Sketchy Traveler Fall 2021 Sketching Expeditions in Seattle and Portland

In December, I went to Seattle and did some drawing along the way in Portland. This gave me a chance to visit some of my favorite spots in Seattle and explore some new sights in Portland. I also picked up a great book exploring the Portland landmarks featured in Beverley Clearly’s Ramona stories.

Clinton Cinema, Portland 11-22-21

A fun feature of Portland, Oregon is all of the old movie theaters in the city. The most prominent are the Bagdad Theater and the Hollywood Theater. Yet there are many small movie theaters that still host movies and performance arts. Their unique store fronts provide a nice break from the usual cityscape and offer some unique experiences.

In this sketch we see the Clinton Cinema, named for the street it is on. What I like about this theater is how it anchors this small business district at SE Clinton and SE 26th Avenue. I could imagine people coming out of the midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and going to the bar across the street.

I did this drawing from an outside table at the coffee shop across from the theater. I had to be quick with this drawing as it was a cold morning and I was sitting in the shade. Another spot I would like to come back to.

CP Coffee, Seattle 12-29-21

One of my favorite coffee shops in Seattle is CP Coffee. I try to visit them whenever I am in Seattle. It is a true neighborhood living room where people come to conduct business, catch up with friends and enjoy the various events the shop hosts.

I did a quick sketch of CP Coffee’s new outdoor seating area. They have always had outdoor seating, but it was not covered. For COVID times they added this covered deck on the north side of their building to protect guests from the elements.

I only did a quick drawing as it as very cold that day and the space heaters could only do so much. The space was very empty too as it was a weekday and heavy snow in Seattle had snarled traffic. Hope to make it back soon for a more detailed drawing.

Mt. Baker from West Seattle 1-2-22

A great feature of Seattle is that it is surrounded by mountains. In this view we look north to Mt. Baker on the edge of the North Cascades National Park. While Mt. Rainer is more famous Mt. Baker is usually the star of views from West Seattle like this drawing.

I have always appreciated this view from the edge of the Mt. St. Vicente Nursing Home lot. The steep hill provides a dramatic foreground while the many layers leading up to the mountain create a great sense of perspective. This view also includes several Seattle landmarks including the Space Needle, Queen Anne radio towers and Elliot Bay.

I actually drew this view from a photo. Seattle was in the middle of a cold snap and deep snow that made extended drawing outside unreasonable. Drawing from a photo allowed me to capture a lot more detail than 10 rush minutes to beat the cold.

Would love to come back to this view using watercolors in the summertime. The trick is finding a time when Mt. Baker is not hidden in clouds.

Walking with Ramona: Exploring Beverly Clearly’s Portland by Laura O. Foster

While visiting Powell’s Books I came across this fun book (Walking with Ramona) on Beverly Clearly. Clearly was a childrens author who grew up in Portland. She set most of her stories in Portland and many places in Portland play an important part in her stories.

The book provides a unique perspective on Portland through stories Clearly wrote. Most of this is about the history of the city. An interesting historical fact was that all the buildings in Portland were renumbered in the early 1930s.

The book also provides a look into the culture of Portland in the 1920s and 1930s though. Clearly’s mother for example thought that people who living in apartments were untrustworthy. The author points out the irony given the large rents people now pay to live in Portland’s apartments and that a recently built apartment building in the Hollywood neighborhood is named for Clearly.

The one drawback to this book is that it has one walk through the Hollywood neighborhood. While this was the main setting for Clearly’s books other areas of the city are visited. A section on riding Portland’s light rail like the characters ride the trolley in Clearly’s books could have been a fun addition.

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