Yesterday at the monthly meeting of the Seattle Urban Sketchers group, I drew this view while sitting in the corner park at East Pine and Broadway in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, looking toward the Broadway Performance Hall and Seattle Central Community College. This scene attracted me because of the way the trees in the park filtered the view of the buildings beyond. I began by first drawing the building forms and then worked from back to front, adding elements such as the fencing, the ground terracing, and the sculpture by Charles Smith. I then drew the tree trunks and foliage. Finally, I went back to fill in the details and texture that I could see through the trees.
I think that it’s okay in a sketch like this to draw over previously drawn elements and even be a little messy as long as the lines are lightly drawn. It’s when we add details and darken certain lines that we should pay attention to which elements overlap others. I believe the resulting transparency of the drawing helps convey the depth of the space.
While in Rio de Janeiro a month ago, we had the opportunity to visit Casa das Canoas, the first residence designed by Oscar Niemeyer in 1952. It is a true gem, nestled in a beautiful hillside setting and displaying the characteristic flowing lines of Niemeyer’s architecture. Thanks to Caique Niemeyer, Oscar’s grandson, for allowing us the privilege of touring this fine example of modern architecture.
After doing a few sketches of the exterior and interior of the deceptively simple structure, I attempted to draw a plan to try to understand the two-dimensional origin of what I saw in three dimensions.
To verify my plan, I perused several books on the architecture of Oscar Niemeyer but none contained a plan of this house. Upon returning to Seattle, I did an internet search and found this plan drawn by Jeff Hottinger, which is included next to the plan I drew.
In this age of digital 3D modeling where much design thinking and decision-making is made from a perspective viewpoint, it is still a useful mental exercise to try to imagine the orthographic relationships that plans and sections reveal and which perspective views do not. As designers, we should be able to think two-dimensionally as well as three-dimensionally.
Here are a few sketches I did when attending another stimulating Design Communication Association conference held at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia. The first are views from Marietta town square; the second is of SPSU’s architecture building; and the third was done during a tour of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, showing Richard Meier’s building but not Renzo Piano’s addition that creates a piazza beyond.
The Seattle Urban Sketchers met last Sunday at the Olympic Sculpture Park. Since I had already sketched there a number of times, I was looking for a new vantage point and found one at the southern end overlooking the waterfront. The panorama begins with downtown Seattle on the left, moves north along the waterfront, and ends with a view of Magnolia on the right. To the right of center stands the newest addition to the park, Echo, a 46-foot tall sculpture by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa.
The first sketch is a quick study of the overall composition I did before attempting the final drawing. Because there was too much visual information for the small two-page spread, I had to abstract quite a bit of what I saw.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A 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.
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.
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