Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Green Lake United Methodist Church


5/15/23 Green Lake United Methodist Church (graphite)
On my walks around the Green Lake neighborhood, I occasionally pass Green Lake United Methodist Church, which is one of Seattle’s most interesting church buildings. More than a century old, it’s a stone “castle” (says the church website) with a turret and battlements!

The first time I sketched it 10 years ago, it had been on a rainy afternoon, and that sketch took more than an hour. Last week on a lovely sunny morning, it would have been comfortable to take more time, but I had only 15 minutes. I was happy to make a small value study (below) just to take advantage of the sunlight, but I didn’t feel like I was done with the church. I wanted to do a closer study of the rounded front, which I knew would be an interesting challenge of both form and rugged stone texture.

On the second morning of our record-breaking heatwave, I returned to the church, where I knew a nice tree across the street would keep me comfortable. It was 73 degrees when I began the sketch. By the time I finished more than an hour later, it was 80, but I stayed cool in the shade (the walk home, however, was a different story).


Although I always enjoy the much faster, smaller snapshot sketches I’ve been making on my walks, it’s fun to occasionally sink my teeth into a challenging subject with a slower medium. Sketching the church on that hot morning, I felt like I was visiting another country. An old stone building is certainly something I’m more likely to see in Europe than in Green Lake, but it wasn’t just the subject that made me feel that way. When sketching on my summer travels, I’ve usually walked a long way to get there, and I’m warmer than I want to be. On foreign land, it somehow feels more worthwhile to be hot and uncomfortable if it means taking the time to observe thoroughly. Sometimes it’s worthwhile even in my own neighborhood.

Sketchbook notes: I knew I wanted something larger than A6 for this sketch, so I took along a Field Notes Streetscapes sketchbook, which has paper that is a joy to use with graphite. Not only that, but it’s also an ideal form factor for portability: It’s thin and fits perfectly in my “mini” size Rickshaw Zero messenger bag. Too bad its paper isn’t great with watercolor pencils . . . it could easily be an everyday-carry if it were.

Streetscapes: A dream with graphite and a nice fit.


  1. I love the graphite sketch! You really showed the texture of the stones and the roundness of that part of the building.


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