Color in the Japanese Garden

Urban Sketchers Seattle planned a short notice sketch outing when the weather seemed good and the maples would be in their autumn colors at the Japanese Garden. We might have been a bit too early but we didn’t want to wait until out next window of time as it could be raining then!

Today had a bit of fall crispness in the air but was otherwise perfect. I found a tree with some color and decided to try my new square Pentalic Aqua sketch book by doing a two page spread of the wide scene.

Since I was the first sketcher along the path, several people stopped to chat. A couple had used watercolors. One young woman asked how I got the effect seen most in the upper right corner. I explained it’s granulation and is shown to good effect on this paper but happens because of the characteristics in the paint. It is Daniel Smith primatec, made from the actual stones or minerals.

The koi were jockeying for position to get as much of the food as possible.  The kiosk sells packets  so visitors give them what’s good for them.  They appear as two small, orange flecks in the sketch.

I’d spent a lot of time on this sketch, letting layers dry (and talking to people). So I only had a few minutes. I’ve sketched this lantern and bridge before but decided this would be a good choice for a minimalist ink sketch and would also fulfill my Inktober drawing for the day.

We were delighted to have Jane Blundell from Australia join us today. She’s in the USA teaching a number of workshops. All the ones this next week at Daniel Smith are full but there is a demo tomorrow afternoon. Along with her is Jonathan Livesey. USk Tacoma sketched with him on Wednesday so I met him again today.

group photo done by a passerby who composed well, showing the garden and some of the dramatic sky.

More photos:  https://redharp.smugmug.com/SketchOutings/2017-1006-Japanese-Garden/

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Visiting Sketcher

With the expansion of Urban Sketchers around the world, one of the joys of involvement is visiting and hosting sketchers from other parts of the world.

Jonathan from  USk Syndey in Australia is visiting and traveling with Jane Blundell. While she’s teaching, he’s sought out sketching opportunities. Three of us from USk Tacoma met him today to sketch around the historic center of Tacoma on Pacific Ave. We were fortunate that the weather was perfect.

We met on the patio of the Anthem coffee house. Our sketching started there. I liked the autumn leaves which nearly hid the Tacoma Dome.

I walked a half way across the Bridge of Glass in order to do another sketch of the Crystal Towers. I’ve sketched them at least twice. They are 40 feet tall, made of polyvitro, which is plastic and glass and are both cast and blown. It took two years to develop the material. At night they are illuminated by lights below the bridge. They serve as an entry marker into Tacoma from the freeway below.

We didn’t take our usual group sketch photo but I got Jonathan (at left) and Gary next to the Traveler statue in front of Union Station.

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Removable page sketch books

So far, I’ve found 4 ways to do a removable page sketch book. But why, you ask? If the sketch book started as a spiral bound one, it’s nearly impossible to get a sharp image of the sketch on a flat bed scanner. There might be reasons why you want to remove just one sketch from a book… you don’t want others to see it, you don’t like it, or you’ve sold it! Perhaps you want to rearrange the sketches. Lastly,  different kinds of papers can be used in the same book.

I first saw this done by Steve Reddy.  Remove the spiral binding. Replace it with some number of book rings. These can be found in various sizes at any office supply store. This is the cheapest way to have removable pages. The disadvantage is it’s a little floppy. This could be corrected by putting in many more rings but then it takes more effort to get them all open.  But it certainly makes the pages easier to scan.


It can be floppy.

Another cheap way is to use a three ring binder.  A choice of papers can be included.  All that is needed is the inexpensive binder and a hole punch.  The disadvantage is it cannot be folded over and it doesn’t have a stable center.

The easiest is to simply buy it that way. The new Grumbacher “in & out pages” books come in Mixed Media or Watercolor. I have the later. It’s a bit expensive for a 7×10 inch book with 12 pages at $10.40 . But it works. Someone told me the 90# Mixed Media pages don’t hold up as well to being moved in and out very much. Always pull the pages out top to bottom.

The most expensive but also most versatile is the disc bound book. I have a long post about mine here.  So far, this is my preferred method.  My favorite one comes from Levenger, the most expensive source. The advantage is you can use any paper you want, including tearing down 20×32 inch watercolor paper sheets. The disadvantage is the cost, which includes having to buy a punch.

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Inktober 2017 begins

“Every October, artists all over the world take on the Inktober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month.”

website: http://inktober.com/

on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/inktober2017unofficial/

Flickr:  https://www.flickr.com/groups/3665257@N20/
(thought at the moment I am unable to add my sketch to the group)

My plan is to try various pens and techniques. I’m going to do some from photos and not limit myself to working only from direct observation.

I was initially ambivalent about doing Inktober. But when I gave myself permission to not have to draw from direct observation every day, it made it easier to be in. Also, I’ve wanted to work on ink drawing techniques, including hatching. I’m also not necessarily going to follow the daily prompts. The fewer rules and requirements I give myself, the more likely I am to complete the 31 ink drawings.

Today I drew a Bunny from a photo of unknown source.

The pens are
.05mm Pentel Arts Hybrid Technica (not waterproof)
Faber Castell PITT Artist brush pen in warm grey IV 273 ***
Faber Castell PITT Artist pen, “S” size, black 199 ***
(the asterisks indicate light fastness; *** is the best)
Pentel brush pen; permanent black ink; waterproof once it dries.

#inktober #inktober2017

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Vendor Day 2017

Daniel Smith Vendor Day

I’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while! With the new large classroom this year there were, I think, even more vendors.

I think I encountered at least 10 Urban Sketchers from both Seattle and Tacoma groups.

Michael met us at the door with the Door prize passports. They handled it differently than last year.  I thought it was a better way to do it.  Last year the drawings happened during the show and I couldn’t hear the announcements.  This year, get 12 initials from vendors to be entered, put name and contact info on the form and the drawings will be Sunday or Monday.

And what door prizes they had!!

While I assume the Daniel Smith staff could answer most of my questions, it was still interesting to be able to talk to brand experts.

For example, I learned new Strathmore Vision sketchbooks contain paper that is between Series 200 and 300. This is not usually what I want to use. What’s different about them is that there is a second, hard cover underneath the “fly sheet”. It’s plain and can be painted or decorated as the owner pleases.

“World’s Finest Watercolor Brush”. From the reviews I’ve read by others, that’s probably true. This one comes in its own box and lists for $234.

I talked to the vendor about the new(ish) Winsor Newton watercolor pens.

Gary shows off the new Grumbacher sketchbooks with “in and out” pages. They are removable. It’s similar to my Levenger Circa disc bound system but without the need to own a punch. Yeah, I bought one!

Don Colley showed Faber Castell PITT pens in such a way that I am fascinated. I’ve been to one of his workshops.  Maybe I want to switch to this medium. Would it be less to carry? I was so engrossed in his sketchbooks I forgot to take a photo. I’m very tempted and might go back to buy some tomorrow as the Daniel Smith 20% off entire purchase sale lasts through the weekend.

With the 20% off entire purchase, I bought some things.  A couple were new things to try and a few were items I just needed replacements.

L to R:  that new Grumbacher sketchbook with removable/replaceable pages ($10.39 before discount).  Molotow liquid mask pen.  The new da Vinci Casaneo synthetic brush line: #2 Quill.  This was the last one and Tom said they’d sold dozens.  I told him the usual quill brush I used and he said he thought this one was better!  ($27 before discount),  Faber Castell PITT artist pen in warm grey.  Quinacridone Gold (these are the last tubes of the single pigment Daniel Smith bought from the auto industry.  They’ve now formulated their own).  Pentel Arts Hybrid Technica pen (.05) given to me by one of the vendors.

A few more photos:    https://redharp.smugmug.com/SketchOutings/2017-0930-Daniel-Smith-Vendor-Day/

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Stonehouse show

This afternoon was my “end of show” reception, hosted by Patrick, owner of the Stonehouse Bakery.   A few people came but I wasn’t expecting many as end of show isn’t really a thing.

Since there weren’t a lot of people, I had a chance to do a sketch.  This is the view from the outside patio of the bakery, looking across Lake Washington.  It’s one of the “10 Best View Restaurants in Seattle”.

Sadly, I learned that Patrick is going to have to move by the end of the year.  He already has a line on one new place.  However, it would be hard to find a place as charming as this old field stone building.

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First Pumpkins of the season

Last night was a USk Tacoma ad hoc outing to Van Lierop Garden Market in Sumner.  We were there as part of a Wine Walk event in the town.  The Garden Market hosted several artists in addition to providing wine tasting.

I gravitated straight to the orange squashes, though I guess they’re not really pumpkins.

These sculptural planters were labeled “Pot Heads”.   Lots of people stopped to look at them and have a laugh.

This time I did try the wine as I could ask for just a sip to get the taste.  The “sweet white” was Late Harvest Washington Hills 2015 Washington State Riesling.  It was very good and I’m going to look for it.

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Winery Sketching

The Friday group of Urban Sketches Seattle met further afield then usual today. We went out to the Chateau Ste Michelle winery northeast of Seattle. It is a beautiful grounds… from the vines in the fields to beautiful lawns, garden alcoves, waterfalls with pools. This is the winery’s 50th Anniversary.

My carpool of 4 arrived early. I walked back out to the gate to meet sketchers and tell them to drive further in to park. So, of course, I sketched the gate in my tiny 4×6 in book while I waited.

My primary subject today was the Chateau.  The winery occupies the site of Hollywood Farm, a 206 acre dairy farm built between 1910 and 1911 by a wealthy industrialist, Frederick S. Stimson, for an agricultural demonstration project and country estate.

After finishing, I still had a bit of time, so I walked back out to the fields to do a small sketch of the vines and grapes, again in the 4×6 book.  These are Campbells Early Grapes which is an old variety. It is not as prone to mildew in our cool climate. The wines are not of the quality of the European varieties so these are not production vines. “These are our oldest vines and were planted before the Chateau was built”.

We shared our sketches and had our group phone in the usual tourist location.


Feather is missing from the photo.

And I didn’t even try any wine!

More photos: https://redharp.smugmug.com/SketchOutings/2017-0922-Winery-sketch-outing/

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The intrepid four

When we planned the Urban Sketchers Tacoma sketch outing for today at the Pt. Defiance Marina, it was at the height of the long, hot, dry, summer. We forgot that it would one day rain again. The venue had no rain cover and, of course, it was pouring rain at the time the sketch outing was to start.

Only four intrepid sketchers came. We agreed to disperse to our shelter of choice. Roy and Dennis went to the Boat House, where we’d sketched last month. Frances and I preferred warmer shelter and went to the Antique Sandwich shop.

The statue, Colombo, was carved for the 1893 Columbia Exhibition in Chicago using Italian Carrara marble, which is the same used by Michelangelo. The owner of the sandwich shop bought it at auction.  I searched but couldn’t find any information about the statue under that name.

(World’s Columbian Exposition [the official shortened name for the World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition] also known as the Chicago World’s Fair and Chicago Columbian Exposition)

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Time change for closing reception

Talked with Patrick at Stonehouse Bakery today.  Time for the closing reception has changed to an hour earlier so will be from 1 to 3 pm on Sunday, September 24.

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