Doodlewash and watercolor sketch by Kate Buike of trailer

GUEST ARTIST: “Urban Sketching In Washington State” by Kate Buike

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch by Kate Buike of Ace Hotel

Hello, I’m Kate Buike and I live near Seattle, Washington. I’ve drawn and sketched since I was a young child. I had some training in art in the very distance past, when I was in school and university. In 1974, I gave up painting and drawing for photography. I pursued that as an advid amateur but also did some selling and showing of my work.

I was born and raised in Michigan, where I attended undergrad and graduate universities, eventually earning a Masters degree in Social Work. I’ve also lived & worked in England, Germany, Southern California and now Washington (state), near Seattle. I’m a retired medical Social Worker with a past specialty in Oncology.

Doodlewash - Image of Kate Buike sketching

The motivation for returning to drawing and paper art was the discovery of a group with which I’ve been involved since February 2012: Urban Sketchers.

I was recently retired and saw the group founder on local TV, promoting his first book. I knew instantly that was what I wanted to do next! Since then, I’ve become involved with the leadership team and coordinate a Friday sketch outing. Three years ago, I helped found Tacoma Urban Sketchers. I live half way between Seattle and Tacoma so I go out sketching with both groups several times a month!

The Seattle Urban Sketchers group has provided motivation and informal tutoring in watercolor sketching. I’ve absorbed a lot by just sketching and talking with the more experienced artists in the group. And I’ve discovered parts of Seattle I never knew about, though I’ve lived here 16 years!

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch by Kate Buike of Renton Henge

Western Washington offers both natural beauty and a querky city. This view of Mt. Rainier is just down the street from where I live. I’ve sketched it often. And at the top of this post is the “Trailer Park Mall” in Georgetown, Seattle’s oldest neighborhood.

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch by Kate Buike of Mt. Rainier

I draw with waterproof ink. Normally, I use a fountain pen filled with Platinum Carbon Black ink as it dries quickly. I add color with watercolors made by Daniel Smith.

I am fortunate in that I live only a few minutes’ drive from their main store. I’ve even been on a factory tour (twice!). I like them because they are made in Seattle and they are generally regarded as excellent pigments. I use both a waterbrush and traditional brushes.

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch by Kate Buike of custom sketchbook

Even after more than 4 years, I haven’t settled on a single sketchbook or paper. I like the Pentalic Aqua Sketchbook. For spiral bound, I like the Strathmore Visual Journal Mixed Media (which has quite good paper in their Series 500).

For the past several months, I’ve been using a sketchbook I make myself, using sheets of Stathmore Series 500 Mixed Media paper.

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch by Kate Buike of SpaceX Dragon spacecraft

In addition to spending a lot of time out and about sketching, I volunteer for two museums at the opposite ends of the time line! I incorporate sketching into my activities there, as well.

The Museum of Flight in Seattle may well be the world’s best privately funded air and space museum. I assist visitors as a “Gallary Ambassador”, giving directions and answering basic questions. I have an interest in the US Space program and exploration but no expertise.

I do a lot of sketching there when I’m not “on duty” as I have free access. One of my favorite experiences and sketches is the Space X Dragon capsule. It had gone to the International Space Station and come back. Elon Musk brought it for a recruiting (poaching engineers?!) event in Seattle and offered it for a weekend exhibit at the Museum! I went twice to sketch it.
At the other end of the time spectrum is the 1880’s Fort Nisqually. I volunteer there as an interpreter. My focus is on demonstrating the travel sketching done in that time period. I’ve researched and put together as period accurate a kit as I am able.

Doodlewash and period accurate watercolor palette by Kate Buike

Coming back to art has enriched my retirement life immensely. If I go too long without sketching, I get restless. I’ve made new friends in the groups I’ve joined, too!

Kate Buike
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11 thoughts on “GUEST ARTIST: “Urban Sketching In Washington State” by Kate Buike

  1. Great post – I am especially impressed that you interpret as a sketcher at a historic site! What a marvelous way to share your gifts! I know doing historical research how important sketches from journals and letters can be! Love your artwork!

  2. You have a fascinating story to tell – and you do! You love to share as much as to sketch and paint, and your verve shows up in the lively sketches. Best to you, Kate, as you continue to paint and teach your way through Seattle.
    And I love the photo of you in your gingham costume.

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