Art Afloat All Hands on Sketch

Today the Tacoma Urban Sketchers had the opening of their Gallery Exhibition Art Afloat All Hands on Sketch at the Foss Waterway Seaport Maritime Museum during the Maritime Festival.  I was there sketching along with other sketchers during the morning and there will be other sketchers drawing and painting all weekend long.  Entrance is free this weekend during the Festival. Feel free to come in and visit if you are in the Tacoma Seattle area, enjoy the exhibit and the rest of the attractions.  Below is the sketch I completed today and pictures from the exhibit.

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Escaping to the Gorge

Last week we took some days away from our busy lives and escaped to the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. We stayed in a small town named Cascade Locks next to the Bridge of the Gods. Cascade Locks was established in the 18 hundreds when th U.S. government approved a plan to construct the locks in 1875 in order to improve navigation. The lockgwere completed by 1896 and by 1938 the locks were replaced by Bonneville Lock and Dam. The city has around 1144 people living there according to the last census in 2010.

People in the city are very friendly. There are multiple hiking trails options including the PCT or Pacific Crest Trail famous in the movie based on the autobiography Wild. In fact the last scene of the movie was shot there by the Bridge of the Gods.

On fun trip we did was taking the Columbia Gorge Steemwheeler. They offer multiple Cruises along the river some breakfast or dinner. The captain shared valuable information of the area and the trip is beautiful. A couple of the sketches below were done from this cruise.


Bridge of the Gods

View of the Columbia River

View of the Gorge from the Steamer Cruise

More to come from this trip,


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Through the Window…

Last month USK Tacoma met at the University of Washington Library Tacoma Campus . Even though I have been at this campus many times, I have never visited the library before.  One highlight of this library is an incredible Dale Chihuly’s piece that is amazing to see and admire. Unfortunately, there were so many sketchers in this area that I was unable to sketch there and had to move to a different area of the library.

If you are ever in the Tacoma area and would like to enjoy one of Chihuly’s pieces, the UW library is one spot to visit.  Dale Chihuly’s is a Tacoma local but his work in glass art in recognized and seeing all over the world. The Glass Museum in Tacoma is a fantastic place to go to enjoy his work or see him creating art as well. There is another Glass Museum at the Seattle Center that also has his pieces. In addition the Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) has an exhibit hall dedicated to his work and it is delightful. This is his web page

Since I was unable to sketch Chihuly’s piece I went to the back of the library and thru the window I was able to sketch the UW building across from the library. Here it is!



Happy Sketching!



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An Almost Spring Day in Tumwater Falls

Last Saturday we decided to go for a walk at the Tumwater Falls Park in Tumwater WA. It was abnormally warm for a January day, 60 degrees, but the waters were fierce as they came down the falls. It was beautiful. Tumwater Falls Park was made happened by the Olympia Tumwater Foundation (OTF) in 1962. The land was donated by The Olympia Brewing Company. It is a 15-acre park along the falls of the Deschutes River. This beautiful park continues to attract hundreds visitors each year.

The park is located in the small, city of Tumwater, Washington, the Deschutes River ends its journey there from the Cascade range to tumble a final 82 feet into Capitol Lake and reaches the Puget Sound from there. The park has a wide variety of native plants on both sides of the river. It is just beautiful!

This park has 1.5 mile of walking trails connected by beautiful bridges. In the entrance to the park there are beautifully maintained lawns, picnic facilities, a sand-filled areas for the children as well as a large parking area.

During the month of September and October visitors are able to do Salmon Watching as the Chinook Salmons make their way back from the ocean to the Deschutes Hatchery to spawn.  People are able to observe the salmon leap the 82 foot falls trying to reach their destination.

During my visit I walked to the end of the trail and found a cold-wet sit to be there for a while hoping to sketch my beautiful view. As always, when I sketch I feel that time stops completely. It is the most amazing experience ever and that is why I love Urban Sketching so much. A friend of mine refered to it as a meditation in action and he is completely right. This place is one of the most amazing places to sketch, to meditate or both.


The last bridge in Tumwater Falls. 


First Fall 


A different view of the first falls

I hope to visit the falls soon during the Spring to enjoy its waters once again.

Happy Sketching,


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It is a New Year for Sketching Adventures!

It is been a while since my last post and I apologize for that. The last six months were pretty hectic with the hurricanes and my volunteer work supporting the victims, but I am back with a lot of sketching to share with you all :).

Yesterday was our USK Tacoma monthly sketch-out and the turn out was amazing. Close to thirty people attended and we all met at the Tacoma Public Library. What does it feel to sketch at a Public Library you might ask? Well, overwhelming i could say. The Tacoma Public Library carries a lot of history within its walls. The Carnegie building is the original 1903 Carnegie Library. The collections found in the Northwest Room includes Tacoma city directories dating back to 1885, early to current newspapers, record indexes, maps, photos, postcards, manuscript collections, architectural plans, etc. In addition if you are interested in doing genealogical research The Northwest Room is the place to go. They have an amazing collection of resources and this collection covers the U.S. and other countries.

The Northwest Room is such an amazing space with a dome that is beautifully decorated that brings warm light into its space. Even though I believe that my drawing in no shape or form gives it justice, this is the best I was able to do yesterday. When I sat and began absorbing the beauty of the place I was overwhelmed by it but eventually I drew what I saw and this is the end result.



Sitting by the Microfilm at The Northwest Room



A view of the Northwest Room

Happy Sketching,




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Crystal Mountain

This weekend has been a very warm one here in the Pacific Northwest! 97 degrees! Wow. We went from winter to scorching summer in one week. To cool down a bit we decided to go up to Crystal Mountain hoping for cooler temperatures and enjoy the stunning view of Mt. Rainier. During the winter Crystal Mountain is a Ski Resort. There are three villas and a couple of restaurants, three or more ski lifts that take you to different areas of the mountain and a really nice Gondola that takes you all the way to the top where you can become breathless by the stunning view of “The Mountain.” One of the restaurants is up there and you get to have lunch or dinner with the view. In addition there are a lot of hiking trails you can enjoy and you can even go around Crystal Mountain if you are on the adventurous side but you need a special permit for that particular adventure. Accessing the area is free unless you are going to use the lifts for skiing or the Gondola. The Gondola is $23.00 for adults.

We have visited Crystal Mountain a couple of time before and every time we would take the Gondola to see Rainier it was foggy. The Gondola takes you at over 7,000 feet so yes fog and clouds happens. This time as the weather was so clear and it was so warm we were able to enjoy Mother Nature’s show and not only see Rainier but also 4 additional picks. It was amazing.

Here are the sketches I was able to complete;


This is part of the view in which you are able to see Mt. Adams, St. Helens and a part of Mt. Rainier


Mt. Rainier 


A Cabin by one of the Ski lifts

If you visit the Pacific Northwest on a gorgeous day and feel like going up to the mountains this is a great place to visit!

Happy Sketching,


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Every year we are very lucky to have a Tall Ships Festival in town. This year 22 Tall Ships and a 15 ton bright yellow rubber Duck came to visit. Hundreds of people from different parts of the city and beyond came to visit and strolled by the waterfront extending from the Museum of Glass all the way the the Foss Waterway Seaport Museum. For this event the museum entrance was free which was awesome! During our stroll I had the opportunity to sketch the Adventuress.  The Adventuress is from Port Townsend, a beautiful coastal city up the peninsula. The luxury yacht was built in Maine for a Chicago millionaire who led a failed attempt in 1913 to hunt a bow head whale in the Arctic and deliver its skeleton to a New York City museum. This beautiful vessel is white and I wanted to keep the original color even though it might look at little strange.

In addition to the Adventuress these are some of the ships that were available to see or ride!

▪ Lady Washington, from Aberdeen. The 112-foot-long ship is a replica of an 18th century cannon-laden brig — a popular war and merchant ship of the 18th and 19th centuries. It was used in the movies “Star Trek: Generations” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.”

▪ Vérité, from Tacoma. A wind and oar-powered captain’s gig, it’s used to teach youths boating skills on the Thea Foss Waterway.

▪ A 15-ton, six-story inflatable rubber duck. It will be trucked in from Ohio on the back of a semitrailer.

Most of the ships are two-masted schooners, which were popular trade, fishing and racing vessels in New England during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Also two brigs, which were commonly used as warships in the 18th and 19th centuries; a 1920s Puget Sound wooden ferry boat; and a former Arctic fur-trading ship.

Some of the ships, including an 80-foot-long schooner from California, were be open for tours and cruises.

This is the quick sketch I was able to produce!

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And off course I have to include a couple of pictures from the event,


Happy Sketching!


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Two Weekends at the Waterfront!

It is amazing how Tacoma WA continues to change and evolve. When we moved here 20 years ago Tacoma was still the joke of the State due to its “Aroma of Tacoma” but lately there are new apartment complexes, beautiful art galleries and museums, Theaters, a new movie theater in Ruston Way along with beautiful apartments as well as new housing developments and restaurants. Tacoma now has a trolley that will take you to Point Defiance Park and Zoo and Aquarium, plenty of public transportation, The University of WA Tacoma Campus and by next September a cruise ship will be stopping here in Tacoma. It is amazing!

Last weekend I went there for a walk and the weather was so stunning that it was irresistible to sit for a few minutes and sketch. This weekend USK Tacoma met there for our monthly sketching outing and even though the weather was cold and overcast I was still able to sketch to my heart’s content.   This is what I sketched…



Until next time and Happy Sketching!


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Finally a Sunny Day!

Living in the Pacific Northwest I am used to having long winters, lots of rain and gray days but this year has been a long one. Rain and gray days since October and I must admit that it gets to you after a while. This weekend was an exception. Wow, the sun is out, the temperatures are warming up and I can sit in the open and sketch without wearing a coat. Yesss!

Yesterday we went to Olympia for a walk and the day was glorious! We stopped at the Tumwater Falls and I was able to sketch the river and then later in downtown we were able to walk by one of the marinas. The Tumwater falls is a short trail that circles around the river. It is a riverside nature park on 15 acres with trails, cascades, lawns & a children’s play area. They also do research on salmon. If you would like more information you can go to

These are the sketches I made. The one at the falls was a challenging one as I am still learning how to paint water and it is so difficult, but I did enjoy sketching as I was listening to the roaring waters of the river.


Tumwater Falls


East Olympia


Until next time and Happy Sketching,


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The Portable Painter

I am always looking for ways in which I can make Urban Sketching portable. I always carry a “purse” which is actually my art bag but that includes my wallet. In my “purse” I always carry a couple of sketchbooks, pencils, different types of pens and my watercolors among other things. In a future posting I will share what I carry in detail and how I prepare my sketch bag for my daily use. Trying to be compact but still having all I need to be ready to urban sketch lead me to find this new product, The Portable Painter. I came across this product thru  crowd funding site. It was started by Steven Padden and so far it has been very successful. I bought it for $30.00 and it arrived way faster than I expected, it took about a week!

But what is The Portable Painter? The Portable Painter is a palette with two wells and a brush. It is made of plastic and is very light. It comes with 12 half pans and I used some double tape to attach the pan to the palette to hold it tight. What I like about it is that it is so compact that it fits perfectly inside my “purse”/art bag, it is very light and you can even put it in your bag pocket. The wells slide perfectly to each side of the palette and you can place it on the ground, a table and even your thigh. One well serves to wet your brush and the other to clean it. It comes with a double brush or you might be able to fit in a travel brush of your liking. I was able to get my size 4 Escoda Versatil, larger sizes on this brand are too thick.

So far I used it in the field on Saturday while sketching with Urban Sketchers and it was very useful. So I liked it and if you like to explore new art products and you are always on the go, The Portable Sketcher might be one to try. Here are the pictures of the product and my most recent sketch.

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Right out of the box! and below you can see that the center piece is what holds together both wells therefore you must be careful not to loose that small piece of metal or slider. I am mindful to place it in the bag or in my pocket immediately.



And here is my sketch!

I hope this information was useful! If you are like me you might want to give it a try or not but this is another option for those of us who travel light and carry their sketching tools all the time.

Have a wonderful week and Happy Sketching!




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