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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

2015 Calendars

It's back! After a year's hiaitus I've brought back the calendar.

Twelve months of sketches from different locations in my 2015 experience.

The calendars measure approximately 10 inches by 7 inches when fully extended, have a spiral binding for easy transitions and a hole for hanging!

view full calender in pdf format here.

Order yours today.

Or email me at

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Red Hook, Brooklyn

Red Hook,the south Brooklyn neighborhood stretching below Atlantic Avenue to the Hudson River, is a place of contrasts. Sleek minimalist condos sit inside 19th century red-brick warehouses. The smell of salt water is halted by sewage reeking from pipes un-repaired since Hurricane Sandy. Construction cranes hum alongside dilapidated buildings. Wildly reviewed restaurants buzz just a few paces from the local bodega.
One of the neighborhood's distinguishing characteristics is the open sky. The buildings are short compared to the city, especially across the river in Manhattan. The proximity to the water gives Red Hook the feel of a beach town, but definitely not a resort. It's just the kind of place artists and young urban families crave--cheap rent (until a couple of years ago), parks, plenty of real estate to renovate.

Red Hook Impressions

We visited Red Hook this year to celebrate the one year anniversary of Hometown BBQ. I wrote about their opening in a post last year. This year I had some time to explore and do some sketching in the neighborhood. I stood on the streets and did my thing. Here's a map of the neighborhood (I took small license to use this even though it's a sketch from a map):

Van Brunt is the main street running from Atlantic, a main thoroughfare in Brooklyn, to the water. I started with the Ice House and its neighbor, Bait and Tackle, the local watering holes and the places to find people who know Red Hook.

The first two buildings on the right -- The Ice House and Brooklyn Bait and Tackle, Van Brunt Street, Red Hook

Further down the street you pass chic urban shops, vacant lots, galleries, rusted trucks, and a custom-made bicycle shop among the array of businesses. Kentler International Drawing Space attracts my attention every time I visit, but I haven't managed to make it in to see what it's all about. Hers's a few street images:
Kentlery International Drawing Space - Red Hook pedestrian - sign for local bagel shop
Dry Dock Wine and Spirits - Van Brunt and Van Dyke
Hometown BBQ sits at the base of Van Brunt on Reed, just across the street from Fairway market, a massive grocery store selling everything from quarters of beef to Brooklyn Kombucha. Around the corner from Hometown on Conover is the legendary Sunny's Bar, owned by the Balzano family since 1890 and currently run by Sunny Balzano, "The Grandfather of Red Hook." You can read about Hometown and Sunnys in my posts from last year.

A new addition to the neighborhood is the Hometown Shack--where they smoke all the meat on wood-fired smokers. Two shipping containers handle a couple of smokers and a couple more sit outside next to the gravel yard. In the summer you can get your ribs and sit at the umbrella tables taking in the smoke flavored salty air.
Hometown Shack, Red Hook near Valentino Pier

A few paces from the Shack Louis Valentino, Jr Park and Pier locals can fish while enjoying possibly the best land view of the Statue of Liberty in New York. The park and pier are named after a firefighter and parks lifeguard Louis J Valentino who lost his life while searching for wounded fellow firefighters.

The lower Manhattan skyline stretches along the water, dominated by the new World Trade Center. I happened to be there on September 11. 

World Trade Center from Valentino Pier, Red Hook
We visited the Red Hook Initiative, a local non-profit that serves the neighborhood by providing job training and many other services. That's a story in itself. This quote by it's founder Jill Eisenhart, describes Red Hook aptly: 

"If you ask an outsider what makes Red Hook special, they'll talk about the parks and open spaces, the waterfront views, the cobblestone streets, the great businesses, churches and agencies that creat the fabri of the community. If you ask someone from Red Hook, they'll tell you the secret: It's the people who live here." 
From Images of Red Hook, by Thomas Rupolo

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Secret Pockets and icons

So many times when I get to the Seattle Urban Sketcher's monthly sketch outing I feel the pressure to find something quickly to focus on and start! I hear the voice of those monkeys that follow me around, "You only have 2 and a half hours and you've got to produce something." 

So last Sunday I decided to take an easier pace, walk around, scope out the place.  So I started drawing a walking map, something I've never done. I got half way down the path when I noticed a little path I'd never seen before. And there sat hi-tech chrome plated frames tipped at different angles, Perre's Ventaglio III by Beverly Pepper. The frames sit in the middle of a walking path surrounded by plants and trees. I just liked the contrasts -- natural greenery/chrome; organic shapes/geometric rectangles; light/shadow. 

Then, with another hour to go, the map idea forgotten, I decided to sketch an icon--the Typewriter Eraser, Scale X by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.  The shadows were really strong that morning making the eraser all the more dramatic. 

 It was a beautiful day - a tribute to a beautiful summer. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Walla Walla for Labor Day

We drove across the mountains for Labor Day weekend to visit relatives in the Tri-cities and Walla Walla. Walla Walla has a long history and some interesting historical architecture. The wine boom has transformed downtown and boosted the local economy adding interesting upscale shops, tasting rooms, and restaurants 

The blue mountains above Walla Walla offer a vast array of subtly different shades of gold and green. The broad open sky is like a big aaahhhhh.

 I stopped on the gravel road and did this very quick sketch because of the colors. 

In town the sidewalk cafes were full of visitors and locals. Lot's of tasting rooms line the streets, but this one section of Main Street is lined with outdoor seating. 

The Die Bruke (bridge) building sits on the busiest corner of downtown. and according to the walking tour of downtown Walla Walla, it is so named because it spans Mill Creek which runs through downtown emerging just next to where I was sitting. Starbucks sits on the other side of the street adding to the pedestrian traffic. Students with parents in tow were just arriving in town for the opening of the fall session at Whitman. 

 I did a quick Google search to learn about the Die Bruke and found Jim Bumgarner's sketch on flickr among the first in Google's links. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

One more week of Music in the Park - Sylvester

The Olympia Jazz Senators will play this Wednesday, August 27 for the final week of the 35th annual 2014 Music in the Park Series. Bring your blanket, your family and your dinner and enjoy the festivities! 

Sylvester Park
7:00 - 8:00 P.M. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Elections have begun! Olympia's Plinth Project on Percival Landing

The 2014 People's Prize competition began Friday July 25 and continues through August 31st. You can vote for one of the sculptures displayed on the plinths of Percival Landing. The city will purchase the sculpture with the most votes and place it in a different location as part of the city's public art collection.   

Plinths in architectural terminology, are pedestals upon which columns, statues, monument or structure stands. The City of Olympia has placed several plinths on Percival Landing providing a base for sculptures and performers. Take a walk along the landing, get a ballot and add your voice to the city's public art collection. And don't forget the plinth at the eastern end of Yashiro bridge, next to Bayview Thriftway. 

I've sketched a sampling below: 

OPENING (Ring Dance #9)by Don Freas
Steel and Cast Iron
Olympia Avenue Plaza

Figure in Motionby Hugh Buchholz
North of Harbor House

Vertebra: Ocean Verde
by Dave Haslett
Stone: NW Olivine (Mt Baker) and Basalt (Moses Lake)

State Street Pavilion

Basin of Quenched Fire
by Bil Fleming
Reclaimed Sea Buoy and Tractor Cog
Water Street and 4th Avenue


The daughter of a friend owns, with her husband, All City Coffee on Yale Street, just off Airport way in Georgetown. So I chose it for a meeting spot at the May sketch outing for the Urban Sketchers Seattle group. I like the old brick buildings a sense of history in Georgetown. 

I tucked around the corner to find three other sketches at the Georgetown trailer park --an art deco/hippie flea market. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Amidst festival regalia, Garden Raised bounty (GRUB) held it’s annual “Grubuation” honoring students for their social, scholarly and agricultural accomplishments. The class, a diverse collection of students representing various high schools in Thurston County told their stories under a white tent decorated with multi-colored batik flags.

They used a variety of mediums to express their gratitude, pride and even love for the program, their teachers, the GRUB staff, community mentors and their fellow students. One young woman rapped her appreciation, while another, an alumni, spoke her poem slam style. They sang, showed a slide show of the year’s events and put on delectable spread for all the guests.

GRUB is a garden-based non-profit that fosters several programs related to growing healthy food. Their Cultivating Youth Employment Program employs 15-20 low-income and/or at-risk youth for two months each summer on GRUB’s  1.75 acre urban farm on Olympia’s Westside. GRUB staff trains the students in gardening, cooking, health and nutrition, communications, leadership skills and teamwork. Some of the students continue through the school year further developing these skills and focusing on longer term academic and employment goals. Though group dynamics they learn to form tight bonds with each other and the staff.

The Kitchen Garden Project (KGP) was started in 1993 by Rich Doss and merged with GRUB IN 2001. KGP focuses on improving quality of life and nutrition for low-income families and seniors by helping them build raised-bed gardens at their homes. Recent years have seen the need rise and the waiting list build.

GRUB is very tightly connected to the food/education movement that is becoming ever more pervasive in all areas of the country. GRUB’S annual report states that Students from GRUB participated, last year in the “annual Rooted in Community (RIC) Youth Leadership Summit in South Central LA. RIC is a national grassroots network that empowers young people to lead their communities towards food justice through urban and rural agriculture, community gardening, food security, and related environmental justice work. “  The student’s from GRUB were acknowledged as key contributors and student leaders.

You can read more about their programs and their successes on their website:

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Radish Season!

Piles and piles of radishes stack the stands at the Olympia Farmer's Market. I sketched these, organic Easter egg radishes, at the Calliope Farms stand. The proprietor, Jacob Wilson, told me about his farm near Evergreen where he and Megan Marina tend "about six acres of cultivated ground, pasture, greenhouses, orchard and nettle patch."  Check them out to add a little colorful spice to your palate. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Santa Monica in May

It was an confluence of events. Our son, Connor was turning 30. Jing Jing, our oldest son Jeremy's girlfriend who designs furniture was opening a show at a new gallery in downtown Los Angeles. Lianna, who lives in Brooklyn, NY wanted a break after a long winter. So we all decided to pack our bags and snatch up some California sunshine.

Because I was traveling with people who don't sketch I had to grab moments here and there to sneak in a sketch. So I decide to focus on doing a few 1-5 minute sketches. I got the main lines down then added color later.

These next sketches took a bit longer. 

This one was done on the walkway next to the beach. It doesn't do justice to the crowd that was gathered to watch the 1st Anniversary of Slack Line Park, a sectioned off area of Santa Monica beach where one can jump on a flat, bouncy tightrope about the width of a seat belt. It was fun to watch. I include a very short video below. 

Finally, on our last day, when kids were busy or gone we rode bikes down the path next to the beach and I sad in the sand and sketched Hotel Casa del Mar. It was designed by Charles F Plummer in the Italian Renaissance style and opened in 1926. During the second world war it became a hotel and recreation center for military, then it was headquarters for Synanon, a drug and alcohol rehab organization. In 1997 Shutters on the Beach,it's modern upscale neighbor purchased and remodeled it. Its now on the National Register of Historic Places. Unfortunately I didn't take the time to saunter through the lobby. Maybe next time. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

43rd Annual Northwest Folklife

I love Folklife. It's such a colorful and culturally diverse event. I managed to pick the weekend's rainiest day, Sunday, to get there. As I sat for my first sketch I figured out I needed to find a covered space and surprisingly there are plenty of them in Seattle Center --trees, outcropping roofs, covered walkways. Had I not forgotten my extra layer I would have stuck around and watched my hometown heros - Samba Olywa.

I've been wanting to try twig-sketching for a while and finally got my materials gathered, a good sized twig (or in my case a bamboo shaft), Chinese ink and some decently absorbant paper. It's not an easy tool; the pen dries quickly. I persisted and will keep experimenting. I like the rough quality and variable line quality. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tacoma's Theater District

Our April sketch outing was in Tacoma's Theater District - the multi street intersection with Tullys, the Rialto and Pantages converge. It hailed like the dickens so I quickly sketched this between the deluges.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Seattle's International District's Panama Hotel

Made internationally famous from Jamie Ford's novel "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" , the Panama Hotel has a funky charm--nondescript on the outside but full of history and intrigue. Jan Johnson, a fashion designer who grew up in West Seattle purchased the hotel in 1985 and has renovated it and opened the tea house on the first floor. The shop is fringed with memorabilia and historic photos. They've even cut a window in the floor that provides a view of the basement where artifacts left behind by Japanese as they were forced to leave during the internment.

There were five of us there Sunday drawing in the tea room, escaping from the rain and cold. Disappointingly I only got one drawing done. And just as we were about to leave a woman came out and started straightening things. It was the owner, Jan Johnson. She was delighted to see our sketches and told us stories of some of the artwork in the glass cases. It was really a perfect sketching spot for a wet March Sunday morning. I definitely want to go back.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Seattle Bouldering Project

Last weekend our Seattle sketching group went to Seattle Bouldering Project, a climbing gym tucked away just off Rainier Avenue in central Seattle. Its web site describes it.
"...the best climbing gym in the world. It's the future of indoor climbing. High ceilings. Open layout. Natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows. Enormous, striking climbing walls. Topout boulders. Innovative and grade-consistent routesetting. Seamless padding."

...from toddlers in diapers to tank-topped women and jean-clad men.

 The staff was super welcoming, friendly and very gracious allowing us free access as long as we steered clear of the landing areas, a rule made to protect climbers and spectators alike.

It was the perfect place to meet on a rainy February day evidenced by the scores of climbers.

We definitely have it on our list to revisit during next year's rainy season.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

International Sketchcrawl and Kimsooja

I spent the 44th International Sketchcrawl in Vancouver, BC. The local group didn't post a group gathering so I took a couple of opportunities to make some quick sketches in spite of the cold and wind. The first was the corner of Georgia and Granville where I ducked behind the shelter of a storefront to capture the chestnut roaster.

The real treat of the weekend for me was a visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery. We knew Emily Carr was showing there but we happened upon the last day of an exhibition by KimSooja, a Korean born, New York City artist. 

Her medium, at least in this exhibition, centered around Korean textiles. The bottari is a Korean scarf that serves many purposes, one being a bundle wrapping. It can contain whatever objects that need to be gathered and carried from one place to another.  

One of her projects was documented through a film showing her 11 day journey through the villages where she lived as a child. She made the journey in a truck that carried many bottari wrapped bundles. A similarly stocked truck inhabited one full room at the exhibition. Although I had to be surreptitious considering the fact that most museums don't allow anything but pencil sketching, I did manage an ink rendering and added color later. It doesn't really capture the rich, tactile quality of the show. Really impressive.


Below is a video of another room in the exhibition -- clotheslines of scarves in a mirrored room.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mohai - Drawn to Seattle

I've been wanting to get to MOHAI since its opening last year and it was definitely worth the wait. The mini "foot-path stars" lighting my path at the entrance gave the first hint of enchantment. I was more than impressed as I entered the hall of icons where people were milling about nibbling on snacks and sipping beverages. After sketching for the first hour I caught the informal tour of Gabi Campanario's exhibition, Drawn to Seattle, and I was floored. The variety of displays, the layout and design, not to mention the collection of wonderful sketches and stories was so well done.

The Boeing B-1 airplane shown below was the first airplane to be designed and constructed at Boeing in 1919. It's made of cedar and linen over a spruce frame, the strongest and most lightweight materials at the time. Eddie Hubbard, a local pilot won the contract for the first international airmail service and flew between Seattle and Victoria ten to twelve times a month for seven years. I'm told the plane's position in the MOHAI hall is exactly the same as it would have been when it landed on Lake Union to deliver mail.

I visited MOHAI a second time as part of a monthly sketch outing with Seattle Urban Sketchers. I found the Slo-mo-shun IV hydroplane hanging from the ceiling behind the mail plane. This famous Seattle icon won the 1950 Gold Cup setting a water speed record of 160.323 mph in Lake Washington, breaking the world record by almost 20 mph on June 26 of that same year.

The LincolnToe truck was constructed by Ed Lincoln, owner. He got the idea after negotiating with a salesman. He purchased a wrecked VW van, hired his friend, Ed Ellison, a master welder, and Joan McGinnis to sculpt a mold for the fiberglass toes. Voila! A toe truck! It was used for 20 years for parades and hired out for charity work: weddings and parties, until it was retired and eventually donated to MOHAI. 

I returned to MOHAI in March and May as artist in residence -- sketching and greeting other interested potential sketchers. These ship sirens used to lead the way on ships' prows. Now they lean in from the wall, overseeing the great hall.