downtown Olympia

Burial Grounds Coffee Collective

pens and watercolor in Travelogue sketchbook

Burial Grounds is not a grassy park where you can visit your ancestors, but a worker owned coffee shop with its roots in social action. Order a latte there and you’ll stare down into a perfect skull in the foam! 

I love their credo: “Coffee may seem simple, but it isn’t just a caffeinated cup of joy, it’s a communal meeting beverage, a coping mechanism, and sometimes a life saver. So, maybe when we say we like coffee, what we are actually saying is, we like people.” 

On this particular morning Jan and Ineke and I chose to pay homage by sitting across the intersection in the shade (it was the thick of the heat wave), sketching in comfort and with a great view. There was an occasional passer by; the slow pace of a city, which seemed to us at least, content to enjoy a vacation mentality on a sunny weekday morning! We vowed to work our way around this quirky and appealing city on upcoming days, recording whatever stories might intrigue.

Harmony Springs

A member of our small sketch group got permission for us to meet at Black Lake Bible Camp and retreat center. The idea was that we could stay warm in the dining hall while looking out the window and sketching the view.

But just on the other side of the parking lot is a western themed campground. Harmony Springs is staged like a western movie set with a frontier town, calistoga wagons, a circle of teepees, archery range, etc. I took advantage of the scene to practice my weakest skill – buildings and perspective.

What was I thinking?! So many vanishing points and and details distracted from the task of putting the 3-D experience onto the 2-D surface of my sketchbook. I got the drawing done and painting begun in the hour until the tips of my fingers went numb and legs got stiff.

But what if I had done it from another angle with a more compressed perspective of the buildings? I had some time at home and tried it again. After all, the harder you work on something, the greater the payoff, right? Quantity and repetition often beats out striving for perfection in the end. But by this point I was getting pretty bored with the scene and ready to move on!

The weather has grown colder lately and the cold along with damp makes sitting outside, even while bundled up, seem masochistic! So I walked around downtown and took some pictures and did this practice sketch at home.

Meanwhile things are moving along slendidly on our garage studio construction! 

The first wall went up yesterday, and the pounding and sawing is going on all day. Music to our ears! (sort of) I can’t wait to unpack the acrylics and collage materials and get back to some Muse painting again by next month some time.

Downtown Olympia

We tried another “alternative” coffee shop downtown for our sketch meet up last weekend – a retail clothing/gift boutique called Ember Goods

fountain pen and w/c in 8 X 8″ hand.book journal

Ember Goods is indeed as advertised “a sanctuary for everything we love about the Pacific Northwest”. Firstly, a place to get out of the rain and cold, have an extraordinary cup of coffee, the kind that makes the thick coffee colored foam on the cup, to sit in the hyggelig decor (remember that Norwegian word that sounds like “hug” and means something similar – soothing, cozy, etc.) The clothing is the sort you might put on your Christmas wish list. And the patrons seemed to know the owners who were busy at the espresso counter. My own family “discovered” this place our first week in Olympia when we were hoping that our move had landed us in the right place.

After our small sketch group had arrived, drunk our coffees and checked in with each other, I settled in to do a continuous line drawing of things that caught my eye – quilting them together somewhat out of order to fill the page.

I had planned to sit outside on the street where shoppers were passing, Christmas lights were hung, volunteers were sweeping up leaves and tending the plants in merry seasonal clean up efforts. The Center for Performing Arts was offering free concerts of student groups, and a tent offering rapid Covid testing and vaccines was set up outside. But I ended up in the quiet skylit vestibule of the New Caledonia Building for another sketch behind the chocolate and tea shops and more hyggelig!