreter at Fort Nisqually.  I demonstrated the documentary sketching done by travelers and explorers in the mid-19th century.  I explained to visitors that most Ladies of the period were taught to draw and paint in
watercolor.  Queen Victoria was so taught as a young girl and kept a sketchbook her whole life.

My period clothing was provided by the Fort’s closet.  My sketching kit was my own.

photo by the Fort’s photographer

I was gratified by how many people were interested and stopped to talk.  I was also pleased about how many children said they draw.  In my mundane street sketching, most people say they can’t draw.  I didn’t rush through my sketches but took plenty of time to let
the ink and watercolor dry.  It also gave me lots of time to speak with visitors and explain my kit.  So I only did two sketches.

The Fort’s bell

The Fort’s newly constructed Bake Oven, used for the first time.

After scanning, these will be returned to the Fort.  The original 5×7 sketches will be sold in the Fort’s shop.

I also made time to see some of the other activities, such as the opening ceremonies and the men’s and women’s fashion show.

Procession to the opening

I was nice to see the young people involved and even dancing!

More photos here.

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My debut as an Interpreter at Fort Nisqually is tomorrow.  The event will be Queen Victoria’s Birthday.   I’ll be interpreting the sort of documentary sketching done by travelers and explorers in the mid-19th century.    I’m basing my interpretation on Frances Anne Hopkins.  She was a painter who traveled with her husband to North American.  He was an officer of the Hudson’s Bay Company.  She documented what she saw on her travels in sketch books and then did large oil paintings once home.  The Fort’s shop has prints of some of these painting.

I’ve long since gathered my period kit but today I tested the media.  I learned some things.

The water color palette is a hand made tin one, similar to those of the period.  Sitting on it is a glass ink well.

Lesson #1:  though this is the same ink I use every day, drawing with it using a dip pen seems to require a longer drying time.   It might also be the paper.  In any case, I need to be careful about smudges and allow for more time to dry.  All the more opportunity to take breaks and talk to the public!

Lesson #2:  Cork up the ink before starting to paint using the glass water bottle, below on the right.  I mistakenly dipped my brush in the ink!

I hope to have someone use my camera for photos so I’ll have more to share on Sunday!

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Wings! Horns!

Wings!  Horns!  It’s Maleficent!   Last night’s Drink and Draw at AFK featured the magnificent Rachel as Maleficent.

As usual, we started with 2 minute poses.

Then on to slightly longer poses, 5 to 7 minutes.  I manage to do quick splashes of color.

I think this is my favorite of the evening. It is a dramatic pose, especially if you remember the scene in the most recent film.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t happy with my results with any of the winged poses. This is the best of the group of three.

She had 3 different configurations of the costume.  This one, with the drape, I didn’t sketch.  Others were with and without wings. The design for the wings was a feat of engineering!

A few more images are here.

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Worlds Collide

Himself and I have taken up playing Ingress.  It’s played both on-line and in the real, physical world. “It’s a giant game of capture the flag”. I won’t take up more time with details.  If you really do want to know more, watch the intro video.    **

“Benches” is the weekly theme for Urban Sketchers flickr group.

Here’s the collision.  It was through this game that I learned there is a bench in Renton’s Coulon Park dedicated to Earl Clymer.  I knew Earl in his elder years. I didn’t know him well but I did interact with him at church functions.  Before I moved here, he
was the long time mayor of Renton.  Here is his obituary.    I also got to know his granddaughter through her arts and crafts shop and her involvement in the local arts community.

As a tribute to him, I wanted to sketch his bench.   I chose this view as this is what he’d see if he was sitting on his bench.  I wonder whether those who chose this bench to honor him picked this location for a particular reason. Did he like the view.  Perhaps he liked to watch people swimming here in summer.  I’m not sure if what we see across Lake Washington is the other side of Renton, or the southern tip of Mercer Island.

** If you are actually interested, we are on the “Enlightenment” side.

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Klondike Park

Friday sketchers from Seattle Urban Sketchers sketched in and around the Klondike Gold Rush National Park in Pioneer Square, Seattle.

It was such a summery day, that about half the sketchers elected to sketch outside rather than in the Museum/Park.

I was early, so sketched the Park building from across the street.  I later added the National Park’s stamp.  At various spots inside the Museum there were “embossing stations”.  Each one was different.

Since I had never been to this tiny National Park, I thought I would look around.  I liked the full sized prospector’s cabin.

There was still a little time left.  This odd, full sized horse sculpture was placed from the second story of the building.  The place is a piano bar now.  But I thought this might be a sign for a past business.  The volunteer in the Park knew about it.  It had been a saddlery. The original cast (bronze?) statue is gone and this is a fiberglass replacement.

We set out sketches on a bench in the Park/Museum.

Steve, Anne, Gordon, Evelyn, Vivian; kneeling Kate & Tina

After lunch, I went to another place I’ve never been:  Waterfall Garden park.  It was only a block away.  The sound of the waterfall drowns out the sounds of the city, creating a pleasant, natural oasis.

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