Sunday, December 4, 2016

Santa among the couches

The holiday sketch outing for Urban Sketchers Tacoma was back to The Old Cannery in Sumner.  We'd sketched there last December, too. There is just so many choices of interesting subjects.  I got there early and wandered around for 20 minutes, trying to choose subjects.

I finally decided to sketch this amusing moose head.  It moves and talks!  It is triggered by someone walking under the arch, so I was treated to the full range of its conversations while I sketched it.

I thought the Santa statue situated in the middle of the recliners and couches portrayed the "gestalt" of this place!   I included the "Mattress Gallery" sign for full effect.

We shared our sketches around one of the dining tables and had a group photo.

A few more photos here:

Friday, December 2, 2016

A unique experience

This was both the first evening sketch outing for Urban Sketchers Tacoma as well as the first time we've been involved in sketching for a cause.  We were invited to sketch last night at an event commemorating World AIDS Day hosted by the Pierce County AIDS Foundation (PCAF).  We didn't really know what to expect or what there might be to sketch.

This table for "Butterfly Knots" caught my eye.  "The butterfly has a symbol of transformation.  For those grieving a loss, the chrysalis phase of a butterfly represents the...turning inward.  The healing is reflected in the metamorphosis phase.  Butterfly Knots are written and tied with intention.  It is an act that honors a vow and sets a firm promise.....Write the name of a loved one lost to HIV/AIS.  Write of the loss experienced from this pandemic.  Write a message of hope for our community.  Write an action you intend to take".  

Next is the "Altar of Remembrance".   

We shared our sketches with each other and with the event attendees after the program finished.  There was much positive response to adding this experience to the event.  

Once the event was over, we had an opportunity to sketch in the Washington State History Museum.  I chose this display about "Hooverville" which was a homeless camp in the early 1930's.  I was still thinking about how sketching can bring attention or focus to the problems of the day.  The stock market crash on Wall Street resulted in massive unemployment in the Pacific Northwest. A squatters settlement of scrap materials was one of the results.  I thought about the parallels with the current issues of homelessness. 


Photos from AIDS Day event & the Museum:

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Train Trip

Some months ago I realized the AmTrak station in Centralia was just a block from a McMenamins.  I made a plan to take the train for a sketch outing there. I've not been on an AmTrak train since I was a teenager so I thought it would be a new experience. Yesterday I finally got around to it.  A couple sketching friends came with me.

The first half hour of the trip I was alone, Tukwila to Tacoma.  I sketched the woman sitting across from me.  Then I met up with my traveling companions at the Tacoma station.

Me, Frances, Pat at the Centralia Train station

First, we sketched in the old fashioned train depot.  It was small but had the Victorian era details.     It was built in 1912, a bit out of the Victorian period but it still has the details.

Then on to the McMenamins Olympic Club hotel. 

If you don't know about McMenamins, they are a hotel and restaurant company that buys historic old buildings and renovates them into amazing venues.       They serve the communities in which they reside by opening their facilities to the public.  The locations often have a movie theater or a pool, or both, and these are available for the public to use.  All of the locations are unique with art, painting and decor related to the area in which they reside.  Each of them is eminently sketch-able!  We've sketched 2 or 3 times at the Six Arms on Capitol Hill, Seattle. 

From the website: "Our goal is to keep the past in the present, to celebrate and connect us all with the people and events that have helped define each McMenamins property. To that end, we research, interview and compile materials to identify and commemorate our properties and their surroundings. Our best historical finds often come from you!" 

It was predicted we would have rain in the afternoon so I made my first sketch of McMenamins outside.  This is the view from the street.  The greenery is hung for holiday decor.

After sketching outside for about an hour, I was happy to sit by the wood stove to warm up.  This heats the dining and pool rooms!  There was a large stack of wood next to it.

We had our lunch there and shared the sketches we'd done so far.

My final sketch was of the large sign in the "New Tourist Bar".  I didn't know it at the time, but Greenalls is a brand of gin.

All of the staff of the Olympic Club were delightful.  I was allowed to go into the hotel section in order to complete the scavenger hunt and get another stamp for my McMenamins Passport book!  And they stamped our sketches too!

Now I'm planning a trip to the Spar Cafe in Olympia to get that last stamp in the section!  This will be a drive, though.  I checked into going by train:  in addition to the travel time by train, it is an hour bus ride from the station, which is actually in Lacey!  I only takes me an hour to just drive there.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Ad Hoc December 1

Ad Hoc Sketch outing: World Aids Day observance
                  Thursday, December 1, 6-7:30 pm


Washington State History Museum
1911 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, WA

The Pierce County Aids Foundation (PCAF) has invited us to have an evening sketch-out during the annual observance of World Aids Day on Thursday, December 1st.

The program is at the Washington State History Museum, from 6-7:30 pm.

This event is in remembrance of all who’ve died of AIDS and to support for those living with HIV.

The sketching opportunities:

    There will be the attending general public, a speaker, visual and performance arts, an interactive reflection activity, and an altar in the style of Dia de Los Muertos.
    We’ve also been given the opportunity to continue sketching the Museum exhibits from 7:30-9:00 pm.

There is parking in the lot by the Museum for $4.00 for the evening, or, free parking at the Freight House Square garage and use of the free trolley which stops in front of the Museum.

Per event website:  "event guests can pay the  minimum rate of $4 for 2-hours but can remain parked throughout the evening with no further charges)"

This will be USk Tacoma's first (but not last) evening sketch-out.
If you plan to attend, please reply in a Facebook comment on this event's listing, or in a comment to this blog post.

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Bit About Me

Hi, my name is Pat Graham and I'm just getting my feet wet as a correspondent here on the blog. I've been a sketcher of some sort for all my life. I honestly can't remember a time when I wasn't drawing on backs of discarded paper in the waste basket at my grandparents home or in sketch books purchased from the local art supply store. Art instruction was offered in abundance in the public schools throughout my formative years and I also took semi private lessons on the side as a youngster. As a partially deaf child, being able to express myself through art was a saving grace! I can honestly say that, too, because it became my way of understanding the world around me. It was always my desire to earn a living using my artistic abilities in some form or fashion when I grew up, so I immersed myself in commercial art training after graduating HS and worked in that field for a number of years. On the side I also studied fine art and enjoyed doing commissioned portraiture.

Fast autoimmune disease started to interfere with my eyesight and I gave up art for a decade, at which time I was able to have a series of surgeries that helped restore some of my visual clarity. Of course, I picked my best friend, ART, back up again and took off running! Fine art and Urban Sketching have been my focus as of late and I'm enjoying myself completely. Getting together with the local sketching group offers a wide assortment of locations to meet up at, get to know other like minded folks and sometimes enjoy lunch, too, after we sketch. The laid back atmosphere allows for all levels of abilities to participate with ease - I love that attitude of inclusion.

I encourage anyone who would like to try their hand at drawing to join with us and give it a try! Once you get used to it, many find the process meditative and soothing. I always say that art puts me in a 'zone' like no other - one that I return to again and again eagerly.

Below, you'll find some of my works, sketching and fine art, created post eye surgery. I hope to meet you sometime!

Pat Graham

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Tacoma Urban Sketchers had a bit of a hiccup.  We met at Tully's in the Theater & Antique district to talk and sketch prior to moving to our primary venue, Sanford and Son Antique Mall, at 11 am.  However, it didn't actually open until noon.  It was a sunny day so I decided right after our meeting at 10 to sketch near the Spanish Steps as I'd missed that outing earlier this year.

This is the former Elks Lodge.  It will one day be a McMenamins facility.  I really can't wait until they open it as their restorations are amazing.  It will have a hotel, live music venue, 3 restaurants, a brewery and a rooftop garden.  Based on my visits to other McMenamin facilities, it will provide almost unlimited sketching subjects.  But right now it is in poor shape.

It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  McMenamins is known for rescuing historic buildings.   The Elks Temple was built in 1915-16 and was designed by É. Frère Champney in the second Renaissance Revival style.

Once the antique mall opened, I made straight for the big tooth and called "dibs".  It's really rather grotesque but I like it. If you want it, it will set you back $1,655 ! Beneath it is one of two antique barber chairs that will be in the next auction run by the store. Sitting in the chair, for no apparent reason, is an "e" from a sign. They've both been there at least a year as they were there the last time we sketched in this location.

We met up in the lower level of 3 floors to share sketches.

We had lunch at DiLoreto's Downtown Cafe, also on the lower level.  Very nice people and a good lunch! 

More photos

by Kate Buike

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Third Wednesday December 21 Artist and Craftsman Supply

Third Wednesday December 21 Artist and Craftsman Supply
616 St. Helens, Suite 102, Tacoma, WA 98402


Meet at 10 am inside the front door of the store.   It is scheduled to open on Nov 25th.  It is a comprehensive art supply store that is much needed in Tacoma.  There are branches in Seattle and Portland.  It is located in an historic building.  

Close by lunch options at Stink (sandwiches and cheese)
628 St Helens Ave, Tacoma, WA 98402


B-Sharp cafe
706 Opera Alley, Tacoma, WA 98402


Parking:  An easy place to park is the paid lot by the History Museum, then hop onto the trolley and get off at the Theater District trolley stop. From there, though, it's several blocks, uphill, to the store.  But that way folks aren't worrying about 2 hour parking or parking tickets. Paid Street parking with a 2 hour limit.