industrial

Sketching at the Steam Plant

The Steam Plant building in downtown Spokane is a restaurant and brewery and houses offices and store fronts as well, but the name is a remnant of an older time. The building was an actual functioning steam plant for 70 years according to their website. It didn't shut down until 1986. Renovated with a vision toward making the most of the industrial space, many elements of the Steam Plant's past remain which create a unique atmosphere. I know I'm sounding a bit like an ad for the Steam Plant here, but I have a soft spot for creative reuse, adapting to the surroundings and reusing old material in new and exciting ways, so I was thrilled by the aesthetics of the space. There's a lot of inspiration there! 

This is a corner in one of the side rooms of the building. I loved the abstract composition created by the girders and pipes and the way the lighter elements emerged out of the darkness.

This is a corner in one of the side rooms of the building. I loved the abstract composition created by the girders and pipes and the way the lighter elements emerged out of the darkness.

I worked my way across the page from left to right in order to not smear the paint (I'm right handed). Painting this was slow work, but worth it for the final result!

I worked my way across the page from left to right in order to not smear the paint (I'm right handed). Painting this was slow work, but worth it for the final result!

Walking by, this caught my eye. I think it is the front of an old boiler room, but don't quote me on that. Now it is a window into a private dining room, wallpapered in thin pipes. 

Walking by, this caught my eye. I think it is the front of an old boiler room, but don't quote me on that. Now it is a window into a private dining room, wallpapered in thin pipes. 

The pipes that run down the wall here trickle water into a trough made by cutting a large horizontal pipe in half. You can see the fixture it ran through on the left size just above the table. Creative thinking with a great result!

The pipes that run down the wall here trickle water into a trough made by cutting a large horizontal pipe in half. You can see the fixture it ran through on the left size just above the table. Creative thinking with a great result!

This is a sketch done in a long vertical sketchbook two years ago. Done while sitting on a window ledge of the Davenport Hotel (carefully avoiding their decorative spikes!) just before going to the Broken Mic poetry reading at Neato Burrito. The stacks of the Steam Plant are an iconic part of the Spokane skyline and I hope they always will be!

This is a sketch done in a long vertical sketchbook two years ago. Done while sitting on a window ledge of the Davenport Hotel (carefully avoiding their decorative spikes!) just before going to the Broken Mic poetry reading at Neato Burrito. The stacks of the Steam Plant are an iconic part of the Spokane skyline and I hope they always will be!

Spokane Rail Town

Spokane is a town of trains. Grain, oil, coal, and more. Beautiful Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane used to be a giant rail yard, so did trendy Kendall Yards. Hillyard, a neighborhood to the north and east of downtown is named after "Hill's Yard", another rail yard. Trains are still alive and active in many parts of the city, as seen in the raised bridges at the base of Sunset Hill, running through downtown, and most particularly, to the east of the city out to the edge of the valley where grain elevators pop up along Spague, like giant grey mushrooms. I used to work out not far from the Spokane Fair Grounds and stopped for train crossings was fairly common when I was out running errands. I often drove over the Fancher bridge to the Parkwater Post Office and always enjoyed seeing the Yardley train yard to the east of the bridge and the Parkwater Yard on the west side. 

As I sketched this from my position on the Fancher bridge I enjoyed watching the trains come and go. Sketching while surrounded by activity and change is part of my favorite things about sketching on location. When I packed up my kit, the scene looked quite different than when I'd started thanks to trains leaving and new trains arriving.

As I sketched this from my position on the Fancher bridge I enjoyed watching the trains come and go. Sketching while surrounded by activity and change is part of my favorite things about sketching on location. When I packed up my kit, the scene looked quite different than when I'd started thanks to trains leaving and new trains arriving.

On the other side of the bridge, I'd always admired the brick buildings in the yard. They looked like they had a story. Hearsay says that this large building here used to be a blacksmithry, where repairs were done on site for the trains. This yard has been in use for around 100 years! It is also said that these brick buildings are original Northern Pacific Railroad structures, but I don't have a good source for that so, I don't know if it is true. Are there any train historians out there? If so, please contact me, I'd love to learn more! Especially because I heard a rumor that all the bricks used to build these structures were once used as ballast in old ships! (What a romantic notion!). 

blacksmithbuilding
Beautiful brick step detailing along the roof line here.

Beautiful brick step detailing along the roof line here.

I cropped off part of the building in order to keep the proportion correct on the sheet of paper that I had. That is part of the challenge of painting on location. You only have the supplies that you brought with you and sometimes they aren't ideal and you have to adapt. I liked how it seemed like a solid "object" on the page and decided to isolate it. I struggle with leaving white space, negative space, so I'm proud that I managed to leave some here.

I cropped off part of the building in order to keep the proportion correct on the sheet of paper that I had. That is part of the challenge of painting on location. You only have the supplies that you brought with you and sometimes they aren't ideal and you have to adapt. I liked how it seemed like a solid "object" on the page and decided to isolate it. I struggle with leaving white space, negative space, so I'm proud that I managed to leave some here.

You can see the age showing on this window edge. Love the old glass in the windows too!

You can see the age showing on this window edge. Love the old glass in the windows too!

The repetitive shapes of the window panes are fascinating.

The repetitive shapes of the window panes are fascinating.

I was attracted to this caboose because of its fabulous color combination of turquoise/teal and bright yellow! Super cute!

I was attracted to this caboose because of its fabulous color combination of turquoise/teal and bright yellow! Super cute!

A road grader? Clearly it doesn't move around a lot, but I love the cheery primary colors.

A road grader? Clearly it doesn't move around a lot, but I love the cheery primary colors.

railgrader
roadgrader