Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pianos in the Parks

7/29/14 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble
colored pencil, Pitt Artist Pen, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
Walking through the neighborhood the other day, I noticed some fliers promoting something called “Pianos in the Parks” with not much more information than a web address. Curious, I made a mental note to look it up later. (Aside: More than two years ago when I had barely begun urban sketching, I noted that an inherent benefit is that urban sketching “takes me out of the house and into the world.” There was a time when a flier about pianos in the park may have raised my curiosity, but probably not enough to look it up. Now my urban sketcher’s radar is always seeking out sketch opportunities, so following up on initial passive curiosity is a natural outcome.)

Pianos in the Parks is a project initiated by Laird Norton Wealth Management, Seattle Parks and Recreation, King County Parks and local arts and business organizations. Donated pianos have been “artistically enhanced” by Gage Academy of Art faculty and students (in the photos I saw online, some are quite elaborately enhanced). Among the more than a dozen participating parks is my own walking-distance neighborhood park, Maple Leaf Reservoir Park. I decided to head out there this morning before it got too hot.

7/29/14 Diamine Chocolate Brown and Pilot Iroshizuku Asa-gao
inks, Museum pencil
When I first arrived, I was disappointed that no one was playing the colorfully painted piano sheltered by a tent, but I started sketching it anyway. Halfway through my sketch, a preschool class came by, and the children sat down around their teacher. She led them in singing “Let it Go,” the very popular tune from the Disney movie “Frozen.” The kids enthusiastically joined in and, in fact, knew all the lyrics better than their teacher did. Given the attention span of typical preschoolers, this entire scene took place in less than five minutes – not much time for a sketch, but I was happy that I could capture the piano in use.

Pianos in the Parks continues through Aug. 17.


  1. A couple of these have shown up in Quebec City as well. Like your sketch and it serves as a reminder that I should do something similar here.

    Cheers --- Larry

  2. I think some of these have popped up in NYC too. I love the idea. Cute sketch with the kids sitting and the teacher playing! You captured the little ones and actually made them recognizable as little kids!!!


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