Friday, February 24, 2017

Doing Urban Sketching to Music

This was a first for me: Listening to music while doing urban sketching.

A friend once told me he always wears headphones while painting whether listening to music or not. He's learned it creates a barrier which causes most  people from coming up and 'bothering him' when he's painting. I understand his purposefulness, as he paints against a clock for his gallery shows, in the rare and treasured hours around the edges of his full-time employment. He works in oils, creating large, realistic panorama cityscapes. I think it is creative that he's discovered a way to create a private outdoor studio for himself simply by wearing these headphones. When he's not painting, he's a pretty gregarious guy....although I suspect he's an introvert.

Unlike my friend, I am retired from full-time employment and I only paint 'against time' when I go to an Urban Sketching outing. We USk-artists usually have two and a half hours to sketch, minus the time we spend sharing  announcements and checking in with other sketchers for a few moments, before each of us heads out alone to find our preferred sketching location for the day.

I usually, these days, don't paint or draw in order to hang work in galleries or to enter shows. (....though that's not to say, I won't do that from time to time....When I do, it's more of an afterthought rather than my original initiating purpose.) These days, the only pressure I apply to my art endeavors is my desire to learn and improve and meet challenges I have set for myself.

As an extrovert,  I am fed by interacting with people. No headphones for me. Headphones would cause me to worry that I was 'missing something.'  I experience people coming up to talk with me when I'm painting or sketching as a rest break after some intense looking at my subject during the 'getting to know you phase', followed by the intensity of making decisions about how I want to represent the present subject in my picture. A chat with a visitor can be a time to move around, and literally, get some distance from my work, and further, to find some new energy.

Today, in my mind, was extrovert-heaven! An extrovert artist's heaven!  I sat a mere few feet away from these blue grass musicians who were jamming in the 2nd. floor lobby of the Bellevue Hyatt Regency Hotel during Wintergrass. I listened to them play, and they took an occasional peek at my sketches of them. I was surrounded by and floating on and over and through a constant flow of fantastic music I could have listened to all the rest of the day... and tonight too! A couple of times musicians chatted with me during their short breaks.  I was shocked that I finished two good-size sketches (water-soluble graphite, with Micron ink pen, and water-brush) and ended the sketching all revved up, with my energy-tank topped off.

Best regards,


Joining forces at Wintergrass

by Kate Buike

This was the 4th year running that Urban Sketchers Seattle Friday group sketched at Wintergrass, the bluegrass festival in Bellevue.  However, this year we were joined by a few sketchers from Tacoma!  In fact, most of the sketchers were from Tacoma.  
missing Gloria, who left early
missing Gloria, who left early

For some reason, this year I wasn't that interested in sketching musicians jamming in the hallways.  So I took the skyway across the street to sketch "Fiori" the glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly in Lincoln Square.  Behind the spikes of purple glass is a glass panel waterfall that stretches 3 floors high.  

I did find one group jamming away and made a quick sketch in the pocket Stillman and Birn Beta.  Both Frances and Beverly sketched this group from opposite sides.

Beverly, in purple, in the background
Beverly, in purple, in the background

Thursday, February 23, 2017

One more time

I have been riding the ferries most of my life, either between Vashon and Seattle or Vashon and Tacoma. The scene I sketched this past Tuesday morning is a view I've been taking in for  years and  never tire of seeing. It brings back memories of the 1940's when most of our ferry fleet were boats built for the purpose of transporting passengers and cars on San Francisco bay. Those boats are gone now as are the classic cargo freighters of that era.

As I sit in my car at the front of the boat on a wet and windy north west kind of day, I see the ferry boats in route and the container ships at anchor and my heart tells me it's time to sketch. I squint my eyes and begin to see, to sketch this view that has for so long moved me to draw and I am reminded how grateful I am to give it one more try.

The sketch was done in a Pentalic 8x5 watercolor journal with a stadedtler pigment liner 0.3. The watercolor was added later.

Darsie Beck

Monday, February 20, 2017

March 2017 Monthly Outings

 First Saturday, March 4th 
Marine Park & Les Davis Pier

 427 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98402

Panoramic views of Puget Sound / ships / people fishing / diving
Free parking / restrooms / snack bar / covered areas on pier if the weather is seasonal (remember March can come "in like a lion")

Meet at 10:00 AM next to the snack bar / restroom kiosk

Katie Downs waterfront tavern & eatery is 2 doors down and can take our group (over 21 years old) for lunch.  They also have great views to the water and a 'tower room' surrounded by windows.  They open at 11:00 AM and welcome us to sketch there if the weather is too much on the pier.

Take I-705N from I-5 or I-509 (Marine Park is 4 miles from I-5)
to Schuster Parkway (exit ramp is LEFT) onto Ruston Way
Marine Park Les Davis Pier is just past the red fire boat on right.
Second Thursday, March 9th  Sidney Museum and Gallery
In March we will be visiting Sidney Museum and Gallery in downtown Port Orchard 
202 Sidney Ave, Port Orchard, WA 98366.  It is located just a block up from Bay St.  

The downstairs of this historic building is devoted to a fine art gallery full of interesting displays of handmade items and a wide array of wall art for sale.  The upstairs has an interesting and eclectic collection of historic photos, items, and vignettes of times past.  (If mannequins creep you out you will want to stay downstairs.)

We will meet in front of the Museum at 10 am and be allowed entry an hour before official opening at 11am.  There is no fee but donations are greatly appreciated as the Museum is staffed by volunteers.


Cross Tacoma Narrows Bridge
Continue on Hwy 16 W (Northbound)
Exit to Tremont St/Old Clifton Rd
Turn right at the end of the exit
Go through the first three traffic lights (S Kitsap Blvd; Pottery; Port Orchard Blvd)
Turn Left at the fourth traffic light (Sidney Rd).  Watch the speed limit!
As you approach Port Orchard proper the road takes a steep descent for a couple of blocks (great views of Bremerton here!)
The Museum is on the Left on the corner of Sidney and Prospect

There is quite a lot of street parking, plenty of chairs for use, and a restroom is on site.

Lunch options include Central Dock in the Market on Bay St or Amy’s on the Bay near the waterfront and library.


Third Wednesday March 15 Jewel Box Cafe Point Ruston

5107 Grand Loop, Tacoma, WA 98407
This is a large roomy place - great for sketching indoors if the weather is not cooperative. Easy to get to, great place for lunch - excellent sketching on the waterfront too. Plenty of free parking either on the street or in free parking garage less then a block away.

Let’s support venues that are sketcher-friendly by partaking of their good food while we sketch their unusual and unique interior.  So be generous, be considerate of the establishment and their customers and show the world how sketching can help everyone to be happy!

Fourth Thursday March 23   All Star Guitar

3110 Harborview Dr, Gig Harbor, WA 98335

Meet at 10 am at the shop.  Though it doesn't open until 11am it will open at 10 for sketchers.   

The shop is in the harbor above Spriros Pizza on the second floor.

We'll have a short walk to Tides Tavern for lunch!
2925 Harborview Dr, Gig Harbor, WA 98335

Ad Hoc EVENING Sketch-outing March 6, 2017

Pythian Temple

924 Broadway, Tacoma, WA 98402
across the street from the Pantages Theater

The Grand Chancellor of the Pythian Temple has given us permission to sketch at the:

 ….”Tacoma’s Grandest Secret Place”.

Meet at the front door Doors at 6:30 pm

In 1906, Frederick Heath was the architect for Tacoma’s grand Tourist Hotel which later became reconstructed into a high school. (Stadium High School).  During that reconstruction, Heath’s glorious interior was modernized and therefore, lost. Fortunately, at the same time he worked on the hotel, Heath was working on the Temple of the Knights of Pythias at 924 Broadway in the center of the theater district.  To this day, the Pythian Temple interior retains every bit of Heath’s original intent (Renaissance Revival architecture) and some today describe it as “Tacoma’s Grandest Secret Place.” The picture included here shows Castle Hall, an impressive, soaring high-ceiling room lined with gorgeous Douglas fir paneling. This landmark has become a clubhouse for the often pithy Cartoonist League of Absurd Washingtonians (CLAW) and Mark Monlux, CLAW member, illustrator and cartoonist will be our guide and join us for sketching. Some other CLAW artists may join us as well. 

(See Mark's work )

The Pythian Temple, built in 1906 for Commencement Lodge Number 7 of the Knights of Pythias, is an historic building

prepared by Kate Buike, with the input from all the hosts (Tom Bradley, Darcie Beck, Mary McInnis, Pam Jenkins).    

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Sacred Object. 2/13/17

6x9 watercolor and pen
   Coming from a more formal art background, as well as being a former photographer, I tend to see things in still life format. Urban sketching has conditioned me to put the object of my interest into a content or narrative. As I look for my main subject I am trying to be more conscious about the background and if it relates or opposes my center of focus. In this sketch I enjoyed the casual feel of a cushy chair with lap blankets while the rigid bar stools stand in the background. -Feather

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Foss again

After two beautiful days of sun and relatively warm weather, it was just too much to ask for it to continue for our sketch outing to Foss Waterway Seaport museum.  We've sketched there before.
Dee is dwarfed by this massive whale skull!
Dee is dwarfed by this massive whale skull!
Today I was interested in seeing the whale skeleton I'd heard the students at a local high school had assembled as a class project.  The "Stadium High School Articulation Team" put together this Humpback Whale!  It hangs dramatically from the ceiling and creates an equally dramatic shadow.

Once I finished it, there was still quite a bit of time left.  I wandered about trying out different compositions of collections in my head.

Shared sketches and group photo. 

more photos:

Friday, February 10, 2017

My Joy Pen

I have lots of drawing pens. Eeek. But after watching Marc Taro Holmes on his Craftsy course using a LAMY Joy Calligraphy pen, I ordered it. He uses it in tandem with the very fine carbon pen and the Pentel brush pen. I received it a week ago. It has a 1.1mm wide nib. (There are 2 more sizes, a 1.5mm and a 1.9mm) And it's a bit rounded so it doesn't catch on paper fibers. I bought a converter with it and filled it with carbon ink. Oh Joy indeed.

It's now my favorite drawing pen. Because it has that organic, live line that I don't get from Microns, Copic, etc. I love brush lines and this is the closest I can get to it but with a little bit more predictability and control.

Here are a couple of samples. These were done on watercolor papers because I like the broken quality of the lines courtesy of the semi-rough paper texture.

At Korea House, Bothell. Drawn on 3x5 Moleskine Watercolor pad.

Caffe Ladro, Bothell. On 5.5x8.5 Canson Acuarela.