Friday, July 31, 2015

Sailing into the record books at Shilshole

I joined the Friday Sketchers in Seattle this morning, from USk Seattle. As the Seattle Urban Sketchers Ad Hoc outing began today, Seattle had already broken two incredible all-time records:  the most number of 90-degree days in a year yesterday. Ten! And we are likely to tack on at least one more today, with a high of 91 in the forecast, and the heat advisory has been extended into Sunday. It’s not only been hot, though, it’s also been extremely dry.

At 10:00 am this morning our situation was not so extreme, however. At Shilshole Bay Marina we found shady spots and cool breezes as we met near the water near the Lief Ericson monument.
Micron pen, the perfect sketchbook and watercolor in the shade. 
Unofficially, we reached approximately 83°F by the time we shared our sketches at 12:30.
A few urban sketchers enjoying a perfect summer morning at Shilshole Marina. Sketches by Michele Cooper

Blue Skies and Breezes - Looking across the Marina to the Sunset West Condominiums - Michele Cooper
A few more sketches came in after this shot.
USk Seattle Sketchers Ad Hoc outing at Shilshole Marina. A few others are missing from the photo.
Update: On my way home this afternoon, the outside temperature on my car dashboard read 91°F and 93°F as I drove north on I-5 through a few of our little micro-climates. It was at least that high for a while at home in Marysville while I ran errands this afternoon. Sketchers who live in Seattle will have to report how it went for them this afternoon.

Monday, July 27, 2015

La Conner and the new Boardwalk with Anacortes Sketchers

There was a special ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 23rd at the Washington Street-end to celebrate the completion of the La Conner Boardwalk. Today, the Anacortes Sketchers went there to sketch and explore. 
LaConner has always been an inspiring place to paint: quaint shops, the "rainbow bridge", fishing vessels and the boardwalk. I have been going there for decades to shop, sketch and browse. Previously, the boardwalk consisted of the extended decks from some of the shops and a small wooden landing or two with public access. But now, a major facelift has taken place all along a substantial part of the waterfront.
I have to go back! Because, instead of sketching the boardwalk itself, I blithely used it to provide greater access to views across the channel!
Fish processing shed across the channel. Sketch by Michele Cooper

Sunday, July 26, 2015

World Wide Sketch Crawl--A day in Olympia, Washington

Saturday, July 25, 2015
Sketch Crawl AM: the Legislative Steps and Olympia Capital Campus
I recognized Jane sketching at the base of the legislative dome.
It took me almost 3 hours to travel from where I live in North Marysville to the Washington State Capital Campus in Olympia, where Seattle Urban Sketchers were to meet at 10 AM. Roadwork, detours, two previous accidents, etc.- it's a whole other story. Needless to say, I arrived late.

Knowing that we would be sketching at the Olympia Farmers' Market later in the day, I parked my car there and rode the DASH shuttle bus to the meet up spot.

We are taking part in the 48th World Wide Sketchcrawl.

As I got off the bus, and stood there for a moment to orient myself, a voice in the air called my name. There was Kate, choosing a spot to sketch near the bus stop in case more sketchers arrived. She had all the information needed, including helpful maps of the local area that she had printed out ahead of time. We also got new badges that Kate had prepared just for this occasion, The 48th Quarterly World Wide SketchCrawl Day in Olympia
Thank you, Kate and Jane!
Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook, Micron pen, watercolor and a special badge!

I knew I had an abbreviated amount of time to sketch at the first location, so I chose a less challenging viewpoint that I had spotted on my bus ride up from the market.

It was amazing to think that people all over the world were sketching simultaneously today. While I was waiting for everyone to arrive for a group photo, my cousin from nearby Tumwater stopped by and surprised me! It was a nice sized group (at least 20 or more) from far and wide who shared their sketches at the end of the morning. Time for lunch!

Sketch Crawl PM: Olympia Farmers' Market
We moved straight down Capitol Way from the Legislative Building to the Farmers's Market for lunch and the afternoon half of the sketchcrawl. (See DASH map above)
The sign says "Make half your plate fruits and vegetables". Easy enough to do if you order a Gyro and Horiatiki Salata (Greek village salad) from Pithos Greek food stand.  Each food stand has at least one large picnic table for its customers.
I spent a lot of time sketching my lunch while the band played on stage.
Some of us brought our lunch over to the huge covered stage and dining area in the center of the market, where Tracey Hooker and his band provided the day's live entertainment. After sketching my lunch, then eating it, I only got a few speed sketches of the bass, trumpet and guitar players just as they finished their set.  It wasn't until later that I discovered that Tracey D. Hooker is a Grammy award winning trumpeter! I did get to see Tina's sketches of the performers before we said farewell.  I have long admired Jane's sketches of the market and now I can say it's one of my favorite places to experience as well.
Most of the sketchers drifted off during the afternoon to resume their own itineraries, but three hardy souls met in the little corner park to share our sketches at 3:00.
PM sketches shared in the little park at the market
I trust that all those taking part around the world have also enjoyed their own experiences today during the 48th Quarterly World Wide Sketchcrawl!
Saturday, July 25, 2015

Friday, July 24, 2015

Relics and Rain at Salty's on Alki Beach

Seattle Urban Sketchers' Ad Hoc outing started out with an overcast sky at Salty's on the Alki shoreline. Built over the water on its own pier, the restaurant is known for exceptional views of the Seattle skyline. Bronze salmon sculptures swim among relics of the old West Seattle Bridge in the aquatic-looking landscape at the entrance to the parking lot. The idea of recycle, repurpose and reuse has come to a whole new level. Owner, Gerald Robert Kingen calls it his "urban reef" in this video tour.

I barely noticed when the rain began as I stood halfway up the covered entry steps looking down at the giant lobster, a bronze sculpture by Lee Emmons. A pipe full of recycled water occasionally creates a "bubbler", splashing on the rocks nearby. More pieces of the old bridge form a habitat for the lobster as well as for the giant bronze crabs on the other side of the steps.
Sometimes your subject just stares right back at you.
Sketchers in Singapore enjoy famous chilli crab as I sketch a bronze lobster at Alki Beach. Thanks for the badges, Kate!
We all got badges, expressing solidarity (and a little bit of envy) for fellow sketchers attending the Singapore Symposium this weekend. Just for the occasion, I cracked open a new Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook and used my DYI Altoids travel kit.

Kate and I decided to wait out the rain and warm up inside the cafe. We got a table at the window and Marvin joined us as we sketched the misty atmosphere from our elevated view.
It seemed unfair that the rusty pilot house of the Kalakala was beached at the edge of the parking lot, forced to gaze through empty portholes as a tourist excursion sailed out toward two massive cruise ships on the opposite shore.

Once the #1 tourist attraction in Seattle, the Kalakala remained an icon to many of us who grew up in the area. I remember seeing her underway in Lake Union and moored there at the north end. Gabi wrote an article and sketched from a kayak when it was moored in Commencement Bay. The Urbanist documented the last ride of the Kalakala in January of 2015.
Much like the skeletal remains of a prehistoric bird, the pilot house, piston and drive shaft of the Kalakala are strung out along the edge of Salty's Restaurant parking lot.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

EDiM 30 and EDiM 31 - Birdfeeder-Eggs-Nest

Still catching up with EDiM
Tap or Click for Higher Resolution Photo
Interesting coincidence:
EDiM 30- A birdhouse or birdfeeder
I saw this birdfeeder at our son's home in New Mexico and sketched it with our granddaughter. Then last Monday, I was with the Anacortes Sketchers in Conway, WA, and saw another one just like it. Before this, I had never before seen any quite like these. I wonder if they are antiques.

EDiM 31 - Eggs
I LOVE eggs! Everything about them: How they look, how they feel, how they taste, what you can make out of them and drawing, sketching, painting them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Nutmeg, the Balloon Fairy

Nutmeg, the balloon fairy, making a red puppy for Quinn
Yes, I did promise to post the entire sketch spread with the nest and eggs and etc. But I forgot that there was an important lunch date with my granddaughters and daughter-in-law in Bellingham today. Besides, after lunch we went to the Fairhaven Village Green and there was music, dancing, face painting and a balloon fairy.

I got out my Micron pen and did manage to find one more page available in my Pentalic Aqua Journal. I tried to draw discreetly, but she's a fairy and she caught me! I pretended that I wanted to buy something for my great granddaughter, but she knew what I was doing. Fairies are clever that way.
Bellingham Balloon Fairy, Nutmeg, at the Fairhaven Village Green

Bellingham Balloon Fairies live here.

Quinn watches closely as Nutmeg works her magic.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

More From TerraBella

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I had another sketch from TerraBella, a wedding venue where the beautiful grounds and buildings are all set up for outdoor weddings. One of the buildings is called "Nest". It's exclusively for the bride and her party. A quiet place for them to rest before the ceremony.
Steps leading up to the porch and what I discovered in "Nest"

I didn't post this one yesterday because I had an idea!
Two reasons I didn't post my pencil sketch from yesterday:
  1. I had an idea! I thought I might have fun using my watercolor pencils (which were at home) and couldn't wait to try them on this's so curvilinear!
  2. It was only a scribble of a pencil sketch and needed color. (besides, I got an extra 15 minutes from the sketchers before we shared our work and I decided to use them to finish the color on the Airstream.)

Nest Eggs-Original watercolor by Michele Cooper
I am putting this on the EDiM Day 31 page in my sketchbook. Still trying to catch up! But wait! There's More! I am working on another section of that page and will post the whole spread tomorrow.

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Midsummer Day's Dream

Words cannot describe it! Anacortes Sketchers were invited to visit TerraBella in the countryside of Conway, WA, this afternoon. This delightful wedding venue has a garden and properties cared for by the equally delightful owners, Caroline and Loren. I took 79 actual photos and double that in mental images that I will never forget.
There is something charming through every vista and around every corner, including the owner, Caroline.
All this is enjoyed by the owners, of course, but intended as the perfect setting for an outdoor wedding. I imagine those married here this summer are pinching themselves to make sure they haven't just been dreaming.
Here's the full spread in the last two pages of my sketchbook.
These are the separate compositions:
The Airstream sits behind the flower bed, door and windows open in the breeze.

Fresh linens drying in the summer sun. Heavy peach boughs propped with stakes.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Street Yoga?

Out sketching at Occidental Park with the Seattle urban sketchers yesterday, I saw this row of chairs and tables leading all the way back to the Bamba Fusion food truck. Zoom in for a closer look and you will discover a group of men practicing some unusual and odd postures. Is it possible that there's a new movement of street yoga that I don't know about?

If so, I believe that I have deciphered the names of some of the poses: (left to right)
  1. Deodorant check
  2. Hair of the Dog
  3. Lean and Read (balance)
  4. Centering head in circle (back)
  5. Hokey Pokey-right foot in (front)
  6. Street Lamp
  7. Hands Free Text and Walk Stretch (advanced)
  8. Wedgie
As break dancing is to ballroom, street yoga could prove a grittier alternative to traditional methods.
(The chair yoga pose on the far right is "Sketcher")

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Occidental Tourist

The Seattle Urban sketchers Ad Hoc meetup took place at Occidental Park this morning. If you've ever been to the Pioneer Square district in Seattle, you may have discovered this tree lined square on the back side (east) of the historic Pioneer Building

I found myself smiling throughout the morning, affected by the upbeat atmosphere created by the combination of fantastic summer weather, Jambalaya Brass Rock music played by Tubaluba (one of the free lunchtime concert bands), and the mix of people in the square.

I imagined how a tourist might experience this place:
One might look up through the trees and see the top of the Smith Tower, once the tallest building on the West coast.
The top of the Smith Tower from Occidental Park-7/17/15
The shop front of Arundel Books is a reminder that Seattle is "the most well read city in the U.S." according to Amazon. I finished my sketch just as they opened the shop.
Arundel Books opened for business as I finished my sketch.
With only  twenty minutes left before sharing our sketches, I hurried into position to speed sketch the tuba player. Nearby, a couple "of a certain age" got up and broke into "buck jumpin", a New Orleans style of dance with bouncy, intricate footwork. They were smiling, too.
Rough Sketch, Tuba Player

The word play in my title ironically alludes to the novel "Accidental Tourist" by Anne Tyler. It's about Macon Leary, a travel writer who hates both travel and anything out of the ordinary.  But you would know that as one of those "well read" Seattleites.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

More late posts from EDiM-Day 23 and 24

Here are the sketches I'm posting late for EDiM, Days 23 and 24.
DAY 23--An interesting section of a building
Just a very small portion of the old barn on HWY 20

I drive by this place almost every week, whether on my way to meet the Anacortes sketchers during the summer or on my way to teach a class during the rest of the year.

When you think of the option of sketching keys, so many things come to mind. See a short list of my other ideas on keys on my May 24, 2015 blogpost......besides house keys or car keys. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Catching up with EDIM - 28 and 29

I am using part of my summer vacation to catch up on some projects that got set aside during the last month of teaching weekly classes this spring. So, although I sketched this today, I am belatedly posting the sketch for Day 28, May.
Is July 15 too late for EDM? Day 28-Yard Ornament or Statuary
And here's another one that finally got scanned after finishing the color.
EDIM 29 - A Faucet
I have drafts of all the EDIM daily sketches that I missed. Check the back posts in May for more of the story as I post them.

Monday, July 13, 2015


Since I missed out on sketching with the Anacortes sketchers today, I thought I would finish up a sketch from a previous meet up with them. It's one of my longest procrastinations ever! May 18, to be exact!

The occasion was one of my favorites: we met at Aleli's house for sketching and a fabulous tea party. She made lovely tea sandwiches, with the crusts trimmed and everything. We had flower tea, wine, all sorts of treats, and then she said we could take home the cup that we sketched.

Which one would you have chosen?
While sipping, munching and listening to half a dozen conversations, I had been languishing with my pen, sketching the cover of a book about tea by Mary Engelbreit (of "Life is Just a Chair of Bowlies" fame). I dropped THAT project like a hot scone when I realized I didn't even have a sketch of my favorite teacup! I quickly got enough of a sketch done to qualify for the prize of taking my cup home. Whew! But I barely had any color on sketches of anything else except for the sandwiches and three grapes.
I finally finished the color on this one today!
So that's where the "tea-dious" bit comes in. Mary E., I love your work and respect your talent, but all those tiny details, dits, dots, cups, flowers and bees everywhere! That cover for your book about tea must have taken ages! It certainly did for me! And I fudged a need to worry about copyright infringement here!

PS Sorry I missed today, sketchers. As you see, I was with you in spirit!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday at Westlake Plaza

What fabulous weather and location for urban sketching! The Seattle USk Ad Hoc meetup on Friday couldn't have been more perfect! Seattle urban sketchers met an hour early (9:00 am) at Starbucks on the Westlake Plaza downtown. Since the timing puts me through a grinding commute from where I live 45 miles north of Seattle, I opted to leave at 9:00 and get there a bit late. Then I had to find parking, which isn't cheap! Then walk around the block in the wrong direction getting my bearings.
Sketched in graphite, my DYI Altoids mini watercolor palette and waterbrush (iPhone photo)

It was all worth it, though. I made the most of my day, sketching the Seattle Ducks ticket van quickly with graphite. It's a mini version of the larger WWII vehicles known as DUCWs. Every so often, a new tour leaves the plaza, blasting upbeat party music. Crazy "captains" take the current ticket holders on a very entertaining ride. The Seattle DUCKs take up to 36 people on a 90 minute amphibious tour of Seattle landmarks. (Explore the link for more info on these amazing vehicles.)
Here's a clearer scan with parking ticket collage and notes. Zoom for details or view on Flickr

I saved the option of adding color later because there was so much else to do! After sharing our sketches, some of us went across the street to the main plaza area, where a bandstand was set up for the free lunchtime concerts. I enjoyed my British style fish and chips from NOSH, one of the high end (and delicious) food trucks parked there. (Zagats rated, by the way)

The music was pretty loud, so Tina and I walked over to see the Northwest Watercolor Society Exhibit at the Washington State Convention Center. This year marks their 75th Diamond Anniversary Celebration. Although I did not enter the competition this year, I am proud to say that I am a signature member of NWWS.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Purgatory, CO-The higher I go, the dumber I get

One thing I know: You need oxygen to provide enough brainpower for sketching! The resort at Purgatory, CO, is billed as "halfway to heaven", with street names like "Sheol" and condominiums named "Brimstone". Until you get used to the altitude, the lack of oxygen wreaks havoc with the sketchbook.
I could see this from my seat at the oxygen bar.
Even after a hit at the Altitude O2 Oxygen Bar, in the main plaza of Purgatory Mountain Resort, CO  this is all I could come up with for an ink sketch at 10,000 ft. The higher the altitude, the dumber I get!
Color added with my Van Gogh watercolor travel palette and waterbrush.
Called "The Purgatory Plunge", your zipline ride starts at the tallest tower in the resort, just off the main plaza. Even though it's a relatively short ride, you can reach up to 35 mph because of the drop. Unlike a few of my family members, I'm not afraid of heights. If it wasn't for caution about the altitude, I would have loved to do this!
The kids enjoyed the elevated obstacle course.

Elevations we reached when visiting:

  • Farmington, New Mexico:  5,395 ft./ 1,644 meters 1,791 meters
  • Aztec Ruins, New Mexico: 5,877 ft./ 1,791 meters
  • City of Durango: 6,512 ft./ 2000 meters
  • Silverton: 9,318 ft./2,800 meters
  • Purgatory Ski Area 
    (Durango Mountain Resort):
  • Base Elevation: 8,793 ft./ 2,680 m
    Summit Elevation: 10,822 ft./ 3,298.5 meters
(I'm still catching up on scans of my sketches from this family trip in June)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Sea Breezes, Flowers, fresh Penn Cove Mussels and Sketching Coupeville with ASk

Aqua Gifts on Front Street, one of my favorite gift shops.
These are the individual closeups of my sketches after a full day on Front Street in Coupeville on Whidbey Island with the Anacortes Sketchers.To see how these closeups look in the full spread of my sketchbook, please visit Anacortes Sketchers blog here.
Empty wine bottle and mussel shells from dinner tonight.
Almost every shop has flowers out front
I can remain standing on the sidewalk while I sketch and paint.
Instead of taking the ferry, I drove around the long way (about 70 miles one way) to meet up with The Anacortes sketchers today. It was the Monday after the Fourth of July weekend and there was an unusually large amount of traffic all the way from Marysville to my destination.

You drive around Penn Cove, famous for the freshest mussels anywhere, and come to Coupeville, this great little village with flowers on every doorstep and cool sea breezes mixing with delicious aromas from the waterfront bars and bistros.

Once I got there, I had to spend a little more time looking for parking since the town was also unusually busy. I finally settled on this spot in the shade on a side street, with a view of "Aqua Gifts" on the east end of Front Street and started sketching with my Micron pen and my Pentalic Aqua Journal.
There were sketchers all along the waterfront and even up the hill a block or two. Everyone enjoyed their own way of exploring the town, sketching, visiting, shopping, etc. At the end of the day, some of us went into Toby's for a cold drink and fresh Penn Cove Mussels. I got a pound of fresh mussels to take home and steam for dinner tonight. They turned out great!