Stephanie Bower

Stephanie Bower | Architectural Illustration: | Sketching Workshops: | Sketches: | Urban Sketchers Blog Correspondent | Signature member of the Northwest Watercolor Society

Thursday, December 1, 2016

REAL Discount Codes for Craftsy Classes online!

At long last, we have discount codes for my two online classes on Craftsy!!! Woo hoo!
I invite you to use these codes for a 50% discount good through March 2, 2017.
When you use these codes, it really helps support the instructors, like me!  So, thank you!

You can view a preview video of the classes and read reviews on Craftsy too--almost 5000 participants world wide in "Perspective for Sketchers" and almost 1500 in the new "The Essentials of Sketching Architecture" class.  Please join us!

Discount code for "The Essentials of Sketching Architecture" is

Discount code for "Perspective for Sketchers" is

Recent reviews of the classes:
5 out of 5 stars.

the BEST!!

i discoverd stephanie bower through buying her book on perspective which was excellent. i then took her class on Craftsy. she is an amazing teacher, one of the very best that i've had. i've had several teachers, and being a teacher myself, i am very particular about teachers. she is very clear, breaks down the steps to learning perspective and techniques of sketching. Her feedback is very generous, i do believe she really enjoys teaching. She offers helpful suggestions but is also encouraging.

5 out of 5 stars

One of the Best Classes I have taken

This is an amazing class. I have looked at perspective by others but Stephanie makes the whole thing very simple and straight forward and easy to remember. I love her teaching style and have had a real epiphany when it comes to architectural sketching. She clearly explains why she is doing things

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Barcelona 1

And after Rome, it was off to Barcelona to stay in our friend Peter's apartment in the wonderful neighborhood of Poblenou.  Less than one block from the neighborhood's charming small rambla, or pedestrian walkway, and also only a few blocks from the beach. It was so bloody hot in Barcelona, the first thing I did even before buying groceries was to purchase to FANS!!  Even the beach was so hot, I didn't go until 5 or 6pm.  Small complaints, of course, as my gosh but what a fantastic city this is! My first time here was for the USk Barcelona Symposium back in 2013.

High on my to-see list was an iconic building we studied in architecture school, the famed Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe.  It was wonderful to meet a fellow sketcher, whose work I just LOVE, Norberto Dorantes, a Mexican architect who lives in Argentina and often teaches at the Urban Sketchers symposiums. We met here one afternoon and sketched.

Here is my only decent sketch of the favorite part of the drawing is the flag!

I also got to meet someone whose work I have admired, the amazing sketcher who goes by the pen name, Lapin. I dedicate an entire spread in the back of my book to his sketches in which he stretches perspective and adds so much humor. 

We met in Poblenou and sat on the rambla enjoying an horchata drink from the famous horchateria nearby, and I got to look through his gosh, but what an amazing talent!!!

And then, he bestowed a HUGE honor on me -- he pulls out his pen and looks at me very seriously, and... 

Looks entirely too realistic... but what an honor to occupy one of the pages in one of his incredible sketchbooks. Gracias, Lapin!!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Back to Travel...Rome!

It's gray and rainy in Seattle, so, it's back to summer sketches! 
After leaving Civita, I headed to Rome for a day to see my dear friend, Francesca Caruso. Francesca LOVES her city...Rome...and leads tours for groups like National Geographic, Rick Steves (she is on his Rome show), and many others.  I was so happy to see her even briefly, and also to happily run into her again in the Roman Forum the next day. I am so inspired by her, as her goal is to present information that really change the way visitors see Rome, history, and how they see the world--much like what I believe sketching does too.

I also got to see my friend and fellow Urban Sketcher, Kelly Medford. Kelly is an American who lives in Rome and does amazing, on location oil paintings and in the past few years, watercolors too. I met her at the Barcelona Symposium, and the following year, she took my workshop in Civita, which jumpstarted her use of watercolors.  She also leads sketch tours in Rome that looks wonderful!

Here are a few images and sketches! 
It was noon, SO HOT, in the middle of the forum surrounded by tourists. This is a very quick wide angle view from the center of the Roman Forum.

This was in a cafe where I was to get the key for my B& I  collapsed into a comfy sofa, drank tons of water, and sketched while I waited.

This Sketch below
was done during breakfast one morning at the same cafe.

I use this sketch in my recent CRAFTSY class to show how the guide lines for drawing windows will hit a corner and turn in perspective...these are guidelines that make drawing rows of windows on buildings so much easier.

Next, Barcelona!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2016


It's filling up fast, so please contact me ASAP for more information. Only 7 participants for each session, so lots of one-on-one instruction in this magical place...and the food and wine are great too!!!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Five Years Ago, Today...

This week, I've been posting photos on Facebook of a trip I took with my friend Nancy to India exactly five years ago. I spent November 14, my son's birthday, getting up early to see the sunrise over the utterly exquisite Taj was these days, this trip, only five years ago, that changed my life in so many ways.

Being an architect, I admit I was expecting the Taj to be just another famous building, but boy, was I wrong. It's really a complex of buildings, and you enter the main part of the complex through a small, dark gate house through a big arch that suddenly frames the view of the Taj itself. It is literally breath-taking, and both Nancy and I had tears in our eyes. Something about that building is other-worldly...the proportions, the white marble that refracts/reflects and lets light pass through it, the many factors make this truly a wonder of the world.

Sketching is not allowed in the Taj complex, and our bags were checked for pencils or pens. So I had to do these sketches from outside the building area...the  sketch above was done in the HOT HOT HOT midday heat from a terrace at the Agra Fort, up the river.  It had to be really quick before I melted!!

And this sketch was done at the end of the day, from across the Yamuna River, looking at the backside. Those tiny marks atop the base platform are people...the building is HUGE. 

I talk about making this drawing in my Craftsy class, as it was my lesson on how important it is to measure proportions.  About 5-10 minutes into this sketch, I literally started to panic as it dawned on my I was finally sketching THE Taj Mahal!!!!!!  I had to stop, take a deep breath, and make sure I carefully measured the proportions...can you imagine the Taj with the proportions off??

This trip was a life-changing event for me.  I was able to use a generous gift from a dear friend to pay for the trip, and I went with the intent of getting back to sketching, something I hadn't done for 25 years. I filled two large Moleskine sketchbooks.  

Once I got home, another sketcher mentioned the KRob competition--I had never heard of it somehow, but it is an architectural delineation competition sponsored by the American Institute of Architects Dallas chapter--and it is the longest running global competition of its kind. I took a leap of faith and entered this sketch, done November 15, near Agra at the Fatehpur Sikri complex...and it WON for Best Professional Travel Sketch!!!!  Shocked and amazed, it was that win that has launched so many wonderful sketching adventures and opportunities.  

Looking back at these sketches, I realized how much I've improved since this trip!! At a time in life when others are thinking about retiring, I have been picking up speed and finally pursuing what I love, sketching and teaching. I am humbled and so very grateful. What an AMAZING five years it's been!!!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Big News: NEW Pentalic watercolor sketchbooks!!!!!

Three new sizes of Pentalic Aqua Journals, real 140lb. cold press watercolor paper

In my world, this is really BIG NEWS!!!

Pentalic is just now shipping 3 NEW sizes in sketchbooks, and I cannot wait to try them! These have been my favorite sketchbooks for several years, and I recommend them to people all the time.


Because they are the ONLY sketchbooks that have true 140lb. paper!!! 
And this makes a huge difference if you want to use watercolor.  Not Moleskine, not Handbook, not Stillman & Birn...this is the only one with high quality watercolor paper. 

I find that the texture has a good balance of smooth texture for my pencil work, and enough texture to take my watercolor work.

Slightly different proportions when compared with the Moleskine.

They are already in stock at Daniel Smith store in Seattle.
They are coming soon to Amazon.

Thanks to Carol Evenchick, Vancouver sketcher, for letting me know about this.

Thanks also to Pentalic for sending me samples to try!! 

This is super exciting!!!  
If you try these new books, let me know what you think...

Monday, October 31, 2016

Workshop, Day at the Villa Lante

Near the Entry to the Villa Lante's two pavilions.
I have wanted to see this place for years, ever since I studied the gardens in France with the Gabriel Prize architecture fellowship in 2013. This remarkable garden from around the mid-1500's near Civita pre-dates and likely influenced the ones I studied outside of Paris.

The fabulous lower garden.
The famous table fountain. Apparently, they really served meals on this stone table!
See the face at the end? The fountains cascade down the various levels of terraces.
So this year for the first time, as part of the workshop, we headed about 20-30 minutes drive away to spend a day in Bagnaia, near Viterbo, to sketch in the cool shade of these beautiful gardens. It was a great break from the stone of Civita, and there is wonderful perspective to sketch here.  We will do this again in next summer's Civita workshop as well!

Me and my overlay ambitious sketch of one
of the pools looking toward the lower garden.
Yikes, ellipses gone wild!! What was I thinking????
I finally got to meet the cousin of our friend Sean Cryan in Seattle, Mary Jane Cryan...she lives near here and has wonderful
books and gives guided tours as well. I brought her Etruria book home (the heaviest thing in my suitcase) and it was well worth the extra pounds through Spain and England. Fascinating, and she is a wonderful writer, like her cousin Sean. Sarah and Annie, left and right, work with Sean in Seattle...small world!

At the end of the day, we had fabulous pizza just down the street in Bagnaia...what a great day!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Workshop, Inside the Chiesa San Donato

Late June in Civita is blazing hot, so one of the ways we escape the heat is to sketch inside the Chiesa San Donato. I've done a few sketches of this lovely church on past trips, you can see the first one from 2013 in my Pentalic sketchbook below. 

The concept for this sketch above is exactly the same as for the one below...I always start with the big shapes. An advantage of this particular view what that I was also able to use that center arch as a way to determine where the elements on the far wall were located...for example, the spring line for the far arches is just about half way up the front arch.  So this makes getting shapes and proportions easier.

Here is the photo of the nave of the chiesa, and below it is the diagram I draw in the workshop to explain the concept of drawing the arches. As I always teach, we start with the shape of the space, then the VP and eye level lines, than I use this structure to fill in the basic lines that describe the space.

Pretty early on, I'll add the arches...first by drawing the rectangular bays made by the columns, then I put in the spring line where the arch starts.  You'll see I also lightly sketch in the entire ellipse, as this makes it easier to get the arch shape. Once I have all that structure in, I start filling in the sketch.

There is a lot more info on this in both my book and Craftsy classes.

Diagram sketch of the chiesa space and arches.

This is one of my all time favorite sketches!  It might be where I started doing these wide-angle views
that I love so much.
When I paint these sketches, I also approach the watercolor thinking like an architect. The first thing I'll do is paint in that pale blue (cobalt with a touch of perm. alizarin crimson) in all the openings, so that the voids appear to recede.  Next I'll use a little gray and yellow ochre to warm the walls and arches in the center nave, so that they advance in space. I'm always thinking about solids vs. voids in architecture.

And here we are at the end of the day, in front of the beautiful salmon colored Chiesa!!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

More Civita Workshop...back to June!

Next installment in the Civita workshop...

Sketching in an ancient Etruscan/Roman cave...

Learning watercolor inside La Sala Grande.

Moving Outdoors to learn watercolor in the daylight!  Check out the view behind us!
Sketching wide-angle views in the Piazza San Donato, the ancient forum and still a gathering place today!

Some of the sketches from the piazza...

More in the piazza...wide angle views!