Monday, June 26, 2023

“Sketching Cascadia” Opens at Graphite


6/24/23 Gabi Campanario gives a presentation at Graphite Arts Center

Behind Roy DeLeon's head is his accordion-style sketchbook that takes up nearly
the whole wall horizontally!

For the first time in many years, an exhibit entirely of urban sketches has opened in the Puget Sound area, and I’m thrilled to be included! As part of Sketcher Fest next month, the nonprofit Graphite Arts Center in Edmonds is hosting a show of art for purchase as well as a display of sketchbooks, all by Pacific Northwest artists. With the theme “Sketching Cascadia,” the entire exhibit showcases work made on location in the region.

The huge gallery space is an ideal facility for hosting the wide range of work being shown. Some artists have poster-size paintings and montages; others have tiny sketchbooks. Roy deLeon has one of the most visually striking pieces: An accordion sketchbook stretched out for the length of one exhibit wall. Mark Ryan contributed two-sided pages removed from his sketchbooks. They are displayed vertically between Plexiglas panes to show the art on both sides (I regret that I didn’t get a photo of this unique display). Full sketchbooks are displayed in glass cases.

Sue Heston with her sketchbook in foreground

Andika Murandi 

Loose artwork hangs unframed on the walls. It was obvious that some artists simply tore sketches right out of their sketchbooks, ragged, spiral-bound edges exposed. It’s rare to see original art exhibited without framing, and I found it especially engaging to view sketches this way: I experienced a raw, immediate intimacy that is not possible when the art is neatly matted and separated from the viewer by glass. It’s as close to being able to thumb through an actual sketchbook as any exhibit could be.

David Hingtgen

Gail Wong

Jane Wingfield

In addition to all the original artwork and sketchbooks, a digital display in the gallery is continuously showing a loop of many more sketch images contributed by USk members.

I didn’t want to tear pages out of my sketchbook, so I opted to make a new piece on loose paper just for the exhibit (it’s the top sketch in this post). Using larger paper that turned out to be less than ideal – and using gouache for nearly the first time! – I took a lot of chances making the piece. With only a couple of weeks’ notice to prepare during iffy spring weather, I wanted to make a couple more pieces, but I had time and opportunity for only one. When I first walked through the show and didn’t see mine on the walls, I thought it had been rejected at the last minute! Interestingly, since I was the only artist who submitted a single piece, the curators decided to put mine in the glass case with the sketchbooks instead of on a wall.

I was surprised to find my loose sketch in a display case instead of on a wall!

I also contributed a recent sketchbook, and it is opened to one of my favorite sketches in the book: Gas Works Park during Gabi Campanario’s sketch tour. The curators also photocopied a couple other pages from my sketchbook so that they could be shown, too. It was a cool surprise to see which sketches were selected to be visible. The sketchbook display cases are made from old studio tables covered with paint marks. Used paint palettes and pencils are scattered among the sketchbooks, giving the whole display the look of “artists at work.” I love the hands-on look!

My opened sketchbook plus photocopies of other pages in the book.

During the reception, Sketcher Fest producer Gabi
Gabi's presentation
gave a presentation about his journey toward urban sketching and how he began the phenomenon that became the global Urban Sketchers organization.

It was fun as well as an honor to attend the opening reception Saturday evening with so many of my urban sketchers friends who also have work in the show. Many thanks to Graphite owner Tracy Kay Felix, Jane Wingfield, Gabi and others on the team who organized the excellent exhibit. If you are local, I hope you will be able to catch this unique show, which is on through July 29.

Blog-related trivia: When I was chatting with Tracy, she mentioned that she once owned and operated the Edmonds art supply store ArtSpot (now operated by her children). Back then, when she was curious about the quality of supplies she was considering carrying, she would search for reviews – and more often than not, the reviews would be on my blog! Fast-forward to this year when she began following me on Instagram and saw one of my posts related to an art supply review. That’s when she made the connection that I was Fueled by Clouds & Coffee!

Ellie Doughty

David and Brenda Chamness

Alex Hollmann

Greg, Gabi and me

Behind Gabi and his wife Michelle Archer is a wall where visitors are invited to post their urban sketches. 

Me and my date!


  1. I could probably spend hours looking at all the sketches there. I like the different ways they were exhibited. When we did our shows in NYC at the library we sent in images to be judged and then they did 14 x 17 inch reproductions of the selected sketches. That way nobody had to worry about taking them out of their sketchbooks. I'd love to be able to just sit with the entire sketchbooks and look thru them. People, quite understandably are reluctant to let people touch their books.

    1. Yes, it's tricky with sketchbook art -- the real thing is so much better than reproductions! I was so busy chatting at the opening that I didn't spend as much time looking as I wanted to. I'm going back in a couple weeks to view more leisurely!


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