Sunday, March 11, 2018

Georgetown Steam Plant: Freezing, Inside and Out

3/10/18 Georgetown Steam Plant

When I woke yesterday morning, our thermometer read 34 degrees. I can’t sketch outdoors in temperatures like that, but the USk meetup was at the Georgetown Steam Plant – an indoor venue – so I wasn’t concerned.

Little did I know that the plant’s interior would be just as cold as its exterior!

Owned by Seattle City Light, the 1907 plant is a National Historic Landmark. According to its website, “The plant’s two vertical Curtis turbines, manufactured by General Electric, helped establish the steam turbine as a practical and compact prime mover, capable of producing large amounts of power more cheaply and efficiently than other generators of the time.”

Open to the public only on the second Saturday each month, it’s a popular place for organized tours as well as sketchers, photographers and history and industry fans trying to take in its enormity. More than 30 sketchers walked through the plant with our jaws on the floor and our eyes popping out of our heads.

Everywhere I looked I saw huge machinery and equipment; I kept feeling like I was too close to be able to scale the scene properly on my sketchbook page. After wandering in awe for quite a while, I finally pinned myself against the wall of a narrow walkway to sketch . . . something (above)  I have no idea what. (Once again, I have to thank Gabi and his “Pocket Urban Sketching” workshop last year for helping me to finally understand how to scale something so huge on a small page! A year ago, I don’t think I would have known how to tackle this scene.)

By the time I finished, my fingers were numb, and for some reason I thought it might actually be warmer outside. After all, the sun was shining brilliantly in a cloudless sky. Although a chilly wind kept the sunshine from being comfortable, I joined a bunch of hardy sketchers in the parking lot to sketch the building’s exterior.

Brrrr! We were all so cold, inside and out! But it was a fantastic opportunity to sketch a piece of industrial history. And for me, it was definitely just a tiny piece. I’m going to go back again sometime to sketch more of it (maybe in the heat of summer, when it might be comfortable inside).

A great turnout!


  1. That looks like a great place to sketch, when its warmer :-)

  2. You would think a steam plant would be warm...odd. I like your interior sketch with the figure included which gives it a reference for the size. Nice job on the exterior of the building. Your shading really makes the shaded sides stand out!


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