Saturday, July 11, 2015

Tacoma Union Station

7/11/15 ink, watercolor

During my 40-minute drive into Tacoma this morning, I was only half-listening to the NPR radio program. The other half was mentally gearing up to do the sketch I knew I had to do: Union Station. Not because anyone was telling me I “should” sketch it or expecting me to sketch it – after all, the beauty of urban sketching is never having to sketch anything unless I want to – but because I knew I had avoided it on previous Tacoma sketch outings. I am my own worst enemy that way: If I perceive that I’m avoiding it, it means I need to do it.

Granted, there was a lot to avoid: The ornate Beaux-Arts rotunda, all those elegant curves, figuring out perspective in rounded objects. Ick. On the other hand, Tacoma’s Union Station is iconic, and as I said about the Eiffel Tower, some part of me always feels compelled to sketch location icons wherever I go.

(Before my trip to Paris, I had practiced sketching the Eiffel from a photo, which was actually very helpful in prepping me for its proportions. A few months ago I had the opportunity to practice sketching Union Station, too. Unfortunately, my chosen support material that time was an Easter egg. Helpful? Not so much.)

7/11/15 inks, colored pencils
Today was the annual Pacific Northwest Regional Sketch Outing, which meant that a good turnout of sketchers from as far away as Vancouver B.C. got together in Tacoma’s museum district. After the initial meetup in the amphitheater behind the Washington State History Museum, I crossed the street, parked my sketch stool to face a corner of the station and yelled, “Bring it!” (OK, I didn’t really yell that, but I wanted to, since I face all architectural sketch challenges as personal battles.)

(Incidentally, when I was in France, I carried a pale blue-green colored pencil to put in small touches of that color that appears frequently in the ornate details of architecture there, and it came in very handy in Arles. I took the pencil out of my bag when I returned home, but I sure wish I’d had it today – mixing that color for the rotunda ornament isn’t easy with my usual watercolor palette.)

Having worked up a mental sweat on that sketch (even though the temperature was only in the low 60s, and it even sprinkled a bit), I decided I deserved a break. For my second sketch, I stood directly in front of the station’s main entry arch to sketch “New Beginnings,” a bronze sculpture by Larry Anderson. The sculpture, installed for Tacoma’s centennial in 1984, depicts a passenger waiting for a train at Union Station, which is now a U.S. Courthouse. (Behind the statue, I caught Leia, one of the sketchers from Vancouver, B.C.)

Many thanks to Urban Sketchers Tacoma for hosting today’s Pacific Northwest Regional Sketch Outing!

1 comment:

  1. You beat the monster!!! Congrats! This came out well...nice arches and dome. I like the statue sketch too...I think he could use some wheels on his luggage. lol Nice work!


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