Blue Poppy Day

This was my first time at this event.  Urban Sketchers (USk) Tacoma was there two years ago but I wasn’t.  As one of the sketchers said, “those poppies really are blue!”.   Blue Poppy Day is held once a year at the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden in Federal Way.

This was an “ad hoc” outing and just a few sketchers attended.  There are two missing from the group photo.

I decided on a montage. The tree on the left “hosts” what looks like a bird feeder. But I saw many bees going in and out. To the right is the bell in the gazebo. Lower left is the Garden Pond. That bit was rather rushed as it started to sprinkle. Last, but certainly not least, on the right side is the Blue Poppy.

More photos of pretty flowers are here. 

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TAM Again

Urban Sketchers Tacoma have had several previous outings to the Tacoma Art Museum (TAM). I always find something new to sketch. This time I didn’t even go into the Museum galleries.

There was a good group today, with a couple new people.

Since it was nearly perfect weather I walked back north on Pacific Ave. to Union Station/Court House. I’ve always wanted to sketch the statue there but the conditions have never been right: too cold, too hot, too rainy. Today is perfect. Officially, this is titled “New Beginnings” by Larry Anderson. It was commissioned to celebrate the centennial of Tacoma (1884-1984). However, I like the title my friend called it: “The Constant Traveler”.

There was over an hour left so time for another sketch. I went back to the Museum to go to the third floor public area. I’ve sketched from there before but today was nice enough to go out on the patio. This is the view over the planter to Union Station and the old buildings on Pacific Ave.

More photos here.

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In Magnolia

Kathleen, one of USk Seattle members, arranged access to Magnolia United Church of Christ for our sketch outing today. It was a bit chilly but I dressed in flannel and fleece as I hoped to sketch outside, which I did do.

There were several new people, mostly from Magnolia Art Experience. A couple sketchers left before our group photo.

The facade of the church was very interesting. I liked the tiny flying buttresses!

Note the crow looking over her domain from atop the cross. This was a popular subject for the sketches and some included the crow.

Kathleen had recommended the local Fire Department building. It was indeed an interesting subject. In looking for more information about it, I found this document recommending landmark status.  “Station No. 41 dates from 1934. It is unique among the subject fire stations as designed and built under the Civil Works Administration (CWA) a Depression-era federal relief program rather than by the city. This station is an example of Streamlined Moderne architecture. It is one of Seattle’s three Art Deco /Moderne style fire stations.”

Before driving home, we stopped to look at the view from Magnolia Viewpoint park. Photos are here .  I might have to sketch here.

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Painting Rocks

“Rocks as the subject, not applying paint to rocks”.  We painted rocks with Janice Berkebile at Daniel Smith Mothership, Seattle. She had several “exotic” pigments to suggest from the Daniel Smith line.  Since I will probably not put the sparkly ones in my palette,  I stuck with what I have in my everyday one.  I did try one new one but didn’t take it home.

She nearly has all the colors!

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Windmill Gardens

It was a perfect sketching day. Urban Sketchers Tacoma met at Windmill Gardens in Sumner.  I think this was at least my third time there and I always find something new to sketch. Our group photo in front of the gazebo and said windmill.

I sat inside for my first sketch of a display of potted plants.

This charming garden art was, appropriately, in front of the Tea Madame shop.

My favorite of the day was done the fastest, with just 20 minutes left. I got the drawing done and colored it after.  I’ve sketched this shed before but this is the better of my two attempts.

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Not what I expected

It wasn’t what I expected but at least I did 2 sketches.

I went to a training at the Museum of Flight.  From the email about it, I’d formed the impression that the subject would be approached differently than it was.  I also thought it would be 1.5 hours and it was twice that and a little more!  I stuck it out though.  However, in order to get the information/training I wanted, I’ll have to attend a different session.  Had I known, I would have skipped this one.  The professor from UW was definitely a content expert, it just wasn’t the content I thought it would be.

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Two venues and activities

Early in the morning I left for the King 5 studio in the Stadium District. I attended a recording of New Day NW with Alan Cumming as a guest. He’s in town for his concert show “Legal Immigrant” at Benaroya. This was my first time in the new studio, which is much smaller so the audience was very close to the small stage. Afterwards, he didn’t talk to the audience as guests usually do…. he wanted to meet the Renton Police Officer who had the same last name! (Renton Police and Fire were there to publicize their charity football game this weekend).  He must have rushed off for another interview as, while I was driving to Everett, I heard him on local NPR KUOW show, “The Record”.

Yesterday I was disappointed to learn I’d missed the removal of the wings from the B-52.

Someone else’s photo, taken yesterday (5/1) as wings were removed.

Even so, after the show I drove up to Everett to do a sketch of the aircraft without its wings. They were on the grass next to the plane.

big hole where the wings were attached.

While waiting for paint on that sketch to dry, I sketched volunteers working on “Grumpy”, the B25-D at Historic Flight.    Their aircraft are air worthy.

Alan Cumming photos

B-52 photos

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This past weekend was Linux Fest NW in Bellingham. We go every year. Himself attends both days. I pick and choose. This year I only attended one panel and it was a disappointment as it wasn’t quite what I’d hoped.  For non-computer-geeks, Linux is an “open-source” (free and adaptable) operating system.  It’s an alternative to Windows and Mac that has become more mainstream in recent years but still requires more expertise than using Windows or Mac.

Mostly I sketch, wander around town, and go to art, craft and book stores!

We drove up on Friday afternoon. Deborah at Daniel Smith suggested we detour off on Chuckanut Drive. The weather wasn’t the best but at least it wasn’t raining. We stopped at a couple view spots. At this one, near Chuckanut Manor restaurant and B&B, the bay seemed to have a Nessie-like creature.

After dropping Himself off at the venue on Saturday morning, I drove around the corner to sketch this amazingly purple Victorian. It was pouring rain so I was fortunate the be able to park in a location with the view I wanted. I kept having to run the wipers to see my subject. I tried a new technique… drawing only with pencil. This is an 8×10 in a 9×12 Canson Montvall watercolor sketchbook. If I use the entire 9×12, it doesn’t quite fit my scanner.


Soon it was time to join Urban Sketchers Bellingham at noon for their outing to Wander Brewing. The ability to travel and meet up with other USk’ers is one of the many great things about Urban Sketchers. It was a fun outing and a nice group of sketchers.

A couple sketchers had already left by the time we had the throw down and group photo

On my way to await Himself finishing the day, I drove past this burger joint. I pulled in to do another sketch from the car.  I finished just as he called me to pick him up.

I have to mention our Saturday night meal. On Friday we went to Boundary Bay Brewing and it was FAR too noisy. We went back to a place I’d stopped on Saturday afternoon: Village Books and their Colophon Cafe. It was so delightfully quiet. I had the best sandwich I think I’ve ever had: “B-BAT” is their take on BLT but it’s Bacon, Basil, Avocado and Tomato.

I brought 4 original sketches to abandon as I’d done them in Bellingham some years ago. I  left them around town where I’d sketched them.  This last one I left at the venue for Linux Fest.

Sunday was wash and repeat. Again, after dropping Himself off, I went back to Home Skillet as it wasn’t raining. I didn’t go inside today, either, as there was still a line.  It’s so wacky and colorful I rather wished I’d asked to just peek inside.  I sat on a stool near the street to sketch Velveeta.   It’s my favorite sketch of the weekend.


Photos from 27 April Friday drive to B’ham

Photos from 28 April Saturday

Photos from 29 April Sunday

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Two Museums in a day

It’s National Volunteer week, as I mentioned on Monday. I used the reciprocal admission for free entry to two more places today.

First I went to the Point Defiance Zoo. It was. Hundreds of primary school children. I measured the noise level at the admission gate as between 70-80 decibels. That’s at the edge of hearing damage. I hurried straight to the otter enclosure to get ahead of them.

I spent about about an hour there. The otters were quite playful and I was fortunate to witness lunch time. I set my DSLR to motor drive and shot over 150 images but culled them severely.

As I was leaving, I did a sketch of the front entrance.

More photos here.

Once in central Tacoma, I stopped in at Tinkertopia to make a donation…. and to marvel at the creative oddness there.

What happened to all their heads?

On to the Washington State History Museum to see the Toytopia exhibit. They had my favorite childhood toy/collectible on display:

I sketched these larger than life toys.

More photos here.

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More on the PWH project

A large open grassy area at the back of the Museum of Flight grounds will become the Project Welcome Home Commemorative park. The exact name is still under consideration but that’s what I’m calling it for now. I’ve written about it before. My sketch series for this year is documenting its development. I’ve sketched the B-52 three times now.

Today I went early in order to sketch before the start of my volunteer shift. This is that grassy area that is now mostly empty. The link above shows the plan for how it will be developed. This is the “before” sketch. At left are the containers housing the Museum’s Amateur Radio program, which is run by volunteers. These will remain.

Sketched in the Canson Montvall Watercolor paper, 9×12; Platinum carbon black ink; Daniel Smith Watercolors.

This second sketch is the Lockheed YO-3A “Quiet Star”. It was a reconnaissance aircraft during the conflict in Vietnam. The engine was heavily muffled so as to be almost noiseless. It now hangs over a newly developing exhibit: “Vietnam Divided: War Above Southeast Asia” which will open Memorial Day Weekend.

Field Notes “Signature” Sketch Book; Platinum carbon black ink; Daniel Smith Watercolors.

With the weather finally being spring-like, I thought I might go sketch the B-52 in Everett tomorrow. However, my plan formy next trip will be to sketch the removal of the wings and that is not yet happening.

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