Urban Sketching Class in Downtown Redmond

I had on my City of Redmond Arts Instructor hat on last Saturday and led a group of four enthusiastic people in an introduction to Urban Sketching starting at Redmond’s Downtown Park on a beautiful sunny day. After meeting and greeting and a bit of an introduction as to what urban sketching is - drawing on location and drawing what you see - I had them warm up with their first exercise. I gave each person a viewfinder to use to help limit their focus and do some thumbnail sketches with, orientated both horizontally and vertically. I showed one of the cool things to do with a viewfinder on a thumbnail. It becomes like a frame and sliding that frame around the thumbnail helps to clarify if the subject is in a good spot for a later sketch or needs to be moved to a different spot. It’s amazing how helpful a thin piece of cutout cardboard can be! I shared a number of strategies of ways to approach sketching and then it was time to let the students loose. We moved to the train signal sculpture and I had them try sketching. One student gave me the challenge of how to draw a foreshortened perspective of the sculpture.

Urban Sketching Workshop in Bothell, WA - Part Three

The second day of the Urban Sketchers Workshop in Bothell was a beautiful sunny one. Great weather for being outside to sketch. Gabi started with watercolor demos in the classroom at Cloud 9 Art School but soon we headed out and stopped at the Clover Leaf Rebekahs No. 54 House. Some worked on the house and others chose the small house next door to draw for this exercise. The point was to take composition, line, and value and put it all together with watercolor for this sketch.


Putting it all together

First try for the day


Walk-by sketch

Playing with values with only watercolor

Next we had a short 10-15 minute stop at the beaver sculptures in front of the Bothell City Hall. Gabi wanted us to draw them using only watercolor and to get a sense of shape using value. I chose the calculating looking beaver sitting up. My version had him looking a bit evil so I tried it again. They looked much better after they dried.



Then it was on to the next stop at McMenamin's Anderson School Hotel. It was a great building but given where we were - very close to it, it was challenging to draw. Finding a good, safe spot to draw was also an issue. There was a throw down but I missed the picture of it. I was impressed how much people got done on this complicated building in such a short period of time. 



Urban Sketching Workshop in Bothell, WA - Part Two

More from the 2 day Urban Sketching workshop with Gabi Campanario in Bothell. On Saturday after the walk by sketch of the vacuum parts robot casually sitting on a bench, the group moved to Hillcrest Bakery. This is a business that's been family owned and operated since 1934. It's a cute little blue and white shop at the bottom of Main Street. The drawing exercise here was to focus on line work and composition.


Hillcrest Bakery

Line Work and Composition Exercise

Gabi's first sketch demonstration was on the side walk next to the bakery but with 12 or so sketchers that got a bit crowded so we moved across the street to draw. The throw down of sketchbooks was interesting as always and my sketch.


The fourth stop of the day was at Bothell Landing. It was a beautiful afternoon and it was packed with all sorts of people from young ballerinas, family reunions, two or three wedding groups, a girl in her huge puffy quinceañera dress held by her younger brother, and plenty of others. We first got to tour through the Hannan House, one of the three historic buildings grouped there.  Gabi gave a demo of three ways to show value when he drew the school house. One was pencil, another was pencil with crosshatching and the final was watercolor. The exercise for us was to practice value. Incorporating the earlier ideas on composition and line work was encouraged - not surprisingly.


Bothell Landing

Value Exercise

Urban Sketching Workshop in Bothell, WA - Part One

Over the past weekend, I was in an Urban Sketchers workshop at Cloud 9 Art School in Bothell, Washington, led by Gabriel Campanario who started Urban Sketchers in Seattle about 10 years ago. It was a great class with plenty of inspiration but also challenges in trying to put the concepts down on paper and have them work out. After every sketching stop, there would be a throw down where everyone would lay out their sketchbooks (or iPad) and we could see what everyone from the group had done. That part was always interesting. Here are some pictures from the workshop and the first two challenges.



Historic Tree in Bothell

An exercise in composition

This exercise was focused on composition. The tree was to be the main character in the sketches. It was then a matter of finding a spot to draw it. The photos show Gabi doing his demo for the tree, the spot I chose to draw the tree from, and then the throw down of sketches. Composition is a tough thing to do well in an urban setting when so much is calling for attention. "Draw me, draw me!", "Include me too!", "Ooh, that's interesting..." It's definitely something for me to think about more when I'm trying to sketch outdoors.


Walk-by Sketch

10 minutes


Gabi gave us ten minutes to sketch this whimsical and creative vacuum parts robot sculpture. And here's the throw down of our sketches.

Sketching with the Seattle Urban Sketchers


I met up with the Seattle Urban Sketchers last weekend at the Seattle Center Armory and got some sketching, people watching and meeting new people in. There were about 15-20 people who ended up there. It was fascinating, as always, to see how different all the sketchbooks were at the throw down at the end of the gathering. 


A Wonderful Building in Plaza Vieja in Habana Vieja, Cuba

24 Cuba 2017 sm Plaza Vieja bldg 72 dpi with wm.jpg

I was taking refuge from the rain and started to draw this building, Edificio Gómez Vila, across the square. I started but even though it is very regular, I kept messing up the proportions. I saved what I had and continued working on it after I got back home. There is a camera obscura on the top floor which gives 360 degree views of the city of Havana. Regularly on the corner by the planters, there was an ice cream vendor, and someone selling coconuts.