urban sketching at King St Station

I attended my second get together of the Seattle urban sketcher group on Sunday. We met at the King St train station which has been SO beautifully restored.  There's a wealth of detail, lighting challenges, and most of all, perspective challenges.

I sketched here for the first time a couple months ago at the end of my perspective workshop and it was SO difficult.  This time I knew what to expect and thought I'd approach it differently, maybe just focusing on a particular detail.  But, no, I was once again sucked into trying to capture some of the grandeur.  This time I challenged myself to include some of the ceiling.....

After spending a chunk of time on the interior, I decided to head outside even though it was drizzly and wet (such a typical Seattle spring day).  I found this undercover waiting area and wanted to see if I could correctly capture the row of planters AND actually include a person.  Moved back inside to add the watercolor.

The sharing time is SO interesting as you get to see what everyone else drew.  There was everything from beautifully rendered interior sketches (including one that focused on the flooring pattern!) to grand outdoor vistas, to sketches focusing on the people in the station.  So much fun!

I loved this people sketch - unfortunately, I don't know enough of the participants to know whose it is, but isn't it great? There were LOTS of cool sketches!

If you have any interest at all in sketching with a supportive group (it helps reduce the pressure of sketching in public when there are others around), look for the urban sketcher group in your city - they are everywhere!


sketches for last week of April

I only did a couple on-site sketches this week - stopped at South Seattle College and wandered around & discovered this clock tower.  Man, it was hard!

The black smudges are because my fountain pen leaked and made a big black blob on the shirt I was wearing so I was trying to press some of the ink out.  Hopeless.  Ruined.  Oh the name of art, right?

Neighborhood house sketch done on my way home from work in my new Stillman & Birn book - that sure is great paper but I haven't decided if I like bound or spiral yet.  Also tried a new brush pen and discovered the ink isn't waterproof.
drawn from a photo  - Whistler Village from vacation  a couple years ago.

I purchased the book The Art of Urban Sketching - it's a wonderful book filled with contributions from sketchers all over the world, and so full of a variety of styles. Since copying is some sort of form of flattery, I thought I'd practice on some of the sketches from the book:

I particularly like the food truck on the top - it's the first time a vehicle drawing of mine doesn't look cartoony. I'll have to pick just the cars out of some of the others from the book to try to understand drawing vehicles better.  The colored sketch is a Cape Cod lighthouse from my photo.

I love that I'm continuing to work without penciling in anything first and yet shapes still seem to appear, mostly correctly!

This practice sketch is copying a Pinterest image - we'll be headed to FL in a few weeks for vacation so I wanted to get an idea about how to draw palm trees. This is one effort - more will show up next week.  I also want to practice a few ocean / water scenes since we'll be on the beach. I don't want to get there and have no clue about how to capture what I'm seeing. :)

thanks so much for checking in and browsing all my sketches. Hope you have a fabulous, creative week.


sketching continues

Didn't do as many sketches last week - will have to try to do better this week. I did finally invest in some artist quality watercolors for the first time so was eagerly awaiting my Dick Blick shipment this week.  I changed up my palette and added the new colors, then had to draw it!

I also ordered a couple of new sketchbooks - ones that seem to be favored by most of the urban sketchers I've been reading.  I got a Pentalic small 3x5 one (below) and then a larger one with heavier paper more suited to watercolor, a Stillman & Birn, alpha series (above).

I sat on my deck after work and drew this little sketch of my yard into the neighbor's.  We have a gorgeous red maple shrub that dominates this viewpoint.

We went to Virginia City to visit family - Dan's mom will be 93 in a couple weeks.  We stayed with his brother and wife and they have this lovely yard - tough to sketch, but I gave it a shot.  First time I painted on site in real time.  And, I did it all with no yellow - I totally ran out of yellow paint so couldn't get some of the greens I wanted, but.......the overall capture is fine.

Hope you're in the midst of a creative week!  Practice, practice, whatever your interest ---- do more of it!  :)


seattle skyline & taking a walk

Continuing my sketching.  After work on Friday, the weather was so pretty I decided to go to west Seattle and try a broader cityscape type sketch. It seemed like it should be easy cuz it's all rectangular shapes.  Well.......

then a touch of color & some darks

the reference photo:
 I cropped out the fence in the photo, but actually it was easily half my view. Also, I made a major error in scale calculation so totally ran out of room to get all the buildings.  However, the exercise was good, it was fun to do, and I was so engrossed that time just flew by.

Then I stood up and focused on a single element of the scene.

This weekend I went for a walk & did 2 quick sketches. My goal with both of these was to draw them quickly, while standing, pretending I was short of time but wanting to capture a view. I just read a Marc Taro Holmes blog post where he talks about the value of being able to simplify and sketching quickly that I found inspiring.      (this boat below hasn't moved from the yard in the 3 years I've been walking this route) The dark shadows are the blacks showing through from the other sketch.
(color added when I got home) - funny, I don't even remember seeing that arrow sign, yet I drew the tree behind it. :)

Marc also wrote about seeing & using darks which I tried to keep in mind with this sketch. By the way, his website has all sorts of tips and instructions about urban sketching - definitely a valuable resource.
Paint & shadows bleeding through from other side. Guess I shouldn't be so cheap and not draw on the back of the pages......

Hope you all have a fabulous and creative week!


a little urban sketching

Okay, here's a first. Sketching in public with just Dan (not part of the urban sketcher group).  We went to the Rhododendron Botanical Garden last weekend and I took my sketch stuff though I wasn't sure what there would be to draw.  We absolutely loved the bonsai museum (garden) that adjoins the botanical garden and there was lots to sketch there so I gave it a go......FUN and not so scary after all.

Here are the photos I took after the sketching:

A few days earlier Dan and I went to our fave local beach and I sketched a bit there.....

Added a touch of color at home....

A couple more sketches through the week from travel photos. I'm trying to work on being quick and representative rather than slow and exact.

Montreal, Notre Dame (furthest back bldg)

St Augustine, FL, Flagler College

Hope you enjoy a creative week.


some watercolor practice

No serious sketching this weekend - had a family day with the boys & their girlfriends Saturday but I managed to squeeze a bit of paint playing today.  Rough sketches were just to practice with paint.

Practicing a tree and its shadows.

Different tree & leaves technique (funny little boat shape needs some work :))

It's trying to be spring and I have some tulips on my table, so........makes sense I would try my hand  at a touch of spring.

Have a creative, productive week!


keeping it challenging

I tackled a couple of complicated looking scenes (for me) over the last couple days.  This first one is the view out my kitchen window.  It's interesting that when I look out it seems all I see are houses, but in the drawing it seems like all fences.  Guess it's both.

Then, yesterday I drove around after work looking for a likely subject.  I headed to West Seattle and discovered this cafe on the corner, right by the freeway.  It was raining, so I found a good parking spot and sketched from the car.
Here's just the sketch (sorry for the weird light - caught the shadow I guess):

Then I added my watercolor - the bright yellow wall is what caught my eye, but not sure I love it in the's SO dominant.  Need to work on my evergreen trees and that fence doesn't translate well as a more practice ahead!

The reference photo taken just as I started - cars came and went so as I was finishing up this is the car that was there (that needs more work too!)  Anyone have any car drawing tips?

Their window sign says they have the 'best' milkshakes, hamburgers & beer.  Told Dan we'll have to go eat there now that I've drawn it!  :)


new sketches

Here's what I've been working on the last week or so.  Still sketching - seeing some improvement but mostly just enjoying the process.  I feel a sense of satisfaction when the perspective comes together and I'm loving playing with my watercolors again.  It's been so long since I painted with them, I have to relearn most of the techniques and when I screw up, I think "oh, I remember that now!"

 The last day of my perspective class we went to King's St train station. A challenging venue, but everyone's sketches were so very good and each with a different view (or perspective, if you will :))

A Vermont covered bridge from a few years ago.

 Dan's family farm in Rockfield, IN.  Made another one for his mom who thinks I'm a genius! :)

Ucluelet BC lighthouse.

A street in Arcos, Spain.

Luxembourg Palace & garden, Paris last fall.  I attempted to add a few people and they got kind of blobby.....definitely have to work on that. Tried to use my watercolors more randomly and drop in spots of accent colors on those big wall expanses to mixed results (ha, get it, "mixed")

Some quick 5 minute sketches to see if I can capture the essence of something quickly.  Will practice this more as I think it will be especially helpful when traveling.

A Vermont church drawn in about 10 minutes during my lunch break at work, looking at my photo on the computer screen - proportions are difficult to gauge from that format, but when that's what you have.....

So, as you can see, I've been keeping busy.  I've had a miserable cold for the last 3 weeks and haven't had the energy to venture outside. Hopefully, I'll be well someday and will get back to trying to sketch in person.  It's definitely a different challenge.

I'm back to reading all your blogs and following your creative journeys on FB or Instagram or wherever you are - and lovin' seeing all that wonderful inspiration. Every journey is SO different!