Saturday, July 23, 2016

Off to the UK and the Manchester Symposium!

7/13/16 ink, colored pencils
We’re off on our first trip to the United Kingdom! Our itinerary includes London, Manchester and Bath, England, and several days in northern Wales. I keep hearing that summer in those parts is not very different from summer in these parts – mostly moderate in temperature but possibly wet and cool – so it’ll be just like home (well, except for the Edwardian castles, ancient Roman baths and warm beer).

The main event on my itinerary is, of course, the 7th International Urban Sketchers Symposium in Manchester, where I’ll be serving as one of four correspondents to report on the event. I’m mostly thrilled and excited, but I’m also a bit anxious and nervous. With two symposiums under my belt, I’m familiar with the intensity of being immersed in urban sketching for three-and-a-half solid days. I already know the fun of becoming reacquainted with worldwide sketchers and meeting ones I’ve known only online. The challenge of reporting on all of that, however, will be a very new experience.

I’ve practiced the mechanics of mobile blogging. My correspondents team and I have set up a Whatsapp group on our phones to facilitate communication. Heck, we even have a spreadsheet color-coded to the workshop map so that we can cover as many activities as possible. I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be! Wish me luck!

I won’t be blogging here while I’m gone, but on July 27 – 30, please check out the daily posts of the correspondents team on the Urban Sketchers Symposium blog. We’ll be sharing links to our posts on the Manchester Symposium Facebook page. You can keep up with the rest of my UK adventures on Instagram and Flickr. And you can also search for the hashtag #uskmanchester2016 on social media to find sketches and photos by all participants.

Happy sketching!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Immanuel Lutheran Church

7/22/16 brush pen, colored pencils, watercolor
Two distinctive and strikingly different churches dominate the South Lake Union area’s historic Cascade neighborhood. The most eye-catching is St. Spiridon Russian Orthodox Cathedral, with its deep blue onion domes. Since I’d sketched St. Spiridon about a year ago (and since I should have been home packing my bag instead of sketching with Urban Sketchers Seattle this morning and was short on time), I decided to focus on the second church: Immanuel Lutheran.

Completed in 1912, the church has been on the historic register since 1982. Although it doesn’t look like anything I’ve sketched in Europe, the round and arched windows evoke the same architectural details I saw on Gothic buildings in Spain and Germany. It’s exactly the kind of building that makes me freeze with the deer-in-the-headlights look if I try to go at it with a fine point pen. But with only an hour to sketch, I immediately pulled out my brush pen to hit it as hard and fast as possible. It’s probably a good strategy even when I can be more leisurely.

The rain earlier in the morning may have kept some sketchers away, but the seven of us who showed up shared sketches afterwards at Espresso Vivace. Those blue onion domes captured a lot of attention!

In back, from left: Marvin, Ching, Kathleen and Sue. In front: Tina, Anne and Natalie
(Thanks to John Pound for taking the photo.)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Strumming and Grilling at the Market

7/14/16 ink, colored pencils
The Queen Anne neighborhood’s weekly farmers market always brings in terrific food trucks and plenty of community seating. Last week when the weather finally started feeling like summer, we picked up our produce there in the late afternoon and then stayed for dinner.

After strolling past all the food trucks to sniff out my options, I chose Mystery Bay Seafood Catering, where I got the best grilled salmon sandwich I have ever had! As a Pacific Northwest native, I’ve eaten a lot of delicious salmon in my life, so my standards are fairly high, and this sandwich was amazing. The poor guy at the booth was all alone, but he moved briskly and efficiently among the grills and chowder pots to keep his line of hungry patrons happy.

After dinner we stopped for ice cream at another food truck. I found seats directly across from a classical guitarist who gave us delightful music to scarf our ice cream down by.

7/14/16 ink, colored pencils
Ahhhh. I know I say this every year, but it’s the truth: Summer in Seattle doesn’t get any better than this! And its short and precious. I hope you’re enjoying your summer, too.

Summer at last!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Product Review: Caran d’Ache Fancolor Pencils

7/18/16 Caran d'Ache Fancolor water-soluble colored pencils, Stillman & Birn Alpha paper

For the past couple of years, my favorite water-soluble colored pencils have been Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle pencils. Probably the Mercedes of colored pencils, they cost a pretty penny, but I take advantage of open stock suppliers to buy only the colors I use. Although the Museum color range isn’t as wide as Faber-Castell’s Albrecht Durer or Caran d’Ache’s mid-range pencil, Supracolor, that range includes an irresistible variety of earthy tones handy for urban sketching and other hues that closely align with watercolor paint pigments. The main reason I like the Museum line, however, is that they are the softest colored pencils I’ve ever used. They can be applied effortlessly and dissolve completely when activated with a little water and without scrubbing.

An assortment of 18 Fancolor pencils.
Just recently, a new (to me; I don’t think the product is new) line from Caran d’Ache came to my attention: Fancolor water-soluble colored pencils. Unlike the Museum and Supracolor lines, which are in the “professional and artist” collection, the Fancolor pencils are in the “hobby” section, which is probably the same as other manufacturers’ “student” lines.

When I’ve tried “student” grade colored pencils, especially inexpensive ones, I’ve found most to be dry, hard and scratchy in application, and water only partially dissolves the pigment. (One example is Faber-Castell’s Art Grip Aquarelle line.) I figured that the Fancolors might be like this, but colored pencil junkie that I am, I couldn’t resist getting a box of 18, just to see what they’re like. I kept my expectations low.

To my surprise, when applied, the Fancolors feel almost as soft and creamy as Museum pencils (if you blindfolded me, I’d probably have a hard time knowing the difference). When activated with water, the hues aren’t quite as rich as Museum pencils (which undoubtedly have more pigment), but they still dissolve as fully and quickly. And the colors blend just as easily.

6/21/16 Caran d'Ache Museum Aquarelle pencils, S&B Alpha
In the sketches shown here, the one of the banana and cherries (top) was done on Stillman & Birn Alpha paper, which has a good tooth to it. I’ve found it to be an ideal surface for water-soluble colored pencils, because the tooth grabs the pigment easily when applied in gradual layers, and it holds up well if water is applied. For comparison, I’m showing a still life of three heirloom tomatoes that you saw last month (at right), which was done with Museum pencils, also on S&B Alpha.

The sketch of the single heirloom (bottom of page) was done in a yellow Field Notes notebook. (Granted, that paper is probably not intended for water-soluble colored pencils, but it held up well to both the bright colors and water.) The Field Notes paper is a lot smoother than S&B Alpha, and I think colored pencils really need a little more tooth for better coverage. Still, the Fancolors didn’t do bad at all, and the white pencil included in the box of 18 helped bring out the highlights that didn’t quite pop on yellow paper as they did on white Alpha.

Although its water-activated pigment isn't quite as rich,
Fancolor dissolves as fully and easily as Museum
Despite how much I love Museum pencils, a pet peeve of mine is that their diameter is just slightly larger than conventional pencils, and I’ve had a heck of a time finding a portable sharpener that can accommodate them. (I took my search all the way to Paris and Tokyo with mediocre results. Right now, the smaller hole of this KUM sharpener seems to be working best.) So I was delighted to find that Fancolor pencils are the same diameter as conventional pencils. I can stick them into my electric pencil sharpener, and they come out with deadly sharp points, just as I like them. And yet they don’t crumble!

On the downside: If you care about archival materials, I’m assuming that the Fancolors are not. That’s typically a distinguishing trait between “professional/artist” and “hobby/student,” and Caran d’Ache tells me that Museum pencils’ lightfast colors will last longer than I will. (However, I couldn’t find anything about whether Fancolors are archival in Caran d’Ache’s product information.) In addition, the Fancolor range is relatively narrow (the largest assortment comes with 40), and the hues tend toward crayon-bright.

7/19/16 Fancolor pencils; Field Notes notebook
But how’s this for a colored pencil strategy: Get a budget-priced box of 18 or 40 Fancolors for the basics, then fill in with individual colors of high-priced Museums or mid-range Albrecht Durers or Supracolors for the more subtle or rich, earthy hues. At less than half the price of Museums (and a third less than Supracolors), the Fancolors offer a lot of bang for the buck. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Bag Dump: (Almost) Nothing New

My UK and Manchester Symposium sketch kit bag dump!

Every time we travel internationally, the time and attention I have to give to preparing depends on the country we’re visiting, the time of year, how long we’ll be there, and many other factors. For example, Brazil required a visa with a tedious and lengthy application process, but packing clothes was easy because I knew the weather would be mostly warm. I’ve been to Japan four times now, so familiarity makes packing for that country relatively fast. But boning up on my rusty Japanese reading skills with a deck of flash cards always takes longer than I think it should! It took us more time than expected to plan our itinerary for France, despite being a small country geographically, simply because there were so many places we wanted to see.

Instead of my purple daily-carry Rickshaw bag, this waterproof version is
coming with me to the UK.
Although prepping for our upcoming trip to the UK seems like it should be a snap – after all, for the first time, we don’t have to worry about language issues – logistically, it’s not the easiest country to visit, at least without a car. But one part of my prep has been the easiest ever, and that’s my sketch kit!

Three years ago when I was getting ready for my first Urban Sketchers Symposium in Barcelona, I had to write two blog posts just on my kit prep – one for watercolors, and one for everything else. As a newbie to both symposiums and sketching in general (I’d been at it for less than two years at that point), I didn’t know what to expect, and I didn’t have enough experience to have a solid kit in place. I spent many hours wringing my hands over what to bring, how much, putting things into my bag, taking them out, and putting them back in again.

With each successive travel experience my sketch kit prep got easier. By 2014 as I prepped for the Paraty symposium, the contents of my bag weren’t an issue so much as the bag itself. By the following spring, I yawned through my France kit prep – just business as usual. For Japan in the fall, I almost didn’t blog about the prep at all because I had very little news to report.
The view from the top.

Again, not much is new about my kit for this upcoming trip. Because rain is a distinct possibility, especially in London and Manchester, I’m switching to my waterproof Rickshaw Bagworks Zero messenger bag (which I decided to purchase after my fabric Rickshaw got drenched in Kyoto). I really love the fact that its design is identical to my usual purple Rickshaw Zero; I won’t have to learn a new pocket arrangement.

My Kutsuwa Dr. Ion accessory organizer that keeps all my tools upright in my
bag. (I have at least one blog reader who loves this, so I put this photo in just
for her! :-) I bought this in Tokyo, but I hope that JetPens will someday carry it.)
I’ve looked at photos of the areas I’ll be visiting and picked out a couple of colored pencils that might come in handy (like the pale turquoise blue of oxidized copper trim on old buildings), and I may ultimately change out a few others. Overall, though, the bag’s contents are all the same tools and materials I use every day (numbers refer to photo at top):

1. Two hairy and two non-hairy brush pens (waterproof and water-soluble inks); a white Gelly Roll gel pen
2. A couple of Sailor fude fountain pens (one with waterproof ink; one with water-soluble ink); a couple other fountain pens that serve as spares as well as for writing
3. A few Kuretake Zig markers for quick swipes of color; a careful selection of water-soluble colored pencils
4. Waterbrushes filled with warm and cool gray inks for shadows; sky-blue Iroshizuku Tsuyu-kusa; and Iroshizuku Chiku-rin for foliage
6. Watercolors and a mixing tray
7. A hand-stitched signature of 140-pound Canson XL paper (I’ve stitched up seven signatures for the trip, which is the number I typically fill on a trip of this length)
8. Pencil sharpener
9. Water spritzer

Included in the photo is (10) the Rhodia Rhodiarama pocket notebook that I’ll use as my travel writing/collage/photo journal. Also shown is (11) a red Field Notes Sweet Tooth notebook. That’s one part of my everyday bag that the jury’s still out on; it might get jettisoned at the last minute. Since I’m bringing the little Rhodia as my pocket notebook, I don’t really need the Sweet Tooth, but I’ve had so much fun with it lately that I almost can’t bear to leave it behind. (We’ll see how stuffed the bag feels on the night before I leave.)

Notable for its absence is the single biggest change from all my previous trips: My “Stefano” won’t be coming along. (And you know how sad I am about that, so I won’t dwell on it.)

I do have a couple of new additions: Although I’ll still be using my usual hand-stitched sketchbook signatures for my “normal” sketches, I’m bringing a spiral-bound, hardcover Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook in the 10-by-7-inch size specifically for symposium sketches. I’ll be one of four correspondents commissioned to report on symposium activities for the three days. I wanted to keep those reportage sketches separate from my personal travel sketches so that I could easily detach any that I want to donate to the annual Urban Sketchers silent auction at the symposium’s closing. Unfortunately, that book doesn’t fit in my Rickshaw, so it’s going to have to go in my supplemental tote bag for the few days of the symposium.
Poloroid Zip printer for travel journal photos.

The second new addition doesn’t have anything to do with sketching, but it’s more about my general travel journal. Before I started sketching, I used to bring along a small Polaroid PoGo printer. At the end of the day when we were relaxing in our hotel room, I’d print a few of my favorite photos on the self-adhesive Zink paper and stick them right into the pages of my journal where I wrote about experiences, observations and other travel thoughts. When I first began sketching, I left the PoGo behind because I was a little worried that I’d get lazy and go back to sticking in photos instead of sketching. By the time I realized that risk was nil (although I may have my share of issues, it’s probably apparent that getting lazy about sketching is not one of them!), the PoGo had died.

The last couple of trips, however, I’ve missed my PoGo. When I thought about the types of photos I’d glue into my journal, I realized they wouldn’t replace sketches; they were more like selfies or strange signage I didn’t want to forget. There’s a place for an instant printer even in a sketcher’s journal.

On Amazon Prime day, a friend let me know that the Polaroid Zip printer was almost half price; I jumped on it! It’s even smaller and lighter than my old PoGo.

So that’s it; nothing very exciting to report. But don’t you like that photo of my bag dump? 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Seattle Obon

7/16/16 Zebra brush pen, Zig markers

I look forward to Seattle’s Obon festival each July. A Buddhist event to honor ancestors and loved ones who have died, Obon (also called Bon Odori) is a time of celebration that includes dancing in the street, literally. 

Here’s the back story: Long ago, a man was grieving his mother’s death (forgive me if this story lacks detail; Sunday school was a long time ago). He was informed that his dead mother had reached Nirvana, and his grief turned to joy. So happy was he that he began dancing in the street (well, I’m sure it was a dirt road back then).

7/16/16 Kuretake brush pen, Zig marker
I don’t know if I got all of that story right, but I do know that the Obon tradition has managed to survive in many Japanese American communities. This fact astounds my Japanese friends and relatives, who see the tradition rapidly dying away in their own country. They find it hard to imagine that such an archaic, quaint festival is being kept alive in places like Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

When I was a kid, Obon was all about socializing with friends as we dressed up in traditional garb, participated in the choreographed folk dances and ate shaved ice. Back then, shorts and T-shirts were strictly forbidden; after all, it is a religious event at its core. In recent decades, though, rules have loosened to be more inclusive, and people of all races and religions join the fun. Baseball caps and jeans dance right alongside brightly colored kimono. A local taiko drumming group always performs, a highlight of the evening. You can still eat shaved ice and noodles, but you can also sit in the beer garden and listen to reggae or jazz.
7/16/16 Kuretake brush pen, Zig marker

As an adult, I still enjoy Obon as an occasion to see old friends and sometimes even join in the dancing. This year I enjoyed it even more because I brought my sketchbook to try to capture the color and energy. 

7/16/16 Zebra brush pen, Zig markers

Saturday, July 16, 2016

May – July Sketchbook

My May - July sketchbook is bound.
Often it seems that my favorite sketches are those that I’ve done when I’m out sketching on my own instead of with Urban Sketchers. Maybe it’s that I’ve chosen the locations myself, so I already have more interest in the subject matter. Or maybe it’s just that at group outings I spend more time socializing and less time focusing on a composition.

As I picked out the sketches to put on my newly bound sketchbook’s covers, however, I realized that two of my favorites during this period were both from USk outings. One was done on a drizzly May morning at King Street Station. The other was made at Fishermen’s Terminal when USk Seattle celebrated its seventh anniversary.

In other sketchbook news, I know just last week I said I was going to fill the Stillman & Birn Alpha softcover book that I started that day. I lied. As soon as I put the sketches from that day on my scanner, I remembered that the Alpha paper is less opaque than I like, and I’ve been spoiled by the 140-pound Canson XL I’ve been using the past couple years. I switched immediately to my softcover Beta – and remembered how much I enjoyed that paper back when I was using it more regularly. This one I will definitely fill.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Summer at Last at Lincoln Park Beach

7/15/16 inks, colored pencils
It was only 55 degrees when I got up this morning. When Urban Sketchers Seattle met at Lincoln Park, several of us were toting Polartecs or raincoats, just in case the weather changed the wrong way. (We joked that Seattle beachwear always includes Polartec.) But sitting in the blazing sun to make these sketches, all of my layers came off right away, and I was glad I wore a tank top. It’s finally summer!

I was almost finished sketching the pink and lavender vehicle parked next to some driftwood when its driver came by and drove off, so I had to fake some of the shading. The Vashon ferry in the background, which I was afraid would also pull out before I was done, took a lot longer to unload and load its long lines of cars. 

7/15/16 ink, colored pencils

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Amazon Spheres, Take 2

7/14/16 inks, colored pencils
The last time I sketched the Amazon spheres, I stood on the Seventh Avenue side of Lenora Street. The balls’ amoeba-like skeletal structure was still entirely exposed. This morning, two-and-a-half months later, I chose the Sixth Avenue side where I could stand a bit closer. Though still visible, the skeleton is now almost completely covered with a glass skin, and a few workers were way up at the top installing the last of it. 

Above them was one of the ubiquitous cranes towering over the north downtown/South Lake Union area.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Seeing the Bigger Picture with The Northwest School

7/12/16 ink, colored pencils
“At The Northwest School, students experience the exhilarating chemistry between academic disciplines and the arts. They learn to see the interdependence of all aspects of life in the real world. A bigger picture comes into focus. The school day becomes less about isolated subjects—and more about dynamic, interwoven concepts and ideas.”

Before today, the statement above was all I really knew about the Northwest School, because that’s the philosophy I read on its website. But this morning I got a brief look at what exactly that philosophy means – and wished that I had been exposed to such a philosophy when I was in grades 6 through 12!

David and Roham
The school and the Seattle Architecture Foundation invited Urban Sketchers Seattle to visit Lily Hotchkiss’s design/architecture-based art class to introduce the kids to urban sketching. In this summer session, the students are learning to design different elements through sketches and models. “I thought it would be great to start out by learning how to see buildings and sketch them,” Lily said. “I love Urban Sketchers and think this will be an exciting way to begin!

David Chamness and I talked briefly to the five students, ages 10 through 15 and from several countries, in the classroom about our experiences sketching from life and showed them our sketchbooks and sketch kits. Then we all spent the rest of class time sketching in the area of Boren and Pine in the heart of downtown.

As I expected, the kids didn’t need us at all J – they all jumped into urban sketching with gusto. Engaged and enthusiastic, some were impressively aware of art, design and architecture in our urban world. Those bright young people will someday be our architects and urban planners – and hopefully urban sketchers, too. Like I said, I sure wish I’d had the Northwest School to attend when I was their age!

Instructor Lily Hotchkiss and two of her students

In true Urban Sketchers fashion, we all threw down our sketchbooks to share at the end of class!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Musical Hat in Georgetown

7/10/16 ink, watercolor, colored pencils

For the second year, Urban Sketchers Seattle took part in the Georgetown Garden Walk, an annual event that culminates with music and art in Oxbow Park. While I enjoy gardens as much as the next sketcher, I knew from last year that they would be crowded and difficult to sketch in, so today I went directly to the park instead. Like last year, I couldn’t resist another sketch of at least the hat part of the legendary and historic Hat ‘n’ Boots. Even better, a jazz band was performing under the hat (and unlike my lunchtime experience yesterday, this band was fantastic)!

In addition to us sketchers, lots of plein air painters also found Hat ‘n’ Boots to be an inspiring subject. I loved looking around the park and seeing sketchbooks and easels everywhere.

7/10/16 ink, colored pencils

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Are They Still Tuning Up?

7/9/16 ink, colored pencils
When I go to farmers markets and other free venues to sketch buskers and other musicians, I don’t expect or need the music to be good; my entertainment comes from sketching them. That said, the jazz band that performed this noon at the Shoreline Farmers Market was probably the worst we have ever heard. As we ate our lunches from the food trucks, we kept asking each other, “Are they still tuning up? Or have they started?” They sounded like they had never played together before (and, we can only hope, will never again)!

Still, who am I to criticize? My entertainment comes from the sketching, and that part was still fun.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Stonehouse Cafe (Test 3)

7/8/16 inks, colored pencils

A tribute is being made to the memory of Florian Afflerbach for the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Manchester: a wall of sketches of cars and other vehicles. Although I have sketched several classic cars at the Greenwood Car Show, I wanted to make a new sketch in his well-known fisheye style. I wasn't sure if I'd see a vintage vehicle in time for the symposium, but somehow these things seem to turn up serendipitously. Sure enough, I met with Urban Sketchers Seattle this morning at the Stonehouse Cafe (where we sketched for the first time last fall), and parked in front was the owner's beautifully restored '53 Chevy truck.

7/8/16 brush pen, Gelly Roll gel pen

And how's this for more serendipity? I don't usually carry a blue Field Notes notebook in my bag, but this morning I grabbed it on sheer whim as I was walking out the door. In the back of the restaurant near the gazebo was a stack of Adirondack chairs -- in the very same shade of blue!

7/8/16 brush pen, colored pencils

In other news, the vintage truck sketch filled the last page of the last signature I had stitched, so I decided to break in the new softcover Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook I reviewed a while back. It's definitely heavier and thicker than a single signature of paper, but the same number of pages takes up less than half the horizontal space on a bookshelf as a handbound volume. The Alpha paper may end up feeling too flimsy after using 140-pound paper all this time, but since I'm not using watercolor as much as I used to, the 100-pound Alpha may do just fine. I'm determined to fill the book and see how it goes. (Not while traveling, however -- I still plan to hand-bind sketches from my upcoming trip to the UK.)

(This is test 3 of mobile blogging. I uploaded images using the Blogger desktop dashboard, which is horrible on my tiny phone screen, but that seems to be the only way I can retain the full image size. Then I switched to the Blogaway app on my phone and typed the text. I'm going to add hyperlinks later from the desktop, since there doesn't seem to be a way to do that from this kludgy app. Glad I don't do this for a living.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Meridian Park (Test 2)

7/6/16 Technalo pencil, colored pencil
Here's my second try at blogging remotely. I've simplified the process a bit by giving up on the CamScanner app, which seemed like such a good idea. Unfortunately, images couldn't be resized, and the default size was very small. For this sketch of picnickers at Meridian Park, I simply took a photo of the sketch.

I got several good suggestions from readers about dictating into the phone instead of writing, but my brain is wired so directly to my keyboard that I realized I couldn't think and dictate at the same time. ;-) But this little inexpensive and portable Anker keyboard speeds up phone blogging immensely!

I think I'm good. Ready or not, Manchester symposium, here I come (in three weeks exactly!).

Edited: Now that I'm in the Blogger editor from my desktop, I see that the image still can't be resized -- so the problem is not with CamScanner; it's with Blogaway (the third-party Blogger app I am using instead of the buggy Blogger app). Arggh. Back to the drawing board.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Bings and Rainiers

7/5/16 colored pencils
After strawberries, my favorite early-summer fruit is cherries. Rainiers have the most intense flavor and are more fun to color – that lovely blush of red-orange on yellow. Bings, however, are an indescribable, near-black shade of red that required four colored pencils to try to capture, and I still didn’t get it dark enough. So shiny and sensuous, cherries were the only sketchable bright spot on this gloomy, wet afternoon.

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Flag Next Door

7/4/16 inks, colored pencils
The man next door is eccentric, nosy, crabby and prone to annoying behavior. I won’t go on and on (because I certainly could), but to give you just one example: Whenever our other neighbor’s Labrador starts barking, he goes out to the yard, stands by the fence and yells, “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” which only makes the dog bark more. His yelling is far more annoying than the dog’s barking.

The man next door is also the most patriotic person on our street, if patriotism is demonstrated by display of the U.S. flag. Every Memorial Day, Flag Day, Veteran’s Day and certainly Independence Day, he puts his flag up in front of his house, without fail. He has done so for every flag-appropriate holiday in the 28 years that we’ve been neighbors.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July celebration!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Playing Tourist

7/2/16 ink, colored pencils
Yesterday we had visitors in town, so we got to play tourists. One of our favorite places to take people who haven’t seen Seattle before is the Ballard Locks. Full of boats, aged-but-still-useful technology and a fish ladder for salmon, the Locks are a quintessential Seattle experience, especially in the summer. An old-time jazz band with vocalist were giving a 4th of July concert in the park, so we stopped for a few minutes to enjoy the music. Usually if we’re entertaining guests, I try to restrain myself from taking time to sketch, so I jumped at this opportunity for a quick one.

Later in the afternoon we made our rounds to another favorite stop for visitors: Gas Works Park. Although I was just there a couple of weeks ago, I never tire of it – the sights of Lake Union and the downtown skyline; the rolling green knolls of Kite Hill; those crazy Gas Works that present a never-ending challenge to sketch. As we sat on a shady bench for a break after walking through the park, I grabbed the opportunity for another quick sketch, this time of a small part of the Gas Works and the TV towers of Queen Anne Hill. (I sat on the very same bench to sketch a more northerly part of the same view last month.)

7/2/16 brush pen, colored pencils, ink

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Flower Vendors

6/8/16 ink, colored pencils
Yesterday the farmers market sketch I showed was about values on toned paper. Today it’s all about color – two sketches of flower vendors at markets in June. 

Usually by this time of year my market sketches would be of buskers, my favorite summer sketching subject. I’m not sure if I’m going at the wrong times or to the wrong markets, but I haven’t seen any besides PK Dwyer. It’s been a great season for strawberries and early peaches; I hope it’s not a bad season for buskers. 

6/16/16 inks, colored pencils, watercolor
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