It seems like the transition from on-site to studio work should have been easier, but in reality, the holidays swooped in hard and fast. With the exception of a single outing of the Capitol Hill Plein Aire Society Thanksgiving week, nothing happened until January. I think next year I’ll put more effort into setting up studio projects well in advance.
In January, John and I met up with the Urban Sketchers Seattle group at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) for a chance to sketch strange and wonderful relics of Seattle’s distant past, and for a chance to check out an exhibit of work by the man who started the Urban Sketchers movement: Gabriel Campanario. Little did we realize we’d actually get a chance to meet him in person!
As I’m sure many folks who know Mr. Campanario will tell you, he is as approachable, engaging and inspiring in person as his body of work through years of sketching suggest.
Stewing over this enormous exhibit, was a kind of a revelation for me. As a Seattle native, I experienced instant recognition of many of the places he’s sketched over the years for the local newspaper. As a sketcher, I also recognized the impulse to sketch on location, and the subsequent fulfillment and understanding of a subject in only the way on-site sketching can.
After talking with Mr. Campanario, John and I wandered into the rest of the museum. First I setup next to an exhibit of 50’s pop nostalgia that included an old television set that ran a constant loop of vintage Seattle television commercials and – among other things – the costume of Seattle children’s television personality Wunda Wunda. Before the the theme song to King’s Clubhouse drove me insane, I wondered into the early settlers exhibit to sketch a beautiful 1850’s maternity wrap, then wondered down to the cafe to meet back up with the group in time for a group photo.
The more I’ve been sketching in the city, the more aware I’ve become of the constant changes that have been taking place throughout my neighborhood. Following up on a kind of New Year’s resolution, my wife, Elizabeth, and I attended our first public building design review meeting. The designs being reviewed were for a four story, multi-family residential building scheduled to replace two large houses near the intersection of Broadway and John. Excited from our involvement in the process, Elizabeth and I stopped by the houses on our way home in the light of the full moon.
I guess I’ve been on the hill long enough to take many of its buildings for granted; I hadn’t put as much weight to the importance of these houses until after I knew they wouldn’t be around for much longer. So on a Sunday before the end of January, I suggested to John and Julia that we setup there to try and sketch what we could before it changes again.
Time was short – as it always seems to be in the winter months – and the sun hung low in the sky from the south, so we opted to sketch the little pink house near 10th, whose color and character has been a typical sight in this neighborhood in recent years. Not more than a month or two ago, there was a house almost identical in size and shape next to the pink house. A new construction now stood in its place – towering over it from behind.
February 2014 marked the beginning of the Year of the Horse. It also marked the beginning of John bringing his video camera with him during our outings…
Sketching amongst the echoes of drums and fireworks was exhilarating! For my first sketch, I setup on the corner across from the Jade Garden restaurant in an attempt to position myself in the path of the procession. Luckily, the Jade Garden turned out to be their very next stop. The only challenge at that point was getting a clear view from my little camping stool as the crowd of onlookers swarmed the street in front of me. By the time I had finished, the dragons had moved on to the next neighborhood storefront.
The following weekend John and I trudged through the snow to Cornish College of the Arts where friends Joseph Gray and Reilly Donovan were spending their residency working out the details of their video projection mapping project, ‘Cube Etude’.
Trying to capture something so innately precise in form and presentation using watercolor ended up becoming an interesting exercise; the cube glowing from the video projected upon it created an effective illusion of being lit from the inside, making everything around it darker by contrast. As Riley diligently calibrated the projectors, seemingly random patterns of vibrant colors flashed across the face of the cube, adding to the excitement of spontaneity to the subject.
Thanks for visiting! If you’re reading this on or before Saturday, March 9th, don’t forget to set your clocks one hour ahead.