Section 22-6 of the City Code of St. Augustine

I was unaware that I might have been breaking the law when I did this sketch of the Plaza de Constitucion in 2014. Urban sketcher Thomas Thorspecken of Orlando, Florida, recently blogged about traveling to St. Augustine to witness a demonstration being staged to protest a local ordinance passed in 2009 banning “acting, juggling, singing, playing musical instruments, pantomime, mime, magic, dancing, artistry or the creation of visual art and wares, which includes drawings or paintings applied to paper, cardboard, canvas, cloth or to other similar medium when such art is applied to the medium through the use of brush, pastel, crayon, pencil, spray or other similar object, and the creation, display and/or sale of crafts made by hand or otherwise.”

While the intent of this ordinance was probably to control and regulate street performers and vendors in the tourist center of St. Augustine, it seems to catch in its broad net those who, like urban sketchers, simply desire to draw or paint on location in certain public spaces in the city.

A case to overturn this ordinance is currently pending in federal court.

Seattle Central Library


The December meeting of the Seattle Urban Sketchers took place at the Seattle Central Library, where I drew these two views of the Norcliffe Foundation Living Room. Serving as a general purpose reading area adjacent to a coffee shop and gift shop, the Living Room is part of the largest of the dynamic spaces in the library designed by Rem Koolhaaus and Joshua Prince-Ramus of OMA in collaboration with LMN Architects.

In one sense, the irregular geometry of such spaces can be easier to draw since any deviation from what actually exists may be difficult to discern. On the other hand, what is important to convey is a sense of the scale and 3-dimensional volume of the space.

Singapore Art Museum

During last summer’s Urban Sketchers Symposium, the Singapore Art Museum was the site for my workshops. Opening in 1996, the museum is housed in what was originally St. Joseph’s, a 19th-century mission school run by the La Salle Brothers.

Both before and after the workshops, I had the opportunity to draw two exterior views of the the museum, which focuses on the contemporary arts of Singapore, Southeast Asia, and Asia. The difficult aspect of both of these views was controlling the amount the wings of the building curve as they extend out from the main body of the complex, neither exaggerating, nor minimizing the amount of curvature.

Context Matters

The Boeing B-1 seaplane, the first and only one built, began flying the international airmail route from Lake Union in Seattle to Victoria, British Columbia, in 1919. I drew the first view of the seaplane last year, which merely hinted at its context. The second view was drawn when a small group of urban sketchers met this past Tuesday at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) to sketch with Laurie Wigham, who was visiting from San Francisco. This time, I included a greater sense of the central hall space in which the seaplane is suspended. Context matters.

Here are two views of the Duwamish, a fireboat built in 1909 and now moored at the Historic Ships Wharf just north of MOHAI. The first is taken from the wharf itself while the second is drawn from the northeast corner window of the second floor of MOHAI. The window itself serves as a framing device for the drawing. Context matters.