Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Lots of Truman

This past Sunday, when there was no football parking or traffic to keep me from the Fill, I took Truman there for a walk around the Loop Trail.  There's a new sign for the Fill's official name:

We were treated to a fabulous battle over the Southwest Pond, where a Cooper's  Hawk was chased by a lot of crows from tree to tree to tree while a Great Blue Heron kept a keen eye on the proceedings.  Sadly, the crow-hawk chase moved too fast to get photos.

The only bird who sat still long enough for me that day was this Spotted Towhee:

Next, we headed to Sky Nursery because I wanted to try sketching there again.  I found a pond display with two metal heron decorations.

Truman and I then enjoyed a stroll around the nursery.

Indoors, we found a section offering dog toys:

I think Truman liked that section best of all!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Saturday Adventures

This past Saturday I started off to the Fill for some birding, with a plan to sketch on the campus, too.  But part way along I remembered there was a football game, and the parking lot at the Fill gets closed down so they can sell the spaces to football fans.  Very annoying!

So birding was out, and sketching on campus was out.  I looked about for other sketching places, and stopped briefly at the original P-Patch gardens near the University Prep school.

Although I did a quick pen sketch there, it felt uninspired.  I didn't particularly care for this spot as a sketch location -- it was hard to park close by, and access to the garden was difficult with a stroller.  Oh, well.

Then I recalled there was a cemetery not too far away.  And I had brought the toned paper along.  Toned paper ought to work really well for statues, so I tootled on over there and strolled around until I found an angel statue to test this out on.  Truman seemed concerned about this odd location.

After taking him for a short walk among the tombstones, I settled down to sketch.  

That turned out nicely, if I do say so myself.  I enjoyed it so much that the next day we went to a different cemetery where I found another angel statue to draw -- it didn't turn out quite so detailed, because the best vantage point was in the shade and I got chilly and didn't want to stay long, so rushed it a bit.

I'll have to get the Northend Urban Sketchers out to these places before it gets too cold to draw outside -- very interesting statuary that is the perfect subject matter for toned papers.  I used waterproof black ink on the first drawing, and water-soluble brown ink on the second.  A white gel pen was used for the highlights.  Fun to do!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Truman's New Girlfriend

Truman's pet sitter has a  new dog -- her name is Princie, she's around seven, and is a Chihuahua mix of unknown pedigree but with possibly some Miniature Pinscher.  Last Friday evening they had an introductory meeting.

Tru's initial reaction when Princie turned up was to growl -- after all, Dog End is his territory.  So we got them away from the house for a short walk, and then brought them back to the yard to roam around together.  After they got used to each other, they came inside for more socializing.

Princie was very playful, while Truman was his usual reserved self, but eventually he engaged in a few short bouts of play-bowing and scampering.

Today the sitter will bring Princie along for the lunch-time visit.  I've instructed Truman to behave like a gentleman with his new girlfriend, and I will be awaiting a report.  He enjoyed hanging out with the sitter's previous dog Pepe, but Pepe was quite old and slow and not playful, so this could be quite a different experience.

I suspect once he gets used to the idea, he will manage to have a good time!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sketching People Again...Plus a Dinosaur!

Last Sunday the Seattle Northend Urban Sketchers (me, Nicole, and Tina) went to Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park again to try sketching people in the big commons there.

I had the most success with senior citizens, who tended not to move around as much.

I wanted to sketch inside the bookstore proper, but all of the comfy chairs scattered throughout were occupied, so I had to return to the commons area.  I found a couple of card players there.

It was an okay sketch experience, though on the whole, not as satisfying as drawing landscapes, buildings, and animals.

Or even dinosaurs.  There's a building next to mine on the campus which houses the biology department, and on their third-floor lobby wall hangs a mosasaur fossil skeleton.  I've been wanting to draw it for ages, but the lobby was always full of students  taking up all the chairs.  Goodness!

Even during the break between Summer and Autumn quarters, when I would pop over to have a look, there were still students hanging about.  But this week, the custodians were waxing and buffing the floors near the lobby, and apparently the noise drove the youngsters away, for I finally had the place all to myself.  Hurrah!

I found the perfect vantage point from which to draw the skeleton, which was so long it spread over two pages.

Remember, you can click on any photo for a larger view!

I enjoyed drawing it so much that I returned the next day (still empty of students!) and drew it again, this time on toned paper (which wasn't big enough to accommodate the whole tail).

Around ten years ago, I completed the UW's Certificate Program in Scientific Illustration, and this drawing reminded me how much I enjoyed that program and how much I loved drawing the museum specimens.  Now I want to go back to the Burke Museum (the university's natural history and ethnography collection) and have a go at their fossils and other specimens.

As a UW employee, I get free admission.  It will make for a nice indoor location during the coming rainy, cold days ahead.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Someday there will be a second dog

During a walk at Magnuson Park, Truman met a beautiful red longhaired dachshund, and they looked really good together.  I do want a second dachshund some day, and the longhaired red is what I'd prefer -- what a beautiful dog.

Of course, Truman is also a beautiful dog!

On a non-dog note, we saw dozens of parasailers at the park on a very windy morning, and I shot a very short video of them.  They were zipping across the water, bouncing off the waves, and even doing flips in the air.  Great fun to see.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

More from Sky Nursery

Sky Nursery is my favorite place to buy plants and every Spring I spend quite a bit of money there.  It's huge and has everything a gardener could possibly want.

That's just the main indoor garden center -- there's another big room for supplies, tools, decorations and such, and another huge outdoor area for shrubs, trees, roses and so on.

It's a good place to sketch off-season -- not too many people, and plenty of benches scattered throughout.

Tina bought one of these gray pumpkins (from Australia), not to eat, but to sketch, paint, and take photos of.

I was tempted by these raven statues, but managed to restrain myself from buying anything.

Since the living koi refused to stay still for sketching, I found these garden statues to draw instead.

A woman bought two of them just as I was finishing up -- whew!

I sat on a bench to do a quick sketch of some pots and a koi windsock.

The Urban Sketchers group has met up here (before I joined them), and I hope they return -- it's nicely sheltered during the rainy season, and there is a lot of subject matter about.  The only problem is the temptation to buy stuff, but if I avoid it in Spring, I may be safe.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Art of an animal that isn't a bird

This past weekend Sky Nursery hosted an exhibition and judging competition for a regional koi fancier society, and Tina and I went to check it out.  There were about a dozen pools filled with stunning fish.

We brought sketch books, but I quickly realized the fish were moving around too much to do anything other than rapid gesture drawings, so I opted for photos instead.

I did want to try painting from a photo later at home, and was taken by the classic orange and white koi as a good subject.

Though this golden koi also caught my eye -- incredibly beautiful.

I stuck with "classic" koi, as it had more color variety to work with.  I decided to try doing it in pastels -- I bought some months ago as part of my "year of art", to explore new media.  After doodling with them for a bit and getting frustrated by the fact I had no idea how to handle them, I put them away.

I dug them out again, and found a sheet of blue pastel paper lying around, and tackled the koi with a mix of soft pastel (the oranges, yellow, and white) and hard pastel pencils (darker spots and lines).  I tried a few different ways of blending, and had to go over the main body a couple of times.  Overall, it turned out pretty well -- but I'm not sure pastel is something I'd use a lot.

One thing I learned (a little too late):  wear old clothes.  There is now orange chalk dust all over a nice blue shirt I bought two weeks ago, which is not quite so nice now!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Truman the Working Dog: A Photo Essay

Truman got to spend Thursday at the office with me.  Here is how his day went.

On the walk from the parking spot, via the back side of the Montlake Fill

A view of the campus

One of my favorite buildings (Forestry)

The medicinal herb garden (yes, he did walk part of the's just easier to get photos when he's in his stroller.)

The rose garden

We finally arrive at my office.  He seems excited to be at work.

Truman helps collect the mail.  See, he is a working dog!

Out for a potty break...that's my building.  It is a bit on the bland side.

The hallway outside my office.

His favorite spot beneath my desk.

All in all, I think he was fine with the visit, though mostly he just puts up with such nonsense until he can get home again.  Which is where we are now!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Miscellaneous Post

I seem to have a number of photos from the past week or so which didn't fit into any of the previous posts, and so I present a post of randomness to clear them out.  Truman is heavily featured, except when he gets upstaged by birds.

Here he is at Golden Gardens park overlooking the duck pond, which is positively choked, appropriately enough, by duck weed.

Here he is investigating interesting smells and seaweed on the beach.

And an even more interesting object.

I suspect he liked this outing, all in all.

On a completely different day, we went to the Fill, where the usual birds were out and about (Song Sparrow):

And some not very usual birds turned up, including this female Yellow-headed Blackbird -- they normally restrict themselves to eastern Washington, though a few pop over here every year:

Finally, a view from a sketch outing to Magnuson Park...I'm not showing a close-up of the sketch, which was less than successful.  Oh, well.  Guess I'll have to just try again!