Under the stars on Chuckanut Drive


Deckhouse View of Salish Sea

We rekindled some old memories this week at the Deckhouse on Chuckanut Drive.

When I was young we had a 1950’s era tent trailer. It had plywood sides that were stained dark brown, long before plastic I have no idea what the flat roof-top was made of, only that it was heavy. The sides of the part that expanded, an unpleasant task for one or two people pushing the roof up, then poking metal pins into holes in the four corner posts to keep it up, a process destined to produce a few swear words, were made of faded green canvas. There was a Coleman style stove for cooking and four bunks; in those days any kind of “indoor” toilet was not even a dream. The mattresses were standard camper and youth camp issue of the day: off-white ticking with blue stripes. For some reason after the tent-trailer was passed on to some other unwary soul we ended up keeping the mattresses, stored on shelves in the garage. They turned our backyard on Harrison Street in Milwaukie into everything from a camp ground, a place for tumbling and gymnastics, and the interior design for multiple tents and forts. 

Us kids frequently slept outside in the summer; I remember sleeping outside every day for a week or more when I was maybe ten. The camping adventures that we did as a family, unenthusiastically by mom, but a favorite of dad’s, are some of my best memories. I loved sleeping outside. I remember one night, when I was about six, on Saddle Mountain in the Coast Range, not far from Astoria where we lived at the time. It was just Dad, me, and the violent thunder and lightening that shook our tent. As I got older backpacking was my passion, often with only a tarp for a tent, strung between a couple of trees, or on occasion, just sleeping on the ground with the tarp on top of the sleeping bag if there was chance of rain. But the back yard adventures are a special memory.

The Deckhouse on Chuckanut Drive has a large deck, with an amazing view of the Salish Sea, game trails through the underbrush, frequented by deer, just a few feet away, and two enticing chaise lounges. I don’t know who suggested sleeping outside first but Tricia and I looked at each other and said, “why not.”

No sleeping bags, there was one large fleece throw, a couple of large beach towels for hot tub use, and a couple of extra bath towels. Tricia used the fleece, I retrieved a wool plaid stadium blanket from the trunk, grabbed a beach towel, and we settled in. Eventually the stars came out, with the sun down the far away lights of Anacordes twinkled on the horizon, and we fell asleep. It was like the back yard on Harrison Street all over again. 

At about 1.30am we both woke up, and decided to move inside. Yet we enjoyed it so much we did the same thing the next night. Thankfully we don’t grow out of everything we did as a child.

Here are a few other sketches from the week. Imagination of a chapel, and sketches at Taylor’s Shellfish Farm

Wherever your travels take you this week, keep on capturing the moments in your sketchbook.

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The Oldest Home in the UK


In Derbyshire, on the banks of the Trent River, stands a limestone Anchorite cave church. Archaeologist Edmund Simons said: “Our findings demonstrate that this odd little rock-cut building in Derbyshire is more likely from the 9th century than from the 18th century as everyone had originally thought. This makes it probably the oldest intact domestic interior in the UK – with doors, floor, roof, windows, etc.- and, what’s more, it may well have been lived in by a king who became a saint.”

Anchor Churches, or more properly Anchorite Churches from the greek anachōreō meaning “to withdraw” or “to depart into the countryside,” were built in the 6th through the 9th centuries. They were the cells of hermits who withdrew to live a solitary life of meditation and prayer.

This particular cave church was most likely occupied by Eardwulf, King of Northumbria after he was exiled from power, a somewhat common practice in those days. His devotion resulted in his canonization as Saint Hardulph, a nearby church bears his name.

On my next trip in the area I plan to take the Anchor Church Walk in the Village of Ingleby, which passes by this and other cave churches in the area. I would love to sketch these plein air, and I know Tricia will take some great photos for her blog Travels Through My Lens.

Here are a few other recent sketches. I hope you are sketching and getting out more.

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theTravelsketcher this week – July 2, 2021


It is hard to believe that 2021, this year that we looked forward to with such anticipation, is already half over. Washington State is now pretty much back to normal, masks and such still used by some, most trusting the vaccine or just not concerned – the change is quite welcome.

It has been a long time since I have done any Sumi style painting, I downloaded a brush set for my Procreate and gave them a try.

Sunday the temps started rising to record numbers. From my deck I watched a parade of folks getting out early for their walks and jogs.

Monday was over 100F, extremely rare for us Puget Sound folks.

Our daughter was in town briefly, we went to the Sculpture Garden in Seattle, Smith Tower was in the distance. I sketched this standing on the overpass while Tricia wandered on taking photos.

Wednesday, as seems to be my new norm, I met up with Tricia at South Lake Union. Tapster Seattle is a new spot, I sat on the deck and sketched Google folks eating lunch in the sun.

It was a good week, a bit hectic at times, but good. I have discovered that I have come accustomed to the simple routine that developed during the COVID shutdowns, time to get reenergized.

Keep exploring your world, and keep on sketching.

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theTravelsketcher this week – June 25, 2021


At the most basic level I am a sketcher, yes I paint and sell watercolors and acrylics, but in my soul I am a sketcher. Sketching captures the moment, expressing emotions better than a carefully constructed painting, because with sketching the process is more important than the outcome – just what I needed this week.

Flowers are a comfort whether growing in a garden or arranged in a vase, I did this on my iPad in the style of an acrylic on canvas.

Sunday and the events of the week got me thinking of chapels in France, which always brings me a sense of peace. This is Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe (Needle) near Le Puy-en-Velay, France. It takes a climb of 268 steps that are carved into the rock to get to the chapel. Someday I would like to give it a go.

Brilliant sweet-peas and a sunny day, with Neville sleeping at my feet. (You can follow Neville of Mukilteo on Instagram.)

I got out on Wednesday, tried out a new tea shop in Ballard, ended up at Magnolia Park. Sketched Marvin’s Garden from the tea shop, and West Seattle from Magnolia Park.

Back on the deck for sketches of our potted garden. The nasturtiums will bloom before long; they have such distinctive leaves.

I hope you have a good week, now that we are getting out more we are happily connecting with friends and family, I trust you are doing so as well.

Posted in Digital Sketching, France, Last week | 1 Comment

theTravelsketcher this week – June 18, 2021


A light week of sketching, yet of course I did a few. I decided to hold off on the July Workshop, it appears folks are still a bit reluctant to get out, even though we should be pretty much restriction free by July, so I will see what the future holds, any thoughts you have would be helpful.

Saturday we had a virtual chat with our friends in France, and part of the news is that they are buying a house. The whole process of buying real estate in France is quite different than here, so I found that fascinating. The home is beautiful on the inside, and of course the exterior stone motivated me to do a sketch for them.

When I first started sketching of any type I sketched with ink, I still enjoy that, so here are a couple of sketches without color.

Thursday I was back at Fisherman’s Terminal so a few boats.

Hopefully with the warm (HOT) weather forecasted for the coming week I will get out more, I trust you are enjoying our slow return to normal. Wherever your travels take you this week, I hope you capture a few of them in a sketch.

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theTravelsketcher this week – June 11, 2020


Another glorious spring week, well a little rain but the plants love it. Registrations are starting to come in for the Yes! You can travelsketch! Workshop on July 7 at Discovery Park, there is a limit of 8 so register soon.

Beautiful planter gardens are one of Tricia’s gifts to the world, well at least to me and those that drive by. Sweet peas seem to be quite happy this spring.

If you are in the Mukilteo area you know abut my column in the Mukilteo Beacon. They requested a special sketch for an upcoming cooking column that will appear in the Mukilteo, Edmonds, and Mill Creek Beacons. Here is a sneak preview.

Tuesday it was time for a quick trip to Mukilteo Beach, I sat on a bench near the boat dock, there were people walking by, boats on the water, and of course interesting driftwood.

Wednesdays I take advantage of Tricia’s half-day in the office, so again had a café noisette at Uptown Espresso. A sign of spring and recovery from Covid is the number of people out and about.

One of the significant happenings this week was that France is now open for travel, and it appears, according to the French Visa website, that they are taking applications for long term visas – who knows we may end up in France yet. I do miss the villages, narrow roads in the country, restaurants in the cities.

If you are ready to dust off your sketchbook come and join us at Discovery Park July 7, be sure to register in advance because space is limited. Enjoy the week, get outside and find something to sketch. Tag #thetravelsketcher on Instagram so we can all see it.

Posted in Last week, Tips for the Travel Sketcher | 6 Comments

theTravelsketcher this week – June 4, 2021


This was truly a week of wonderful spring in the NW, sunny and warm, even hot; I took advantage and got out a lot. I also finished planning for the workshop on July 7 – more info and registration on the workshop page.

I started the week with a commission, a house portrait of a house in Novosibirsk, Siberia, Russia. They live here but he is from there and misses home and family, his wife wanted a painting for him to remind him of home.

One of the pleasant surprises was that most of the places I went this week were maskless for vaccinated folks. Then at Cafe Louvre in Edmonds I actually had my café noisette in a real glass cup and saucer, normalcy is creeping back!

A couple of sketches while I was out and about – Marrisa, the manager of Tapped in Mukilteo, and one of a coffee drinker at Uptown Espresso.

Mulleady’s Irish Pub in Magnolia is a new discovery for me; I do love Magnolia. This pub has possibly the best Scotch Eggs I have ever had, and about as authentic of an Irish/British/Scots pub as you will find. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the hot sun (80F) and learning anew how heat makes watercolors act quite differently.

Then of course there is always the joy of just sketching what is around you at home. A blue cicada vase we got many years ago in Provence, these vases are a common sight in Provence as they are a sign of good fortune. While enjoying the sun with Neville on his catio I sketched tree branches and wires.

Hope you had a good week, and get out more with your sketchbook. Keep on traveling and sketching. And if you can join us on July 7 at discovery Park, since size is limited register in advance.

Posted in Last week, Workshops | 2 Comments

theTravelsketcher this week (2 weeks) – May 28, 2021


First off – Time to start doing workshops again -after a long le confinement it is time!!!

This workshop will be for those who have always wanted to capture a moment while traveling. Perfect for “I am just not artistic.” More seasoned sketchers will pick up a tip or two as well. Check the workshop page for details and registration.

Before heading out last week for Oregon I stopped off at Uptown Espresso for a macchiato, sketched the fellow at a nearby table.

A brew and coleslaw at Highline Public house at Fisherman’s Terminal in Seattle.

We stayed with friends in Portland, I love their backyard, the bird feeders and raised gardens attract quite a variety of visitors, like this Scrub Jay.

It has been many years since I have visited the Rhododendron Test Gardens at Crystal Springs in Portland, they are as beautiful as ever, even on a cold, rainy, windy day.

We were back in Mukilteo on Sunday. Follow Tricia’s site to see photos from the Hood River part of our trip, and in upcoming blogs she will post photos from the Rhododendron Gardens.

Wednesday I went to Discovery Park to scout out some locations for the upcoming workshop, did this quick one standing on the bluff near the chapel.

I hope you are vaccinated and getting to enjoy the taste of normalcy as I am, whatever you do keep on sketching and sharing with us all. If you need a boost, sign up for the workshop in July, it will be good to sketch with others outdoors.

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theTravelsketcher this week – May 14, 2021


Good week but not as much sketching due to time spent working on a wall mural commission, new territory for me but thanks to Procreate on iPad it is coming together.

Liechtenstein is a place that I know very little about, but they do have quite the castle, so I did a sketch of the part of it that is on a steep cliff, pretty hard to attack from this side at least.

One of my sisters-in-law, though born in Iowa, mostly grew up in Homer, Alaska. Her birthday was on Tuesday so I did a sketch for a card of the Salty Dawg Saloon, an institution on the Homer Spit. Her sister and nieces lived there for a time as well, so Homer has a bit of history in Tricia’s family.

On Wednesday I made it back to Uptown Espresso in Magnolia. Sitting outside sketching and people watching is quite European.

Had amazing fish and chips and the Highliner Public House at Fisherman’s Terminal. Did a sketch on a small Pentalic Sketchbook , it has been a long time since I have sketch on the 3.5″ x 5.5″ size. To think this was the only size I carried with me for most of my time traveling.

The news today is that CDC, Biden, and Governor Inslee all announced that masks are no longer needed for vaccinated folks, for most situations. It has been a long time coming so I am thrilled to be able to move around more freely.

I hope you are vaccinated and able to start getting out more, and be sure to stick a sketch pad in your pocket, should be some good moments to capture now.

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theTravelsketcher this week – May 7, 2021


Off to Prosser and the Washington Wine Country last weekend, first trip in many months and it couldn’t have been more welcomed, as well as therapeutic. Then on Wednesday I spent some time on Magnolia, easily my favorite district of Seattle.

Wine O’Clock Restaurant in Prosser has been a favorite of ours for years, sadly this visit was not as stellar as anticipated, it seemed a bit tired – chalk it up to the challenges they face trying to keep up the quality during the open-then-closed uncertainty of the pandemic. Will go back though, as we all have off days.

Milbrandt Vineyards tasting room is next door to Wine O’Clock, best patio for tasting in Vintner’s Village. There were pink dogwoods all over, I do love the colors of spring.

Tricia and I discovered a new place, 7 Gables Mercantile and Farm, they just re-opened under a new owner on the first of May, a treasure trove. I even found new demitasse cups. Check out Tricia’s post for more wonderful photos from the trip.

Back home I did a bit of ink drawing with my fude pen.

Had a bowl of chowder on Wednesday at Highline at Fishermans Terminal in Seattle.

Some mountains at l’heure entre chien et loup.

It was a good week, looking forward to the next adventure. Hope you are well, vaccinated, and getting out more. I love that the CDC says we don’t have to always wear masks, easier to breath for sure. Keep traveling and sketching.

BTW the mystery location for the sketch I posted a couple of weeks is Hogland House in Mukilteo.

Posted in Last week, Travel | 4 Comments