Friday, April 24, 2015

Uninspired at the UW

4/24/15 Platinum brush pen, watercolor, Canson XL
140 lb. paper
Do you ever have one of those days when every sketch you attempt should have just stayed in bed?

A small group of Friday sketchers gathered at Suzzallo Library on the University of Washington campus on this blustery, spitting morning. I usually find something inspiring to sketch on campus, but that tends to happen more often when I sketch outdoors. A year ago an even smaller group met there, and while my sketches inside the library were less than inspired, my last sketch outside made the trip worthwhile.

Today I had déjà vu of last year’s debacle when I began in Suzzallo’s quiet study room, a cathedral of gothic arches. It was meant to be a simple value study that went terribly wrong.

Next I ventured over to the far end of the attached Allen library, which was new territory for me. I found plenty of large windows offering what could have been inspiring views. I picked the entryway of the HUB where a small information fair was going on. Ho-hum.

4/24/15 various inks
Eventually I wandered over to the HUB, where I have memories of many, many mediocre meals consumed in a rush between undergraduate classes back in the late ‘70s. Unrecognizable to me now, it looks more like an airport food court than a student union building. Times may have changed, along with the wall paint and food vendors, but one thing hasn’t: Students still wolf their food down during short breaks between classes, taking far less time to eat than I could take to sketch them.

After our meetup to share sketches, I realized I had just missed a bus, so I sat at the shelter to wait for the next one. Those last 10 minutes on campus turned out to be my best: a tree and a lamp post bearing the U of Washington banner. 

4/24/15 various inks, watercolor, colored pencil
4/24/15 Sailor Doyou ink
Gwen, Nancy, Anne, Peggy, Alex and me at Suzzallo Library.
Edited 4/25/15: Per Matthew's suggestion, I cropped one sketch (below). I agree that it's better! Thanks, Matthew!


  1. Oh, how I resemble those remarks. For me the key is "... this blustery, spitting morning." If I'm comfortable I can always find something to draw. But if I'm cold and damp, there ain't nuttin' gonna make me want to draw. This includes being forced indoors when I was hoping to be outdoors. Happened to me last week, in fact, and the result was that I wandered around the museum and then went home. You're sure a lot more productive than I am on those "this blustery, spitting" mornings. --- Larry

  2. Sometimes you just can't get inspired...and you are like me and would much rather be outside. I think you did well at making the best of the views inside.

  3. I don't think they are so uninspired - I like the wolfing students a lot. The central area of the info fair is a very interesting design. What if you cropped some of the bottom, which is admittedly pretty dull, and perhaps a bit of the left side, to focus on the interesting figures and architectural features?

    1. Thanks, Matthew -- good ideas! Digital cropping is often a sketch-saver! ;-)


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