Sunday, December 23, 2018

A Chilly Farewell

12/21/18 Farewell, ugly viaduct!

We’ve all known for years that the viaduct would be demolished in early 2019. I could have chosen any warm fall day to do it, but instead, I waited until it was 39 degrees to make my farewell sketches.

12/21/18 After being chilled to the bone making the
first sketch, I retreated to Starbucks for this window sketch.
Most locals have a love/hate relationship with the viaduct. Quite often it takes the strain off of I-5, our only other major north-south thoroughfare, and many people depend on it for their commute. (We are all bracing for the traffic havoc when the viaduct closes.) When you drive on it, the view of Elliott Bay and some parts of Seattle is unmatched. Whenever we pick up visitors at the airport, we drive home on the viaduct because we know they will enjoy that view. But the viaduct itself is a dark eyesore, not to mention a potentially devastating seismic risk. However we might feel about it, it’s coming down in February.

Walking under the viaduct toward the Pier 55 Starbucks where I was meeting Sue and Antonella on that chilly morning, I passed many people in small tents or nothing but sleeping bags; they use that viaduct as their rooftop each night. Feeling my fingertips go numb as I sketched, I wondered where they would go when their “home” disappears in a couple of months.

I think the only other sketch I have of the viaduct is one I made from the ferry terminal walkway three years ago.

Technical notes: The scope of the top sketch is very ambitious for me, and I was quietly freaking out as I blocked in the composition. But I remembered what I learned in Gabi Campanario’s “Pocket Urban Sketching” workshop a couple of years ago, which helped immensely.

I’m happy that I brought my gray Stillman & Birn Nova sketchbook and a white Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen. Although I enjoy using toned paper, gray paper is somehow harder to use than the beige that I prefer, but for the viaduct, it was exactly what I needed.

Sue and Antonella braved the cold to sketch with me.


  1. If they are tearing it down is it being replaced with anything? I really like your first sketch of it and the dramatic perspective as it continues so far. Good selection of paper and tones!!

    1. Yes, a tunnel will be replacing it, but it won't open for several weeks after the closure, so we're all looking forward to Viadoom! ;-)


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