Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunshine and Peacocks at Chateau Ste. Michelle

9/22/17 Chateau Ste. Michelle

It’s been at least a couple of decades since I last drove east to the Chateau Ste. Michelle winery in Woodinville. The state’s oldest winery, it’s on a lovely wooded property, resident peacocks roam the grounds, and wherever you sniff, wine is in the air! As if all that weren’t enough, Urban Sketchers Seattle had blue skies and sunshine on a day that could have gone just as easily towards clouds and rain.

9/22/17 Claude, the peacock
Along with several other sketchers, I walked toward the vineyard, and none of us could resist nibbling the fat, purple grapes we plucked from the vines. I was braced for tartness, but the one I popped into my mouth was fully ripe and amazingly sweet – sweeter than any grapes we buy at the store. With that sweetness still lingering, I plunked my stool down at the side of the entrance road to sketch the rows of trees welcoming visitors.

Next I walked around the winery grounds looking for the resident peacock pair. They were both sitting on the manor house porch, preening lazily for nearly the whole time I sketched Claude. He stopped preening long enough to stand for a moment and look around, and I saw that he was limping, apparently from a run-in with a visitor’s car.

As is often my habit, I had about 15 minutes to kill before the throwdown. The chateau (which houses one of the tasting rooms) is a large building, so I bit off a piece small enough to chew in those remaining minutes.

Although Woodinville is a little further than we typically go for Friday outings, we had an excellent turnout of sketchers on a gorgeous autumn day.

9/22/17 Chateau building
Technical note: Looking out the window at the clear sky before I left for the outing, I almost grabbed my usual white paper signature; I just didn’t feel like using gray toned paper in the sunshine! But I know I won’t get acquainted with toned paper if I don’t stick it out for a while, so I resisted. It was challenging trying to capture the light without default white paper. In addition, even though I just got through saying I was planning to use only dry colored pencils in my Stillman & Birn Nova book because the paper isn’t intended for wet media, I couldn’t resist spraying those trees anyway. The paper held up better than I expected, but it still buckled a bit. 

I’ll have better luck with Nova paper when the weather goes gray (all too soon, I’m sure). When that happens, I’ll probably stick to black markers or graphite and white colored pencil or gel pen most of the time. I say that now, but I don’t have much of a reputation for sticking with my plans! We’ll see.


  1. I like those trees and what you did with coloured pencils...Nadja

    1. Thank you, Nadja! I'm really enjoying colored pencils, though I'm not sure about toned paper yet.

  2. Lovely sketch of the entrance to the chateau...and the blending on the peacock is lovely. Sounds like a great place to sketch.


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