Oregon Sketch Journal

Copic marker, ink and watercolor sketches from the big cities and small towns of Oregon.


Frenchglen Mercantile

I don't know why I was expecting a completely different town when I first visited Frenchglen, Oregon. I was hungry, and imagining a robust place at the edge of the Steens Mountains, with several cafes to choose from. But Frenchglen is a tiny sagebrush town, with an average population of about twelve people.

The Frenchglen Mercantile sits at the center of the tiny town, and sometimes serves as the center for old west style brawls. In the 1990's, when the store was bought by newcomers, fist-fights would play out over the changing character of the location.

Sketched with Copic Markers.

Point Adams Research Station

Sketch of the Point Adams Research Station

The Point Adams Research Station, located near the mouth of the Columbia River in Hammond, Oregon, houses NOAA researchers who study the effects of different nearshore and river factors of the salmon species that use the Columbia River as a main artery to smaller rivers and streams in North America.

The beautiful, all-white buildings were originally built in 1939 as U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters for the region. It was decommissioned in 1963 and later entered the hands of NOAA.

The house above, known as Station House, is the most well-preserved on the property.

Sketched with Copic Markers.

Rusting Fuel Truck on Astoria River Trail

Fuel Truck in Astoria, Orgeon

This old rusting fuel truck on the Astoria Riverwalk Trail caught my eye. The trail, which connects Astoria's booming culture of restaurants and breweries, is unique in that it runs largely along industrial and marine zones, and gives you a first-hand view of the container industry, marine seafood industry, timber freight industry and all the rusting metal and wood of those industries in this port city's past. Watercolor, Copic marker and liner pen.

Astoria Architecture

Home in Astoria, Oregon

The Flavel Mansion, near downtown Astoria, is a beautiful example of classic American Queen Anne style. Richly crafted wooden homes are a common site in Astoria, and you may remember them from the steep, foggy hills filmed in The Goonies. In fact, this home-turned historial museum was used in the movie as the site of Mikey's dad's job as a curator. Sketched with Winsor Newton watercolors and Copic line marker.

Classic Land Rover 2a and other Portland car sketches

Sketch of 1970 Land Rover 2a

I found and sketched these cars around Portland. This stunning red antique Land Rover 2a near the Portland airport. Copic markers.

Portland Food Carts

Portland Food Cart Sketch

Portland is food cart capital of the United States. Nobody planned it, nobody imagined it, it just happened. Food carts have sprung up all over the city, in sometimes small, and sometimes huge clusters. There are over 400 food carts in the city. This year, my plan is to go out and sketch as many as I can.

This is a beautifully-painted Iraqi falafel, gyro and shawarma food cart in downtown Portland.

South Waterfront


Portland South Waterfront Condos
The urban renewal projects in Portland are moving fast, and the architecture is often stunning. These condos along the waterfront are part of one of the country's largest redevelopment projects. Along with this project will come longer pedestrian routes along the river; hopefully materializing into a long park.

Delivery Truck in Industrial Southeast Portland


Portland Delivery Truck

Portland taggers are the least talented on all of the West Coast. Even Fresno has more artistic graffiti. But that's probably a good thing. I sketched this abandoned delivery truck in the Southeast Industrial district in Portland. I used micron pens and Copic sketch markers.

Old Homes on Ainsworth

Ainsworth home sketch in Portland, Oregon

Wonderful Ainsworth, Portland home

Ainsworth Street in Northeast Portland is filled with historic homes, sometimes repainted in brilliant colors. I sketched these old homes using sepia Micron pigma pens and copic sketch pens. Ka'imimoana Docked in Newport

Ka'imimoana NOAA Climate Ship docked in Newport, Oregon

I saw the Ka'imimoana docked in Newport a few weeks ago. This NOAA ship specializes in studying climate - ocean temperatures, atmosphere, currents, in the tropical Pacific. Seeing the huge amount of instruments, gadgets and devices on this ship was a sight to behold. In 2011, NOAA moved its research ship base from Seattle to Newport, and the base supports four ships and has the ability to service two 'itinerant ships,' which I believe is what the Ka'imimoana is.

Belmont Architecture

Sketch of Disney Home in Portland

Another home on Belmont in Southeast Portland. The bright colors on this home would not be that unique in the Belmont area, where many homes and buildings are brilliantly painted. But this one, and its twin, which is painted in blue and aqua, seemed as if they were designed for the bright palette.

A local construction worker saw that I was looking at the home, and came up to chat with me about it. He said that the two houses were built by the Disney family. The one I sketched above was the residence of Walt Disney's parents. They lived at this residence for a short time up to 1937, when the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves gave Disney reason to buy them a home in Hollywood. Not long in their new home, after complaining about fumes from the gas furnace, the two were found unconscious on the ground in this home. Roy Disney's father survived, but his mother died from the poisonous gas of the faulty gas line; an event which created the internet-age legend that Disney character's tend not to have mothers due to Disney's guilt for removing his parents from Portland.

Chinatown Sign Resurrected

Hung Far Low Sign, Portland

I always loved the Hung Far Low sign when I saw it on 82nd Street in Portland. It disappeared a few years ago when the restaurant closed. But when I saw the famous sign resurrected in Portland's Chinatown, I had to find out more.

It turns out the owners of Ping Restaurant resurrected the sign in Chinatown with the help of the city of Portland. The original Hung Far Low restaurant dates to 1928. According to Portland Architecture, Hung Far Low translates as, "almond blossom fragrance" in the Taisan dialect.

Architecture in Southeast Portland

Portland, Oregon Homes

The traditional wood houses of Southeast Portland are stunning. I found the home on the left in the Hawthorne Neighborhood. The home on the right is now a coffee bar on Belmont.

Portland Farmers Market

Portland Farmers Market

Farmer's Market. These are my first sketches of people walking around at the Portland Farmers Market at Portland State University, where you can buy mushrooms picked from the coastal mountains, locally caught kippered salmon, and a variety of locally-grown produce.

Zumwalt Prairie Elk Sketch

Elk in Eastern Oregon

On the Zumwalt Prairie, hundreds of elk travel in herd. In my piece on the Zumwalt Prairie, the abundance of elk prompted me to ask why so many of the ranchers in the area were opposed to the wolf reintroduction program.

Odell, Oregon

Odell, Oregon

With my family in Odell, Oregon, a small town along highway 35 in the Hood River Valley. It's stunning here in late spring, when the fruit orchards are blooming under the white crest of Mount Hood.

Hood River

Hood River, Oregon

Hood River, about fifty miles east of Portland, is a vibrant sports town; downhill skiers, kiteboarders, windsurfers and kayakers fill the city. I noticed this red vespa parked on a quiet spring afternoon.

Pearl District Condos

Portland Condos

I sketched these new construction condos in the Pearl District of Portland while driving around with my son, looking for puddles to drive through.

Explore more in Cascadia

A backpacking trip to the solitary wilderness in southwestern Washington feeds my love of campfires.

On a road trip to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, I compare Oregonian and Californian views on public lands.

On a quiet stretch of Columbia River beach, an unexpected ark sends us to discover the life of the maverick inventor who built it.

On a backpacking trip to the Olympic Peninsula's rugged Pacific coast, I explore four possible future scenarios for rural coastal areas.

Late summer backpacking in a Southwest Washington national forest ends in my terrifying rescue. Includes an interview with rescuer Lauren Dawkins.

Hiking the Oregon Coast from Bandon to Port Orford: Snowy Plovers, hipsters and cops.

On the Oregon coast, I write about my dearest subject: perpetual road travel.

Notes on traveling to Portland, Oregon, laidback capital of Cascadia -- before I moved there.

With a group of pelagic birders and a grumpy sea captain, I pursue a rare treasure.

Frozen rattlesnakes and wolf politics in the fabled setting of the Zumwalt Prairie.

Notes from Tofino, Vancouver Island on the stunning and isolated Clayoquot Sound.

Color and camoflage in nature, from the Hood River Valley area of Oregon.

An interview with a native artist on the whaling controversies and life in Neah Bay.

I travel to the Umpqua Dunes in pursuit of the answers of a mysterious stone tool.

Glowing Mushrooms, deer-meat, stone and a Portland underworld of old ways.

The Oregon Hotel is old, rickety and delightful, and in the geographic center of Oregon.

Native migrations to the Americas, tundra, gyrfalcons and summertime on the Bering Sea.

Field sketches and illustrations from my travels in the state of Oregon.

Travels by boat with a group of birdwatchers in pursuit of rare pelagic birds.

Thoughts on rough roads, carefree trails and backcountry science in Oregon's Jefferson Park.