Eagle’s Spirit Totem

Having some time between recent doctor appointments at the UW Medicine’s Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, I drew this totem created by master Tsimshian carver David Boxley as a tribute to his sister-in-law Cindy Sue James (1965-2016). Dedicated May 6, 2007, the totem honors her legacy and pays tribute to all cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers.

The top figure is the Eagle, or Laxskiik, of the Tsimshian Nation. Below is a shaman wearing a bear-claw headdress and representing doctors and caregivers battling cancer. At the base is Cindy Sue, serving as the foundation for her family and tenderly clutching the shoulders of her grandson, Dominic, 7, “the light of her life, from the day he was born.”

West Seattle Branch Library

The West Seattle Branch was the third library to be funded by Andrew Carnegie’s 1908 grant to the Seattle Public Library system. It opened on Saturday, July 23, 1910. As with the University and Green Lake branches, the architecture firm Somervell and Coté designed the Neoclassical style structure. In 1984, Seattle voters approved a bond issue to fund renovation of the Carnegie branch libraries, which the West Seattle Branch received in 1987. In 2004, another renovation added a much requested auditorium to the facility.

University Branch Library

This view of the main entrance to the University Branch Library is constrained by the summer foliage of the large trees that shelter and shade the surrounding lawn. Designed by the architecture firm Somervell and Coté and funded by a grant from the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, this library opened in 1910. Architect Fred Bassetti headed a major renovation of the structure in 1985–86 to meet earthquake standards and add handicapped access. In 2007, another renovation by Hoshide Williams Architects upgraded technology services and created more efficient circulation desk and work areas. The library is now a registered city landmark.

Below is another library funded by Carnegie’s 1908 grant, the Green Lake branch. also designed by Somervell and Coté.

The Lumberyard in Laguna Beach

After Mission San Juan Capistrano, last month’s Line-to-Color workshop moved to Laguna Beach, where we drew along the promenade in the morning and later, within the confines of the Lumberyard courtyard. The weekend reminded me yet again of something I had mentioned previously on this blog. Books and videos that discuss sketching and drawing cannot match the immediacy of hands-on teaching and learning. It is difficult to replicate in print or film media the experience of standing or sitting side-by-side, looking out at the same scene, and discussing the ways of seeing that are crucial to on-location drawing.

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano was first founded on October 30, 1775, by the Franciscan Fermin Lasuen, but was soon abandoned because of attacks by the Kumeyaay, Native American people who had settled the area and occupied the land for thousands of years. The mission was reestablished a year later by Father Junipero Serra, the seventh of nine missions he founded. These two views of a courtyard beside the Great Stone Church at the mission show first the rough outline of the drawing composition and then another, more developed 15-minute sketch.

10th Anniversary of the Seattle Urban Sketchers

This past weekend, the Seattle Urban Sketchers met at Gas Works Park to mark the 10-year anniversary of when Gabi Campanario organized the first meet-up at Fishermen’s Terminal, back in June of 2009. Here’s a wide-angle view of the park, looking toward downtown Seattle. I composed the view so that the space needle could be seen amid the pipework. Below is a close-up view of remnants of the original coal gasification equipment.

The Old Stone Church

This is a very quick 10-minute sketch I did during the Line to Color workshop Gail Wong and I conducted recently. I was trying to demonstrate how to begin a scene that does not have a clear geometric structure.. The view is of the ruins of the “Great Stone Church” at Mission San Juan Capistrano. Work on the limestone structure began in 1797 but was interrupted three years later by the 6.5-magnitude San Diego earthquake. And in 1812, six years after the church was completed, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake collapsed the nave and toppled the belltower. It was never rebuilt.

Santa Catalina Island

Before the Line to Color workshop in Laguna Beach, Deb and I took the ferry to Santa Catalina Island. As we made the crossing, I recalled the song by the Four Preps from 1958: “Twenty-six miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a-waitin’ for me…” Originally settled by the Tongva tribe ca. 7000 BCE, the island was discovered in the 16th century by the Spanish. Control transferred from Spain to Mexico and eventually to the U.S. In the early 20th century, William Wrigley, Jr. of chewing gum fame gained a majority interest and began developing the island. Now most of the island is controlled by the Catalina Island Conservancy. Here is a view of the beachfront in Avalon, the only incorporated town on the island.

Pioneer Square

On a warm, sunny day I sat outside Caffé D’arte at the intersection of 1st Avenue and Yesler Way, enjoyed a drink, and drew this scene. From the heart of Pioneer Square, the view looks eastward toward Smith Tower and on the left, it takes in the iron pergola in Pioneer Square Park, built in 1909.

Beginnings…

There are many ways to begin a drawing on location. For architectural subject matter, I typically search for a vertical plane that is both prominent and whose proportions are discernible to the eye. Placing this plane, correctly sized and in the proper location, will ensure that the entire intended scene will fit the page.

Anther place to begin is with an important vertical edge, which becomes in effect a measuring stick for the entire scene.

We can also begin with a vertical spatial plane, which is appropriate when drawing views of streets, alleyways, and the interiors of church naves and halls.

Or when there is no discernible geometry that can guide us, then we have to resort to capturing an unusual shape or opening.