Thursday, August 27, 2015

Goose Neck

8/27/15 ink, watercolor

Finally caught up on work, I took a leisurely break on my way home from a meeting in Shoreline this morning at Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park. Back in April was the first time I drove by the war memorial section of the cemetery. Completely daunted by the rows and rows of identical white markers, I had no idea how to approach such a sketch. Today when I drove around the area again, I still didn’t have a clue, but the lovely day was inviting, as was the serenity. I’m not completely happy with the way the sketch turned out, but it gives me something to use as a baseline for the next time I attempt it. 

8/27/15 Kuretake brush pen
Driving out of the park, I spotted a flock of Canada geese grazing in the grass and sipping from puddles. I pulled over and quietly walked over to them, brush pen in hand. Capturing that graceful S-shaped curve in a goose’s neck as it bent to take a drink – that made me happy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


8/25/15 Koh-i-Noor Tri-Tone colored pencils,
Cretacolor Nero pencil, ink

(sketched from calendar photo)
With all my travel this month, I’m busier than usual with work this week, trying to catch up (or keep ahead). The smoky air from the wildfires has finally cleared, so it was very tempting to sneak out for a sketch, but I resisted.

Instead, I took a 15-minute break to sketch another hummingbird from my World Wildlife Fund calendar. Its tiny wings and tail are beating so fast in the photo that they are a mere blur. The chestnut-breasted coronet, says the calendar, “defends its feeding territory pugnaciously.” I’ve seen nature programs confirming that hummers, sweet and delicate as they may appear, are vicious fighters. In fact, I’ve seen evidence of that myself among the few hummers we occasionally see from our backyard.

Sketching it was a good break. I felt invigorated by its pugnacious energy. 

Monday, August 24, 2015


8/24/15 ink, watercolor, colored pencil
Around this time of year each year, I start seeing signs of the season of Denial. That’s when I’m not ready to see summer come to an end, but the trees keep reminding me that fall is closer than I want to believe it is.

This year, however, I’m OK with letting summer go, if only because it was one of the longest on record. Since June we’ve enjoyed week after week of sunshine, clear skies, and record-breaking heat and consecutive rainless days. This isn’t as good as it sounds – drought and treacherous wildfires continue to devastate the region. Even as I feel terrible for the loss of life and damage this weather has caused, I’m also grateful for and joyful about the best outdoor-sketching season ever.

I’ve been seeing trees tinged with yellow and orange for several weeks now. Instead of turning, some look downright scorched. These maples in my neighborhood near Lake City Way are still mostly green, but the tips of the branches have that tired, faded look. Weary of all the heat and sun, they’re ready for some good ol’ Pacific Northwest rain. So am I. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Hummer of a Sunday Afternoon

8/23/15 Koh-i-Noor Tri-Tone colored pencils, Cretacolor Nero pencil, ink
(sketched from calendar photo)
It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon (it’s been so long since I’ve had one, I almost didn’t recognize it) – my favorite time to experiment with different media or tools. The other day I was digging through my supplies looking for something else when I stumbled upon my Koh-i-Noor Tri-Tone colored pencils. I experimented with them for a while last year but eventually took them out of my everyday-carry bag. They’re so much fun – it’s time to put a few back in.

Today I used them in my studio to draw from a calendar photo. Only two colored pencils were used: one with green/yellow hues and one with red/pink/yellow hues (the black lines were made with a Cretacolor Nero pencil, with a dot of ink for the eye). Since the tri-tone colors are mixed up within the single pencil lead, you cant control which color youll get on any particular line. They all blend into an interesting mix.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


8/22/15 inks, colored pencils
I’ve sketched quite a few buskers in the past few years, but the one I sketched this morning at the University District Farmers Market was a first: a didgeridoo player! I sized up the didgeridoo twice to make sure I got the proportion right – it really was a bit longer than the player was tall. It must be a tiring instrument to play because the musician kept taking lengthy breaks between songs.

8/22/15 inks, colored pencil
I wish I had captured the young classical violinist more accurately – this preteen girl was much cuter than the way she looks in my sketch. Actually, the most notable part about this sketch is her shadow. You’ll notice that it’s coming out toward me, which means I was looking directly into the sun as I sketched. Like most sketchers, I don’t like sketching with the sun in my eyes, but today, the sun is an eerie orange ball that you could look at with unshaded eyes. That’s because of the heavy layer of smoke in the air from all the wildfires still out of control in central and eastern Washington (as well as several other western states). We’re used to overcast skies here, but today’s sky looks very different and spooky. Three firefighters lost their lives this week battling those blazes. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Bradner Gardens is Full of Surprises

8/21/15 ink, watercolor, colored pencil
Proposing a sketch outing at a location I haven’t been to before can be risky, but the photos looked inviting, so I took a chance on Bradner Gardens Park. Along with the other Friday sketchers, I was delighted to find this well-designed pea patch to be full of surprises.

For one thing, there’s a windmill, which I sketched first from my car while the morning was still a little chilly. It was already warming up by the time I finished, so I got out of the car and captured one of the many imaginative scarecrows populating the gardens. Dressed in a corporate shirt and tie (and fly unzipped), this scarecrow was apparently inspired by a former Seattle mayor, Kate had heard. (We both noted that the scarecrow has two faces – one on either side of his head! Hmmm.)

The gardeners who work this pea patch have so many luscious flowers and vegetables growing that I wandered for quite a while trying to choose one for my last sketch. The gorgeous green peppers near the restroom caught my eye – the shapes and colors so vibrant. 
8/21/15 ink, watercolor, colored

8/21/15 ink, watercolor, colored pencil

Speaking of the restroom, I have to show you the surprise I found there. From the outside, it looks like your typical drab, unattractive concrete box often found in city parks. But inside was a mosaic covering the walls with huge insects and other garden motifs. The wall placard said that the mosaic was made and donated by Friends of Bradner Gardens volunteers.

8/21/15 inks, Zig marker, colored pencil
Although technically this last sketch (at right) wasn’t made in the gardens, I finished it this morning before the others arrived for the meetup, so I’ll include it in this post. Wandering around the gardens’ periphery, construction noise got my attention, so I walked around the block to see what was going on. A backhoe was busy digging a hole in the street. I could tell that the work was nearly done, so I had to hurry, and sure enough, it finished a few minutes later. The funny part was that afterwards while I was still standing there coloring the backhoe, the operator came over to see what I was doing. Concerned that I was a neighbor taking notes so that I could complain about the dust or noise, he seemed relieved that I was only sketching. He laughed and said I had made him look skinnier than he really is!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Table Sketch and MSP to SEA Randomness

8/19/15 ink, colored pencils
As you know, I don’t have much of a track record for sketching my meals, even when I have every intention to do so. Unlike many sketchers who routinely sketch their food, I’m always too hungry and impatient. During dinner one evening at an Italian restaurant in Minneapolis, however, I came as close to sketching a meal as I will probably ever come (below, right). The table was covered with white paper, the crayons were provided, and the food hadn’t yet arrived: the ideal setup for sketching the wine.

8/18/15 crayon
To round out this last post of trip randomness, I’ll end with two sketches of fellow travelers. Instead of the mandatory airport sketch of a plane waiting at the gate, the poor, tired dude (above) trying to nap at MSP was a lot more fun to sketch.

Once aboard Sun Country flight 283, I did my usual sketches of nearby passengers. The guy in seat 19C (below) was noteworthy mainly because of what I eventually learned about him: He’s a sketcher, too (a left-handed cartoonist, at that).

8/19/15 ink

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