Last Sunday, the Seattle Urban Sketchers met at the Country Village in Bothell, a small community northwest of Seattle. Built around an original farm house from 1901, the complex comprises a layout of shops, offices, and restaurants set amid duck ponds, streams, and walking paths. There’s even a scaled-down train offering rides on a half-mile of track. This particular view attracted me because of the eclectic mix of elements—a caboose, a windmill, and a land-bound ship—all surrounding a pastoral pond foregrounded by tall grasses.
After the Orange County workshop, Deb and I spent a day at the Getty Center, a campus of the Getty Museum in the Brentwood neighborhood of LA. The complex of galleries, library, offices, and research institute designed by Richard Meier is situated along two ridges of a hill in the Santa Monica Mountains. The architecture is striking, but as I noted on my sketch of the museum courtyard, the most attractive and enjoyable part of our visit were the landscaped open spaces and gardens created by the architecture. Notable is the Central Garden designed by artist Robert Irwin.
We spent two wonderful and gratifying days in Orange County last weekend, drawing at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, along the Laguna Beach promenade, and in the confines of the Lumberyard courtyard. Thanks to all of the workshop participants for their enthusiasm, hard work, and high spirits.
Despite the numerous books, and now videos, on sketching and drawing that are available, they cannot match the immediacy of hands-on teaching and learning. It is difficult to replicate the experience of standing or sitting side-by-side, looking out at the same scene, and discussing and demonstrating the ways of seeing that are crucial to on-location drawing.
Urban Sketchers Singapore and Temasek Polytechnic are hosting the 6th International Urban Sketchers Symposium this year. There’s a great lineup of faculty and presenters who will be offering workshops, lectures, and other activities from the 22nd through the 25th of July. For more information about the schedule, programming, and registration information, please visit: <http://singapore2015.urbansketchers.org>.
Heading down to Orange County, California, for a workshop this weekend.
During my workshops, when working one-on-one with a participant, I often do a demonstration of a concept in my sketchbook, such as this one describing the layers of depth that I saw at Kapaleeshwarar Temple in Mylapore, India. 1 is the foreground porch structure; 2 is the porch structure in the middle ground; 3 is the top of a structure just beyond 2; and finally, 4 is the gopuram in the distance.
This second image is a follow-up sketch demonstrating how to convey the layers of depth described in the first diagram. Describing layers of depth on a two-dimensional page relies on a discernible contrast of detail or tonal values between each layer and the next. In this case, it was a matter of suggesting detail and tonal values in selected portions of the drawing and omitting them in others.
For its regular monthly outing, the Seattle Urban Sketchers met this past Sunday at the Seattle Chinese Garden. Above is a view from within the Knowing the Spring Courtyard, completed in 2010 by artisans of the Chang Shu Ancient Style Garden Design Construction Company, from Seattle’s sister city of Chongqing.
Below is an exterior view as one approaches the courtyard from the south. The lead designer for the Sichuan-style garden, Feng Dacheng, is from the Chongqing Bureau of Parks and Greenery. Future plans call for a dense, complex mixture of plants, stone, water, and architecture, including an education center and a banquet hall with seating for 200.
Industrial architecture, through the arrangement of geometric forms, often expresses its utility, function, and process in the most direct and honest way. This example is the Fremont Plant of Lakeside Industries, a third-generation family-owned company dating from 1952. Sandwiched between the Ship Canal and the Burke-Gilman Trail, the plant processes the movement of sand and gravel between trucks and barges
I took advantage of an ad hoc meeting of the Seattle Urban Sketchers at Fremont Coffee to sketch my favorite coffee shop, where I get my daily Americano. Above is an exterior view that I had done a couple of years ago. So today, I sketched two additional views, one of the interior and the other of the outside deck. I had a little trouble conveying the scale of the two spaces. Scale—in particular, human scale—is a difficult aspect to capture well but it is so important in describing the intimacy or expansiveness of a space.
On display at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture on the UW campus is this Allosaurus Fragilis, a fleet-footed predator from the late Jurassic period.
The second image below shows how I attempted to keep the allosaurus in proper proportion. I first estimated that the height of the hind legs was about a third of the dinosaur’s overall length. You can barely see the tic marks that I used to divide the length into thirds. I then used this measurement to fix the height of the hind legs. I also judged the position of the hind legs to be a little more than a third of the length from the head. Finally, I drew the curvature of the spine to guide the development of the dinosaur’s skeleton.
Being able to see and replicate proper proportions, no matter the nature of our subject matter, is an important skill in drawing.
Attending a symposium at the School of Architecture and Engineering Technologies at Florida A&M University, I happened upon another Carnegie Library. After FAMU’s first library burned down in 1905, Andrew Carnegie donated funds to rebuild the library. It was the first Carnegie Library to be built on a Black land-grant college campus. After a new university library was built in 1947, this building served several functions until 1976, when it became the home of the Southeastern Regional Black Archives Research Center and Museum