Sketching at the Spokane County Fair

The Spokane County Fair is always a fun time whether you're going for the animals, the carnival rides, the tractors or the fried food on the stick. The fair really bridges the shift between the seasons-the heat of the summer fading into cool crisp mornings.

I've always been fond of tractors and really enjoyed the display at the fair. It was amusing to see how the manufacturers were making new tractors in the vintage style. And it was rather odd to me to see shiny tractors rather than the slightly rusted worn tractors I'm used to coming across in the field.

I've always been fond of tractors and really enjoyed the display at the fair. It was amusing to see how the manufacturers were making new tractors in the vintage style. And it was rather odd to me to see shiny tractors rather than the slightly rusted worn tractors I'm used to coming across in the field.

Colorful carnival rides were everywhere. This "Bear Affair" ride was super popular with kids and the bears in overalls and hats made me laugh.

Colorful carnival rides were everywhere. This "Bear Affair" ride was super popular with kids and the bears in overalls and hats made me laugh.

I broke out the brown paper sketchbook to draw some cows, waiting patiently in the barn. They are HUGE.

I broke out the brown paper sketchbook to draw some cows, waiting patiently in the barn. They are HUGE.

Check out the horns on this guy! He was in the petting zoo tent (in an enclosure by himself), but I'd feel pretty tentative about petting an animal this big with horns like that!

Check out the horns on this guy! He was in the petting zoo tent (in an enclosure by himself), but I'd feel pretty tentative about petting an animal this big with horns like that!

I was super surprised to see these parrots at the fair. They seemed so exotic among the cows and sheep. These two are sleeping with their heads resting on their backs, but as soon as I finished my pen drawing, their owner woke them up and gave them some snacks.

I was super surprised to see these parrots at the fair. They seemed so exotic among the cows and sheep. These two are sleeping with their heads resting on their backs, but as soon as I finished my pen drawing, their owner woke them up and gave them some snacks.

Their plummage was a little ruffled looking. Time for some preening perhaps?

Their plummage was a little ruffled looking. Time for some preening perhaps?

Rabbits are a good animal to sketch at the fair because they are in fairly small cages raised up off the ground. I rested my sketchbook on the edge of their table as I drew. 

Rabbits are a good animal to sketch at the fair because they are in fairly small cages raised up off the ground. I rested my sketchbook on the edge of their table as I drew. 

Pigs are another good choice. These guys were not bothered by ANYTHING. This particular pig had sawdust all over her fast!

Pigs are another good choice. These guys were not bothered by ANYTHING. This particular pig had sawdust all over her fast!

Sheep on the other hand were a bit more skittish. I approached several pens to have the sheep leap up in alarm before I found this pretty chill individual. His (her?) pen mate was on his feet and eyeballing me, but this one was completely unconcerned. I worked fast, trying to capture as much as I could before he moved.

Sheep on the other hand were a bit more skittish. I approached several pens to have the sheep leap up in alarm before I found this pretty chill individual. His (her?) pen mate was on his feet and eyeballing me, but this one was completely unconcerned. I worked fast, trying to capture as much as I could before he moved.

I am definitely going back to the fair next year. Maybe I'll even buy a multiple day pass so I can really get some in depth practice at drawing animals from life! Did you go to the fair this year? Do you have fun memories of fairs you've gone to in the past?

Pig Out in the Park

Like many Spokane traditions, I first learned about Pig out in the Park as a freshman at Gonzaga University and it is a tradition I've been fond of ever since. Row after row of delicious food? People watching galore? the Inland Northwest in the fall? What's not to love?

Piggly's Barbeque had meat spinning on skewers and the smokey smell of BBQ filled the air as I sketched the Clock Tower overlooking all the activities.

Piggly's Barbeque had meat spinning on skewers and the smokey smell of BBQ filled the air as I sketched the Clock Tower overlooking all the activities.

The kettle corn booth was fascinating. Corn kernels were popped in a wide open kettle that was then flipped into the barrel of caramel syrup as the man stirred frantically and steam rose from the barrel. The guy had to wear a protective face mask!

The kettle corn booth was fascinating. Corn kernels were popped in a wide open kettle that was then flipped into the barrel of caramel syrup as the man stirred frantically and steam rose from the barrel. The guy had to wear a protective face mask!

Pig Out isn't just about food, there are plenty of concerts as well! I had a great time sketching the lunch time crowd while enjoying fabulous live music.

Pig Out isn't just about food, there are plenty of concerts as well! I had a great time sketching the lunch time crowd while enjoying fabulous live music.

These next three images are close ups of the sketch above.

These next three images are close ups of the sketch above.

    

 

 

    

 

 

Here is a sketch of a concert at the Clock Tower field at last year's Pig Out in the Park.     Did any of you go to Pig Out in the Park? What was your favorite thing to eat? I had a gyro, but was sorely tempted by a block of fries!

Here is a sketch of a concert at the Clock Tower field at last year's Pig Out in the Park.

 

Did any of you go to Pig Out in the Park? What was your favorite thing to eat? I had a gyro, but was sorely tempted by a block of fries!

Gathering at the Falls Pow Wow

Every year, Native Americans from all over come to Spokane for the Gathering at the Falls Pow Wow, a competitive dance pow wow. I've been meaning to go to the Pow Wow for years, but the great thing about doing this Artist's Eye on Spokane project is that it gets me out there, doing the things I might never actually get around to doing. 

I watched this dancer get the final touches put on his face paint before he put on his feather bustle and strode off for the grand entrance.

I watched this dancer get the final touches put on his face paint before he put on his feather bustle and strode off for the grand entrance.

This feather bustle was resting on one of the fences while I sketched it. I think these are turkey feathers, but I'm not sure. The animal medallion in the center was intricately beaded.

This feather bustle was resting on one of the fences while I sketched it. I think these are turkey feathers, but I'm not sure. The animal medallion in the center was intricately beaded.

This sketch depicts one of several drum circles providing music for the dancers. Everyone is crammed so tightly together you can hardly see the drum, but their drumsticks were a constant waving rhythm. The fiery colors in the far right corner is an unused feather bustle resting in a blue wagon. One gentleman was drumming while on his cellphone! I wonder if the person on the other line could hear him at all?

This sketch depicts one of several drum circles providing music for the dancers. Everyone is crammed so tightly together you can hardly see the drum, but their drumsticks were a constant waving rhythm. The fiery colors in the far right corner is an unused feather bustle resting in a blue wagon. One gentleman was drumming while on his cellphone! I wonder if the person on the other line could hear him at all?

The frenetic energy and constant movement of the dancers made capturing them in action very tricky. I focused on the open, non-competition dances which were more about community and thus tended to be a little slower paced. As dancers came around toward me I would start trying to get them down on paper, finishing as they walked away from me, thus why this sketch is from the back. A fun side effect of choosing the open dances is the variety of regalia that everyone was wearing. 

The frenetic energy and constant movement of the dancers made capturing them in action very tricky. I focused on the open, non-competition dances which were more about community and thus tended to be a little slower paced. As dancers came around toward me I would start trying to get them down on paper, finishing as they walked away from me, thus why this sketch is from the back. A fun side effect of choosing the open dances is the variety of regalia that everyone was wearing. 

At the Gathering at the Falls Pow Wow, the next Pow Wow royalty had to be chosen. These girls are giving their speeches about why they should get picked to be Pow Wow princesses. The gentleman dressed in red in the next images was one of two of what I think were the judges.

At the Gathering at the Falls Pow Wow, the next Pow Wow royalty had to be chosen. These girls are giving their speeches about why they should get picked to be Pow Wow princesses. The gentleman dressed in red in the next images was one of two of what I think were the judges.

    

 

 

Here's a little montage of my sketching over the afternoon. It was a hot day and a bit of challenge, but I'm glad I finally made it out to the Gathering at the Falls Pow Wow. The music, dancing, and regalia were all amazing!

Here's a little montage of my sketching over the afternoon. It was a hot day and a bit of challenge, but I'm glad I finally made it out to the Gathering at the Falls Pow Wow. The music, dancing, and regalia were all amazing!

August Sketch Grab Bag

This week is a bit of a grab bag. The process going to sketch the building below started a couple weeks ago when I came across a Spokesman Review article by Nick Deshais about how this historic building at S 119 Stevens is going to be demolished to make room for surface parking. I loved the sign and the intricate brick work across the top so I made the time to drop by. Sitting on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street, I sketched and thought about the time and effort taken to do the decorative work on the building, the uniqueness of the sign and the way that things change.

S. 119 Stevens, soon to be a parking lot. I hope the sign gets preserved. If they were going to throw it out, I'd take it!

S. 119 Stevens, soon to be a parking lot. I hope the sign gets preserved. If they were going to throw it out, I'd take it!

This is the Museum of Art and Culture out in Browne's Addition. I've always loved the statue of the animals stacked on top of each other. I wonder what their story is?

This is the Museum of Art and Culture out in Browne's Addition. I've always loved the statue of the animals stacked on top of each other. I wonder what their story is?

The other bronze animal sculptures at the MAC definitely have a story according to Zachary Wnek of  Spokane Historical. 

The other bronze animal sculptures at the MAC definitely have a story according to Zachary Wnek of Spokane Historical. 

Weasel Sculpture
This is the Weasel, negotiating with the Two Leggeds. 

This is the Weasel, negotiating with the Two Leggeds. 

Here is the Salmon preparing the way to the River. I just thought they were chubby goldfish with a penchant for destruction of public property.

Here is the Salmon preparing the way to the River. I just thought they were chubby goldfish with a penchant for destruction of public property.

salmon finding way sculpture
And this Salmon has the money! Now I want to go back and find all the other figures that are part of the story! What fun! The maker of these sculptures is Tom Otterness if you'd like to check out the rest of his work.

And this Salmon has the money! Now I want to go back and find all the other figures that are part of the story! What fun! The maker of these sculptures is Tom Otterness if you'd like to check out the rest of his work.

Kendall Yards Night Market

Kendall Yards is a relatively new neighborhood in Spokane, built a top an old rail yard (hence the name), but despite its youth and rough edges (parts are still under construction as I type), it has become crazy popular due to the many fabulous restaurants and businesses there. I myself am a big fan of Central Food (and their patio!) and frequently buy their fresh baked bread to take home. Brain Freeze Creamery is a no brainer (ha ha ha) for something to eat as you stroll down the Centennial Trail. Spark Central is a place to read, explore, play with cool technological widgets and learn! I also always pop into the Marmot Art Gallery and William Grant Gallery for a dose of art (though many of the stores display art for first Friday so you are spoiled for choice!). The Kendall Yards Night Market is a party on the streets as people peruse stalls containing not only fruit and vegetables, but fresh baked pastries, salsa, teas, honey, meat, nuts and more. There are food trucks and Veraci's mobile pizza oven and concerts at the "Nest" (the open plaza) are frequent. Last week also happened to be the "Renaissance Night Market" with dressed performers from the Spokane Renaissance fair strolling among the crowd and demonstrating sword fighting and dancing to all the visitors. 

August is sunflower season at the farmer's market!

August is sunflower season at the farmer's market!

There usually a couple food trucks on site to tempt the taste buds. I was too busy sketching to sample this one's wares, but judging by the gathering of people in front of it, it is good! I believe it is called Beet It Up!

There usually a couple food trucks on site to tempt the taste buds. I was too busy sketching to sample this one's wares, but judging by the gathering of people in front of it, it is good! I believe it is called Beet It Up!

Spokane Sidewalk Games provides over sized games to play on the sidewalk (duh!). Both Connect Four and Checkers were immensely popular with kids of all ages.

Spokane Sidewalk Games provides over sized games to play on the sidewalk (duh!). Both Connect Four and Checkers were immensely popular with kids of all ages.

I attempted to sketch a couple of the Renaissance performers as they went through the motions of a dance. I am planning to attend and sketch the Renaissance Fair in October, which should be a lot of fun.

I attempted to sketch a couple of the Renaissance performers as they went through the motions of a dance. I am planning to attend and sketch the Renaissance Fair in October, which should be a lot of fun.

Folkinception, a local band, gearing up to "Rock the Nest" aka perform in the plaza in Kendall Yards, known as "the Nest" because of a nearby osprey nest and the plaza's position near the edge of the river gorge.

Folkinception, a local band, gearing up to "Rock the Nest" aka perform in the plaza in Kendall Yards, known as "the Nest" because of a nearby osprey nest and the plaza's position near the edge of the river gorge.

I'm not sure that the maker of this red abstract sculpture planned for it to be climbed by children, but I'm sure he or she would be delighted to see their work interacted with in such an enthusiastic fashion. I loved to play with public sculpture as a kid and it still makes me immensely happy today.

I'm not sure that the maker of this red abstract sculpture planned for it to be climbed by children, but I'm sure he or she would be delighted to see their work interacted with in such an enthusiastic fashion. I loved to play with public sculpture as a kid and it still makes me immensely happy today.

Sketching at a Spokane Indians' Game

The first time I ever went to a minor league baseball game it was because a friend invited me. I had no idea that minor league baseball still existed! It was in Everrett and the hometown team, the Aquasox, were playing the Spokane Indians, who beat the pants off the Sox. I was completely charmed by the scoreboard with its manual score cards, the scarves and paraphernalia worn by fans, the fact that trash pick up at the end of the game was done by a Boy Scout Troop. Norman Rockwell's America was right here, at the baseball stadium. Fast forward a couple years and I've attended a few games here in town in support of my now home team, the Spokane Indians. When I'm not chowing down on a hot dog or Dippin Dots out of a miniature helmet, I sketched players and the colorful ads and accouterments of the stadium.

Recently I reached out to the Spokane Indians to see if I could come out and sketch at the stadium in some behind the scenes places and was thrilled when they said yes!

This vendor had a great sales patter routine, a highlight of which was "The sun is hot, this beer is NOT." Luckily, I found a tiny patch of shade to sit in.

This vendor had a great sales patter routine, a highlight of which was "The sun is hot, this beer is NOT." Luckily, I found a tiny patch of shade to sit in.

Sketched from the dancing mascot platform next to the Coors Caboose, you can see the smoke and haze in the air as the sun sets. I had to hurry to finish this painting so that the mascot could take the stage!

Sketched from the dancing mascot platform next to the Coors Caboose, you can see the smoke and haze in the air as the sun sets. I had to hurry to finish this painting so that the mascot could take the stage!

They let me up into the press box to sketch the scene below. I clamored up stairs and ramps that led up the back side of the stadium walls and roof into the box where I quickly discovered that when the crowd got excited, the whole box rocked! This made painting both challenging and exhilerating.

They let me up into the press box to sketch the scene below. I clamored up stairs and ramps that led up the back side of the stadium walls and roof into the box where I quickly discovered that when the crowd got excited, the whole box rocked! This made painting both challenging and exhilerating.

I was determined to try to capture a wide lens view of the field and stands from above, but was foiled by the limits of my paper and time. You can see the sky is dark here and before I was able to add color to the players or the crowd in the stands, the last inning was played and I had to clean up and head for home. It was a delightful night. Thank you so much to the Spokane Indians for hosting me!

I was determined to try to capture a wide lens view of the field and stands from above, but was foiled by the limits of my paper and time. You can see the sky is dark here and before I was able to add color to the players or the crowd in the stands, the last inning was played and I had to clean up and head for home. It was a delightful night. Thank you so much to the Spokane Indians for hosting me!

Now for a throw back to the past-a peek into my sketchbook last year when I went to an Indians game with some friends. It is fun to revisit locations I've sketched at before and try to get a new perspective or cover areas that I didn't manage before.

avistastadium sketchbookpage

Have you been to any fun sports events this summer? Are you looking forward to fall? Drop me a line!

St. John's Cathedral

For years and years I have driven past St. John's Cathedral. Sitting on Division on my way down to downtown Spokane, the tower is a distinct silhouette on the lower South Hill and every time I see it, I think, "Man, that looks so cool. I really do need to stop in there sometime" and then I don't. Last week that ended and I can't believe that it took me SIX YEARS to get up there to visit it. St. John's Cathedral is a beautiful refuge and a fascinating example of Gothic architecture. I hope seeing all these paintings will encourage you to go visit this grand landmark here in Spokane.

All my fun facts written below are from "A Guide to The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist" brochure that I found at the Cathedral.

The Tower is 167 ft and 9 inches tall.

The Tower is 167 ft and 9 inches tall.

St. John's Tower Pic
The ceiling beams in the nave are made of California Redwood. 

The ceiling beams in the nave are made of California Redwood. 

nave

I love all the flags hung along the nave!

    

 

 

The baptismal font is made of Tennessee and Italian marble and weighs 2,600 pounds!

The baptismal font is made of Tennessee and Italian marble and weighs 2,600 pounds!

The cathedral can fit around 1,000 people. 

The organ has 4,112 pipes.

The carillon (the bell set) was built and installed by the John Taylor Belfoundry of Loughborough, England. The largest bell is called Big John and weighs 5,000 pounds!

Spokane Youth Symphony practicing in the nave of the Cathedral. I stumbled  upon this by accident and it was fabulous to paint with live music accompaniment!

Spokane Youth Symphony practicing in the nave of the Cathedral. I stumbled  upon this by accident and it was fabulous to paint with live music accompaniment!

Oops! Ran out of paper trying to fit this MASSIVE door front all on the same page. The sketches made at St. John's are some of the largest I've done thus far for the Artist's Eye on Spokane Project.

Oops! Ran out of paper trying to fit this MASSIVE door front all on the same page. The sketches made at St. John's are some of the largest I've done thus far for the Artist's Eye on Spokane Project.

st.johnfrontdoor
The outside of the cathedral is made from stone quarried in Tacoma. The interior of the nave is sandstone from Idaho and the rest is Indiana limestone.

The outside of the cathedral is made from stone quarried in Tacoma. The interior of the nave is sandstone from Idaho and the rest is Indiana limestone.

Volunteer guides offer tours of the Cathedral most Fridays and Saturdays 11 am-2 pm and on Sundays following the 10:30 am service. 

Volunteer guides offer tours of the Cathedral most Fridays and Saturdays 11 am-2 pm and on Sundays following the 10:30 am service. 

I was walking around exploring the darkened corners of the cathedral and then I turned around and saw this view. Absolutely stunning! This is the biggest painting I've ever done on location 16" x 20" !

I was walking around exploring the darkened corners of the cathedral and then I turned around and saw this view. Absolutely stunning! This is the biggest painting I've ever done on location 16" x 20" !

As always, if you have any suggestions for where I should sketch, drop me a line at meganperkinsartstudio@gmail.com or just say hi! I'd love to hear from you. Also, if you know anyone who might like to get a weekly dose of art, feel free to share this with them. Help my project grow!

Manito Park

Manito Park was one of the first places that I got introduced to in Spokane when I came here for college. 90 acres of gardens, trails, and grassy areas for ponds (not to mention the duck pond and the incredible Gaiser Conservatory) make it a landmark destination, worth visiting over and over again. I have picnicked in the lilac gardens in Spring, admired the flaming maple foliage of the Japanese Garden in the fall and strolled the formal pathways of the Duncan Gardens in the summer. I think my favorite garden is the Joel E. Ferris Perennial Garden. There is such a wide variety of plants that there is always something new to look at and I admit to doing bit of window shopping, "Ooo! Could I grow that in my yard?". Luckily the Friends of Manito Park have their twice yearly plant sale in June and September where you can buy many of the plants found in the garden. 

One of the beds in the Joel E. Ferris garden. So many different foliage shapes!

One of the beds in the Joel E. Ferris garden. So many different foliage shapes!

Subjects that are back lit are always fun to paint!

Subjects that are back lit are always fun to paint!

The Gaiser Conservatory is a favorite refuge of mine during the colder months of the year. I get desperate to see living things and wandering through the tropical jungle and dry desert areas under the conservatory glass are just the boost of warmth and light I need on a gray, cold, February day. 

The Gaiser Conservatory is a favorite refuge of mine during the colder months of the year. I get desperate to see living things and wandering through the tropical jungle and dry desert areas under the conservatory glass are just the boost of warmth and light I need on a gray, cold, February day. 

I stared up toward the roof of the conservatory to sketch this tall tree.

I stared up toward the roof of the conservatory to sketch this tall tree.

You can see the shade cloth the staff put over the conservatory to keep the plants from frying in the hot Spokane summers. It is very pleasant inside even when temperatures outside climb.

You can see the shade cloth the staff put over the conservatory to keep the plants from frying in the hot Spokane summers. It is very pleasant inside even when temperatures outside climb.

A wall of orchids!

A wall of orchids!

The dry, desert side of the conservatory. I love the large cacti and agave!

The dry, desert side of the conservatory. I love the large cacti and agave!

Here, the garden is still slightly shaded in the morning light.

Here, the garden is still slightly shaded in the morning light.

The Duncan Garden is laid out geometrically, a formal sunken garden. Planted in a "carpet bedding" style, the overall effect is of a dramatic abstract painting, masses of color offset by the repetition of green hedging and embellished with a fountain and rotunda.

The Duncan Garden is laid out geometrically, a formal sunken garden. Planted in a "carpet bedding" style, the overall effect is of a dramatic abstract painting, masses of color offset by the repetition of green hedging and embellished with a fountain and rotunda.

My pen sketch of the garden before adding paint. I used a Pentel Pocket brush pen, which I am madly involved with.

My pen sketch of the garden before adding paint. I used a Pentel Pocket brush pen, which I am madly involved with.

So much color! It was a joy to paint!

So much color! It was a joy to paint!

While sketching at the park, I had to stop in at the Rose garden to admire all of the different rose varieties in bloom. On weekends it is a popular place for weddings.

While sketching at the park, I had to stop in at the Rose garden to admire all of the different rose varieties in bloom. On weekends it is a popular place for weddings.

This rose was leaning on a pillar of the white arbor that is so popular for wedding and prom photos.

This rose was leaning on a pillar of the white arbor that is so popular for wedding and prom photos.

I love the broken color on this flower.

I love the broken color on this flower.

A path going away, tempting me to see what is around the corner.

A path going away, tempting me to see what is around the corner.

Instead I resisted and made this painting!

Instead I resisted and made this painting!

Painting and sketching in Manito was a delightful way to spend the morning. I envy the people who make walking in the park part of their daily routine. It is so beautiful and there is such variety among the gardens and landscape that there is always something new to see! I need to return and do some painting in oils soon!

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

Mount Saint Michael's

I first noticed Mt. St. Michael's on my daily commute down the new North-South Corridor. It perches on a hill overlooking the highway like a large brick layer cake, down to the white architectural "frosting". Mt. St. Michael's has been on that location in 1878 and, according to the official website the area was primarily used as a farm, feeding Gonzaga University from 1881 to 1915. It was used as a training ground for Catholic priests and in 1915 they started building a scholasticate to educate and train Jesuits, which had to be closed in 1968 as the number of Jesuits entering service dropped off dramatically. Another fun fact is that the seismograph from Gonzaga was moved into the basement of Mt. St. Michael's in 1930 and was an important source of data for seismologists. In 1977, Mt. St. Michael's was bought from the Jesuits by the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen. Today, there is a convent of Marian Sisters, a k-12 school, chapel, small historical museum, and large library. It is the only place in Spokane that I know of where you can hear Mass in the original Latin as the organization is run by sedevacantists, who do not adhere to the changes in the Catholic church since Vatican II. 

Mtstmichaelsfullviewpainting
It just goes up and up and up!

It just goes up and up and up!

The frontage of the building is enormous. Birds flitted along the walls, perching on the gutters and architectural molding, adding an air of lightness and fun to the heaviness of the brick.

The frontage of the building is enormous. Birds flitted along the walls, perching on the gutters and architectural molding, adding an air of lightness and fun to the heaviness of the brick.

What a doorway!

What a doorway!

The statue of the angel over the main door interested me. The shield it carries say "Who (is) like God?" in Latin and is the literal translation of the name Michael in Hebrew, so perhaps this is the Archangel Michael.

The statue of the angel over the main door interested me. The shield it carries say "Who (is) like God?" in Latin and is the literal translation of the name Michael in Hebrew, so perhaps this is the Archangel Michael.

I followed a trail down to the grotto, passing under shady trees, which was a relief on the hot day. 

I followed a trail down to the grotto, passing under shady trees, which was a relief on the hot day. 

A shady path into the trees is always a temptation.

A shady path into the trees is always a temptation.

The grotto was built by an injured Jesuit brother who promised to build the Virgin Mary a grotto if he were healed.  He clearly kept his promise.

The grotto was built by an injured Jesuit brother who promised to build the Virgin Mary a grotto if he were healed.  He clearly kept his promise.

Leaving the outdoors....

Leaving the outdoors....

The chapel on the second story of the main building.

The chapel on the second story of the main building.

I really liked these angels on the wall. It isn't often you see a brunette angel!

I really liked these angels on the wall. It isn't often you see a brunette angel!

Sketched this while sitting on a pew. I wonder if painting in a chapel is considered sacrilegious? I doubt it since a service wasn't going on and I was surrounded by so much art aimed at beautifying the chapel ("glorifying god" is probably how it would be termed).

Sketched this while sitting on a pew. I wonder if painting in a chapel is considered sacrilegious? I doubt it since a service wasn't going on and I was surrounded by so much art aimed at beautifying the chapel ("glorifying god" is probably how it would be termed).

I spent an enjoyable few hours wandering Mt. St. Michael's on a hot summer afternoon. The view from the top of the bluff that it is perched on is incredible. I will have to go back at some point and paint the land stretching out below!

In other news-I'll be at the South Perry Street Fair this upcoming Saturday from 10 am-8 pm. Come by and say hi! I'd love to talk to you!

Courtside Sketching-Hoopfest 2017

My first encounter with Hoopfest, the world's biggest 3on3 basketball competition in the world (yeah, the WORLD) was when I was in college. I went to Gonzaga where basketball is king so it wasn't surprising that a couple friends of mine would decide to play in Hoopfest. They played relatively early in the morning, around 11 and my foolish Seattle raised self decided that I should be ok without sunscreen that early in the day. I hadn't yet acclimated to Spokane's searing hot summers and the way they began before the 4th of July (many rainy fireworks shows in my childhood) and tragically underestimate the temperature and the way that all the hard surfaces of downtown-the courts, the bricks, and the tens of thousands of people would all conspire to make a mid morning adventure unbelievably hot. By the end of the game I was turning a shade more commonly seen on cooked crustaceans, but I still had a great time. The energy of the event, the hordes of onlookers, the intent faces of the basketball players-all ages from what seemed like toddlers to men for whom this was clearly their mid life crisis red convertible substitute. Players were dressed in crazy outfits such as overalls, clown wigs, weird makeup and shirts bedecked with bizarre team names (some from this year courtesy of the Inlander-Avocado Toast, Nothing but Netflix, and Bitter Aged Hops). I don't love basketball enough to assemble a team, sign up for Hoopfest (note that I skipped practice as a step here, because for a lot of people not training before the event is clearly traditional.)and battle it out in the summer heat on the blacktop, but clearly there are thousands of people who do. And I'm glad. It is fabulous local tradition that does great things for our community-the organizers of Hoopfest are the ambassadors of basketball fever, but also a force for good in our community, donating money to many charities and helping to build or refinish basketball courts all over Spokane. 

That heat partially addled my brain so I forgot to take photos while I was down on the courts. All my attention was focused on capturing the bounding basketball players and finding shady places to sketch! If you'd like to see more photos from the even check out this slideshow compiled by the fabulous photographers of the Spokesman Review.

Downtown Spokane in the midst of basketball fever.

Downtown Spokane in the midst of basketball fever.

A very common sight, teams waiting in their matching t-shirts for their turn on the court.

A very common sight, teams waiting in their matching t-shirts for their turn on the court.

A court monitor presides over a rowdy game.

A court monitor presides over a rowdy game.

Basketball on Washington near where it crosses over the Spokane River with Riverfront Park favorites, the Pavilion and Clock Tower, in the background.

Basketball on Washington near where it crosses over the Spokane River with Riverfront Park favorites, the Pavilion and Clock Tower, in the background.

I'm already strategizing how to get even more sketching done at Hoopfest next year! Start out early, break in the middle, and possibly find some buildings with a bird's eye view of the streets are all on the docket! See you there next year!

The Lilac City

Spokane is known as the Lilac City and for good reason, lilacs are everywhere. According to the Spokane Lilac Festival website, local legend has it that the first lilac made it out here in 1882 from Minnesota. In the 1930's there was a city-wide campaign to plant lilacs all over the city and by 1940, the website says that there were 30 lilac trees planted in Coeur d’Alene Park in the Browne's Addition neighborhood and 144 trees in Manito Park. I have to say from personal experience that the Lilac garden at Manito is a delightful place to have a picnic lunch in the spring time! 

One of my favorite things to do in the spring while I'm driving around running errands is to count the number of lilacs I see as I drive from one place to another. One day, I counted over 60 lilacs in just a 20 minute drive!
 

lilacs
This lilac is across the street from Spokane Art Supply (a place I visit a lot!) and behind the Spokane Public Radio station.

This lilac is across the street from Spokane Art Supply (a place I visit a lot!) and behind the Spokane Public Radio station.

Spokane Art School Lilacs
I had a inquisitive visitor!

I had a inquisitive visitor!

Lilacs come in many different shades-white, lavender, mauve, dark purple, "lilac" and these days, even pink!

Lilacs come in many different shades-white, lavender, mauve, dark purple, "lilac" and these days, even pink!

I am fondest of the purple shades, but I have white lilacs thanks to the previous owner of our house. That's ok. They still smell AMAZING!

I am fondest of the purple shades, but I have white lilacs thanks to the previous owner of our house. That's ok. They still smell AMAZING!

A friend posted a picture on Facebook of this point of view down in Riverfront Park by the Red Radio Flyer Wagon and I knew I needed to get down there and sketch it!

A friend posted a picture on Facebook of this point of view down in Riverfront Park by the Red Radio Flyer Wagon and I knew I needed to get down there and sketch it!

Red Flyer lilacs

Do you have lilacs at home? Do you love them and their overblown, romantic looks and fragrance or do you find them scraggly and smelly? While I don't think lilacs are much to look at for most of the year, I find the one month in the spring when they suddenly bloom and reveal themselves to be worth it. I love that Spokane is the Lilac City!

Urban Eden Farm

I first learned about Urban Eden Farm from two of my friends who eventually decided to get a CSA from the farm. I was surprised by their description of a farm just five minutes from downtown, but that is just one of the great things about Spokane-the amazing places hidden in the nooks and crannies of the landscape. I began following them on Instagram and was inspired by their hard work; fixing tractors, weeding the rows of vegetables, and this past spring, dealing with their stream flooding through their shed and down the road, as well as the beauty of fresh picked radishes, glowing rhubarb, and giant heads of lettuce.

Following my phone's directions (as I so often do!), I found myself in Latah Creek, nestled beneath the cliff's of the South Hill. Green houses and plant nurseries popped up like mushrooms as a train chugged along behind all the activity. 

When I first arrived at Urban Eden Farm, I was greeted by the sunny Tarawyn, crowned in a straw hat. She led me back to the field where a group of employees and volunteers were weeding rows of beets, pulling weeds and thinning beets (one wise gentleman said in a variation of another gardening proverb, "A beet in the wrong place is a weed." Beets grown too close together end up tiny and stunted. ). I pulled out my three legged camp stool to sketch everyone busy at work and promptly sunk four inches into the soft, damp earth. Luckily, I kept my balance and did not fall over, but it was a near thing. I got to repeat this experience several more times because the weeders worked much more quickly than I drew so I had to move further down the row to keep them in my sight. Soon my back pack was nearly twenty feet away from me!

Starting off up close!

Starting off up close!

weedingpeople

They're moving past me

There they go!

There they go!

Photo taken by Tarawyn of me in action!

Photo taken by Tarawyn of me in action!

Fresh off the press!

Fresh off the press!

busyweeders

This is my favorite sketch from this trip. I love all the action!

 

Next I crossed the stream on a plank bridge to sketch their farm birds. I'm pretty used to chickens, having some of my own, but I was not prepared for the scream of the peacocks. It really does sound like an alarmed child. They wouldn't come out from cover so I couldn't see them, so their calls were extra startling. However, the chickens belligerently staring at me in expectation of kitchen scraps was completely familiar.

roosterandhens

Walking past a worn barn I spotted a vine winding it's way up the wood siding, a coil of nails pinned to the boards below. A perfect farm scene!

I think that is a coil of nails for a nail gun hanging on the barn wall.

I think that is a coil of nails for a nail gun hanging on the barn wall.

barnwall

I couldn't leave without sketching a hoop house. It was WAY too hot and sunny to sketch inside the greenhouse so I stationed myself at one end, peeking in through the door and slated window-lots of tomatoes getting big and tall!

Hoop Houses are so great for starting vegetables in our cold Spokane springs!

Hoop Houses are so great for starting vegetables in our cold Spokane springs!

hoophouse

 

It was a wonderful morning and I saw so many beautiful things that I wanted to paint I couldn't fit them all in! Thank you to Tarawyn and everyone at Urban Eden Farm for hosting me!

Sunny Future for Riverfront Park

It was a searing 89 degrees on Tuesday when I drove downtown to sketch the construction going on at Riverfront Park. Walking from the parking lot, I realized I forgot my camp stool AND my water bottle, making a couple hours sketching on a hot afternoon daunting. Don’t worry though, there is a happy ending to the story. Walking along Riverside Ave, I found a spot in the shade, sitting on the edge of a flower filled planter across from where the new Loof Carousel building is going up. Absolutely perfect for sketching the cranes and welders working on the building. It even had the Pavilion roof in the background! It is exciting to see all the progress going on in the Park-the ice skate ribbon, a redo of the Howard Street South Channel bridge, and the new Carousel building. When it is all done it is going to be AMAZING. I’m planning to check in with the construction’s progress throughout the rest of the year and track the changes and growth in my sketches. If you’d like to learn more about the plans for construction and remodeling at Riverfront Park check it out at www.riverfrontparknow.com

Riverfront Loof Carousel building
Riverfront Carousel Construction
Riverfront construction sketch

With these drawings the challenge was sorting out all the construction chaps-strut frames, the building, the heavy machinery, chain link fencing, orange hazard fencing and the trees in the distance. It was great fun to watch the welders on top of the Carousel building alternate between bending over with their welding masks down working on the building and standing up to work their way around the roof. It looked like a lot of hard work! I was glad to be painting and not welding!

Riverfront Construction close up
gesture sketches
Riverfront Construction Sketch 2

Sitting along the sidewalk it was great to see all the busy people out and about on their day. A few people stopped to chat with me which was fabulous. If you see me out and about sketching in Spokane, please say hello! I’d love to talk to you!


 

Spring Wildflowers at Dishman Hills Conservancy

One of my favorite places to visit in spring time is the Dishman Hills Conservation District. The first time I drove out there, I was surprised by the nearness of the car dealerships on Sprague, skeptical that a wonderland of hiking trails could actually exist cheek by jowl with the rows and rows of shiny SUVS. Luckily I was wrong. Once I strode up the trail, away from the parking lot, it was like I had stepped through the wardrobe and into Narnia-dappled sunlight under tall trees, enormous boulders, deep glades, and most of all-wildflowers. Arrow leaf balsamroot being my favorite. They look like yellow daisies with a large arrow shaped (hence the name) soft leaves. They covered the hills and fanned out along the trails. So now, every spring, I got to Dishman Hills to spend some time with my favorite wildflowers. Having such a beautiful area so close to the center of Spokane is a treasure. Get out there and explore!

If you'd like to learn more about the Dishman Hills Conservancy and their worthy cause, check out their website http://www.dishmanhills.org/. They have regular expert led hikes covering topics such as butterflies, geology, and  yes, wildflowers. Hiking and trail information is on the website. 

Hiking trails in the Dishman Hills are winding and exploratory.

Hiking trails in the Dishman Hills are winding and exploratory.

dishmantrailsketch
Hiking trails in the Dishman Hills are winding and exploratory.

Hiking trails in the Dishman Hills are winding and exploratory.

wildflower close up
arrowleaf balsamroot
wildflowers
wildflowers

Bloomsday 2017

Bloomsday is an institution in Spokane, starting in downtown and traversing 12 km along the Spokane River and back with the epic Doomsday Hill in between. Around 40,000 people run the race each year; some serious athletes, intent on their time, others out for fun, dressed in tutus, devil's horns, and rainbow clown wings. Children all the way up to the elderly run and when the race is over, the city is full of Bloomies, wearing their newly won t-shirts with pride. 

Parking on the outskirts of downtown, I walked to the start point, following the streams of people. Excitement building, music blaring, the smell of fried food (a reward at the end!) in the air! There are enough people participating in the race that starts are broken up into different color groups along Riverside Ave. I parked myself against a street light along the side walk and began sketching the crowd waiting behind the fences for their race to start. 

Bloomsdaystartpainting

I got the pen drawing in before the groups started moving, but I had to work on adding color as the waves of people broke over my little spot. I was grateful for my light post, otherwise I might have been carried along! 

It started out a grey day, but soon the sun came out!

It started out a grey day, but soon the sun came out!

bloomsdaypeople

As people walked by, I was amazed to see them throwing jackets and sweaters into the trees. Soon many of the trees along Riverside looked like some odd Tibetan prayer flag monument or like a laundry line gone horribly wrong. It was very colorful! Clothing that is left behind by runners gets donated to charity, so I suppose even if you can't find your jacket, something good comes of it!

clothestree

Next I drove over to the north side of the River to sketch the runners who had just made it up Doomsday Hill. Some people were still running, but lots of people were walking, or determinedly trudging forward. I practiced gestural sketching, starting off with a head and the assembling a figure from people as they go by. People were running too fast to complete a full drawing from one model so I would weld the arms from one person to the head and shoulders of another and then catch the running legs from third. Frankensteining people together I managed to fill quite a few pages. It was fascinating to see how much unique variation there is in running form-flapping hands, a dragging leg, one should lower than the other...Endlessly fascinating! 

runners
runners
runnergroup
runnergroup1
runnergroup2
runnergroup3
runnergroup4

At the end of the day, I felt accomplished and I didn't even have run 12 km! I definitely feel like I won in this contest. 

Costa Rica: Hot Times in the Low Lands

Besides hiking around in the mountainous cloud forests, we also spent some time in the La Fortuna area. About 5,500 feet lower in elevation, it was a lot hotter and a far more urban environment. We stayed in a little Airbnb in a "Tico" (that's what Costa Ricans call themselves!) neighborhood. I sat on the little porch one evening and sketched the view opposite our temporary home, as well as some flowers in the yard.

 

The view across from our Airbnb-laundry hanging to dry, crazy power line wires, a hut protecting the electrical utilities.

The view across from our Airbnb-laundry hanging to dry, crazy power line wires, a hut protecting the electrical utilities.

Relatives of Birds of Paradise Flowers planted in the Airbnb yard.

Relatives of Birds of Paradise Flowers planted in the Airbnb yard.

Our first destination was to the La Fortuna Waterfall. To get there it took a quick taxi ride and then a long 400 steps down a ravine to the waterfall and river. People were wading and sunbathing on the rocks in the river. Occasionally the "life guard" blasted a whistle at someone getting too close to the pounding waterfall. I sat on a rock, spray sprinkling my sketchbook and I and tried to figure out how to fit the waterfall onto my page!

LaFortunaWaterfallsketch
LaFortunaWaterfall

 

 

The Arenal Volcano is a major landmark in the area, dominating the horizon of La Fortuna. It is a perfect, conical volcano that smokes gently behind the church tower of the main square in town. As I painted this sketch, kids were playing soccer in the park and people strolled eating ice cream, while delivery trucks and motorcycles roared on the street behind me. It was an excellent way to end a day hiking in the Arenal Volcan National Park where we hiked over lava rocks and got an amazing close up (but not too close!) view of the sleeping volcano.

 

ArenalVolcano
Arenalvolcanocloseup
lavarocktrail

Next, we took a day trip up to Cano Negro, a couple hours to the north in order to take a boat ride on the Rio Frio. Riding in our canopied boat, we saw caiman (like small alligators), capuchin, howler and spider monkeys, sloths, kingfishers, anhinga and more. The river must not have been too frio (cold) because there were some shallow sections full of people enjoying their Easter holiday. I wouldn't want to get into water with caimans (they can get over 6 ft long!), but the Ticos sure didn't seem to be worried about it!

CanoNegro
caiman

The final stage of our trip was to return to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, to be close to the airport for our flight home. We stayed in a little Airbnb in a funky neighborhood and I had a fabulous time sketching just within a block of where we were staying. We did a little exploring, visiting the Museum of Gold (largest collection of Pre-Columbian Gold in the World!) which is built UNDERNEATH a plaza and in built in a vault!, and, of course, eating delicious food. My favorite? Pineapple lemonade at a little coffee shop built in what used to be a one car garage!

Funkymural
watertowersandflowers
watertowers

 

 

Next up: Some of the sketching I've been doing since I got home to Spokane!

 

 

Costa Rican Rainforest Adventures

Well, it may not seem to make much sense, starting off a blog called "Artist's Eye on Spokane" with a post about a trip to Costa Rica, but I'm doing it anyway. A test run to make sure that everything is working (Is this on? Can anybody hear me?) and it is the most exciting thing to have happened to me recently. Plus, who doesn't like pictures of exotic places?

So! To start off, I'm Megan Perkins, artist and explorer extraordinaire (Hey, I'm writing this, that means I get to style myself however I like!). Last October I was on my way back to a trip to Hawaii when I did a quick painting of an Alaska Airlines airplane while waiting for my flight to board.

AlaskaAirlinesPlanesketch

 

Long story short, when I got home, I put this picture up on social media and Alaska Airlines found it. They shared it on their Instagram account where it became one of the top nine most liked images for 2016. An Alaska Airlines representative emailed me to ask for my address because they'd like to send me something. "Sure," I told them, thinking "Alaska Airlines totebag!"

Guys, it was two round trip tickets to anywhere Alaska flies!!! OH MY GOSH, I was SO excited. Costa Rica stood out for obvious reasons (WARM, TROPICAL, and I've never been there!). I immediately began planning and we left mid-April for 10 days in the (nearly) equatorial country, exploring volcanic national parks, rain forests, rivers, and cloud forests.

Guys, I know this may come as a surprise, but it is WET and misty in a cloud forest!

Guys, I know this may come as a surprise, but it is WET and misty in a cloud forest!

There are a lot of exotic looking plants. Some were familiar, house plants where we live. Others, I had no idea what there were!

 

tropicalflower
Strangler fig wrapping this tree

Strangler fig wrapping this tree

coffeeplant
I had some time to sketch the view into the rain forest canopy. So much green!

I had some time to sketch the view into the rain forest canopy. So much green!

I drew some of the plants we saw often with notes about what I learned about them.

I drew some of the plants we saw often with notes about what I learned about them.

Orchids were also common and super impressive!

Orchids were also common and super impressive!

Let's end with a picture of the beautiful Quetzal. Worshiped as a god by the Aztecs, they are colorful birds with stunningly long tail feathers and slightly mournful call. As a child, I had an A to Z Animal Pop Up Book and, you guessed it, Q was for Quetzal. I never thought I would actually see this magnificent bird in person, but now I can say that I have and what an experience it was.

 

quetzal