Sunday, April 19, 2015

"Opening Day" at Seattle Chinese Garden

4/19/15 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencils, Canson XL 140 lb. paper

At today’s Urban Sketchers outing, Gabi and I were chatting about the unbelievably beautiful weather – 65 degrees with a clear, blue sky – and how today’s event should be deemed “opening day” of outdoor sketching season!

The Seattle Chinese Garden in West Seattle was, indeed, an apt location for our opening day – a gem of serene, open landscaping with a traditional Chinese courtyard and pavilion at its center. I wandered around for quite a while trying to focus on a composition I could manage. With all the lovely plantings and peonies in bloom (though past their prime now), we had a lot to choose from, and I knew I had to select carefully or I’d end up overwhelmed.

The stone carp, a Dragon Seeker, grabbed my (and many other sketchers’) attention. According to a traditional Chinese tale, said the placard, “a carp that could leap the high falls of the Yellow River. . . would be transformed into a dragon.” This carp, which was donated by a Seattle couple, was made in Thailand more than 100 years ago. The main pavilion is in the background (my composition judiciously cropped off most of it so that I wouldn’t get bogged down by the architecture and all those tiles!). Halfway through my sketch, I paused to watch the drama of a tiny bird that chased a bald eagle out of its territory! I spotted the eagle several times throughout the morning.

After enjoying the garden a bit more, I settled on a wider view of the stones, trees and bamboo plantings (as well as a couple of sketchers) surrounding a smaller pavilion.

4/19/15 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Caran d'Ache Museum
 water-soluble colored pencils, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
By the way, have you heard about Sketch Out/Loud? It’s an initiative by urban sketcher and landscape architect Richard Alomar. Working with the American Society of Landscape Architects and Urban Sketchers, Richard is promoting Sketch Out/Loud in April as part of World Landscape Architecture Month to encourage urban sketching among landscape architects, architects and designers worldwide. If you sketch parks, plazas, streets, front yards and other examples of landscaping this month, post your sketches with the hashtag #skol2015.


  1. Hi Tina,

    I love your blog and it really inspires me to keep practicing with watercolor. Your pieces make me want to visit Seattle and explore the amazing sites of the city you capture in your paintings.

    Awesome work!


    1. Thank you, Zack! Visit us in Seattle and sketch with us! And I see that you are a very imaginative cartoonist!

    2. Thank you!! Now the next step for me is just to get the audience, haha.

      If everything falls into place I might be able to visit Washington for a late summer vacation, which would be nice to get out of NYC for awhile.

  2. I love that sketch with the stone carp and I think eliminating some of the detail really worked to emphasize what was important. Nice sketches!

  3. Love that stone carp, TIna. It looks like spring has truly sprung in Seattle.


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