Drawing not only involves capturing what we see or imagine in graphic terms. Indeed, while drawing on location, from direct observation, we can also notice and take notes as well. Here are a few examples from my sketchbooks. These observations may entail written information, word diagrams, and visual notes.
This view shows State Highway 20 approaching from the southwest and turning southeast through the middle of Winthrop, a small town at the confluence of the Methow and Chewuch rivers in the Methow Valley. While the town’s first postmaster, Guy Waring, is considered to be its founding father, the town is actually named after Theodore Winthrop, a 19th-century author who explored the Northwest in the 1850s.
What is striking about Winthrop’s main street is the Old West theme of the storefronts, the result of a westernization program that began in 1972 as Highway 20 through the North Cascades was nearing completion. Designed by architect Robert Jorgenson to promote tourism, the restoration was funded by local merchants along with a generous grant from lumber mill owners Kathryn and Otto Wagner.
In 2008, Yapı-Endüstri Merkezi (YEM) gave me the opportunity to offer a drawing workshop for Turkish students in Istanbul. After the two-day event, Dr. Meral Erdoǧan and Dr. Fulya Ozsel Akipek of Yildiz Technical University invited me to tour the Florya Atatürk Marine Mansion, summer residence of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founding father of the Republic of Turkey. Located along the shore of the Sea of Marmara, the Bauhaus style structure was designed by architect Seyfi Arkan and built in 1935. These quick sketches reflect a study of the design’s zoning and orientation to both shore and sea.
“At Cornell University, my professor of European literature, Vladimir Nabokov, changed the way I read and the way I write. Words could paint pictures, I learned from him. Choosing the right word, and the right word order, he illustrated, could make an enormous difference in conveying an image or an idea.”
—Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 1933–2020
In these uncertain times, flowers always seem to uplift spirits and brighten days. And so instead of gravitating toward my usual wide-angle views of buildings and urban spaces, I decided to do this study of a sunflower we had among others in a vase on our dining table. I first dabbed some watercolor on the d’arches cold pressed watercolor paper. After the watercolor had dried, I then drew over it with my trusty Lamy fountain pen. A fun exercise.
Continuing my series of drawings of Seattle Public Branch Libraries, this is the Magnolia Branch, designed by Paul Hayden Kirk of Kirk, Wallace, McKinley and Associates. Opening in 1964, it is located just outside the Magnolia Village business district. The American Library Association granted its Award of Excellence to the open timber structure, which incorporated an old madrona tree that grew on the site.
The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board declared the Magnolia Branch a landmark building in 2001, after which the library and community developed plans to upgrade the existing structure while preserving its original design. SHKS Architects and the structural engineering firm of Swenson Say Fagét designed the 1400-square-foot addition, which housed a new meeting room and incorporated a new roof, upgraded mechanical systems, improved computer technology, and energy-efficient windows. The branch reopened on July 12, 2008.
In 2009, the library project’s team was given the Stewardship of Public Buildings award for “creating a model preservation project that incorporated both the restoration of a mid-century resource and the construction of a sensitive new addition that will allow the building to function as a library for years to come. In 2011, the expansion and renovation received further recognition with an honor award from the Washington Council of the AIA.
Amid the slew of new office and residential towers being built in the Cascade neighborhood of Seattle stands Immanuel Lutheran Church, at the southeast corner of Pontius Avenue North and Thomas Street. Designed by Aberdeen architect Watson W. Vernon, the church was built in 1907, designated a Seattle landmark in 1981, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
About a block away is another proud structure withstanding the onslaught of new construction, St. Spiridon Orthodox Cathedral. This was drawn back in 2011 as a napkin sketch for an auction benefiting the Seattle Architecture Foundation.
This view of El Camino, a Fremont neighborhood eatery, illustrates how Seattle, like many other cities, is allowing restaurants to temporarily expand their outdoor seating into public sidewalks and street parking spaces. This move to help restaurants survive during the COVID-19 pandemic is often augmented by streamlining the permitting process and waiving fees. There is some sentiment to try to preserve these new neighborhood streetscapes even after the pandemic is over.
Mike and Patti Sherlock started making rye whiskey in the late 1990s from a recipe from the journals of John Jacob, an immigrant from Holland and Patti’s great-grandfather. When Washington state passed the craft law in 2008, Mike and Patti founded Fremont Mischief Distillery. Fremont Mischief distills rye whiskey, gin, and vodka using winter wheat grown on Whidbey Island and rye from small Washington State farms and the Willamette Valley in Oregon.
Above is a sketch of the courtyard of Fremont Mischief Distillery that I did recently while enjoying a glass of Fremont Lush. Below it is a street view from 2013, before the addition of the restaurant/rooftop terrace.
The historic bathhouse on the northwest shore of Green Lake in North Seattle was built in 1927. In 1970, the city converted it into a small theater and operated the venue until 1980, when Arne Zaslove moved the Floating Theatre Company into the facility and changed the company’s name to Bathhouse Theatre. Since 1990, the small venue has been the home of the nonprofit Seattle Public Theater.