Drawing Quickly

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Often when traveling with a small group, we don’t have an hour or more to do a drawing. So if we want to capture a scene, we have to be able to draw quickly. My strategy is to first establish the structure of the overall composition and then, depending on the amount of time available, add whatever details I can to try to capture the spirit of a place. While drawing these very quick 10- to 20-minute sketches in Rio de Janeiro, I was accompanied by my friend and fellow urban sketcher Norberto Dorantes of Buenos Aires, who is a master of flowing lines.

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Many thanks to Glaucia Augusto Fonseca for being such a gracious and generous host during our short visit to Rio de Janeiro. The setting for the city is truly stunning.

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Stadium High School

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On the last day of the Tacoma Line to Color Workshop this past weekend, we gathered at Stadium High School for an informal sketch crawl. This historic landmark, designed by Hewitt and Hewitt for the Northern Pacific Railway Company in 1891, was intended to be a luxury hotel but became instead a storage facility as a result of the Panic of 1893. After a fire in 1898 gutted the building, the Tacoma School District purchased the structure, which was renovated according to plans by the Federick Heath. Bassetti Architects and Merrit Pardini Architects undertook a major renovation, historic renovation, and seismic upgrade in 2005.

Thanks to my co-teacher Gail Wong and all of the participants in the workshop who endured a lot of hard work facing challenging scenes but displayed amazing progress over the course of the weekend. Their love of drawing and the wealth of sketching sites offered by Tacoma made the weekend both enjoyable and gratifying.

Baia de Paraty

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The morning before the symposium in Paraty started, a group of urban sketchers took a boat tour of the Baia de Paraty. Many thanks to Marilia Inke, who graciously arranged the pleasant outing on short notice. Even though it was a slightly overcast day, it was enjoyable to see the beautiful coast line around Paraty from another perspective. Perhaps what was most striking to me were the way the mountains formed a backdrop for the numerous islands seeming to float in the bay.

Igreja de N. Sra. do Rosário e São Benedito

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Arriving in Paraty a day before the 5th Urban Sketching Symposium started gave me a chance to walk around the town and do some drawing. This church attracted me because of its situation at the end of a street, where it commanded the intersection. To the left is the tourist information office and to the right is a self-serve gelato shop. Between the tourist information office and the church, you get a peek at the entrance to the Pousada do Sandi, where we were staying.

Urban Sketching Symposium Paraty

imageA view of Capela de N. Sra. das Dores in Paraty, Brazil, during the 2014 Urban Sketching Symposium. This will be one of the many sketches that will be sold tomorrow evening in a silent auction to benefit the Urban Aketchers organization. I’ve completed two workshops and have a third scheduled tomorrow morning. Great participants, enthusiastic and appreciative in a beautiful colonial village on the Bay of Paraty.

Lief Erickson

Here is a quick sketch of a statue of Lief Erickson at Shilshole Bay Marina, overlooking Puget Sound. The bronze sculpture was given by the Lief Erickson League to the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962 and installed at the marina when it opened that same year.

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The words are from a plaque on the statue’s base and refers to Lief Erickson’s assumed birthplace of Iceland. The famous Norse explorer (ca. 970–1020) is believed to have been the first European to reach North America five centuries before Christopher Columbus. To commemorate the legacy of Scandinavian immigrants who settled in Ballard, surrounding the statue (but not drawn) are stones containing names of local immigrant families, the year they arrived, and their community of origin.

Off to Brazil tomorrow for the Urban Sketching Symposium in Paraty

Shilshole Bay Marina

A view of Shilshole Bay Marina, captured when the Seattle Urban Sketchers group met this past Sunday morning. It was challenging but fun to try to convey the number and density of watercraft, masts, and equipment, as well as their reflections in the water.

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Owned and operated by the Port of Seattle, Shilshole Bay Marina is located in the northwest Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, next to Golden Gardens Park on Puget Sound. While the waterfront location was deeded to the Port in 1931, the marina itself was not operational until after its dedication during the Seattle’s World Fair in 1962. It has more than 1400 slips for boats ranging in size from skiffs and kayaks to ocean-going yachts, and the facility includes a public plaza, fishing piers, and public boat launch

A View from the Bridge

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It’s often said that the real power in an administrative office lies in the person who commands the front desk. This is a view from such a desk, drawn as a retirement gift for Emily Louise Williams back in 1994 when she retired after 25 years of devoted service to the College of Architecture and Urban Planning (now the College of Built Environments) at the University of Washington. I still remember sneaking into the college office to do the drawing while Emily was taking her lunch break.

Negative Spaces

Along with a few fellow architect-volunteers from the community service committee of the AIA Young Architects Forum, I met this morning with a group of middle schoolers attending the Northwest School Summer Camp. Our task was to introduce some basic drawing concepts to the young students. My topic was negative space, a concept that is somewhat difficult to grasp, especially when translating the in-between spaces that we see in real life into the two-dimensional shapes we draw on paper. After the session, I remembered an animation that I had created a while back when I was conceiving of a ebook on drawing. Here is an unedited version of Seeing Shapes.

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Keep in mind that it is often easier to see shapes in a photograph and more difficult to see them when drawing on location from direct observation.

Tacoma Workshop

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Gail Wong and I will be offering another Line to Color workshop, this time in Tacoma September 12–14. As in our two Seattle workshops last year, we’ll begin on Friday evening with an introductory sketching session followed by dinner and presentations at the historic Swiss Pub. On Saturday, we’ll work at the Tacoma Art Museum and in the Museum District. Then on Sunday, we’ll work in the Theater District and Antique Mall District. As always, it should be fun. And beginners are certainly welcome!

For more information and a complete schedule, visit <http://workshops.urbansketchers.org/2014/07/join-us-for-our-line-to-color-workshop.html>.