Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bardahl Oil Sign

1/7/15 various inks, watercolor, India ink with twig, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
Arriving in Ballard a little early for an appointment, I drove around nearby streets looking for a sketch. Suddenly I spotted the back side of the Bardahl Oil sign, the front of which is easily visible from the Ballard Bridge on Northwest 15th. I was too cold to stand outside, so I pulled into the nearest parking lot (“employees and customers only”) and angled my car to see as much as I could of the famous sign (“which has been lighting up the Ballard skies since 1953,” according to the Ballard News-Tribune). A couple of trees, a bunch of parked cars, some bushes and a variety of other stuff was partially obstructing my view of the bright yellow barn-like building, so I had to fake it, but at least I had a clear view of the sign.

I love nostalgic signs like this, similar to the huge Gold Medal Flour sign I sketched in Minneapolis a couple of summers ago, with all the metal supports visible around it. Unlike the Gold Medal sign, the Bardahl sign still promotes an active business.

I made a note to come back when the weather warms up so that I can stand on the street and get a better view.

(Generally I’m a good speller, but if I’m including text in a sketch, I somehow manage to misspell words!)


  1. Great sketch of an icon in your area. How great that it is still an active business. Hope you get to sketch it in warmer weather. It was below 20 here today. Brrrrr.....

  2. The first time I misspelled something in a sketch I was horrified because I am a good speller, too. That proved to me that drawing comes from the right side of the brain because my left brain would have noticed it immediately.

    1. Arlene, I think you're right! It's really strange when you realize one part of your brain's not paying attention!


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