Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Not Enough Coffee Shops

11/5/14 Platinum Carbon and Noodler's Brown 41 inks, Caran d'Ache Museum
water-soluble colored pencils, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
You’d think in Seattle, of all places, that I could find a place to sit and sketch at any of hundreds and hundreds of coffee shops at any time of day. Apparently not at 2 p.m. on this particular rainy Wednesday (OK, I admit, I didn’t try hundreds). My intention was to practice more sketches of people for Veronica Lawlor’s Sketchbook Skool lesson, so first I tried my favorite place for that, Zoka Coffee. Not a single open seat! (All that free Wi-Fi that makes patrons so easy to sketch is a double-edge sword – no one leaves.) Frustrated, I drove back north and tried what was formerly Forza Coffee and has recently been reincarnated as Fix Coffeehouse. It, too, was full, but I was tired of driving around Green Lake. Fix’s outdoor tables were protected from the drizzle by an overhang, and it wasn’t too cold, so I took my coffee outside.

I’ve sketched this scene of Spud Fish & Chips twice before once in May 2012 and again in August the same year. I prefer the composition and angle I had used previously; today’s sketch didn’t come out quite the way I wanted. I felt like I got distracted by the one tree’s colors and didn’t pay enough attention to the rest. Anyway, I was muttering to myself about my dissatisfaction, feeling like I should have stayed home and done more metasketching instead.

Just then a young woman named Michelle approached me. She had spotted me sketching and said she sketched a bit herself, too. We chatted about watercolors and Urban Sketchers, which she knew about, and I encouraged her to join us. Our brief conversation was a good reminder that the result – the way my sketch came out – isn’t nearly as important or meaningful as the process of getting out into the world to sketch. It’s about making a connection with my surroundings – something that rarely happens in my own studio.


  1. Sorry you didn't get the view you wanted, but at least you were dry while you sketched. Glad you made contact with someone while sketching, that is always fun. Hope she decides to join up with you.

  2. Nothing more frustrating than not being able to find a perch from which to sketch. I've been down the find a coffee shop seat trail myself. I'm enjoying your autum tree sketches.


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