On sketching

Information and commentary about the practice and applications of on-location sketching.

Mount Rainier from Elliott Bay Trail

I often hesitate to use watercolor outdoors when the weather is cold —the washes take too long to dry. But the late afternoon scene by the Elliott Bay Trail the other day was too painterly for a line or tonal…

My sketching tools

What type of pen do you use to sketch? It’s a common question among artists and drawing enthusiasts. If you follow my work, you may also be curious about the tools I use. My answer to the “pen question,” as…

Same boat, different takes

I rarely sketch the same subject twice, let alone three times, over a short period of time. But that’s what happened recently when I drew the Arthur Foss, a historic tugboat moored on Seattle’s Lake Union.

The legacy of illustrator Miroslav Sasek

Miroslav Sasek, a Czech-born artist, was trained as an architect and made a career in children’s literature with books that depict city life around the world. Being an urban sketcher, it’s impossible not to find Sasek’s charming renditions of buildings,…

A treasure trove of Life magazines online

I have a bunch of old Life magazines at home that I’ve been browsing recently in search of inspiration. Whenever I find work that catches my eye, I mark it with a post-it note. Here’s an example: An article written…

I see sinking ships

I first heard of a “sinking ship” building in reference to a Seattle parking garage built on a sloping street near the iconic Smith Tower. When you look at it straight on, the building resembles the bow of a ship…

When a page is not enough to fit a sketch

The sketch doesn’t fit on the page? No worries. That happened to me the other day while I sketched longshore workers at The Port of Seattle. I drew the person quickly first, but made her too big in relation to…

Ronald Ginther’s watercolors of the Depression

Ronald Ginther’s watercolors are a rare visual document of the Depression years in the Seattle area. Ginther painted events he experienced in jails, homeless camps and demonstrations. I’m not sure how much he drew on the spot, but his works…