Seattle Workshop



I thoroughly enjoyed teaching with Gail Wong and working with the 25 participants in the Line to Color workshop this past weekend. Beginning with a brief sketching session and pizza dinner on Friday evening, working all day Saturday in the Fremont neighborhood and at Gasworks Park, and then meeting up with the Seattle UrbanSketchers group on Sunday morning at Pike Place Market—the past three days have left me tired but also exhilarated by the energy and warmth of the group and their willingness to try out different approaches and techniques. Above is the sharing of work at Steinbrueck Park and the obligatory group photo, which includes not only the workshop participants but also members of the Seattle UrbanSketchers group.




While I didn’t have a lot of time to sketch during the workshop, I managed to get to Pike Place Market a little early on Sunday morning to capture this view of Post Alley, and at the end to sit on the curb and quickly sketch the iconic market sign.

Preparing for Mt. Vernon Workshop

In preparing for the Mt. Vernon workshop that Gail Wong and I will be offering this Saturday, I’ve assembled a Keynote presentation to introduce participants to a few basic principles to keep in mind when drawing on location. After teaching for 40 years but continuing to discover aspects of the drawing process through my own as well as others’ observations and experiences, I find it difficult to prepare these presentations.

What I do on an intuitive level—with insights gained through practice and experience—can be difficult to condense into a few fundamental concepts. Yet, in a one-day or even a three-day workshop, one has distill drawing lessons down to a few key ideas that can be more easily digested, especially for beginners. One of these is acquiring a proper point of view, which is vital to producing a good drawing. If one’s vantage point is flawed due to an inherent imbalance of graphic elements, an unexpected or unfortunate alignment of spatial edges, or an ill-considered placement on the page, then all the skill and experience one can muster might not be enough to salvage the drawing. On the other hand, a well composed image can often survive a number of common drawing mistakes.

In each slide of the Keynote presentation, I limit myself to a maximum of three, concisely stated points. In this example, I present three keys to drawing composition.


1. Select: Draw what interests you, what catches your eye—whether it be a detail or a fragment, an entire structure or a spatial environment—but make sure this is a conscious choice.

2. Compose: Vital to composition is walking around until one’s view of the selected subject matter holds the compositional forces that you desire. Understand whether the view is symmetrical or asymmetrical, contains the desired point or area of focus, and has the potential for conveying layers of depth.

3. Place: Understand the proportions and size of the selected image before placing it on the drawing surface or page.

There are, of course, more slides in the presentation and I look forward to seeing how effective they are in the workshop. Preparing a presentation is very much like the drawing process. One never quite knows where it will lead; one can only learn from the experience and improve at the next opportunity.

Seattle Workshop


Gail Wong and I will be offering a drawing workshop in Seattle May 17–19. We will begin on Friday evening with an introductory sketching session followed by dinner and presentations at the Ballard Pizza Co. The next day, we will have two sessions, one in the morning at Gas Works Park and another in the afternoon in the Fremont neighborhood. On Sunday, we will spend our last session together with the Seattle UrbanSketchers group in Pioneer Square or Pike Place Market. Should be fun. And beginners are certainly welcome!

For a complete schedule, details, and sign-up info, please see <> or <>.

Mt. Vernon Workshop Update


For more information on the one-day workshop Gail Wong and I will be offering in Mt., Washington, please see: <>.

I should note that Gail and I will also be offering a workshop here in Seattle May 17–19, beginning with a pizza dinner and presentation on Friday evening, followed by two sessions on Saturday and a closing session on Sunday with the Seattle Urban Sketchers group. More details to follow.

Mt. Vernon Workshop


I did this sketch to help publicize a one-day workshop Gail Wong and I will be offering in Mt. Vernon on Saturday, April 20th. Mt. Vernon is an enchanting small town in Skagit County north of Seattle and the Mt. Vernon Downtown Association is hosting the event.

Full disclosure: Due to constraints of time and weather I drew this scene from a digital photograph that was sent to me. I soon realized that drawing from a photo can actually be more difficult than drawing on location. In a 3D environment, we are able to perceive much more than in a 2D photograph. We can shift our gaze, if necessary, to uncover certain details or to see more clearly things that might be hidden or obscured. And we are free to interpret the 3-dimensional information before us. But in a photograph, everything is frozen, including ambiguities that have to be resolved.

Another note: The Namiki Falcon fountain pen is known for its flexible nib. While it is a joy to draw with, I rarely carry the pen for fear of losing it. But since I was in my home office, I took the opportunity to use it for this sketch. The Namiki Falcon is not inexpensive but still it is a reasonably priced introduction to fine quality fountain pens. Highly recommended.

The Argentina Experience

The focus of my visit to Argentina was giving two talks and having the opportunity to work with students from Argentina, Peru, Paraguay and Brazil. I really appreciated the enthusiasm of the students and their willingness to draw without inhibition.

It was an emotional time for me when I saw the students’ work exhibited in La Plata. The students had drawn in accordion-fold sketchbooks, which you can see hanging vertically in the background of this photo. Seeing the display in this manner reinforces the idea that no single drawing is as important as an entire body of work, whether it be a single sketchbook or a whole series of sketchbooks. It was very heartwarming and gratifying for me to see how proud the students were of their work and I hope they will continue to enjoy drawing with increased confidence.

La Plata and Buenos Aires

We’ve had a wonderful time drawing with the students and faculty, starting in Córdoba, then in Rosario and La Plata for the congresso. This was the last drawing site in La Plata, the Casa de Gobierno, before the exhibition of the students’ work at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata.

Here are Wilder Gómez Taipe, Edgardo Minond and me drawing similar views of Avenida de Mayo in Buenos Aires yesterday.

Sadly, we leave for home today.


Friday evening, after my presentation, we enjoyed a wonderful meal with UNC faculty at Juan Griego, where Horacio Burgos performed the Brazilian music of Antônio Carlos Jobim and Argentina Tangos. Music, like architecture, can express the soul of a culture.

Here are the students I drew with yesterday at Alta Gracia, one of the six Estancias established by the Jesuits around Córdoba in the 17th century. Beautiful, crisp day. While most of the students are from Córdoba and Rosario, there are also a few from Brazil, Bolivia and Peru. Tomorrow, we draw Córdoba before leaving for Rosario.


Looking forward to visiting Argentina for the very first time. I will be working with Roberto Ferraris and his students from the National University of Córdoba, spending a few days sketching in and around Córdoba before traveling to Rosario on the way to Buenos Aires for the 2012 EGraFIA International Congress in La Plata, where I will be giving a presentation on drawing. Hope to be able to meet up with the UrbanSketchers group in Buenos Aires and post some work.

In the meantime, here is a drawing I did of Santa Maria, Virgen de la Altagracia, on a quiet Sunday morning before leaving for home after the recent UrbanSketchers’ symposium in Santo Domingo. Looking eastward into the morning sun, it was difficult to see the church clearly but I can still hear the singing of the assembly emanating from the Sunday morning Mass within.