USK SEATTLE – Ballard Locks

Look at all of us enthusiastic urban sketchers, please disregard the gray clouds.


Finally, I was able to make it to Urban Sketchers Seattle’s monthly outing, and this time it’s held at the iconic Ballard Locks. The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks is a set of locks located at the west end of Salmon Bay (I love all these confusing sounding names). I’ve only been here once and I remember it being equally windy and gray.

Swagatika and I arrive a bit late, but we can already see the large group gathering from afar before everyone disperses. I anticipated that there won’t be many places to sit, so I opted for a more portable urban sketching setup (watch the video of my USK set up here.)

The lightweight foam board and the postcard-sized paper allows me to stand easily at any location without much stress on my arms. I clipped the portable palette to the board so that I can hold it all with one hand.



First, it was windy. Then it became sunny all of a sudden, which is great for my watercolor painting because it helps dry up the layer. Today I was using 100% cotton watercolor paper, which makes blending more smooth, but also takes longer to dry. Impatience is my middle name, so I ended up doing two pieces simultaneously, waiting for one to dry while working on another.

There were a lot of tourists at Ballard Locks. I was approached more than once by people to compliment my paintings. I enjoyed chatting with them and sharing the urban sketchers practice. One guy even pointed out the arrival of an eagle on a nearby tree (and the ensuing fight with the crows and seagulls.) The joy of urban sketching is definitely the observations that happen on-location!

USK Seattle’s meetup typically last from 10:00am till 12:30pm. I am very happy with the three paintings I’ve completed. I took my time enjoying the view from both sides of the Locks. I hopped down to the fish ladder just to stay out of the gust.

The highlight of each urban sketchers’ meetup is the final throwdown, the part where everyone lays out their work for others to admire.

Let me share a few close up of my favorites:



So many amazing urban sketchers (even artists, I suppose) in Seattle and they come out of hiding once every month to show off their talents!

Next time if you’re in Seattle and happen to see a bunch of us geeking out with our sketchbooks and paints, don’t hesitate to come say hi!

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