Sok Kwu Wan

A drawing done 20 years ago, after arriving on a ferry from Hong Kong Island to Yung Shue Wan on Lamma Island, and then walking for an hour-and-a-half to Sok Kwu Wan. In contrast to this rather sparse sketch is another drawing I did five years earlier of this skyline as seen from Kowloon, which uses a lot more ink to convey the dense, urban fabric of Hong Kong Central.

“Art does not reproduce the visible; it renders visible.” Paul Klee

Occasionally, I will be reposting items from my Facebook page, which I had used to illustrate my drawing activities from January 2010 to February 2012. This one is from June 2010.

The above quote brings to mind the distinction between the vast richness of our visual perception as we survey a scene and our limited ability to capture that richness in a drawing. So in sketching, rather than attempt to reproduce every detail exactly the way we see it, we should simply try to make what we perceive visible to others. We do this by remembering that all drawing is abstraction, editing what we choose to include in our drawing, and relying upon suggestion rather than replication.

For example, here are a few enlargements of a sketch I did of the Sannenzaka slope in Kyoto. The lines and shapes are barely recognizable as being representative of anything. But in the context of the whole drawing, it is convincing enough to suggest to the mind’s eye a scene that we recognize. The whole is truly greater than the sum of the parts.

Viking Picture Stone

From the collection of the Nordic Museum in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle is this Viking picture stone. The stone’s description reads: “Erected as memorials or commemorative markers, picture stones convey their messages through pictures rather than inscriptions. More than 400 picture stones are known today; most of them are from the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea.”

I began the drawing by roughing in the stone’s outline and describing the hewn quality along its edges. Then I worked on the features typical of picture stones—a woman offering a drink to a Viking riding a horse, a ship with checkered sails, and symbols of interlocking triangles called valknuts—followed by the surrounding plaited pattern.

Elliott Bay Bookstore

Now that the weather in Seattle has turned wetter and cooler, it is time again to find comfortable indoor places to draw. One such place is the Elliott Bay Bookstore, where a group of Seattle Urban Sketchers met 10 days ago. Founded by Walter Carr in 1973, Elliott Bay spent over three decades in the Globe Building in the Pioneer Square neighborhood, before moving in 2010 to its current location on Capitol Hill. Within the bookstore is Little Oddfellows, a sister cafe to its older sibling next door. From here, I drew the above view.

Pacific Fishermen, Inc.

This is the entrance to the Pacific Fishermen Shipyard, notable for the profusion of signs and memorabilia from local establishments that have disappeared or been displaced by development. Located on Salmon Bay, on the freshwater side of the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, the shipyard was established in 1946 by 400 Norwegian American fishermen and their wives, who each contributed to a fund to purchase the Old Ballard Marine Railway and ensure that they would have a place to repair their own fishing vessels. The site soon became a full-service shipyard equipped with haul-out facilities, marine railways, and a workforce of machinists, shipwrights, boilermakers, and electricians to service and maintain tugboats, cruise ships, large yachts, as well as traditional fishing vessels.

West Queen Anne School

Queen Anne School opened in 1896 in a three-story, six-room, Richardsonian Romanesque-style building designed by Warren Skillings and James Corner. Over the years, several additions were made to incorporate more classrooms, an auditorium, and new offices. In 1908, it was renamed the West Queen Anne School to avoid confusion with Queen Anne High School then being constructed. This name can still be seen over the north, Galer Street entrance.

In 1975, it became the first Seattle school to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places and two years later, it became a City of Seattle Landmark. After the school closed in 1981, Historic Seattle obtained a long-term lease, which was subsequently transferred to West Queen Anne Association, who hired the architectural firm of Cardwell/Thomas and Associates to renovate and convert the school into 49 condominium units.

Jade Water Pavilion

Visiting Vancouver BC for a few days gave me the opportunity to visit the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Designed by Wang Zu-Xin with the help of the Landscape Architecture Company of Suzhou China, and constructed in 1985, it is said to be the first Scholar’s Garden built outside of China.

This is a sketch of the Jade Water Pavilion. The term jade water refers to the deliberate cloudiness of the pond water, which is supposed to intensify its reflections.

Trinity Church

Being in Boston for a drawing workshop—sponsored by Suffolk University and hosted by Sandro Carella—gave me the opportunity to take another look at Trinity Church. A National Historic Landmark, the H. H. Richardson design is recognized as a masterpiece of American architecture. Although the parish was founded in 1733, it was more than 150 years before the current church was built on land-filled marshes in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood.

Richardson replaced his initial idea of a Gothic Revival church with a Greek-cross auditorium plan that expresses the emerging, inclusive nature of American congregational practice, as inspired by the preaching of Phillips Brooks, Trinity’s Rector at the time of the building’s design and construction.

Despite its landmark status, Trinity Church is not a museum but rather it remains a place of worship and service where Christians and visitors gather on a daily basis.

Here is a video clip of the drawing process.

Majestic Bay Theatre

Back home in Seattle. Elltaes (Seattle spelled backward) Theatres LLC purchased the shuttered Bay Cinema property in 1998. While the original intention was simply to remodel the old wooden structure dating from the early 1900s, chairman Kenny Alhadeff wanted a more modern theater and so Weinstein A+U designed this new building, which was completed in 2002. The theater comprises a main auditorium on the ground floor and two smaller theaters on the third floor.

The most striking feature of the Bay is its marquee, below which sits the classic box office. The neon BAY letters from the old marquee were refurbished and is visible in the glass facade behind the marquee.

Here is a video clip of the process.