A Few of My Favorite Photos

Because I’m still busy trying to finish a book revision and completing our move to Fremont, I’m turning away from drawing for this post and sharing a few of my photos. This idea came to me as I was reading through a discussion on a photography website that started with the question: What is your favorite photo? This would be difficult for me to answer but there are several that stand out in my mind for various reasons.


The first is of actors preparing for their Chinese opera performance in the city of Quanzhou, China. I was lucky to get this shot since it was taken at night without a flash.


The second is looking along the edge of Orvieto as it rises from the Umbrian countryside on a large butte of volcanic tuff. The colors remind of a Renaissance painting.


The third was taken in the early morning, looking down Via dei Cappellari as it leads toward the Campo de Fiori in Rome. I enjoy black-and-white photos, especially those that mimic old T-MAX 400 film.

While taking photographs is a completely different experience from drawing on location, they both serve similar ends—creating visual memories of family and friends, places and events. The difference may lie in that while a camera may capture moments in time, a drawing done on location extends and deepens our awareness of both time and place even as we immerse ourselves in the moment.

Canale Studios

Been busy the past week with moving for the second time in two years. Relocating is never an easy task, especially when downsizing to smaller quarters. However, it feels good to return to the Fremont neighborhood. Here is a view of our building fronting on the Burke-Gilman Trail and the Ship Canal

CanaleThe simple masonry massing of the structure comprises a rental space at the street level, an 800 SF residence on the second level facing a courtyard on the alley side, and studios and offices above.

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.

Porta Settimiana


Porta Settimiana is a gate in the Aurelian Wall on the west side of the Tiber. Marking the beginning of the Via della Lungara that leads from Trastevere to the Borgo, Porta Settimiana is a restoration of the original gate that was built in 275 AD over the Via Recta, undertaken in 1498 under the direction of Pope Alexander IV.


Looking the other way back through the Porta at the corner where Via della Scala meets Via Benedetta is l’Antica Trattoria Da Gildo, one of my favorite little restaurants in Rome. This is where I had my first taste of Cacio e Pepe in 2000, which has not yet been surpassed. I frequent Da Gildo whenever I teach in Rome and I’m looking forward to dining there again this fall.

Fremont’s Topiary Dinosaurs


It took over 12 years but the ivy has finally completely covered these steel-framed dinosaurs. In 1998, a proposal to the city—initiated by Josh Logan and John Hegeman, authored by Theresa Callahan, and supported by the Fremont Arts Council and other community groups—enabled the ARF (Artists Republic of Fremont) to purchase the dinosaurs from the Pacific Science Center for a dollar. The catch was that the steel framework, weighing five tons and measuring 66 feet in length, had to be moved in two days; with the help of several Fremont businesses, the deadline was met. Now, the mother Apatosaurus and her baby rest peacefully alongside the Burke-Gilman Trail where Phinney Avenue North meets North 34th Street.

After quickly roughing out the framework for the drawing, it took a while to scribble in the leafy texture. When covering a large shape with hatching or texture, working methodically from one end of a shape to the other can often result in unintentional banding. So I like to move around and work in different areas first and then fill the voids in between. Once I had the overall texture evenly distributed, I then went back to intensify the foliage to darken the shaded areas and give form to the dinosaurs.

I find that drawing organic forms is a lot easier than delineating geometric ones since it is easier to get away with errors in proportion. And they’re more fun to sketch!

The Big Rock


In the Wedgewood neighborhood of north Seattle sits this massive rock measuring 80 feet in circumference and 19 feet in height. Geologists call it a glacial erratic, meaning that its composition does not match its present surroundings. It was deposited more than 14,000 years ago by the Vashon Glacier. As the ice sheet moved inexorably from the north into the Puget Sound area, rocks, sediments and boulders such as this one were carried along by the glacier, and then were left behind when the ice retreated. Originally known as the Lone Rock when it was part of a large farmstead, this large mass is now called simply the Big Rock. It became part of a subdivision platted in the 1940s, where it remains surrounded by houses, trees and brush at the corner of 28th Avenue NE and NE 72nd Street.

This is a weird drawing in the sense that we can’t immediately recognize the Big Rock for what it is. What is that large mass of darkness? We have this yearning to know and identify what it is that we see, which is more easily satisfied when we draw buildings, people, trees and other recognizable things.

Mt. Vernon Workshop

I want to thank all of the participants who attended Gail Wong’s and my workshop this past Saturday in Mt. Vernon. The weather could have been nicer but there was sufficient warmth, camaraderie and enthusiasm among those gathered to sketch Mt. Vernon to make up for the lack of sunlight, colors and shadows. Since I drew mainly in the sketchbooks of others, I only have these spare scribblings to share of the experience. I did these sparse drawings to illustrate how to begin a drawing by quickly blocking out the major forms of the composition, before diving into the details.

MtVernon1 MtVernon2

Our Mt. Vernon workshop experience was rewarding and has helped us prepare better for the workshop Gail and I will be conducting in Seattle in a few weeks. Here’s hoping for sunshine and 70° temperatures!