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A glance inside the illustrated A glance inside the illustrated journals of one ofjournals of a Seattle Urban Sketcher Seattle’s Urban Sketchers.

About the Artist

Almost twenty years ago a college professor told the class to start carrying a sketchbook every day and required at least one sketch a day for the quarter. The sketching became a habit, the habit became a passion that has been since. I’ve recently discovered of three or four local and international groups dedicated to promoting sketching and helping others who enjoy this activity together, turning what is a very isolated activity into a social one. I sketch in a number of different types of sketchbooks, my only requirements are that they

What’s in My Sketching Pack? take fountain pen ink and watercolor washes well. Sketching on site is hard enough without having to fight your book. I’ll often sketch with pencil, outline with a fountain (not waterproof )or Pigma tech pen (waterproof ) before using a small watercolor travel kit to add color. One of the great things about the sketcher’s network is learning about the tools others are using to capture their view.


Page 2 - Urban Sketchers 3 - Jet City Espresso 4/5 - Seattle Sketches 6/7 - Travel Sketches 8 - People

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Moleskine Watercolor Sketchbook Small watercolor pad Large variety of waterproof ink pens sizes .005 (sm) to .05 (lg) black and sepia 2 or 3 fountain pens – black or sepia ink Mechanical pencil Windsor Newton Watercolor Travel Kit (the cheap one) A variety of watercolor brushes (and Japanese waterbrushes) Collapsible water container Bottled water Small REI collapsible camping stool Orca Sound Transit card and collection of bus schedules Advil Trail Mix

Seattle Urban Sketcher’s Gatherings

October 2009 Gathering - Seattle Center I discovered the Seattle Urban Sketchers group just over fourteen months ago. It was founded by Gabriel Campenario (Seattle Sketcher- Seattle Times) and though we started out as a small group, our monthly gatherings now number 18-20 sketchers (especially when the weather is nice!)

The group is part of the International Urban Sketchers group. Postings can be found at: This October gathering brought decent weather and the opportunity to sketch the Fun Forest ride ‘Wild River’ which no longer exists as the Center goes through changes.

1st Thursday Jazz Band One of the things I look forward to every month is the First Thursday Artwalk, Pioneer Square - a celebration of artists, studios and galleries showing off their new exhibitions for the month. The 1st Thursday Jazz Band entertains the art patrons and jazz lovers who stop

at the New Orleans Cafe to recharge their batteries before heading back out to fight the crowds. I have this image posted on my blog and I received an e-mail from one of the band members. The internet is an interesting tool……..

July 2010 Gathering at Gas Works I’ve lived in the Seattle area all my life and yet last year was the first time I had ever been to Gas Works Park. This was another Seattle Urban Sketchers event and we were joined by a sketching celebrity Thomas Thorspecken


from Orlando, Florida was in town with family to enjoy the Seattle scenery. Gas Works is a great collection of rusty old refinery leftovers and as I have discovered some equally rusty old wine connoisseurs and art lovers that call the park home.

Jet City Espresso Jet City Espresso Jet City Espresso is part coffee shop, part antique store and part Ye Ol’ Curiousity Shop. It is filled to the brim with knick-knacks of every possible generation and things you’ve never seen before. It serves as an endless ongoing still life both inside and out. It’s

Never a lack of Subjects and Models The sketch above is of the shelving over the barista’s head at Jet City and I’m sure I came nowhere near including all of the items that where actually there. The sketch to the right is the owner’s favorite,

a collection of scrap, plantings in an antique washing machine and a vintage ‘OPEN’ sign. Both were done in a small recycled paper sketchbook, pencil, pen and ink with watercolor.

Not Sure What Kind of Tree.... Did I mention that twenty years ago this was a gas station? Well since then a tree started growing out of one of the pump wells and has now grown out from under the island cover and


up, and up….So strange to see something like this in the middle of Renton. The patrons of Jet City Espresso are just as colorful and varied as the merchandise (I use that term loosely…) inside.

owners Debbie and Paul keep the atmosphere very loose and often offer up a free cup of joe while I’m sketching. This is one of those places you can’t take for granted for if the city council has it’s way, a new condominium will take it’s place.

Seattle Sketches

Pike Place Market’s Hidden Gems I know Pike Place is a tourist destination and is often overdone but there are the out of the way nooks and crannies of the place that still have character, historical or otherwise. The small cobblestone road that descends behind the information booth underneath the market and

leads to seldom known gems like IL Bistro, The Market Theater and the Alibi Room. Pen & ink in a Moleskine watercolor sketchbook.

Georgetown Urban Sketcher’s Georgetown, just south of downtown Seattle offers a lot of subjects for sketchers to draw. I always enjoy the gatherings of sketching groups in town (Seattle Plein Air, Urban Sketchers, SketchCrawl and Sketch Pistols). Lunch was had at Jules Maes Saloon, after which everyone passed

around the mornings creativity for the group to enjoy and learn from.

Lect’s Soup Stop - Georgetown, Seattle This tiny walk up soup place with a stock pot on the roof, sits just off Airport Way in an industrial area of Georgetown. At first I thought it must be difficult (because of it’s location) to


be successful, but as I sat across the street to draw it, car after car pulled up to pick up phone in orders. Obviously the food must be good, is this where the Soup Nazi (Seinfeld) ended up?

Seattle Sketches

The Industrial Duwamish River The Duwamish River has that rough industrial look and atmosphere that is irresistible to draw (for me). The west side of the river offers a couple of city run parks that offer great views of the tugs and barges.

Pen/ink and watercolor in a Canson recycled paper sketchbook.

Seattle Center Below the Space Needle looking north to the EMP and the Monorail.

Fresh Picked Daily - Pike Place

International District The sketch on the left was done at 6th & Main of the now defunct Standard Cafe. A tour guide informed me that the neon rice bowl and sign were coming down soon (and that I might want to step back, there was a bus load


of tourists about to walk around the corner). The sketch on the right was done after eating at Zaina, a middle eastern restaurant located at the north end of Pioneer Square. Great food and friendly staff.

Drawing at the Market is tough, mainly because it can get so crowded and let’s face it, very little here ever stands still long enough for you to draw it. This sketch of one of the produce stands offered up plenty of challenges. To start I was back with the dumpsters and was there long enough to get

used to the smell, but it turned out to be garbage day and I was ducking garbage cans all afternoon. You also have to deal with people stopping in front of the subject, yelling for customers to move is probably frowned on‌. Pen/ink and watercolor on a watercolor tablet.


North Pole, Alaska - December 15th

When my wife worked for an airline we were treated to a long weekend in Fairbanks, Alaska in the middle of December. It was an effort by the Fairbanks Tourism Board to generate interest in the area during the winter months. To be honest, the entire family had a blast

though it was thirty below. The weekend was capped with an evening with Santa at the North Pole (there really is a North Pole, AK) This was a pen and ink sketch done during story time.

Watercolor landscape Near Republic Though it is not urban I included this sketch of an Eastern Washington landscape to show the difficulties of watercolor painting in certain types of sketchbooks. This book has a waxy coating to the pages by design and though it takes ink well enough, it’s water-resistant quality

makes for a nightmare when laying down washes. This was a beautiful and cold (October) place to sketch.

Artist’s Bio I am 51 years old, and live in the Seattle area with my wife of 23 years and a teenage daughter. I live in the ‘burbs, but would rather be a city or country boy.

My politics are just left of center and though I think there are a lot of things in this world that are horribly askew, I’m not getting up on the soap box to scream my opinion – there are too many people doing that now, who would her me? I will toss out an occasional comment, I’m only human…. I love a good game of hoops (basketball) and nothing makes me happier than the opportunity to paint and draw.....Time stops. I like my brew dark, that goes for coffee and beer.


Anderson Island - Puget Sound, WA Our good friends Tom and Jackie live just off the Ferry dock on Anderson Island in the South Puget Sound. Through a gap in the trees, you look over the walkon parking lot and across the water lies McNeil Island

Penitentiary, former home of Charles Manson (‘61’66) and Robert Stroud (The Bird Man of Alcatraz). The second sketch is from their balcony looking East over the Sound toward Dupont and Steilacoom.

Copenhagen, Denmark


This odd sketch was done at a museum in Copenhagen - a partial view of a statue. I’m joined by my daughter who often scratches her head when it comes to the subjects I chose to draw. We are actually inside, it was February and 25 degrees outside.

Dungeness Spit - Sequim, WA Sketching on vacation takes a lot of understanding from the rest of the family. My family has come to understand how important it is to me to be able to stop and sketch for an hour or two, they just continue on and explore without

me. This sketch was done at the beginning of the Dungeness Spit on the Olympic Peninsula and I swapped out the grey sky for something less chilling. Watercolor on watercolor block, pencil and pen.

Lake Chelan, Wa I spent part of my childhood growing up in the small town of Chelan, Washington. As I got older, I took jobs working in the apple orchards during the summer time. Nothing is as sure as change and now the


apple orchards are being replaced with vineyards and wineries. Both of these sketches were done from a relatives property near downtown and done in pen and ink in a Canson recycled paper sketchbook.


People The Online Coffee Co. - Seattle The Online Coffee Co. is a good old fashioned internet café and bakery. The Wi-fi was free with our purchase of a slice of quiche and coffees (both were very good and cheap). Like libraries, people don’t move much and make good drawing subjects. Just

have to find the ones with character....or in this guy’s case reading concerning news.....

2010 Folklife Festival - Seattle Center I’ve been going to the Folklife Festival for almost 30 years and over time it really hasn’t changed much (a good thing I think). It has a tendency to get very crowded mid-afternoon even when it’s raining. It’s a celebration of music,

cultures and many different lifestyles and has yet to disappoint when it comes to people watching and sketching.

Local and International Sketching Groups Seattle Urban Sketchers International Urban Sketchers Seattle Plein Air Painters World Wide SketchCrawl Seattle Sketch Pistols


Kiersten and the Boys My daughter was a prolific reader when she was younger, now I can’t get her off the IPod. This was an afternoon in the reading nook where the cats decided to keep her

company. Pencil in a Canson recycled paper sketchbook.

2009-2010 Sketches - Mark Ryan  

Sample artwork from Mark Ryan's 2009-10 sketchbooks

2009-2010 Sketches - Mark Ryan  

Sample artwork from Mark Ryan's 2009-10 sketchbooks