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.

The Triangle

Another bifurcated view (See posts from 9.3.16, 10.11.16, and 2.6.18), this one of what was originally known as the Classic Tavern. The venue was renamed the Triangle Tavern in the early 1990s because of its shape where North 35h Street meets Fremont Place North. In 2009, the bar was rebranded again as Triangle Spirits. Despite all of these name changes, most locals simply refer to it as The Triangle.

4th & University

I drew this view from a rootop terrace on the southwest corner of 4th and University Avenues. It depicts buildings from three different periods of Seattle’s downtown development. On the right is Minoru Yamasaki’s iconic Rainier Tower of 1977. To the left is the Cobb Building, a brick-and-terra cotta Beaux-Arts design by the New York firm of Howells and Stokes, which was completed in 1907. And in the background undergoing construction is a new 58-story mixed use tower by NBBJ.

Below is another view of the terra cotta ornamentation atop the Cobb Building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.