Thursday, April 30, 2015

Swift Sales at Kyoto Antiques

4/30/15 various inks, Caran d'Ache Museum colored
pencil, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
Today was the first day of Kyoto Art and Antiques’ semi-annual antique sale in the Georgetown neighborhood. Although we like to see the interesting Asian wares whenever it’s open, we’re not serious antique shoppers, so we don’t make an effort to go on the first day. (Last September I made my first major purchase there.) We happened to be in the area today though, so we stopped in – and it was packed! We should have known that all the serious antique shoppers would mob the place as soon as it opened.

Needless to say, the crowds made sketching difficult. I spotted this large stone horse and wedged myself against the side of a cabinet to sketch it without getting bumped. Behind the horse was a screen with a lovely bamboo pattern and some Japanese calligraphy. I had roughed it in quickly along with other things in the background. At that point, Greg came by, so I chatted with him for less than a minute. When I looked back again, someone had purchased the screen and taken it away! I guess you have to be quick to sketch at an antique show.

Emulating Vincent

4/28/15 India ink, Zebra Comic G dip pen, Bristol board (from image of
Van Gogh drawing, below)
Unlike wood cut prints or the fine hatch marks of some of the other masters we’ve been copying, Van Gogh’s lines are more organic and irregular – a huge bonus for me in this week’s class. Although copying his drawings is just as labor-intensive and time-consuming as the previous assignments, I find it somewhat easier to make his curvy line strokes rather than straight ones. It is fascinating to study the originals and see the wide variety of strokes he used to convey light/dark or foreground/distance.

As my classmates and I silently scratched away with our dip pens trying to emulate the master, our instructor Eric Elliott read a bit to us from a book containing a large collection of Van Gogh’s drawings. Apparently Van Gogh used a reed quill – essentially a finer version of the twig I use when I emulate KK! – to do his drawings, which makes me appreciate his drawings all the more; he probably had to re-dip his reed with every stroke (unlike my delightful Zebra Comic G nib, which holds a fair amount of ink per dip).

Ink sketch by Vincent Van Gogh
I haven’t studied Van Gogh much, so I was surprised to see how many drawings he had produced (as opposed to paintings). When I said this to Eric, he told me that Van Gogh had periods when he made drawings because he couldn’t afford paint. I thought about how easily I place an order at or whenever I “need” an art supply (or just feel like I want something new), and it broke my heart.

P.S. Speaking of JetPens, I just got a Tachikawa nib holder for my G nib, and it’s terrific! The rubbery grip makes it so much easier and more comfortable to hold for long periods, hatching away. I’d give one to Vincent if I could.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Dogs, Cars and More Randomness at Zoka

4/29/15 Sailor Doyou ink, Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencil,
Canson XL 140 lb. paper
Today’s lesson at Zoka Coffee was squirminess, both human and canine.

Other random observations:

  • I find the three-quarter view of a person’s head – less of the face showing than a profile (the man facing left, below) – is one of the most difficult angles to sketch.

  • Outside the window where I was seated is a bike rack where people like to tie up their dogs while they dash in for coffee. Dogs waiting for their humans – in these cases a shivering Chihuahua and a part-Dalmatian, I think – always have such worried expressions, staring in the direction that their person went, or nervously glancing from side to side, until the expressions turn to pure relief when their humans return, after all. 

4/29/15 Sailor Doyou ink, Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencil
  • Have you ever heard a car being described as feeling like part of one’s body? My car is narrow, short and very low to the ground, so when I make a turn, I feel attached to the vehicle as it moves. (In Greg’s much larger, higher car, I feel my body lurch through the turn like an afterthought – definitely not attached.) This morning, its first time at Zoka, my new pen became part of my body. I know it’s just a pen and not an appendage, but unlike other pens I use, this one feels like it’s attached. It probably doesn’t show in my sketches, but my lines feel more fluid.
4/29/15 Sailor Doyou ink

4/29/15 Sailor Doyou ink, Museum pencil
4/29/15 Sailor Doyou ink

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Philosophy of Urban Sketching and How it Relates to Spritzing

3/3/15 various inks, Caran d'Ache Museum colored pencils,
Canson XL 140 lb. paper
In my recent post about drawing with water-soluble inks when using watercolors, I had mentioned spraying the sketchbook page with water. Larry asked about that, so I thought I’d respond with this post about the watercolor part of my sketch process.

Before I answer the question about the sprayer, though, I thought I’d use this opportunity to talk about brushes and how they relate to my philosophy of urban sketching. (If you’re not sure what I mean by “philosophy,” please refer to the subheading of this blog: Urban sketching: it’s not a hobby; it’s a lifestyle.) Please indulge my long-windedness, but it is related:

I have a good selection of “real” watercolor brushes (as opposed to waterbrushes) – some synthetics plus a few sables, including my favorite Escoda travel brushes. I use them only when I’m home. For example, any still life that I’ve done at home was painted with one of those “real” brushes. You may have noticed that the colors are more intense and more carefully applied in those still lifes compared to sketches done on location. Those sable brushes are a joy to use, and I’m sure my urban sketches would improve if I took them out in the field with me.

Watercolor applied with waterbrush (Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook)
I realized a long time ago, however, that if I choose to use “real” brushes on location, a layer of complexity is added to my process that I know will keep me from doing some sketches that I want to do. For example, in places like the middle of a shopping mall or during the 10 minutes before my bus comes, I either can’t use a stool because I’d be blocking others, there’s no place to set down my paints and water cup, or I don’t have time to fill a cup with water. I could choose to draw on the spot and paint later, but I know myself well enough to know that once the moment is over, so is my inclination to continue the sketch. So I either remain standing and use my clip-on watercolor box, or I take advantage of the bus shelter bench and make a 10-minute sketch.

In either case, if I’d had to use a sable brush with a cup of water, I probably would have decided not to sketch. But here’s where the philosophy comes in: I don’t want to let those moments get away because I’m hindered by my materials. So I’m content with the lowly waterbrush, and that’s the only brush I use on location.

Page spritzed with water before applying watercolor with waterbrush.
Now the answer to the sprayed-water question: As anyone who uses a waterbrush knows, those crappy nylon bristles are OK for small areas but are absolutely terrible for washes of any size. So when I want to paint a streak of blue to indicate a sky, I use a basic wet-on-wet approach to compensate for the waterbrush. First I spritz the paper with a small atomizer (intended for perfume) that I also use to wet the tube paints. Then I use a clean brush (ironically, that’s when I use one of my travel Escoda brushes – because I know it’s always clean) to smear the water around more evenly. And then I use the waterbrush to give it a quick swipe of paint. The wet surface helps spread the paint more broadly. OK, so it’s not a Shari Blaukopf or Tom Hoffmann sky! But it gets the job done a little better than the waterbrush alone.

And more to the point: It fits my philosophy and lifestyle.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Summer in April at Gas Works Park

4/27/15 various inks, watercolor, Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencils, Canson XL 140 lb. paper

The last time I sketched at Gas Works Park, it was last August (August! The one month of the year in these parts when you think you can count on sun) with the Friday sketchers, and it poured most of the morning. Today it felt like a different world.

For one, Kite Hill is closed for soil work, so only the area around the Gas Works was accessible, and I couldn’t climb up the hill for the wider view that I was hoping to sketch. But with the sunshine, blue sky and 75 degrees, I’m not complaining about a thing.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Grail Has Landed: Sailor Naginata Fude de Mannen

4/25/15 Sailor Doyou ink, Sailor 1911 with Naginata Fude de Mannen nib,
Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook (sketched from vintage photo in a magazine)
If you have been reading my blog throughout my Epic journey and even before it, you know that my decision to buy my grail pen didn’t come lightly or impulsively. If you are just now joining me, this moment will seem more climactic if you go back to read the Epic series first. Regardless, I’ll say this: It was worth waiting for.

Once I made the decision to buy Sailor’s 21kt gold Naginata (“long sword”) Fude de Mannen nib, choosing the pen’s body was relatively easy. Using the Platinum 3776 Century has taught me that I prefer a somewhat large yet lightweight pen, so I looked for a Sailor body that came closest to the Platinum in dimension and weight: the “1911” (named for the year Sailor was founded) full size. The color and finish, too, were easy choices for me – I’ve always loved the elegance of matte black. The options were relatively limited, as Sailor won’t put its specialty nibs on just any body it makes. For example, rhodium trim on the matte black body would have been my first choice, but I was told that Sailor would only pair the yellow gold fude nib with the gold-trimmed version.
Sailor 1911 full-size pen, matte black with gold trim.

With the easy part done, I submitted my order to with a lengthy note to proprietor and nibmeister John Mottishaw, whom I had met back in February at the L.A. Pen Show. I had a hunch from that meeting that he would be responsive to my high-maintenance concerns, which were that the Naginata Fude de Mannen nib I had tried several times at his pen show table felt a bit scratchy to me.
Certainly the sample I’d used wasn’t unacceptably scratchy, but because I’d grown accustomed to the steel nib on my cheap but faithful Sailor “calligraphy” fude pen, which isn’t necessarily the smoothest, I’d expected one made of 21kt gold and hand-tuned by a Sailor nibmaster to be as smooth as silk. The reversed nib, in particular (which I depend on for the finest line), felt scratchier than I liked. Aware that every pen sells is “optimized for the individual writing characteristics of the end user” (based on the thorough questionnaire each purchaser completes with the order), I wrote to John, “Is it possible to make the fude nib smoother than the one on your sample pen, especially in the upside-down position? I would like to talk more about this when you are at the point of finessing the nib.”
The 21kt gold Naginata Fude de Mannen nib

The order was placed on March 14. The hard part, then, was waiting: Sailor’s custom-order nibs can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. But on April 17, before I (hardly) had time to grow impatient, I received an e-mail that my Naginata nib had been received at!

And that’s when I got a phone call from John himself. Having read the note I had included with my order, he asked about my concerns, and I reiterated my experience with his sample nib. We talked a while, and John assured me that my nib was indeed very smooth. I took his word for it. And three days later, the pen was in my hands!

The curved Fude de Mannen nib 
Other than its material, how is this new nib different from the one that comes on Sailor’s inexpensive models? The top has a lot of fancy curlicues and flourishes as befits a 21kt gold nib. But the real difference is seen from the side. While the budget models look bent at a sharp angle, the Naginata Fude de Mannen nib is curved (similar to the very inexpensive Duke 209’s fude nib). In addition, the Naginata has a rounded tip on the top surface compared to both the inexpensive Sailor fude and the Duke, which have flat tip tops.

As you know from my previous pen reviews, I generally don’t go on and on about a pen’s body and appearance; the nib is the important part. Still, if a pen isn’t comfortable to use, I’m the first to dump it, so I can’t say I don’t care about a pen’s body.
Top: the curved fude; bottom: the "bent" fude
I’ll be as elegant in words as the pen appears: This 1911 has a matte black finish as lovely to hold as it is to behold. The pen’s weight and balance are comfortable. And most important to me: The cap posts perfectly.

Oh, yes – and how does the nib write?

I needn’t have worried. It’s smoother than any pen Ive used (except perhaps the extremely broad Platinum music nib) and much smoother than my old Sailors. Upside-down, right-side up, and at every angle, it glides easily on any paper. I’m especially excited about how smooth it is when making the finest, reverse-side stroke – fountain pens invariably get scratchier as the nib gets finer. Since it operates exactly the same as the cheap Sailor fude I have known and loved for years, I pick it up and use it intuitively, and it is the same – and yet somehow different. It’s solid and muscular, while my old Sailor feels bony. It’s familiar and at the same time fresh. It’s exactly what I expected – but better.

This is a good time to mention the stellar customer service I received from John Mottishaw and his team. Although it turned out that my nib is perfect as is, I am confident from my interactions during my purchase and at the L.A. show that if I hadn’t been happy with it, they would have made it perfect for me.

The grail is home.

Updated 3:45 p.m.: (smack in the head) I almost forgot to sketch the pen! (That matte finish sure is tricky to paint.)

4/26/15 Platinum Carbon ink, VanGogh watercolors, Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook

Updated 8/22/15: Now that I’ve used it almost daily for four months, my Sailor Naginata fude has become part of my hand. I’ve discovered over time that it is a very wet-flowing pen – not a proverbial firehose like the Pilot Falcon (FA), but it definitely puts out more ink than the economy-model Sailor fude. After trying water-soluble inks as well as my usual waterproof Platinum Carbon Black ink with the Sailor Naginata, I’ve decided this pen is best used with water-soluble inks – for two reasons. When I use it with waterproof ink, the additional ink flow the nib puts out requires additional drying time before applying watercolor – additional time that I don’t want to have to wait. However, that additional ink flow is exactly what I do prefer when using a water-soluble ink, which I almost always wash with a swipe of the waterbrush to deepen shading in a sketch. The extra ink on the line deepens shading even further.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Blurring the Edges

4/25/15 Sailor Doyou and other water-soluble inks, watercolor, Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencils, Canson XL 140 lb.

For a long time, my favorite way to make delicate shading on faces has been to draw the contour with water-soluble ink and then use a waterbrush to dissolve the ink slightly. When I know I’m going to use watercolor, though, my usual choice is to draw first with waterproof ink. (The latter is probably one of the most popular techniques among sketchers.)

Today’s sketch (above) is an experiment I’m going to try more often: Instead of using waterproof ink, I drew the outlines of these trees and branches with water-soluble Sailor Doyou ink. I had to remember to save the power lines till the very end, or they would have blurred away when I sprayed the page with water, but otherwise, my process wasn’t very different from when I draw first with waterproof ink. I really like the way the tree branches diffused with the sprayed water and watercolor application. In the case of these particular trees, which had pale brownish-green foliage, cool, dark gray Doyou makes a good complement. The ink probably would have muddied the paint if I’d used a bright yellow-green.

10/29/14 water-soluble and waterproof inks, watercolor
The last time I remember doing a similar experiment was last October, when I used my long-time favorite Diamine Chocolate Brown ink with watercolors to sketch turning maple trees (at right and below). Chocolate Brown is much warmer than Doyou, so it coordinated well with orange and red leaves.

I think using water-soluble inks works best with organic subject matter that is conducive to a softer, blurry look. It’s harder to pull off with objects that require hard edges, like buildings (although I’ve certainly seen sketches of architecture done by an artist in this way to stunning effect; I wish I could remember who that was). I’m not trying to avoid waterproof inks altogether, as there are many times when I really want clean, sharp lines and distinct colors. But sometimes it’s fun to let the edges go soft and fuzzy.

10/22/14 water-soluble ink, watercolor, colored pencils
In addition, there’s a physical (chemical?) reason why I often reach for my pens containing water-soluble inks (containing dyes) instead of the one with waterproof ink (containing pigment): The former are almost always “wetter” than the latter, and I always prefer the easier flow of those wetter inks, which seem to make me draw more loosely.

Interestingly, Liz Steel has recently been blogging about using waterproof inks to draw into watercolor while it is still wet, making the ink lines blur a bit before they dry permanently. It’s a different way to get a similar effect.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Uninspired at the UW

4/24/15 Platinum brush pen, watercolor, Canson XL
140 lb. paper
Do you ever have one of those days when every sketch you attempt should have just stayed in bed?

A small group of Friday sketchers gathered at Suzzallo Library on the University of Washington campus on this blustery, spitting morning. I usually find something inspiring to sketch on campus, but that tends to happen more often when I sketch outdoors. A year ago an even smaller group met there, and while my sketches inside the library were less than inspired, my last sketch outside made the trip worthwhile.

Today I had déjà vu of last year’s debacle when I began in Suzzallo’s quiet study room, a cathedral of gothic arches. It was meant to be a simple value study that went terribly wrong.

Next I ventured over to the far end of the attached Allen library, which was new territory for me. I found plenty of large windows offering what could have been inspiring views. I picked the entryway of the HUB where a small information fair was going on. Ho-hum.

4/24/15 various inks
Eventually I wandered over to the HUB, where I have memories of many, many mediocre meals consumed in a rush between undergraduate classes back in the late ‘70s. Unrecognizable to me now, it looks more like an airport food court than a student union building. Times may have changed, along with the wall paint and food vendors, but one thing hasn’t: Students still wolf their food down during short breaks between classes, taking far less time to eat than I could take to sketch them.

After our meetup to share sketches, I realized I had just missed a bus, so I sat at the shelter to wait for the next one. Those last 10 minutes on campus turned out to be my best: a tree and a lamp post bearing the U of Washington banner. 

4/24/15 various inks, watercolor, colored pencil
4/24/15 Sailor Doyou ink
Gwen, Nancy, Anne, Peggy, Alex and me at Suzzallo Library.
Edited 4/25/15: Per Matthew's suggestion, I cropped one sketch (below). I agree that it's better! Thanks, Matthew!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

My Superpower of Choice

4/23/15 Sailor Doyou ink, Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook (from photo)
Remember the TV series “Heroes” from a few years back? It was about otherwise ordinary people who possessed various superpowers. Some abilities were of the typical comic-book variety, like flying, shapeshifting or invisibility. Some superpowers were just plain silly, like the guy who could melt toasters. Others were more useful in the contemporary world, like the little boy who could communicate directly with ATMs and computers (wouldn’t that be a useful superpower to have!).

If I could choose my superpower, there’s no doubt which one I would pick: the ability to not feel weather conditions. I could sketch outdoors in the middle of a sub-zero blizzard or in the blistering hot desert and feel as comfortable as I would in my 68-degree, climate-controlled home. (Or, for that matter, on a perfect spring day like last Sunday at the Chinese Garden.) My skin would repel rain, wind would swirl away from me, and the sun would never burn. That superpower would allow me to sketch anywhere in the world, in any season. Or just stay here in Seattle but be able to sketch outdoors every day of the year. Imagine the possibilities! Of course, I’d have to figure out how to shelter my sketchbook from the rain, but that would be easy compared to the rest.

(You can probably tell I’ve given this a lot of thought. Especially in winter. Or on a rainy spring day.)

Unfortunately, none of the TV heroes was able to choose their own superpower; they were stuck with what they were born with. If that’s the case, then my superpower would probably end up being something less useful, like the ability to sharpen pencils with a nostril. (The only pencils I use are colored, and they are notorious for destroying pencil sharpeners.)

Which sketcher superpower would you choose?

P.S. This sketch was inspired by part of a vintage photo I found in a magazine. That lovely color comes from Sailor Jentle Doyou ink, my current favorite brown.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cat’s Cradle

4/22/15 various inks, watercolor, Caran d'Ache Museum water-
soluble colored pencils, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
On the way home from an errand in Ballard, I drove on the non-arterial streets, where I often spot interesting trees to sketch. Since today is Earth Day, I had my eyes open for yet another butchered tree to add to my sketch collection. (I thought I could comment on the continual negotiation on planet Earth between humans and other inhabitants. Or some such.)

Instead I found this one: a relatively tall tree for a traffic circle (those trees tend to be short to avoid being a visual obstruction), with a slim profile and its branches somewhat spindly. Its yellowish leaves made me wonder if it’s an elm, though I’m not sure. In any case, I was struck by the wild criss-crossing of power lines all around that slender tree, which seems to be growing through the center of a giant game of Cat’s Cradle.

Happy Earth Day, skinny tree, and keep ducking those wires!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Product Review: Zebra Comic G Nib

4/21/15 India ink, Zebra Comic G dip pen nib,
Bristol board
In Part 10 of my Epic Pen Search and Discovery series, I mentioned briefly the Zebra Comic G nib, which was intended to be a Frankenpen but never got off the ground. I tried it on a Jinhao X450 and then a Nemosine, but neither worked. As is, it clearly doesn’t fit properly onto the feed of a No. 6 nib fountain pen as had been heavily rumored in the blogosphere. With more investigation, it turned out that the people who had gotten their G nibs to work with fountain pens had done substantial modification to the feeds. At that point I lost interest.

Fast-forward to this week. I’m taking an ink drawing class at Gage this quarter, and our primary drawing tool is the dip pen. The class supply list had suggested the ubiquitous Speedball sketching set of nibs and holders, which I already had and used last week. But then I remembered that I had a whole box of unused Zebra Comic G nibs that I had purchased with the sole intention of using them with a fountain pen body – but why not use them on a dip pen as they were designed? (Use something for its intended purpose? What a concept!)

Using India ink and Bristol board, I started a master copy of the angel yesterday. In class today, I finished the angel and also did the class assignment, which was the rollerskate (my first dip pen drawing from life). Those two drawings convinced me that the G nib is unlike any dip pen nib I’ve used – and I love it! I now see why so many sketchers have experimented with making it work with a fountain pen body, and I’m now more motivated than ever to find a way to make it work. (I’m even willing to do some feed hacking if that’s what it takes.)

4/21/15 India ink, Zebra Comic G dip pen nib
Apparently a favorite among manga cartoonists, the Zebra Comic G nib is just a bit flexier than my Pilot Falcon nib but has a much finer tip – probably the equivalent of a Japanese extra-fine nib. (I had tried using the Pilot Falcon for part of my Raphael copy from a couple of weeks ago, but I found it too broad to match the lines of the master.)

When flexed, the G puts out a wide range of line variation. It does railroad quickly if pushed too hard, but I find the chrome nib to have enough spring that the flex is relatively easy to control – easier than the Falcon, in fact. It’s also springier than the nibs of equivalent size in my Speedball set.

Compared to copying masters from photos, sketching the rollerskate from life was much more challenging – and also that much more fun. Imagine using that Zebra Comic G for urban sketching! But for that, it’s got to be on a fountain pen.

You guessed it: I’m on a mission. 

Line samples made with Zebra Comic G nib and
India ink on Bristol board
2/26/15 Private Reserve Velvet Black ink,
Pilot Petit1 pen, Canson XL 140 lb. paper

Monday, April 20, 2015

Green, Not Pink

4/18/15 Platinum Carbon ink, Platinum brush pen, watercolor, Caran d'Ache Museum colored pencils, Canson XL 140 lb. paper

Exactly a month ago on the first day of spring, I sketched at the University of Washington Quad, which was a glorious field of pink blossoms – in the air and on the ground. On Saturday during the Burke sketch event, I have to admit: I kept looking out the windows at the sunny day, itchin’ to get outdoors. After it ended at 2 p.m., I made a beeline to the Quad. Those huge old cherry trees had given up their pink petals weeks ago, but I didn’t mind. Dressed in their late spring and summer greens, they are just as grand.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

"Opening Day" at Seattle Chinese Garden

4/19/15 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencils, Canson XL 140 lb. paper

At today’s Urban Sketchers outing, Gabi and I were chatting about the unbelievably beautiful weather – 65 degrees with a clear, blue sky – and how today’s event should be deemed “opening day” of outdoor sketching season!

The Seattle Chinese Garden in West Seattle was, indeed, an apt location for our opening day – a gem of serene, open landscaping with a traditional Chinese courtyard and pavilion at its center. I wandered around for quite a while trying to focus on a composition I could manage. With all the lovely plantings and peonies in bloom (though past their prime now), we had a lot to choose from, and I knew I had to select carefully or I’d end up overwhelmed.

The stone carp, a Dragon Seeker, grabbed my (and many other sketchers’) attention. According to a traditional Chinese tale, said the placard, “a carp that could leap the high falls of the Yellow River. . . would be transformed into a dragon.” This carp, which was donated by a Seattle couple, was made in Thailand more than 100 years ago. The main pavilion is in the background (my composition judiciously cropped off most of it so that I wouldn’t get bogged down by the architecture and all those tiles!). Halfway through my sketch, I paused to watch the drama of a tiny bird that chased a bald eagle out of its territory! I spotted the eagle several times throughout the morning.

After enjoying the garden a bit more, I settled on a wider view of the stones, trees and bamboo plantings (as well as a couple of sketchers) surrounding a smaller pavilion.

4/19/15 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Caran d'Ache Museum
 water-soluble colored pencils, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
By the way, have you heard about Sketch Out/Loud? It’s an initiative by urban sketcher and landscape architect Richard Alomar. Working with the American Society of Landscape Architects and Urban Sketchers, Richard is promoting Sketch Out/Loud in April as part of World Landscape Architecture Month to encourage urban sketching among landscape architects, architects and designers worldwide. If you sketch parks, plazas, streets, front yards and other examples of landscaping this month, post your sketches with the hashtag #skol2015.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

An Urban Sketching Event at the Burke

4/18/15 Sailor Doyou  and Iroshizuku Kiri-same inks,
Caran d'Ache Museum colored pencil, Canson XL
Urban Sketchers Seattle enjoyed sketching at the Burke Museum so much in March that we went back for more. This time we were invited by the Burke to create an event that would encourage other visitors to sketch at the museum, too. The Burke provided sketching materials and a clothespin line where participants could hang their work. It was tough competing with 65 degrees and sunshine outside, but the museum managed to entice a few visitors indoors.

As usual, I spent most of my time hanging out with the bones – a sabertooth cat, a polar bear skull, and my favorite, the Brazilian Terror Bird. I also captured a girl sketching at a table near our clothesline “exhibit.”

Thanks to all the sketchers who volunteered today, and many thanks to the Burke for inviting us to this event! (For more photos of the event, see my post on the USk Seattle blog.)
4/18/15 Diamine Chocolate Brown and Iroshizuku Kiri-same inks, Museum pencil
4/18/15 Iroshizuku Asa-gao and Iroshizuku Tsukushi inks, Museum pencils
4/18/15 Caran d'Ache Museum pencil,
mix of gray inks
4/18/15 Iroshizuku Take-sumi and Kiri-same inks, colored pencil, copier paper
(I left this sketch of a skull fragment hanging in our "exhibit"!)

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Shady Needle

4/17/15 various inks, Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencils, watercolor, Canson XL 140 lb. paper

My weather app said it was 64 degrees in the South Lake Union area this afternoon, and the blue sky and sunshine certainly seemed to concur, but the strong wind made it feel much colder. I was hoping to sketch the lake from the park near MOHAI, but it was just too windy for me. I ducked into MOHAI’s café and sketched the park and the shady side of the Space Needle through the café windows. It’s a less-detailed version of the sketch I made more than a year ago.

March Sketchbook Bound

My March sketchbook is done!
My March sketchbook is full and bound. I rarely choose pink for the covers, but since I couldn’t resist putting one of my cherry blossom sketches on the front, it was a rare opportunity to indulge. Also on the front cover is a sketch of Maple Leaf Park when the temperature hit 70 a few weeks ago. On the back cover is the doughboy memorial at Evergreen Washelli cemetery. The theme is clear: I’m sketching outdoors again; it must be spring!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Lamp Post

4/16/15 Caran d'Ache Museum colored pencils, Platinum
brush pen, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
After seeing a gallery exhibit in Pioneer Square this afternoon, Greg and I stopped for a break at Zeitgeist Coffee. We sat looking out the windows that face Jackson Street, where I wasn’t particularly inspired by my view. I do, however, like the old, three-globed lamp posts all around Pioneer Square, one of which was standing right across the street. With colored pencils and a brush pen, I decided to do a simple value study on this lovely sunny day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


4/15/15 DeAtramentis Document Brown ink,
watercolor, Caran d'Ache Museum colored pencil,
Canson XL 140 lb. paper
I apologize in advance if this seems disrespectful of an icon intended to comfort the grieving, but the whole time I was sketching the angel statue, I kept wondering if she had been designed in the ‘70s: It’s that flipped-back Farah Fawcett hairdo. Back then, I spent a lot of time in front of the mirror with a curling iron trying to get my hair to do that, so I’m very familiar with the look.

Still chilly in the shade, Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park (where I’ve recently sketched a couple times) was quiet. With my back to the sun, bright sky above, and huge, fluffy, white clouds slowly drifting behind the angel, it felt like a sketcher’s heaven, indeed.

P.S. Below is the scene I’d really like to sketch someday, but I’m confounded by it. How do I indicate all those white grave markers without drawing or painting every one of them? And the pattern of those parallel rows on a slight incline . . . whew. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. But someday.

Yes, MiataGrrl took the top down!

Lots of Lines

4/14/15 India ink, dip pen
This is as far as I got on yesterday’s ink drawing class assignment. The image I was copying (below) is actually a woodcut print, not a drawing – which makes all those lines even more amazing. As before, I really started getting into a meditative state making lots and lots of tiny hatched lines. At one point, the dip pen nib (or quill) I was using seemed too wide for the wood cut lines, so I switched to an even finer quill. That’s about the time my neck got sore, and I had to take a break!

Speaking of which, I see lots of blue sky and fluffy white clouds out there today – a nice break from our recent run of gray and rain. Time for some outdoor sketching!

Woodcut print

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...