Friday, November 15, 2013

A Party on the 73rd Floor

11/15/13 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Fabriano hot-press 140 lb. paper
Two years ago I began what would become something of a personal tradition: Riding up to the Columbia Center’s 73rd floor Sky View Observatory on my birthday to sketch. This year I invited a few sketcher friends to join me up there for a (day-before) birthday party, urban sketching style: No booze, music or tiara – just our sketchbooks, pens, paints and a nearly-360-degree view of Seattle. On a wet and windy Friday morning, we practically had the place to ourselves.

The Smith Tower, the only building I sketched the previous two years, was my first target. It’s become my annual measuring stick of my architectural sketching chops. The last two times, I was staggered by the vast, overwhelming view for quite a while before I could put pen to paper. This time I simply walked up to the south side windows and began. Mind you – the view was no less vast and overwhelming; I just spent less time with my jaw on the floor before beginning. (See last year’s blog post to see sketches from 2012 and 2011.)

11/15/13 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Fabriano hot press
Then I moved over to the north side of the building to sketch the Space Needle surrounded by Belltown buildings and Queen Anne Hill. Most first-time visitors to Seattle stand in line and pay 19 bucks to see the view from the Needle, but we all agreed that the view from the Sky View Observatory is way better – and less than half the price (if you’re at least 55, as I will be tomorrow, but the ticket seller didn’t card me ;-)). 

After lunching in the lobby, we all went back upstairs for more sketching. This time I looked west toward the waterfront punctuated by the Seattle Great Wheel to the north, a ferry coming into the terminal and one of the Port of Seattle red cranes to the south. (The top of the Smith Tower is also visible in the lower-left corner.) I tried to pick out whatever tiny bits of color I could find on this otherwise very gray day.

11/15/13 Platinum Carbon and Diamine Grey inks, watercolor, Zig markers, Fabriano hot press
From left: the birthday girl, Peggy, Natalie, Lynne, Kate. (Photo by Kate Buike)


  1. Happy Birthday!!! What a great tradition! I did go back and look at the previous sketches you did of the same scene…boy, have you improved!!! Your sketch of that building is so much better and you didn't hesitate to include surrounding buildings. That perspective is so difficult but it didn't stop you. I really like the one of the Space Needle and the details of the ferry sketch. You may be getting older but better for sure! Again, Happy Birthday!

    1. Thanks so much, Joan, for both the birthday wishes and your comments! It's fun to sketch the same thing every year to track my progress.

  2. Happy Birth-weekend, Tina. I like how you've handled the tall buildings and their gazillion windows. I always struggle with how to do that. Glad you're having a good weekend and are able to do it with some friends.

    Cheers --- Larry

    1. Thanks, Larry! The sketching festivities continue! :-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...