Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday night at Downtown Bellevue Park

Bear at the Seattle Center

I took Sherilyn to the Seattle Center this afternoon - it was a really beautiful day! The last two times I've come to the Space Needle and Chihuly Gardens were in the early Spring. I forgot how much busier this area would be during the Summer months. It was pretty crowded in comparison, but at the same time, it was the clearest view I've had so far from the top of the Space Needle. :)

Sherilyn hadn't been to the Space Needle before, and since it was such a nice day, there was not question that we had to go! We bought our tickets first for the Space Needle, with our entry time being 1-1/2 hours later. This actually worked out perfectly. We walked over to the Chihuly Gardens and spent just over an hour over there. Sherilyn had never seen any other Chihuly exhibit before, with the exception of the glass ceilings at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, so this was all new to her. It was fun to go through the exhibit with her and watch her reaction room after room.

The gardens outside were a different experience for me this time around. Again, it was a sunny, clear day, plus there were blooms/colors in the gardens that accentuated the glass sculptures around them.

After we finished at the Chihuly Gardens, it was perfect timing to go back to the Space Needle. There were a lot more people up there than I'd encountered earlier in the year, but it was also be clearest day and best view that I've seen up there yet. Mt. Rainer was even peeking out a little bit. It was the first time I was able to clearly see Downtown Bellevue from the top of the Space Needle, too.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Taking Sherilyn to glassybaby!!

It's not a visit to Seattle without Trina taking you to the glassybaby Madrona store for a visit and tour of the store and hot shop!!

Thanks to AnnJett for taking the time out of your busy day to give us a tour!! xo

Sunday, July 20, 2014


My friend Sherilyn mentioned to me this morning that she loves ramen. We had a late lunch around 2:30, and I brought her to Santoura Ramen in Downtown Bellevue to see how it rated against the others she's had.

She loved it, saying it was very good and authentic. Well worth our 20 minute wait, even at 2:30 in the afternoon!!

Heron in the Dock

Today, I took my visiting friend, Sherilyn, on a nice walk around Downtown Bellevue. When we got down to Maydenbauer Beach Park, we saw something I've never seen there before: a heron sitting at the edge of the dock.

There was a mother and younger son fishing off the dock. Every once in a while, they would toss a small fish towards the heron. We only saw that happen once, but a lifeguard working today told me they had tossed a few fish already. The lifeguard also mentioned that she'd never seen a heron there in her two years of working there.

It was really a beautiful sight. I caught one photo of the heron eating the fish. Otherwise, it was just perched at the edge of the dock waiting for another one.

Din Tai Fung on the Weekend

Pro Tip #1: arrive at 10:00am when they open. There was already a very long line, but we were seated immediately.

Pro Tip #2: Truffle Dumplings are euphoric.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Roller Derby in Everett

"Let's get ready to RUMBLE!!"
(okay, this is not really the right sport for that, but it sounds good...)

Tonight, we went to our first Roller Derby game! My friend, Sherilyn (we've been good friends since junior high school) is in town this weekend. She is an enforcer/referee for a roller derby team in Los Angeles, and she is here to serve as a guest referee at a couple of games in Everett tonight.

Tonight is the Tilted Thunder Banked Track Roller Derby Championships! There were two games tonight: the first was for third place league, and the second was for first and second place.

Sherilyn (enforcer name: "Ridley Scorpio") had told me that she was coming up here for this game a couple of months ago. Dick and I thought it would be a fun thing to check out and we invited some friends. Unfortunately, Paula is away on a business trip this weekend, but Reeves, Nicole and Dan joined us. We had a lot of fun.

Sherilyn shared this video with us so we'd have a basic understanding of the game:

This was very helpful to teach us the basics. We also had a chance to ask her a few questions before the game, and during halftime of the first game. I think we all had a really decent understanding of the game, and were more or less able to keep track of what was going on.

We came for the first game, then watched the first half of the second game. We really enjoyed it, but it was a little chilly, and we were hungry. :)

The tournament was at Comcast Arena in Everett, which was only about 35 minutes away.

Here are some photos from the evening:

outside Comcast Arena

view of the track from the side

Tilted Thunder Championships!

close up of the referees. That's Ridley Scorpio on the left side of the inner circle, looking bad ass as usual.

Full view right before the first game

Dick, Reeves, Dan and Nicole

here we go! Royal Crush versus Sugar Skulls

Sherilyn and Grant visit us during half time

Start of the second game: Rolling Blackouts versus Saint Hellions!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Early Bellevue Walking Tour

Thanks to a tip from my friend, Paula, I went on a one-hour "Early Bellevue Walking Tour" this afternoon! It was hosted by The Eastside Heritage Center and was really terrific.

It turns out that Bellevue doesn't have any kind of historic preservation laws, so many of the older, historic buildings around this city have been torn down as the city as changed. It's really a shame. Most of what I see in Downtown Bellevue is very new, with very little historic interest. There were even two 100 year old plus structures that we saw today that will be torn down within the next few months to make way for new construction.

I learned a lot about my new city today. We met at the Downtown Bellevue Park, where I regularly walk every morning. I learned that it was once the site of the Overlake Elementary School. Actually, before that it was strawberry fields owned by the Warren Family. Downtown Bellevue Park was built in the early 1990s. The design included a concrete outline in the middle of the grassy field where the elementary school used to be.

Downtown Bellevue Park, with the cement outline of where the elementary school used to be.

I also learned that three of the trees in the center of the park are called the Memorial Trees. In 1920, the Bellevue Minute Women planted three elm trees in honor of three Bellevue citizens who served in World War One. One of the elm trees is smaller (and a fourth tree is not an elm, and was not one of the Memorial Trees). This is a replacement tree after one of the original elms came down in a storm in 2006.

Memorial Trees

Memorial Trees in the center of the park

We passed by a building that was once a Baptist Church, built in the early 1900s. It is currently serving as one of two buildings of Bellevue's Boys and Girl's Club. Unfortunately, this building will also be torn down (in addition to the larger and newer Boys and Girls Club building next to it) for a newer design.

The old Baptist Church which is currently being used for the Boys and Girls Club of Bellevue

We walked along Bellevue's Main Street, and saw the sites of where many of Bellevue's original buildings stood. (the original school, general store, private homes, etc., Most of these have long been replaced with gas stations, restaurants, office buildings, etc.,

The last building we saw is the shop on 102nd Ave. SE. It dates back to 1918. The building is currently being used as an office for the jeweler whose shop is in front of it, on Main Street. Unfortunately, the same owner plans to level the building to build new construction (still using it as an office).

the building on 102nd Ave. SE which will be leveled soon.

What really struck me during today's tour is how little history is actually left in the City of Bellevue. It's such a shame that there aren't any laws protecting these historic buildings.

The tour I went on today was a shortened tour, meant to be done during the lunch hour. The Eastside Heritage Center will offer another tour in August that will be 2-3 hours, and will cover much more ground. I enjoyed this one so much that I'll try to attend the next!

A quick visit from Jason!!

Jason came all the way from Chicago for a quick visit! He flew in yesterday morning, visited with some family here in the Seattle area, then came over to my place in the mid-afternoon. It's the first day of a 3-week road trip spanning WA, Southern, Northern, and Central CA, and Nevada! He'll be writing a road trip story for "Passport Magazine", where he has been a writer for several years. I feel lucky that he was able to squeeze in some time with me!

Jason is a foodie, and wanted to try out a nice, new, hip place in Seattle for dinner. We went to Talullah's in Capital Hill that had only opened in late December of last year. He found it on this site. It was delicious. We had an early dinner, around 5:00. I wasn't terribly hungry yet, so I had a bowl of gazpacho (which was amazing) and shared in some roasted cauliflower with Jason. Really delish. We both really enjoyed the restaurant - the food, the ambiance, and the staff. I'll have to bring Dick sometime.

Cheers from Tallulah's!

Did I save room for dessert? Of course, I did! We noticed that there was a Molly Moon's next door when we first walked to Tallulah's. I had only been to another Molly Moon's once so far, and it was just last week. Needless to say, I'm hooked.

Jason, taking a photo of our ice cream for his story

Next up: we headed back to Downtown Bellevue, and thought we would try some bowling! We went to the Lucky Strike at Lincoln Square. We managed to arrive just as a fire alarm was set off, and everyone had to evacuate the building. Luckily, it seems like it was a false alarm, and we were all let back in after about 10-15 minutes.

We paid for 2 games each, and had a grand time!

Jason, striking a pose, and actually getting a strike after immediately after I took this photo!

our score after the first game - not bad considering neither of us had bowled in a few years!

We came back to our place, and had a pretty early night. This morning, we left at 5:45am. Jason had an early flight out of SEA this morning, and we wanted to squeeze in one more local establishment before he left: Top Pot Donuts!

In the haze of an early morning, I almost forgot to take a photo of Jason at Top Pot! Squeezed in this shot just as he finished the last bite of his donut.

It was a whirlwind visit, but actually, it was longer than other quick visits we've had together. Jason and I have not shared visits in four states together: CA, IL, NV, and now WA! :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lavender Field Painting

"Lavender Field"
oil on canvas
24 x 36 inches

Exciting news on the art front: I just finished my first commissioned oil painting!

Our friends, Martin and Celeste approached me when we had moved to Seattle area in January. They have a spot for art over the mantel in their living room, and didn't know what they wanted to put there. They told me that they realized that they both liked my painting style, and asked if I would be interested in painting a commission for them.

I was so flattered, and was happy to do it. We agreed on a size and price, and I asked them to sort through some of their favorite photos to see if what might make a nice painting.

This image was their first choice. It is a photo that Celeste took during one of their visits to the San Juan Islands (near Seattle). It's a place that they love to go to, and it's just beautiful. We agreed that it would make a nice painting.

Martin and Celeste's original photo.

I showed the photo to my painting instructor, Dean. He agreed that the photo would make a good painting, but had a few suggestions. He suggested that I use photoshop to create a few different composition options. He thought it might be a stronger composition to crop the photo, and alleviate the sky. He also suggested pushing the machinery further into the image so that it isn't so much in the foreground.

I created three different options, showed them to both Martin & Celeste, and Dean, and we all agreed that this was the strongest composition: Cropping out the sky, and pushing the machinery back a bit.

The final composition

While I was with Dean for a lesson in San Francisco, we did some quick sleuthing, and found out what exactly that piece of machinery is. Turns out it's an antique Manure Spreader! Who knew?! (and kind of funny!)

photo an another, more intact Manure Spreader

Once we got the composition figured out, it was time to start this painting!

One of my favorite parts about completing a painting is to have a chance to look back at all of the photos that I took during the process. I learn a lot about the process by seeing all of the stages of the painting next to each other. I usually post the progress of my paintings, but decided not to do it this time, since it was a commission. I'm happy to put them all up together now.

initial pencil sketch on canvas

filling in the color

adding more detail to the lavender fields and the machinery

working on the background

I decided that the lavender fields were getting too dark, so I started to lighten them up a bit here. I also added more of a darker cast shadow under the machinery.

I concentrated on the machinery, and added a LOT more detail during this session. I also straightened out the boards in the back of the truck. I was so happy with how the detailed components of the machinery turned out after this session. There were few changes to it after this. Dean had also suggested that change the shape of the path, so that the eye wouldn't travel in a line from left to right, and right off the canvas.

This was a big turning point: I had sent Dean a photo of the painting at this point (the image above) and he suggested that I needed to push the background area back (the trees and the lake) by changing the colors to blue-gray-greens. I mixed a glaze of bluish-gray and put it over those background elements. It made a huge difference immediately of pushing the background further back, and giving the painting a lot more dimension.

after finishing that last session, I sent another photo (the one above) to Dean. He suggested that there were still too much yellow in the background/trees. I took out the yellow-green, and replaced with more blue-green. It made the background lighter, as well as cooler. One last thing I changed was the level of the lake in the background. I brought the tree line lower so that the lake was flatter. That helped a lot.

At this point, I thought it was complete, but Dean suggested that for a commissioned piece, it's important to show it to the clients to make sure that they like it, and see if they think there are any additions that need to be made. He also suggested that I present it properly by putting a frame around it. He explained that for most paintings (especially landscapes), paintings don't look fully complete without a frame.

I went to a store and bought a nice frame to show it with. It really did make a HUGE difference, and did make the painting look finished. Dick helped me bring my easel and the framed painting to our front room, where there is more space and better lighting to present the art.

"Lavender Field" framed

presentation is everything!

Martin and Celeste came over last night to see it, and they really liked it! Yay! They each studied it for a few minutes, noticed the details, and asked some good questions. They are very happy with it, so I can now declare this painting as "finished". :)

I'll put varnish on it next week, and they will be back to pick it up soon!

Martin and Celeste and their new painting!

As an aside, this was my first landscape painting that I've ever done. It wasn't something that I'd ever really thought of doing, so I'm glad that I had the opportunity to do this painting for Martin and Celeste. Prior to starting this, I had been working on the Market Street Painting before this. I took a break on that painting to work on the commissioned piece, which turned out to be a nice change. It was refreshing to go from a painting with so many angels (that have to be precise) to one that allowed more flexibility and was more free-flowing. I'm really pleased with the process and how it turned out.

I'm excited to see the finished product framed and hanging in Martin & Celeste's home.