Freeway Park

Seattle Urban Sketchers were fortunate to have beautiful weather today for our sketching foray into Freeway Park. As a relative newcomer to Seattle (17 years), never having been to the park didn’t seem too odd but even some of the native born Seattle-ites in our group had never been to this park before.  It borders the Convention Center and does, literally, span the I-5 freeway through downtown Seattle.

It offers an interesting mix of concrete structures, beautiful natural plantings and buildings towering over all.

My first goal was to find the waterfall.  I couldn’t find any place with flowing water but I did find something that looked like it could be a waterfall but it was dry.  I sketched it anyway.   The noise from the freeway was really rather loud and constant.

I continued to explore the paths running in all directions out from the Convention Center.  I found this corner planted with some bright flowers.

The courtyard just outside the Convention Center held this unusual sculpture depicting George Washington.

For our sketch sharing, we were joined by David Chamness’ group of architect colleagues having a Friday noon sketch outing of their own.   Their sketchbooks came from their firm so they were labelled with the name.

Lots of photos here:

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The Pacific Science Center’s Terracotta Warriors exhibit opened recently.   I took the opportunity of free admission during Volunteer Week to see it.

This is the world premier for this exhibit and there will be only one other US location before it returns to China.  There are several original figures in the exhibit and many reproductions.  They are from the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE).

By the numbers:
2200 years underground
At least 8000 figures discovered in the pits
40 years of excavation
Figures weigh an average of 300 pounds
Over 700,000 laborers to build the site

These are reproductions, painted as they were thought to have been.

I took nearly 100 photos, which are all here:

The museum staff indicated I could use ink but I didn’t want to push it for watercolor (even with a contained waterbrush) so I completed the drawings in the exhibit and added color, such as there is, later.  I sketched a 2 page montage.  The “High Ranking General” was excavated in 1980; was one of 7 such figures found in pit number 1.  He is 76.75 inches tall.


This was an amazing exhibit well worth seeing.

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Middle Fork

The Seattle Urban Sketchers’ outing was listed as Seattle Art Museum (SAM) and Pike Street Neighborhood.  I was happy to spend the entire time inside SAM.  First, it was chilly and raining much of the time.  Second, I had free admission for volunteer week with my Museum of Flight volunteer badge!  Third, I wanted to get my fill of sketching Middle Fork.

John Grade: Middle Fork
Here is a detail of what it looks like up close

First thing, I settled down to sketch Middle Fork. It’s an unusual sculpture that was pieced together over many months.  Two of our group worked on it:  Ching (an Urban Sketcher who has since moved away) and John (husband of Urban Sketcher, Anne).   I sat on the floor at the base end.

Once finished, I went into the museum proper.  There is so much to sketch but I wanted to get this odd sculpture.  It’s called Mann und Maus (Man and Mouse) but I think the head shape looks more like a rat.  I enjoyed keeping pet rats, which I did for about 10 years.

Then I had a quick wander through “Seeing Nature”, and exhibit of landscapes on loan from the Paul Allen collection.  It “features 39 historically significant European and American landscape paintings from the past 400 years. These diverse works offer a unique opportunity for visitors to see the natural world through the eyes of great artists.”

In the “who knew” department, one of the signs for the exhibit explained that Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, drew all the time as a child and spent a lot of time at SAM.

I forgot to go to the Museum’s shop, but I did quickly browse through the mini-shop set up with Seeing Nature.  I noticed the pen in the shape of a tube of paint.  While I thought it was amusing and clever, I resisted.

There was still time, so I did another sketch of Middle Fork, this time from above.

We met in the far lobby to share sketches and have our group photo.

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Travel Sketching demo

I didn’t attend the March for Science today because earlier in the day I attended an event for the medical/scientific study in which Himself is participating. I think that counts.

I went straight from that to the Travel Sketching lecture and demo by Stephanie Bower

When I first looked in upon arrival at about 1300, there was no one in the room.  I cruised the store and found Peggy H shopping.  I’ve not seen her in months and she wasn’t going to attend the event so I caught up with her until 1325.  Wow!  The room was full.  I think
there were at least 40 people there.

Stephanie with her kit displayed.

It was an excellent presentation.

This was similar to the lecture last year.  Stephanie talked about the kit she takes when she travels.  The focus is function and light weight.  Most of the items I knew about but there is a stool I might check on.

She then demonstrated how she sketches on location.

I did a very quick, very small sketch from my vantage point during her sketching demo.

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Despite the perfect weather for outdoor sketching, I spent most of it indoors at the “Letter Me This” workshop by Janice Berkebile at Daniel Smith.

First, I was quite early in an attempt to get parking at the store, which is always a challenge on a weekday.  I did this sketch from the car.  It’s a view down the street on which Daniel Smith is at the end, with a view of the Seattle skyline.  The tall, dark building is the Columbia Center.

The workshop was about letter structure in sketchbook journaling.  I’ve never gotten into that and this helped me understand what it is… or at least how Janice does it.   I worked from my own photos (with one exception).

This from my own photo taken in the Japanese Garden at UW.  It’s on an 8×10 sheet of Fluid 100 hot press.

This is a from a photo by Danny Ngan, probably taken at Emerald City ComiCon, where he volunteers as the resident photographer for the Star Wars costuming groups (Rebel Legion, Saber Guild and the 501st Legion).  This is the Latin for “May the Force be With You”!    Also Fluid 100 hot press.   It is worked with loaner pencils from Janice:  Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarell, which I’ve heard said are one of the best watercolor pencils.  I certainly liked them on this hot press paper.   Daniel Smith is going to carry the entire line and I can. not. wait but no exact date for arrival is announced.  I know I can buy them elsewhere, but I want to patronize the hometown business!

This is also from my photo…. this tree really does look like this!  I found it in the tiny Tukwila Pond park, behind the Target store in Southcenter.  Again, Fluid 100 hotpress but with DS watercolors.

All in all, a good day!  And I will think on issues and concepts about which I would like to create a journal image.

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Sketchers Retreat Day Three

Sketchers Retreat Day Three: Wednesday, 4/19

We packed up and checked out of our cabin early in the morning and then went into Port Townsend for breakfast.  I had noticed this cafe last time I was there and really wanted to try it.  The rest of the group indulged me.  The Courtyard Cafe would be even more charming if the weather was good enough to have breakfast on the patio.

Again, we sketched and ate.  The guitar on the wall was there for anyone to play!

It had started to rain again and this time, the western sky looked like it was not going to stop soon.  Two of the sketchers decided to go home.  Three of us did a little shopping but with the rain coming down harder, decided to go home, too.  We could have looked for more indoor spots, but I think we were ready to go.

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Sketchers Retreat, Day Two

Sketchers Retreat, Day Two:  Tuesday, April 18

All five of us went into town for breakfast.  We picked the Blue Moose Cafe in the Boat Haven.  It certainly had a lot of Blue Mooses.  It was rather crowded but I managed a bit of a sketch during breakfast.

Two of the group went back to our cabins to sketch there.  Three of us stayed to sketch the boat yard. I spotted a boat named “Pelican” that I decided would be my sketch target…. but I got waylaid on my walk over to it and had the most delightful experience of the trip!

I stopped to look up at a Tall Ship.  A man called down to me, we shouted back a forth a bit and then he climbed down the ladder to talk.  He is John, the owner of the Merrie Ellen, a schooner on which he sails out with paying customers.  She is a 107 foot gaff schooner, built in Vancouver British Columbia in 1922.

He had just yesterday replaced the forward mast.  A woodpecker had made a hole near the top of the old one, water got in and it rotted inside out!  The wood on the new one was beautiful.  Here is an article I found about the new mast, which John built there in the boat yard!

John, with a photo of the Merrie Ellen underway

As we talked, I mentioned I was there to sketch some ships.  He said his mother, for whom the Merrie Ellen is named, was a watercolor artist. The Coast Guard commissioned her to paint all the West Coast lighthouses and used them in their brochures and information!  He gave me a packet of five prints which they give to their sailing guests.  How wonderful!  (Here is a bit about her I found).

So, after such a good talk, I had to sketch this ship!  As I settled down to my work, I chose a view of the Merrie Ellen that one wouldn’t normally see.  The main thing that fascinated me about the Boat Haven was seeing all these huge boats out of the water and their undersides revealed.  Also, the perspective was interesting, looking up at them, so high off the ground.

The three of us decided to go into the main part of PT.  Meanwhile, I’d been texting with some of the PT Urban Sketchers and arranged to meet up with Mel.  Once we did, it started to rain so we took shelter at the NW Maritime Center.  I sketched from the sheltered area of a second floor deck, looking out to the Sound.

After dinner together, Feather and I went to hear some Irish Session music.  I sketched two of the fiddlers of whom I had a clear view.

More photos:

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Sketchers Retreat, Day One

Sketchers Retreat, Day One:  Monday, April 17

Along with four other Tacoma Urban Sketchers, I went to Port Townsend for about 3 days of sketching.  We called it a Sketchers Retreat.  We shared a large house at the Chevy Chase Cabins.

This was a small group dry run for what could be a larger retreat later in the year….. we hatched a plan but I’ll say no more now!

This venue was a wonderful place to get away.  It was about 5 miles outside of town with it’s own private beach.

We arrived about 1030 and since the weather was good, went straight out to the lighthouse at Fort Worden.  Well, it wasn’t raining and the sky was blue but it was very windy.  I no sooner had a rough pencil sketch done when the wind blew the page right out of my sketchbook, over the rocks and into the water!  I’d forgotten to clip it down.  You can believe I did as I started over.  I finished this view of the Point Wilson Coast Guard lighthouse completely on location, despite the cold wind on the Sound.

Now we were cold and hungry so drove back into town for some food.  We choose the Nifty Fiftys diner for both its burgers and its sketch-ability.

At 3pm, all of us met up at the cabins to check in.  We got ourselves sorted out, explored the cabin and then took a walk down the hill to the beach.

Before the walk, I did a quick sketch out the window on a watercolor post card to mail to a friend.

The group of five went back into town for dinner.  It was a bit difficult to find a place as during this season, many restaurants and stores are closed on Monday and Tuesday!  We took over a corner and sketched mostly each other.  This isn’t the greatest portrait of Frances but I like it well enough as a sketch of a person!

Roy, Frances, Feather, AJ

After dinner we went back to our cozy cabin and spent the rest of the evening talking about sketching and art in general!

All the photos:

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We had unexpectedly good weather for our regular Friday sketch outing.  We met at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI).  Rain was predicted to start about 11, so I did my first sketch out side.  While it never did rain, there was rather a cold wind so I was quite chilled by the time I finished.  I tried only using pencil.

So I had a coffee in the pleasant cafe and sketched the old clock (again).  I really like this clock and have sketched it 2 or 3 times before.  In December 2009, thieves gutted the clock, presumably stealing the copper and metals inside.   A group to which I belong held a fund raiser at the old MOHAI location to help repair the clock.

The sketchers posed outside with the Space Needle visible in the distance behind us.

A few more photos:

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More tulips

This is the sketch I wish I’d done yesterday in the Skagit Valley tulip fields.  This done this evening from one of my photos.  Using good brushes makes a difference in the texture of the trees.  I often use just a cheap water brush when painting on location.

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