|5/2/14 Kuretake brush pen, Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Zig markers, Canson XL 140 lb. paper|
This tree is in a part of north Seattle that some would call “unsavory.” Right next to the Oak Tree Cinema retail complex at Aurora Avenue North and 103rd, the tree is across the street from The Voyeur (“Choose your kink and explore it!” reads its sandwich board) and Top DVD XXX. On the other hand, on the same block and right next door to Cicada Tattoo is the Jazzercise fitness center where I work out three times a week, so I’m used to being in the neighborhood.
The unpleasant part about sketching there wasn’t the nearby businesses (or their customers); it was the fact that I had to stand on Aurora Avenue – one of the busiest arterials in this part of town. (The unpleasantness of sketching Mt. Rainier over I-5 on Wednesday was nothing compared to this.) The continual roar of traffic, blaring horns from irate drivers, the smell of exhaust – it was downright nasty. I know some urban sketchers prefer gritty subject matter. When a Metro bus roared past me at full speed, it kicked up such a cyclone of dust and debris that my still-wet sketch became gritty, indeed (I still have to clean the bits out of my paint box).
At one point, a man came by and watched me sketch for a while. “Do you mind if I tell you something?” he asked, and before I could respond, he continued, with great intensity: “I’m not going to class. I’m not.” (Whew! I was afraid he was going to critique my sketch!) He continued muttering along those lines as he walked away.
It turned out that his pickup had been parked right next to my car outside of The Voyeur. I know this because shortly afterwards I finished the sketch and went back to my car, and he was just driving away, still talking loudly to himself, apparently still avoiding class.