September 27, 2013 at 5:42 PM
Sketched Sept. 19, 2013
How fitting for a city with a reputation for rain and clouds to have a park where you can learn all about the weather as it unfolds before your eyes.
For example, did you know the shape of a raindrop changes 50 times per second as it falls through the air? It might look like a jelly bean, or a pancake, or a peanut, or a hot dog or a football.
I learned this and other timely meteorological facts at Weather Watch Park, a tiny pocket park tucked between waterfront condominiums along Beach Drive Southwest in West Seattle.
Designed by local artist Lezlie Jane in 1990, its centerpiece is a concrete bench that curves around a pole topped with a weather vane. “Weather Words,” photos of clouds and information about the site — a mosquito-fleet ferry dock in the 1910s — turn this artful spot into both a science and a history lesson.
Daily visitor Steve Kendall likes its design because it prompts you to look up to the big, open sky.
As we enter the Season of Grayness, may that remind us that clouds can also be fun to watch.
June 21, 2013 at 6:28 PM
The Mount Baker Ridge Viewpoint is built over a sloping terrain that used to be off-limits and covered with blackberries and trees, said David Berger, a longtime neighbor
who rallied the community to preserve the view for future generations.
Sketched June 12, 2013
I’ve yet to visit a Seattle location that says so much about our longing for sun as the Mount Baker Ridge Viewpoint.
The pocket park perched on a slope directly above the I-90 tunnel is a contemporary “Stonehenge” where you can track the star moving through the seasons.
Seven basalt stones that could be mistaken as places to sit align with the horizon points where the sun sets at different times of the year, including the solstices and the equinox.
I visited hoping to see the last rays of daylight shine through the notch on the summer solstice stone, but you can guess what prevented me from sketching that: a big cloud!
David Berger, who led the community effort to create the park, said the fascination with the sun isn’t just a Seattle thing. It’s common to many cultures, and it may have something to do with “finding our place in the universe.”
The viewpoint, which opened in 2009, is located at 1403 31st Avenue South in a small neighborhood commercial district. As I sketched, people walked in and out of a nearby restaurant and stopped to catch a glimpse of the fleeting sunset. Berger said it has become a destination for bikers and walkers who come to “watch the world go by.”
Astronomical diagrams and historical photos of the neighborhood are displayed at the park’s entrance, making the visit a unique learning experience.
January 25, 2013 at 8:20 PM
Sketched Jan. 16, 2013
Short days and cloudy skies are a sure recipe for seasonal affective disorder, aren’t they?
But as I log my seventh winter here, I’ve come to be patient. Sometimes, the sun appears this time of the year, providing a much needed dose of light and some astonishing views to brighten our day.
Take the view of the Olympics from the water tower at Volunteer Park — a location recommended by many people on Twitter when I asked where I could see both the Cascades and the Olympics while standing in one spot. Others suggested Jefferson Park and the Aurora and Ballard bridges.
With its 360-degree views from Capitol Hill, the observation deck atop the 75-foot tower struck me as an ideal place to bring a date at sunset. If you are already planning for Valentine’s Day, you may want to take the hint. Weather permitting, of course.
The Cascades can also be seen from the water tower observation deck on a clear day.
I’m sure there are many more spots in Seattle where one can enjoy a view of mountain ranges east and west of the city. I invite you to tell me your favorite locations so I can pen a sketch next time I’m in the area. This last sketch shows a view that is part of my commute. I drew it standing on the edge of the sidewalk as cars drove by.
November 26, 2012 at 5:56 PM
It wasn’t meant to be. The Space Needle will not don its retro Galaxy Gold color for its next paint job, as I wished.
Workers have been painting the top of the Needle with its new green color for a few days now. This afternoon, I could only see a patch of the bright orange left, so I rushed to do a sketch from the parking lot roof of a building in South Lake Union. (Note: I walked there, don’t go thinking I drive that Mercedes on the sketch.)
Seattle graphic designer Nicole Commins won the art contest organized by the Needle to find a replacement for Galaxy Gold. The new paint job consists of evergreens radiating towards the Needle’s center spire. It will stay for six months, and you can see it here.
September 14, 2012 at 8:55 PM
Sketched Sept. 7, 2012 [Click on sketches to see larger versions]
Are you used to Galaxy Gold yet?
That bright orange paint atop the Space Needle has grown on me, so much that now I don’t want it to go away.
But as the 50th Anniversary celebrations come to a close next month, The Space Needle has plans to replace the gold top with a winning design from entries anyone can submit by Sept. 20. (Info: spaceneedle.com/topthis.html)
As an artist, you’d think I’d like a creative contest, but the prize seems too small for such a big project. The winner, says the Needle’s campaign, will get “bragging rights … 50th Anniversary mementos and MORE really cool stuff!”
At any rate, why mess with success? I think Galaxy Gold has many fans, if only based on my informal poll at Kerry Park.
“It’s nice they went back to the original color,” said Brittany Nicole, a photographer from Texas. Tour guide Bryan Dutt, of Seattle, said they should keep it orange, “just because it’s history.”
I say let’s keep Galaxy Gold for the next 50 years!
The view of the Space Needle from Kerry Park must be one of the most photographed in the city. On the warm day of my visit, I saw dozens of people taking snapshots, including a three-generation family from Texas, two wedding parties and tourists who poured out of tour vans. Here are some more moments I was able to capture in the old-fashioned way of pen and paper:
May 20, 2011 at 8:14 PM
Sketched May 18, 12:38 p.m. [Sketch location on my Seattle Sketcher Google Map]
The highlight of my exploration of Port of Seattle parks this week (see previous post) was Jack Block Park.
I couldn’t believe my luck when I got here. An observation deck 45 feet above the shoreline offers the closest view of the city skyline from West Seattle. You can also see container terminals and hear seals from a 250-foot-long boardwalk.
Hank Fridal, out with his Boston Terriers, said Jack Block is perfect to bring guests from out of town. They are amazed, he said. “Living so close to this, you can’t ever have a bad day.”
Sketched May 18, 5:13 p.m. [Sketch location on my Seattle Sketcher Google Map]
Better known than Jack Block but still hidden behind the Terminal 86 Grain Facility is Elliott Bay Park. It was renamed as Centennial Park last April as part of the Port’s 100th anniversary celebrations.
A “Get to Know Your Port” 14-mile bike ride is coming up June 5. The ride ends at Bell Street Pier but if you have some energy left, I’d suggest taking your bike on the West Seattle Water Taxi –I like to call it the Water Bus– and make your way to Jack Block Park. You won’t regret it!
For more information about centennial events and history of the port visit portseattle100.org.
Coming up: The City of Kirkland is redrawing its boundaries with the annexation of Finn Hill, North Juanita and Kingsgate. That’s where I plan to be sketching next week. Do you live in these neighborhoods? Send me your story and sketch ideas via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!
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