Dreaming of Landscapes Has Moved!

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Dreaming of Landscapes has moved to its new self hosted space. You can find it at binglestudios.com.


Jack Block Park: A Window on the Port of Seattle

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The Port of Seattle container yard stretches into the distance framed by the West Seattle Bridge and a container crane.

Most landscape architects are familiar with Seattle’s Gas Works Park. Designed by Richard Haag, Gas Works Park and several German parks launched a new design movement that preserved and celebrated industrial landscapes. However, Seattle is filled with parks that not only celebrate past industrial activity but provide a window onto working industrial landscapes.

My favorite example is Jack Block Park in West Seattle. Like many of Seattle’s industrial parks, Jack Block is hidden behind railroad tracks and freight containers. The only sign of the park is an arched gate and a road winding away into the Port of Seattle’s train yard. Following this road, visitors find themselves immersed in an island of green on the edge of Elliot Bay with stunning views of the Port of Seattle and downtown.

This week’s sketch was done on the Jack Block Park observation platform. The platform offers a 180 degree view of Elliot bay and is a perfect place to watch the parade of freighters, ferries, cruise ships and pleasure craft using the port. The sketch shows the view to the south, dominated by the Port’s container yard and cranes with the West Seattle Bridge in the distance.

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A train car waits to be loaded in the Port of Seattle’s train yard.

The Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal

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A ferry unloads cars at the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal.

Since ancient times, the Puget Sound has served as a highway for maritime traffic. Before the arrival of Europeans, the Seattle harbor served as a center of trade for the native Salish. A busy trade route ran along the Puget Sound carried by cedar canoes.

Shortly after the arrival of European settlers, the first passenger fleets on the Puget Sound were started in the 1850s. Known as the Mosquito Fleets, each private fleet was made up of a variety of steam powered boats. In the pre-freeway era, these steam ships filled the need for fast and cheap transportation across and along the Puget Sound.

Following World War 2, the Mosquito Fleets saw a gradual decline as the car replaced the fleet as a convenient means of travel in the Puget Sound area. However, the demand for transportation across the Puget Sound and to the Sound’s many islands remained. Since bridges were not practical the Washington State Department of Transportation launched its first car ferry across the Puget Sound on June 1, 1951.

Today, Washington State operates the largest ferry system in the United States. The Washington State Ferry fleet contains 22 ships with stops at 20 terminals. This week’s sketch shows the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal in West Seattle. This terminal provides access to Vashon Island and the City of Bremerton.

To learn more about the Washington State Ferry System visit here

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A ferry waits to load cars.


Alki Art Fair

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On the day I visited the Alki Art Fair a massive storm front was hovering over the Olympic Mountains. Fortunately, the storm stayed over the mountains, leaving Alki Beach sunny. In this view, we see the back sides of several booths with Puget Sound and the storm front beyond. A wide range of arts and crafts were on sale, including Bonsai, watercolors and tile work.

To learn more about the  Alki Art fair visit here

To learn more about Alki Beach visit here

Seattle Sichuan: No Food Involved


Some of you may recognize Seattle’s sister city, Chongqing, from the recent up roar over the dubious political dealings of Chongqing’s Communist Party Chief Bo Xilai. Political intrigue aside, Chongqing is a major metropolis of 28 million people in southwestern China on the Yangtze River. In 1983, Seattle and Chongqing became sister cities and began cultural exchanges.

The Seattle Chinese Garden is an enduring monument to this partnership. The garden is based on Sichuan Estates. These estates are open and flow into the outside world as opposed to Chinese city gardens, which are walled and emphasize idealized specimen plants and rocks. The garden is being constructed in stages with a pavilion and courtyard currently on the site. The final design calls for a pagoda, pond, gorge, hall for public events and administrative center.

In this water color, we see the walls and north gate of the Knowing the Spring Courtyard on the far right. To the left, the empty land that will hold the garden stretches out to the surrounding cotton wood forest. In the distance, the towers of downtown Seattle peak over the trees.

Want to learn more about the Seattle Chinese Garden? visit here

Want to learn more about the Seattle, Chongqing cultural exchange? visit here

The Jordan Schnitzer’s Sunny Heart

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Jordan Schnitzer South Courtyard — The tables in this space presented a serious obstacle. I cheated by only drawing the table tops and shadows and leaving out the legs.

In this watercolor, we step into the Jordan Schnitzer Museum’s South Courtyard. The courtyard is filled with sculpture, bamboo, blueberry shrubs and irises, but the most delightful feature is the Marche Museum Cafe that opens onto the space. Run by the local Marche Restaurant, the cafe serves coffee, pastries, soups, salads and sandwiches. This attracts a diverse group of people to the courtyard. While I was painting this view University officials in suits, students in sweatpants and families in Eugene for graduation weekend enjoyed the summer sun and good food that this courtyard provides.

Tables, Chairs and Sculpture

Planning a trip to Eugene or want to learn more about the Jordan Schnitzer Museum? Take a moment to visit their website here.

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Watercolor River

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I began my 2012 summer watercolor season with this painting of the VRC pedestrian bike bridge over the Willamette River in Eugene. Part of the Ruth Bascom River Trail System, the VRC Bridge (officially the Greenway Bike Bridge) connects the Whiteaker Neighborhood with the Valley River Center Mall (VRC). While the Ruth Bascom Trail has five pedestrian bike bridges, I have always consider the VRC bridge the most picturesque. A small park slopes down to the river, providing a fantastic view of the bridge. In addition, the park provides access to the Willamette and plenty of seating for people walking along the river.

Answers to Last Week’s Post: Removed the Horizon Line; Fixed the head of the person sitting on the left side of the fountain; Removed an accidental shadow in the fountain.

Want to learn more about the Ruth Bascom Trail System? Take a moment to view the Lane County trail map and visit this wordpress blog post on the trail system.

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