Ballard Mini-Pod


I’m continuing to experiment using the Apple Pencil with the Procreate app on my iPad Pro. Here is a view of the Ballard Mini-Pod, a triangular site at 17th Avenue NW and NW 54th Street comprising Garden Sushi, Tripod Coffee, and a rotating series of mobile food trucks. Another realization I came to in doing this sketch is the tiny but perceptible separation I felt between the tip of the stylus and the lines being drawn through the glass. A couple of readers have suggested using a screen protector to better mimic the feel of paper but I’m afraid the extra layer of protection might only increase that sense of separation I feel.

As I mentioned in my last post, I like the ability to export as a movie any drawing or painting created in the Procreate app. Here is a video of the drawing above.

Drawing with the Apple Pencil

When I purchased my first iPad 5 years ago, I was excited to try out various drawing apps designed for the digital tablet. Disappointed with the lag time and feel of the styli available at the time, I resorted to drawing with my finger instead. At first, it was liberating to sketch so loosely but I soon returned to drawing with a fountain pen on real paper. I missed the feel of a metal nib flowing liquid ink onto a paper surface.

Hearing about the new Apple Pencil, I decided to try it out with the Procreate app. Here are a few examples.

I found that while the Apple Pencil had less lag and better “feel” than other styli I have tired, there was no doubt that I was drawing on a glass surface. Also, while the iPad has good palm rejection technology, I still inadvertently touched certain menus and options while drawing in the Procreate app, causing unintentional effects to occur randomly. Even so, realizing that I am not using all of the drawing app’s capabilities, I’m resolved to continue to experiment with the new media.

Pier 86 Grain Terminal

I missed the last meeting of the Seattle UrbanSketchers group at Centennial Park and so I ventured there myself to draw this view of the Pier 86 Grain Terminal. The Port of Seattle built this grain terminal in 1970 to replace the Hanford Street Terminal and satisfy the need for a larger facility as grain exports from the Northwest grew. A completely automated process moves grain from trucks and railroad cars to storage silos and from there, two 48-inch conveyor belts load the grain onto cargo ships at a maximum rate of 3000 tons per hour. The facility sits along and over the pedestrian and bike paths of Centennial Park on Elliott Bay and frames a view of downtown Seattle beyond.

This is a similar view of the grain terminal from 2014.

Center of the Universe

I’m updating an entry I posted a couple of years ago regarding what Fremont likes to call itself: “The Center of the Universe.” Here are two views of the literal center of the Center, the intersection where Fremont Avenue North, North 35th Street, and Fremont Place North all meet. The first is looking northwest toward Fremont Place North and Fremont Avenue North.

This second drawing is from a cold day in January 2014, looking northeast at the same intersection. On the traffic island, you can see a post with directional markers pointing to places both near and fa

Something’s Cooking…

Down the block from us, we first heard the sounds of people scrubbing and cleaning, then noticed the subtle transformation that the installation of festive flags and canvas canopies can make to an outdoor space. And finally, the sign itself went up announcing the opening of Renee and Nicholas Price’s Fire and Earth Kitchen. These two chefs are offering group and private cooking classes as well as preparing meals for families and small groups to “share the secrets of effortless meal preparation, and expertly show how down to earth and delicious vegan meals can be.” For more information, see <>.

Georgetown Scenes

These three scenes were done this past Sunday when the Seattle Urban Sketchers met in Georgetown for the neighborhood’s annual garden walk. The first is of the historic Queen Anne style residence at 6219 Carlton Avenue South, built in 1893 for Dora Horton-Carle, daughter of Georgetown founder Julius Horton. It’s an up-close-and-personal view rather than the contextual views I usually prefer.

The second scene is of Oxbow park, a few blocks south. The site is dominated by Hat n’ Boots, designed by Seattle artist Lewis Nasmyth for a western-themed gas station in 1953. The neighborhood rescued the sculptures sometime in the 1980s, after the I-5 interstate had slowly siphoned traffic away from the business over two decades.

And finally, since there were 15 minutes left in the session, I decided to do another up-close-and-personal view of this 1941 Mack truck, which was converted into an art truck and parked in a corner of Oxbow Park.

Notational Drawings

Perusing my sketchbooks, one might discover many small notational drawings that I have used to understand and represent certain aspects of the places visited. When drawing from observation, we can capture not only what the eye perceives but also what the mind conceives. We can use the drawing process to think about, visualize, and explore in imagined and imaginary ways the conceptual basis for the environments we see and experience. These notational drawings may be simple plan or section diagrams or more complex three-dimensional studies but in all cases, they attempt to encapsulate the essence of a place or structure.

Lake Union

Lake Union was given its name by Thomas Mercer, who believed that the lake and canals —“a union of waters”— would someday link Lake Washington to Puget Sound. An array of pleasure craft ply its waters, from paddle boards, kayaks, and rowing shells to day sailers and cabin cruisers. Seaplanes take off from the south end of the lake. Floating house boats line its eastern and western shores. Yet these two views remind us that the body of water just north of downtown Seattle remains a working lake with dry docks and other boat repair facilities, particularly along the north shore.

Fishermen’s Terminal Revisited

Photo courtesy of Kate Buike

Photo courtesy of Kate Buike

To follow up on my posting of a couple weeks earlier, the Seattle Urban Sketchers met at Fishermen’s Terminal yesterday morning to commemorate its first gathering there seven years ago. Close to 40 sketchers came to enjoy the sunny but breezy weather and share the USk experience at a quintessential Seattle setting.


As with writing, drawing can speak in many voices. Some drawings assertively yell for attention; others speak more quietly and persuasively. Still others merely whisper. Looking through my sketchbooks, I came upon a number of quiet sketches that attempt to capture the feel of a place with relatively little noise.