Understanding Perspective by Stephanie Bower

Understanding Perspective 
Easy Techniques for Mastering Perspective Drawing on Location
by Stephanie Bower

Quarto Publishing

ISBN 978-1-6359-128-0


Two years ago, I was fortunate to be able to take the “Good Bones” workshop from Stephanie Bower.  At that point, I’d been back to sketching about 2 years.  I had rediscovered drawing and painting when I found Urban Sketchers in 2012.  So I’d also been sketching, informally, with Stephanie in the Seattle Urban Sketchers group and had developed quite an admiration for her work.

She is an excellent teacher.  She’s been teaching architectural sketching here in Seattle at UW and Cornish.  I was very impressed when I learned she’s also taught at Parson’s in NYC!  She has the gift for offering critique in a gentle, positive and very helpful manner.

I’ve purchased a number of Craftsy classes, including Stephanie’s.  I’ve watched hers but not really worked through it again.

So I was very happy to learn that she was to have the 4th book in the Urban Sketching Handbook series.  Before I even received my review copy from the publisher (which I eventually did), I purchased it at the Daniel Smith mothership before it’s release date.

Did I mention that in her “Good Bones” workshop, Stephanie really made a difference in my understanding of perspective?  Since that workshop, my drawing has improved.  I continue to apply what I learned.  But, after 2 years, it’s getting harder to remember.

While the Craftsy class is good re-enforcement of that workshop, this book really makes a difference for me.  People learn best in different ways.  I learn best by reading.  So this book is just what I need to continue to remind myself of the principles of perspective drawing.    Her illustrations of the concepts are clear and exact.  The sketches illustrating her text are both beautiful and instructive.

The book is about the size of a sketchbook.  So it is even ideal to carry with you while out sketching on location.

I highly recommend Understanding Perspective, especially if you are struggling with that concept.  I know I will return to it again and again.

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Urban Sketchers show

These are my items for the upcoming Urban Sketchers Tacoma art show.  There are 3 8×10 prints of sketches done on location around Tacoma.  Upper left is the Johnson Candy Company, upper right is a the “Blanket Stories” sculpture outside the Tacoma Art Museum and the lower right is the Factor’s House at Fort Nisqually.

One of the organizers suggested I include the poster I made of last summer’s project of sketching all the “Astronauts on the Town”, which celebrated the Museum of Flight’s 50 year anniversary.  She also wanted to put in a case the Museum’s magazine articles about me and the sketching I’ve done there.

We’ll have our opening reception on August 6, 1300-1600, at the Main Library in Tacoma (1102 Tacoma Ave. South; that’s south of 11th).   The exhibit will be up until September 6.

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Lincoln Park

Yesterday was a very fine day for sketching at the beach!  The Friday Ad Hoc group of sketchers from Seattle Urban Sketchers met at Lincoln Park in West Seattle.  We had a beautiful view of Puget Sound and the Fauntleroy Ferry to Vashon Island.

I was there early.  While I waited for others to arrive, I sketched the interesting houses across the street from the park.

Nearly everyone headed down to the beach.  I stopped part way down the path to sketch this classic view of the ferry.

I had just a few minutes left so I did a quick sketch of Marvin sketching.  He got up and left before I was done, but I’d followed my practice of “sketch first what could move”!   There were some young boys hunting interesting things at low tide.  I wrote some notes about what they were yelling out.

At least 2 people aren’t in the group photo as they had to leave early.

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Disc Bound

One of the other sketchers on Sunday looked at my book and suggested I write a
blog post about it.

For some months now, I’ve been using this Circa Sliver Foldover Notebook as a sketchbook. It’s my preferred size at 5 x 8.5 inches, light weight and adaptable. I like this particular notebook because it has a firm cover for support and the cover easily folds over
so I can stand to sketch.  The source is on-line from Levenger’s Circa line.

I tear full sheets of watercolor paper down to fit.  If I want a double page spread, I don’t do the last tear but, instead, fold the paper.  All pages are then punched with the Circa Universal Desk punch.  There is a travel punch available but it can only accept watercolor paper of about 90 pounds. I also like to have a page of card stock to hold the stickers I used to put on the cover of my sketchbooks.

I can easily remove just a single page to attach to my coroplast lap board if I want to sit.  Then I can put the page back so all my sketches can be reviewed in the book.

My book holds a divider with a pocket, some notebook pages and a zip pouch.  You could add other items, such as calendar or planner pages.  Letter sized paper can be torn in half and punched to fit the book so you don’t have to buy the pre-punched refills from Levenger.  If more pages are desired, larger discs can be used.

As the book fills, I remove sketches and store them in envelopes.  I could “reconstitute” a group of sketches into a disc bound book at any time.

There is also the Arc system at Staples and Tul at Office Max/Depot.  So far, I haven’t liked their notebooks as much because they are either too heavy or too flimsy.  Their choices are limited to leather (heavy) and “durable poly” (flimsy).  Except for the discs with which the books are sold, they do not offer any replacement .75 inch discs, which is what I prefer.  On the pro side, they are less expensive than Levenger.  I signed up for Levenger’s email notification so I am alerted when items go on sale.

There are other sources you might find.  My advice is not to buy from Rollabind.  Do a search and you’ll find many complaints.  I ordered from them in October 2014 and have heard not word one, despite several emails.  Fortunately, they did not charge my credit card.

Of course, you could work out the same system using a 3 ring binder.  That would be cheaper and more easily sourced.  However, I’ve not found very many that fold over well.  I currently have a Staples Standard 1/2 inch small view binder that does.

But, for now, I’m sticking with my disc bound sketchbook.

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Star Trek!

My friend from Portland is still visiting.  We went to the Science Fiction Museum to see the “Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds” exhibit.

Aside:  I consider myself a member of the Science Fiction Museum, not the EMP (Experience Music Project).  I am very interested in the former and care very little about the latter.   The only special exhibits I visit there are on the Sci Fi Museum side.

I watched the Original Series (TOS), as a teenager, on a black and white TV. I didn’t care for the character of Kirk. Spock was my favorite character… probably of all time , followed by CPT Picard from TNG.

My favorite series in the Trek universe is The Next Generation (TNG), followed by Deep Space Nine (DS 9).  I watched Voyager for a while and really wanted to like it because of the first female Captain, but stopped watching after a couple seasons.  I only watched Enterprise for about a season.

It was an excellent exhibit.  Nearly all the artifacts were “from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection”!  He must have quite the geek’s paradise warehouse! My impression was there was more from TOS than other series.

This timeline graphic was prepared by Cornish students.

I did one sketch.  This is the bridge from TOS: the command chair and the Dr. McCoy costume.  Kirk’s costume was to the right but I left it out (see above)!

All the photos:  https://redharp.smugmug.com/MKB/2016-0711-Star-Trek/
Info on that album: as a public service to other fans, these are uploaded full resolution and without restriction for downloading. Please give credit to “MK Buike”.

We also viewed “The World of Wearable Art” exhibit.
https://redharp.smugmug.com/MKB/2016-0711-WoW/   There’s some wild and crazy stuff there.  I think my favorite was Lunanoia by Jane Ewers, made of stainless steel mesh.

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Georgetown Garden Walk

Once again the Seattle Urban Sketchers joined the Georgetown Garden Walk.  It was cooler than last year yet I didn’t get to many gardens.

I wanted to sketch a different view of the Hat n’ Boots in Oxbow Park, as seen through the Georgetown P-Patch.

Then just across the street to the Gessner Mansion to sketch the wildly purple garden shed.  I wanted to sketch it last year but the area was a little “over populated”.

Back to Oxbow Park for our group photo.  We welcomed Arthur, a visitor from New York.  And my Portland friend, Wanda, also joined us.

Arthur upper row, far right; Wanda standing right behind Gabi (he’s in red)

All the photos here: https://redharp.smugmug.com/SketchOutings/2016-0710-Georgetown-Garden/

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Piano in the Garden

After the demo at Daniel Smith, I planned that I would take my visiting friend to visit Kubota Garden to see and hear the Pianos in the Park that is there today.  Several people made beautiful musical use of the piano.  I forgot my main sketch bag but I had my mini-kit in the car.  So I was able to do a small, quick sketch as a young man played.

Here is information about this piano and the artist who painted it.

Also gratuitous pretty flowers:

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Making Palette & Journal demo

A friend from Portland is here for the weekend.  I’m taking her on all sorts of art adventures.  We sketched yesterday and will do so again tomorrow with Urban Sketchers Seattle.

Today we went to a demo by Janice Berkebile at Daniel Smith Seattle (the Mothership):  PLEIN AIR PAIRING: Mini Travel Palette & Travel Journal

applying to the sketchbook cover some textured medium with a stencil.

Janice covered a number of techniques in this demo.  She showed us her wonderful art journals.  She embellishes the covers and the lids of her home made paint palettes using several kinds of media. Watercolor ground, crackle paste, fiber paste, clear granular gel and more.

shows the degree of relief

These are applied to both with stencils.  Then she paints them with watercolors.  It creates a beautiful, bas relief design on both the sketchbook and the paint box.

The one day workshop will teach attendees all these techniques plus they’ll make a sketchbook.  It looks like a lot of fun and you come away with beautiful tools.  You can even make the paint box match the sketchbook cover!

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Stonehouse II

Our Friday group returned to the Stonehouse Cafe and Bakery today.  Though it threatened rain, we managed to escape it.  The group of a dozen sketchers fanned out around the property.  I also have a friend from Portland visiting and she brought some sketching tools in order to join in.

I don’t know what my problem was today but I just do not really like the sketches.  The first scene of the upper patio didn’t work.  I recognize the need to work more on creating textures.

I normally am not very interested in drawing vehicles as a main subject.  But the beautiful 1953 Chevy pickup truck posed so nicely.  I decided to do a sketch to contribute to the memorial for Florian who died earlier this spring in a tragic auto accident.   At the International Symposium later this month they are going to have a special exhibit of car sketches in tribute to his memory.

The logo is a piece of collage.

I had less than half an hour left.  I thought I could squeeze in one more sketch.  This is the entry to the bakery.

Sharing sketches:


Patrick, the baker, came out to see what we’d done and took our group photo.  Steve Reddy left early so is not in the photo.

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Chicken Fort

Today was another nice day at Fort Nisqually.  I did some sewing and then dressed for interpretation.

Mike and Chris were working on the logs for the new chicken coop.  This is going to be a fort of a coop.  Or the “Chicken Mahal”.  Or the “Palais des Poulets”.   I sat on the porch of the Factor’s house to sketch Mike at work.

This sketch has a lot of problem, composition being one.  They’ll be working on this building all summer so I’ll have plenty of chances to do another.


It was warm in the sun, so I sought the shade of the canvas pavilion.  This view is the flag pole in the middle of the parade ground.  We fly the flag of the Hudson’s Bay Company.  The building is the men’s dwelling house (which is now the entrance building and the Fort’s gift shop).

This one I like.

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