New Workshop: Oxford June 26-July 2, 2023

Just announced a few days ago and it’s already filling up!!!!!!

Join me in beautiful, historic Oxford! And can you imagine, a day trip to Bath and Stonehenge too? Talk about bucket list items! I’ll be teaching perspective and watercolor sketching for 5 days…info is here.

And there are still a few spots open for the workshop in the UNESCO World Heritage site, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Info for that amazing workshop in January is here.

It’s looking like a busy year ahead!Thanks to Brenda Murray and Studio 56 for organizing these workshops!

And I invite you to take a look on Instagram and Facebook, I’m posting high quality scans of the sketches from the past summer in Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Croatia, and Holland!

This Saturday, an Online Sneak Preview & Interview!!

Join me this Saturday, November 5 at 1pmEDT (that’s 10am in Seattle!) for an interview about my new book! A sneak peek, stories, how it all came together and more.

It’s free, online on Zoom, but you need to register in advance HERE.

And for those in the Seattle area, I’ll be giving a free, in-person talk and book signing at UW University Bookstore on December 5 at 6pm.

Hope to see everyone online or in-person soon! I can’t wait!

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Artists Magazine, “See the World, One Sketch at a Time!!!”

I can’t wait for this!!!! The new book, The World of Urban Sketching, is out in Singapore NOW (where it was printed!), in the UK on NOVEMBER 1, and in the USA and other parts of the world on NOVEMBER 29!

Check out the current November/December issue of Artists Magazine for a story about the book with excerpts from some of my favorite sketchers. It starts with the introduction about sketching at Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, and how we connect to what we sketch, how it becomes part of our DNA. Sketching is not about creating the perfect piece of art, it’s about capturing the experience!

Thank you to the magazine for this honor, and heartfelt thanks to all the contributors in this huge book project, especially David Morales H. from Colombia, DWA from Madagascar, Sandrine Laperche from France, and Alienbinbin from China who are featured in this article! The book is available to preorder now online or at your favorite bookstore.

And if you see the book or magazine anywhere, please take a photo and post it online and tag me! I’d love to see where you find it!

Squeaking in One More In-Person Workshop 2022!

Yep, one more workshop in the beautiful heart of San Antonio, TX along the Riverwalk. One day of live, in person perspective and watercolor instruction in the tiny, picturesque old village of La Villita, only steps from the river.

And to thank those of you who follow this blog, you can register for this workshop one hour early, at 9am PDT, that’s 9am in Seattle, by emailing me at stbower@comcast.net. First come, first served. I’ll add you to the list in order of emails received and will reply with info on how to pay and workshop art supplies.

Hope to see you in October over a plate of yummy enchiladas!

And I hope that you’ll travel with me via Instagram and Facebook during the month of September. I’ll be teaching at a regional USk Symposium in Basel, Switzerland, then teaching a 10-day workshop along the coast of gorgeous Croatia with French Fusion Travel, then heading to Holland to see my family. I plan to teach on Zoom again in November/December 2022. In January 2023, spots are available for workshops in colorful San Miguel de Allende, Mexico with Studio 56 Boutique and the elegant chateau and wine region of France’s Loire Valley in June with the fabulous organizers at French Escapade, and Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy in SEPTEMBER 2023!! And of course, THE WORLD OF URBAN SKETCHING comes out in November (you can order it online now!!!!!) Whew!

Back in Seattle

Anyone who has seen my drawings knows I love doing expansive, wide angle views. Here are a few recent sketches from parks in Seattle this summer. The sketchbook is a Hahnemühle Watercolor Book in landscape format.

View from Queen Anne’s Kerry Park, with USk Seattle on Worldwide Sketchcrawl Day 2022!

Oxbow Park, the hat and boots were moved here and are iconic symbols of Seattle. With USk Seattle.

Another view showing Mt. Rainier, from the waterfront park at the Expedia campus, sketched with my dear friend Alane Simons.

The Ballard Locks and Salmon ladder…popular spot in Seattle, it’s amazing to watch the boats pass through the locks, then see the salmon in the underwater viewing windows, making their way home . With USk Seattle.

Enjoy the summer!

Someone Pinch Me

If the house catches on fire, I’d grab 2 things: my grandmother’s pearl necklace and this sketch, so it was amazing that the incomparable Thomas W. Schaller selected this image to start our conversation this past Saturday! Tom is teaching a course through Terracotta, and as part of the class, he is interviewing a series of artists about their work (including the likes of Alvaro Castagnet, Joseph Zbukvic, John Salminen, and others)…and oh my gosh, am I honored to be part of that line up–thus the need for a strong pinch! It was also very interesting to see what images from my work his keen eye selected to discuss.


Clearly, this sketch is one of my all time favorites! It was done a hundred years ago on my 25th birthday when my then grad school roommate Maureen and I made the architectural pilgrimage by slow train, bus, taxi, and foot to Le Corbusier’s chapel at Ronchamp, France—and on that day, with this sketch, something clicked. I don’t know exactly what it was– some combination of inspiring architecture, quiet setting, special day, and of course, lots of pushing through very mediocre sketches that preceded this one–for some reason, my hand/eye/brain coordination kicked in and I could DRAW. This sketch represents a quantum leap forward in my thinking and drawing abilities, and as I learned through our talk, amazingly, something similar happened for Tom when he sketched this building!


This past Saturday, we had a wonderful nearly 2 hour discussion about my work. It was a real honor to be selected by Tom– I am still pinching myself. He is an artist (and former architectural illustrator) who has inspired me, someone I’ve admired and learned from, for decades. Thank you, Tom and Terracotta!

I’ve never posted these, but here are two additional sketches I did on that magical day.

On another note, I just updated the workshops page on my blog…Mexico in January 2023 and the Loire Valley in June 2023! Can’t wait!

A Buffet of Workshops this Weekend, April 23-24

This coming weekend, French Escapade is hosting a collection of amazing virtual workshops taught by artists around the world! Short and sweet, and taught LIVE, you can take them all back-to-back or just pick your favorites.

I’m honored to be teaching a class on sketching arches in lovely Venice…why arches? Because arches are not horseshoes, of course! They are in fact architecturally structural elements and have a few features that are important to capture…for example, do you know what the Spring Line is? Arches are focal points in so many buildings, so many sketches…I’ll share my tips and shortcuts for getting them right!

It’s been a long time since I’ve taught a class (had to stop to work on the book!), and I’m so excited to get back at it. I hope that you can join us! More info and registration here. GRAZIE!

Yes, this happened.

Ah, life. It’s been quite a challenging year…ALL my time and energy since March 2021 went into a HUGE new book, The World of Urban Sketching…more on that exciting project soon! I stopped most of my sketching and illustration work to devote everything to that project. On top of that, last fall we moved my mom up from Texas to live with us, and sadly, she passed away in late March only 5 days after I submitted the final portions of the book to the publisher. So lots of challenges…

One bright spot is that I had the extraordinary opportunity to design and illustrate four US Postage Stamps which are being released today, April 14, 2022!!!! It was an intense project, with the bar so high for artwork on stamps. Particularly amazing is that the originals will become part of the collection at the Smithsonian. My dad was a HUGE stamp collector, he would be beside himself with joy. And my mom asked me every day for about 3 years, “How are the stamps coming along?” Sadly, she passed away only three weeks before their issue.

Because they are for commercial use only, you cannot buy them at the post office. The print quantities are 30 million stamps (10,000 rolls) and 1 billion stamps (100,000 rolls), respectively. Yep, that’s BILLION with a “B”. Collectors can buy first day covers here and you can call Stamp Fulfillment Services at 844-737-7826 to buy them in strips of 10 for $2.50. You can read about them in Linn’s Stamp News (the stamp bible) here.

Heartfelt thanks to amazing Art Director, Antonio Alcala, who gave me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was also interviewed for a magazine about the project. To learn more about how all this came about, read on…

How do you define yourself professionally? I am an architectural illustrator with a background as a licensed architect. I also taught drawing in university-level architecture and interior design programs for about 30 years, and I’ve authored 2 best-selling books on sketching with a third due for publication in September 2022. I travel and teach urban sketching workshops around the world.

When did you start working on these stamps? I was first contacted to work on these stamps early in 2019.

How did you get linked up wit the Postal Service for this project? Art Director Antonio Alcala said that he had a team combing the internet for a possible illustrator. They came across my sketches on Instagram and apparently, the team selected my work. Antonio then contacted me directly. It’s funny, at first he sent me an email, and I thought it was spam—there is no way that someone would be contacting me about a project like this! But when I saw his name again on my phone as it rang the next day, I jumped to pick it up.

Are these your first stamps? YES!

How was the project described to you? Antonio said that lots of people go into the post office and simply ask for stamps with a US flag on them. He thought it would be good to give them something more by combining flags and barns, two American icons. At first I was to do two stamps, then after seeing my rough sketches, it was decided that I should do a set of four. I have to say, I was quite overwhelmed. The artwork on US stamps is extraordinarily beautiful, I wasn’t sure I could rise to the occasion!

These barns are in four different seasons? I clearly see winter, fall; and I assume the barn with grass is spring…the last one with high grass is summer, yes? Once the decision was made to do four stamps, it was an easy jump to visualize the four seasons…and then four seasons representing different parts of the country. The first is Spring in the tulip fields of the Skagit Valley in Washington state, close to where I live. The second is a hot, dry Summer in some place like Texas or Wyoming. The third is Fall as the leaves are changing somewhere in New England. And Winter is somewhere on a snowy farm in the mid-west.

Are these watercolors? They are indeed watercolors on watercolor paper. I sent the originals to the Art Director for reproduction, and my understanding is that they will be stored somewhere in the Smithsonian. I cannot tell you what a humbling honor this is.

How did the process work? (and the following questions might go along with this…). I started out by searching through images from my memory, my own photos, and the internet. Being an architectural illustrator was helpful, as I could combine and invent different elements of the barns and the settings and put them together in a way that would tell a story. I did rough drafts, sent them to Antonio for review, then I would make adjustments. I did several versions of each image, trying to get the watercolor to behave (watercolor has a mind of its own!) I did my best to show the different seasons while still keeping a limited color palette that would allow the different images to work together as a collection. It was also challenging to get the right angle of the building…it had to be frontal enough to show the flag without too much foreshortening, but we also needed to see the side of each barn for depth. If you look closely, I hint at more of the landscape in the distance…more tulip fields, rolling hills, cattle in the fields.

What kind of models did you use for the flags and barns? Were these structures you had seen or were provided to you? I was provided with some images, but I don’t think I used any of them. Most of the content was invented.

I know the artwork for stamp production has to be relatively small. What is the basic size of these originals and was that any kind of challenge for your process? Each original image is about 7.5”w x 5.5” h. I was provided with a template that gave me the correct proportions for each stamp, so it was predetermined that they would be landscape format. The size was not the challenge…the challenge for me was how close we had to be to the barns in order to see the flags. Most of my work has lots of landscape with small buildings, but these needed to be large buildings with very little landscape. It was very hard! Also knowing how small the stamps would be in the end, I couldn’t show as much detail as I would typically show at this size.

Are the styles of the barns specific to any regions of the country? Yes, I did my best to show barns that were typical for each part of the country that was represented.

Which came first the flags or the barns? Definitely, the barns!

What kind of decisions did you make at the start (anything specific with seasons, landscape, lighting?) The first decision was seasons, and that was driven by what color I would show for each…spring green, summer yellows and browns, fall reds and yellows, and white and cool blue winter. As far as lighting, I wanted to show a dramatic orange sunset on the plains for the summer view, gray skies for winter…

Was there a lot of tweaking or adjusting while working with the art director. There was surprisingly little tweaking. Antonio did a great job sizing and cropping (composing) the images. I had seen his stamps online, he does beautiful work.

Is there anything else interesting you would like to add about the artwork, process or stamps? Indeed there is. My dad was a HUGE life-long, avid stamp collector, as were my grandmother and godmother. Sadly, he passed away before I got this commission, but I know that he would be absolutely bursting with pride. And every time I talked to my mom for 3 years, she asked about the stamps. Unfortunately, she passed away only about three weeks before their issue…but I know they would both be so proud and honored…as am I.

Free Workshop Demo this Sunday, December 5!

Dreaming of travel and sketching next year? Me too!!! To give you a taste for my workshop planned for beautiful Seville, Spain, May 17-21, 2022, I’m presenting a sketching demo and live discussion with tour organizer Brenda Murray this coming Sunday. The subject: an amazing courtyard in the Real Alcázar de Sevilla, a place we will visit during the workshop!

This demo is open to all. To register for this free online event, go here. Nos vemos en Sevilla!

HOORAY! 2022 Travel Workshops are here!

Registration for 2022 travel sketching workshops is OPEN. We are just itching to get out there and sketch the world, right? Here is the schedule so far, with more workshops likely to be added:

Seville, Spain | May 17-22, 2022 | Andalusia is the very heart and soul of Spain, one of my favorite countries on the planet. Where Spanish meets Moorish architecture (Game of Thrones was filmed here), we’ll sketch cool courtyards, ornate towers, meandering streets, and eat the best tapas you’ve ever had! Info here or contact Stephanie at stbower@comcast.net.

Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy | June 2022, finalized dates to follow. No cars, just walk up the pedestrian bridge to an island in the clouds. Once you pass through the Porta Santa Maria, you enter a tiny magical town of Medieval stone streets, Renaissance palazzos, warm people and amazing food (how about a rosemary/orange tiramisu?). We’ll sketch it all, from the lovely church on the piazza to an Etruscan cave. For information, contact Stephanie at stbower@comcast.net.

Croatian Coast (Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar + Zagreb) | September 12-22, 2022 | Imagine the most beautiful water you’ve ever seen, white limestone streets and buildings, one of the most picturesque old cities on the planet dating back to the Romans (there’s a reason Game of Thrones was filmed here too!) I was here in September 2019 and was completely blown away and HAD to return to this sketcher’s paradise. Eleven, yes, eleven days of sketching, organized by French Fusion tours. Info here or contact Stephanie at stbower@comcast.net.

Please join me!!!

View from one of two ancient gates into the old city of Dubrovnik, Croatia.