Monday, August 31, 2015

The Garden Doesn't Look This Nice Anymore

On Friday morning I took a few photos of the few things that are blooming in my garden now, and a good thing I did, for on Saturday a rain and wind storm blasted through the region, strewing Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar branches (and a few I didn't recognize from neighbor's trees) all over the yard.  Nothing was damaged but things sure look more bedraggled.

My home lost power around 12:30pm Saturday, and it was not restored until 2:00pm Sunday.  At least it was warm.  And my friends and neighbors are fabulous (which I knew, of course!).  It was cheering when my neighbor Jerry popped over to my elderly, auto-less neighbors on Sunday morning with McMuffins for them, free of charge.  And I got to watch the Mariners on Michelle and Steve's TV on Saturday afternoon, and they offered me the use of their shower, as did Nicole, as did Tina.  Michelle treated me to lunch so I could get a hot meal instead of peanut butter sandwiches.  Thank  you, one and all!

Anyway, here is what the flowers looked like before the storm.

I planted a gazillion bulbs this past Spring of four or five different species, and the squirrels got everything except the gladioli:

My favorite floribunda rose continues to bloom abundantly:

The snapdragons are making an effort:

Oh, I forgot about this -- I planted a few lily bulbs in Spring as well, late-summer blooming ones, and assumed the squirrels got them too, until this suddenly opened a few days ago -- hurrah!

Someone got in the way of my picture of the new "Buff Beauty" shrub rose--perhaps it should be renamed "Butt Beauty"?

He also somehow managed to get into the photo of the sedum:

So I gave up snapping flowers and just aimed the camera at Truman:

How did it get to be Monday again so soon?  Darn!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Lunch Time Sketch Roundup

I keep a second supply of sketch materials at the office so I can go out on my lunch hour on sunny days.  Recently I bought a second camp stool so I could keep one there all the time, and thus not be limited to views near a bench (which I'd pretty much already exhausted).  

It takes about 5 minutes just to get out of my huge building, and another 10 or so to find a good sketching spot, leaving just half an hour to draw.  This means that most of the time, I dispense with any preliminary pencil work, and dive right in with the pen.  If I want to add color, it must be done quickly!

On Monday this week, I thought about my Campus Sketch Tour, and about how unattractive the building I worked in was -- it's the Health Sciences complex on South Campus, built in the 1940s in a blocky style and added on to over the decades in the same boring, blocky style.  The front of this complex was not something I was keen to sketch.

So I decided to walk to West Montlake Park by the yacht club, from which I could get a view from behind, across the canal.  It still wasn't very attractive.  Oh, well.

And the buildings were mostly hidden by trees.  I will have to rethink how to tackle the Health Sciences Building!

On Tuesday, feeling a bit tired of drawing entire buildings all the time, I opted to sketch a detail of the older architecture on campus.  This is just one small section of the main door of Guggenheim Hall:

I felt that I didn't really have enough time to do it justice.  Sketching on campus on the weekends is probably a better idea, but at least my lunch time outings can provide some reconnaissance.

On Wednesday I wasn't in the mood to sketch, and went on a long walk instead.

On Thursday I did an ink sketch of Gerberding Hall, the administration building off Red Square.

When you get closer up, you can see gargoyles on this building.  I remembered exploring it many many years ago, and discovering that you could get a glimpse of one really close through a third-floor window.  I had an extra 20 minutes or so that day, so after drawing the outside of Gerberding Hall, I went inside to find that view again.

I traipsed up the wrong staircase, and back down, and back up the right staircase, and wound up having only about ten minutes left to sketch, so it was very briskly done:

The forecast is for rain off and on all weekend, so I must find some indoor sketching spots.

Happy Rainy Friday!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Weekend in Review: Baseball!

On Sunday my friend Cyn and I went to the Mariners-White Sox day game with our usual low expectations.  This was the third game we attended this year, and the Mariners lost the first two.  They have not had a good season.

We still enjoy the outings anyway -- a sunny afternoon at the ball park, bad but tasty food, a little shopping at the Team Store, singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" in the 7th inning stretch.  It's all fun.

The forecast was for low 80s and sunshine, so we were happy to be on the shady side up in the view boxes above first base.  The intense sunshine did not really materialize, though -- yes, the sun was shining, and it was plenty light out -- but an east wind was blowing smoke from the wildfires our way and the whole city was hazy from it all day long.

The city skyline  is usually a lot clearer than that.

 Here is Robinson Cano getting a hit:

Our low expectations were greatly exceeded.  After giving up an early run, the Mariners came back strong with lots of hits, steals, and home runs, and were up 7-1 by the 5th.

Racing for home:

Stealing second:


Then things got a bit hairy as our starting pitcher gave up a few runs, and our first reliever gave up a home run -- pretty soon it was 7-6 and we spent a nervous 6th and 7th inning.  In the 8th the Mariners got an insurance run, and we relaxed but not too much, since our closers of late have been inconsistent.  We did get the good news that our extremely inconsistent closer, Fernando Rodney, had been designated for assignment -- finally!

Tom Wilhelmsen came in to close out the top of the 9th, and did so with great skill -- three up, three down.  Whoo hoo, we got a win!

We were happy -- if we got to see only one win this year, at least it was the last game we went to.  Third time's the charm!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Weekend in Review: Sketch Outings

In between the weekend's two birding outings, a party, and a baseball game, I managed to get out to sketch both days.  On Saturday I went to the campus to continue my tour of its buildings.  I'd left off at the Burke Museum and the next buildings in order were Paccar Hall and the law school, neither of which inspired me with their modern architecture.  So I shall have to go back to those and find ways to make them interesting to sketch, as I do want to do the whole campus.

The next building down was Denny Hall, which had construction gates and equipment all over, so I put that down on my "return later" list as well.  Which brought me to Parrington Hall, a very large, very old, very fine building indeed.  It is at the end of Memorial Way, where there is a traffic circle enhanced by a collection of boulders.  A challenging subject indeed.

Tru came along, of course.

I think, in addition to whole building views, I'd like to do a series of smaller views highlighting architectural details, especially on these old buildings.  Another project!  Yay.

On Sunday after birding the Fill, Truman and I stopped at the Magnuson Park P-Patch gardens, where I found a lovely (and small!) view of a watering can and surrounding decor.  I opted to use only pen here.

Tru helps me tour the gardens.

The sketching spot:

On our way out, I spotted a young Cedar Waxwing.

Then I had to go home to get ready for the baseball game outing, about which I will post tomorrow.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Putting on a Show for the Tourist

On Saturday morning I met up with my friend Melissa and her father Phil at the Montlake Fill to show off its birds.  Phil is visiting from North Carolina and is a very fine birder indeed.  I was concerned at first, as it has been so quiet there of late, and as we walked along the Loop Trail for the first ten minutes or so, all I heard were crows and chickadees.

Things picked up, thank goodness, though not always with birds.  I was strolling along, wishing for birds, when Mel said, "A dragonfly just landed on your hat."

It clung there so determinedly that I was able to take my hat off to get a closer shot, and even handed the hat to Mel so I could get a shot of her with it.  In fact, eventually I had to shake the darn thing off.

Birds started turning up then -- the usual Song Sparrows, goldfinches, House Finches, and more chickadees, plus a Downy Woodpecker and a few lingering Barn Swallows.  We reached the lake shore and stood watching the Pied-billed Grebes and a Wood Duck, and a Bald Eagle on a log having duck for breakfast (you can make out the webbed duck foot sticking out on the right).

We were interrupted in our eagle viewing by a family of raccoons who were trying to cross an open space in the reeds just beyond where we stood.  They had noticed us and were reluctant to make their move.

So we backed up a ways, and the raccoons safely made their crossing.

Meanwhile, the eagle flapped around a bit on the log before settling back down to eat.

We moved farther down to get a better view, but the eagle flew off as several crows arrived to annoy it.  But we got a bonus Green Heron that flew in -- too far for clear photos, so here is a blurry one:

The raccoon family turned up again as we stood there -- they were after the blackberries growing along the shore.

We were also treated to a beaver swim-by -- all in all, the non-bird sightings were almost as good as the birdy ones.

On the rest of the Loop, we had two Ospreys flying and hunting overhead, the usual Marsh Wrens, an Anna's Hummingbird, and several Bushtit flocks.  Then we headed to Edmonds where we visited the pier for Pigeon Guillemots, Heermann's Gulls, a Common Murre, and a Caspian Tern fly-by.  Finally we visited the Edmonds Marsh for sandpipers.  Without a scope, we had trouble with definitive IDs except for the Killdeer, but it's a lovely spot to hang out in.

Phil was happy with his tour, and I was happy that the birds turned up for him.

After parting company in Edmonds, I returned home to appease Truman, who could not come with us that morning.  I took him on a walk around the campus, where I did some sketching, and then later took him to a party (he'd been on the invitation list!) where he was bothered by cats though not too excessively.  On Sunday we had a walk together around the Fill, followed by more sketching, before I headed off to the ball game.  More on those outings tomorrow!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

UW Campus Sketch Project plus Grebes!

My "sketch the UW campus" project continued this week with a couple of lunch time outings.  It takes about 10 minutes to get out of my building and to a suitable sketching location, and with 10 minutes to get back, plus a few minutes here or there for unpacking and packing up supplies, that leaves a mere 30-35 minutes for actual art creation.  This does not always work well.

Evidence below:  this is More Hall, and it filled up the page too abundantly and got too busy, but I didn't have time to start over, so I went ahead and finished it anyway.  Some tourists stopped by to admire it, so at least it pleased somebody.

I do like the tree on the right.

This second one is much more successful.  I've been taking my watercolor paints out and about instead of using the watercolor pencils.  I think I like this better than the pencils, though it is a bit trickier in terms of transport and set up.  I'm working on streamlining that.

This is Mary Gates Hall:

I doubt I'll get any sketching done this coming weekend -- birding outing and party on Saturday, baseball game on Sunday.  We shall see.

In other adventures, I got photos of birds on Saturday -- here are some young Pied-billed Grebes hanging out at Magnuson Park restoration ponds.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Don't Bug Me

You all know that I love being outdoors (though not in a camping/hiking sort of way -- it's more of a Stroll in the Park or Visit the Seashore or Lounge in the Garden kind of way).  And we've had splendid weather this summer for getting out and about, and for the most part, I've enjoyed every minute of my wanderings.

And then there was Sunday.

Okay, mostly it was fine, but here's a thing about enjoying the outdoors which I occasionally forget:  sometimes insect repellent is your friend.

The Seattle Urban Sketchers met at the UW Waterfront Activities Center where the canoes get rented out.  A lovely spot -- but I had a daft moment that morning and left my camp stool behind.  Luckily, I found a bench with a view of the dock where the canoes were lined up like metal sardines, and did a large two-page ink sketch there:

Unluckily, the entire time I sat there, a bee zipped in and out and around the bench, causing me to flail and wave my arms a lot.  I blame any wonky ink lines on this encounter.

Having tired of the bee, I wandered down the Montlake Cut path until I found a nice view, and sat on a handy stone wall.  After a bit of sketching, I looked down to see a large ant crawling towards me.  I gently brushed it away.  A moment later, I noticed a second ant coming from the other direction.  And a third.  And a fourth...I'm sure you can see where this is going.  They were everywhere.

I did not finish that sketch.

So I went for a walk.  It was a pleasant walk, and I ran across these lovely madrone trees -- I adore their bark:

I wanted to sketch them, but there was no place to sit and they were on the side of a road.  So I ambled onward until I spotted a lone, canvas-covered sailboat at the end of a dock, and a handy, very wide fence post to sit on.  And for once, there were no bugs!

Whew.  Then I headed back to the canoe area for the meet up where we shared our drawings.

I'm kneeling, second from right in the blue tee-shirt and baseball cap.

It was an okay outing all in all, but I felt a bit annoyed at myself for forgetting the camp stool, which would have saved me from a great deal of buggy irritation.  So I got home, greeted Truman, went out into the back garden with him, and sat down on a lawn chair to relax.  I was wearing Capri pants -- and when I glanced down at my bare legs, I saw a spider calmly perched in the middle of my calf.

!!!!!!!  Jiminy, can't a nature lover get a break?!?  Bugs!!!

Oh, well.  Without the bugs, there wouldn't be any nature to enjoy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Truman Goes Shopping

There are many reasons I love going to the University Bookstore -- as UW staff, I get discounts there, they carry plenty of good art supplies, they are an independent bookstore (the only kind I shop at), and best of all, they like dogs.

I love being able to take Truman with me, and the staff love him (though he disdains the hard crunchy dog treats they try to ply him with).  Here he is on Saturday afternoon helping me pick out a new sketch supply bag -- note how similar his expression is to the top photo.  I think that's his standard "why are we here and not home" look.

I wanted a larger bag in order to concentrate my supplies instead of hauling some stuff in the small bag I had and the rest in my backpack.  What I forgot, until I gave the new large bag a full test on Sunday, was that while it was handy to have everything in one place, it also concentrated the weight.  So now I have to consider revamping my supplies to make things less heavy.  Yay.

After making my purchase, Tru and I headed over to the Burke Museum to continue my Sketch the Campus project.

Between the Fresh Paint festival in Everett and this afternoon sketch outing, it proved to be a full and formative Saturday.  Sunday was quiet by comparison -- just birding, a sketch group outing, and a dog walk.  I'll post about that tomorrow.