Archive for November, 2009

Quick sketch of ray fish, or razza in Italian. Concept for a student model. Ink on back of NewSchool Attendance sheet. October 2009

You can see straight thru

an X-ray fish to its heart.

We are just as transparent

so be true, gentle, honest, just. . . .

From :



By Jeffrey Yang

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Suburban Landscape II- Digital Manipulation. 2005

Suburban Landscape I- Digital Manipulation. 2005

D-Evolution of Suburban 'Dream Home'- San Diego. Digital Manipulation. 2005

D-Evolution of Suburban 'Dream Home' III- San Diego. Digital Manipulation. 2005

I hope everyone was able to enjoy domesticity during the just past holiday. I indulged my inner  domestic goddess by cooking a pretty good ‘Pasta al Forno’, which actually gets better two days after baking, keeps well in the fridge and will feed you for half a week!

I have also been surfing the web and handpicking the best architecture and design sites the world over, thanks to the World Architecture Community– do check out the new blogroll .:Global Architecture:.

1. Architecture Lab, a fresh, young, visually captivating and insightful international online architecture and urban design magazine edited by Aline Chahine, an architect living and working in Beirut, Lebanon.
The Architecture bites offered here are just the right size, as a prelude to your favorite periodical or taken on their own.
Can Architecture be delicious? Well, check out Architecture Lab and let me know. Made me fall in love with A. all over again.
I love Aline’s chosen quote:
” A great architect is not made by way of a brain nearly so much as he is made by way of a cultivated, enriched heart.”- Frank Lloyd Wright

2. NotCot. They believe in ideas, aesthetics, and amusement. And they do it with stunning graphics and provocative by-lines. I’m a believer, too.

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image via Octogon (Design and Architecture online from Budapest)

So here it happens, the siren of Architecture called, and I heeded.

Nay, I relinquished.

Architecture, that capricious muse, finally seeps in my art chamber- yet how could I have kept it at bay?

Architecture is, indeed, frozen music.

If this building was music, what song/genre would it be?

Sir Barry says that some architects of the Baroque era literally applied to their designs harmonic ratios learned from musical intervals and harmonic relations between notes.

I always thought Baroque was the music closest to the act of creating, to perfect mathematical equations, the music of the cosmos. Fractals’ music. Baroque and its clavichords is what I am listening to right now, as I finish a 3D digital model. The model dances and takes form. Digital sculpture.

You must pardon if I wax poetic. I just finished ‘Death in Venice’ and my heart is full of poetry tonight.

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image via habitofdesign.blogspot.com

I wanted to show off the lovely necklace that I received from Jennifer at Habit of Design. A flower for SketchBloom!

Well, I will have to wear this at my next art/design outing!

In other news, some housekeeping:
[pay no attention to the man behind the curtain]
In order to be qualified to enter the Technorati universe I am obliged to post these codes.

Yes, Technorati, this is Really my blog!




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Photograph from Nokia phone (3.2 Megapixel camera, Carl Zeiss Lens). Early Summer 2009.

Do you remember

Driving back from Las Vegas


We stopped at a roadside fast-food

Nowhere, California?

We played Monopoly

waited until the sun came down,

until the traffic subsided.

You were merciless.


November 23, 2009


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San Francisco – Cafe’ De La Presse

Legendary Literary Cafe’ a stone’s throw from the French Embassy.  The staff’s uniforms were très French, the atmosphere European, and the cappuccino was ….flawless.

Collage, Pilot Pen on Paper

Pilot Pen on Paper. November 2009

All photographs taken with Lumix (Panasonic) camera, Leica wide lens.

San Diego: Newschool of Architecture and Design – Cafe’ A la Carte

Bringing coffee, culture and ‘moments of urbanity ‘, as Francisco Sanin, a dear professor in Syracuse|Florence, used to say.

The passage/hallway is transformed in a piazzetta; Adam, the owner, strums his guitar, chats with customers.

Brings book such as ‘Reading Lolita in Tehran’, and Russian lit.


Our very own coffee cart @ NewSchool: Cafe' A la Carte. Pilot pen, Graphite and Prismacolor white pencil on paper. November 2009

Arabic Coffee
Naomi Shihab Nye

It was never too strong for us:
make it blacker, Papa,
thick in the bottom,
tell again how the years will gather
in small white cups,
how luck lives in a spot of grounds.

Leaning over the stove, he let it
boil to the top, and down again.
Two times. No sugar in his pot.
And the place where men and women
break off from one another
was not present in that room.
The hundred disappointments,
fire swallowing olive-wood beads
at the warehouse, and the dreams
tucked like pocket handkerchiefs
into each day, took their places
on the table, near the half-empty
dish of corn. And none was
more important than the others,
and all were guests. When
he carried the tray into the room,
high and balanced in his hands,
it was an offering to all of them,
stay, be seated, follow the talk
wherever it goes. The coffee was
the center of the flower.
Like clothes on a line saying
You will live long enough to wear me,
a motion of faith. There is this,
and there is more.


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Digital manipulation of photograph. November 2009

“Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’ doesn’t make any sense.




This is what may happen if you move an image while scanning, tweak the result in Photoshop, and pixelize : an Impressionist painting.

Try it. Let me know how it works for you.


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“To sleep, perchance to dream-
ay, there’s the rub.”

Hamlet (III, i, 65-68)

Ink on Paper. September 2009


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Pilot Pen on paper. November 12, 2009

Yesterday I attended Leon Krier’s lecture at NewSchool of Architecture and Design.

I thought it was very interesting when he said the ruins of the World Trade Center resembled a Frank Gehry building (! things that make me go mmm…), so here is my 30 second Frank Gehry assignment, given to me by a student.

I really wanted to ask Mr. Krier about Seaside and the Truman Show, but decided not to.

Thought-provoking concepts in the lecture, even though not fully demonstrated in practice.

Architects are members of an elite. Otherwise, we have no raison d’etre.

Leon Krier, November 12, 2009

Pilot Pen on Paper. September 2009.


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Watercolor and Graphite. November 12, 2009


Persimmon- very quick pastel rendering. November 12, 2009.

Got out my pastels today after a long, long time.

I have a wonderful book on pastels bought when I used to have a studio, but no time to do art:/ Time to dig it up, experiment, and get messy.

I have been on a ‘fruit’ roll lately, and  here is a  poem on vegetables.  I have been toying with the idea of making this blog into an (almost) daily offering of art, accompanied by a poem or quote  (art and poetry being ‘my thing’, as they say), along with the occasional writing and random posts. What do you think? Is consistency inherently good, and does a ‘theme’ make a blog stronger? The poems would be the ‘dream’ part of SketchBloom. Are poems dreams? Oh My, I am starting to sound like the Log Lady form Twin Peaks!

Anyways, few months ago ‘Writers’ Almanac’ , on NPR , featured a poem titled ‘ Vegetable Love’.

I ran into ‘ Vegetable Love in Texas‘, which contains some lines resonating with my current state of mind.

So here is for serendipity.

Vegetable Love in Texas
by Carol Coffee Reposa
Texas Poetry Calendar: 2008

Farmers say
There are two things
Money can’t buy:
Love and homegrown tomatoes.

I pick them carefully.
They glow in my hands, shimmer
Beneath their patina of warm dust
Like talismen.

Perhaps they are.
Summer here is a crucible
That melts us down
Each day,

The sky a sheet of metal
Baking cars, houses, streets.

Out in the country
Water-starved maize

Shrivels into artifacts.
A desiccated cache
Of shredded life.
Farmers study archeology

In limp straw hats.
But still I have
This feeble harvest,
Serendipity in red:

Red like a favorite dress,
Warm like a dance,
Lush like a kiss long desired,
Firm like a vow, the hope of rain.






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Go to Your Studio and Make Stuff- The Fred Babb Poster Book

Sure, I too consider The Artist’s Handbook of Materials and Techniques a veritable oracle for the blossoming artist, but I have to say, Go to Your Studio and Make Stuff is simply the best art book…ever.  One of my favorite art/inspiration books, it’s  full of what the author calls ‘Art Propaganda’, quirky posters with humorous, inspiring art quotes.

When I was a senior, finishing my Art Baccalaureate Show, I plastered the oversized poster pages all over my studio.
I will never forget the poster for ‘Don’t Drink and Draw’, and my students love this saying.

I hope you will be able to find and peruse this beautiful book —which uses humour for a powerful message: Art will save you.
In the meantime, take a look here.

PS : Good Art won’t match your sofa.


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I‘m back.

I have been asked to write a post on my sketching tools, and it took a while to organize my ‘shooting session’.
Also, less than ten days ago, the unthinkable happened: my artist pouch went missing.  This was followed by a period of ‘mourning’ and this drawing to put on a sign (yes, I am crazy like this- especially about my art instruments).

Thanks be to God I found my art pouch, but only after compiling a detailed list of its contents and extensive research to replace everything (yes, I know, very OCD of me). I also found out I am carrying quite a treasure.

So here is my post on my art pouch and its contents, and a celebration for things found! Yay!

The inner zipper is great to keep eraser, mini-scales, lead refills and small objects safe from graphite. The writing instruments here are the ones used most often.


The side zipper is great to keep extra Pilot pens and my Parker fountain pen. The case has a velcro strap plus snap button for safety, it can be worn on a belt, attached to a bike etc. On the far side a beautiful detail: a small red bead, reminiscent of Andean artifacts.

I found this perfect pouch/pencilcase at Whole Foods (of all places). It is made by Livity Outernational. You can find it in their store (it is the Rip-Tide, Hemp Organic Cotton Canvas Pencil Case).

So here all my instruments, ink, graphite, brushes for spontaneous coffee watercolors and scissors/glue for impromptu collages. And yes, they all fit in the pouch pictured above.


As for  sketchbook(s), here is what I carry with me everywhere I go (one tucked inside the other):


Reflexions Medium Sketchbook and Moleskine Notebook (made by modo&modo in Italy)

I try to use the notebook for lists and to-do’s, and keep the sketchbook for sketches (all that you have seen lately here in the blog) writings and quotes. It has not quite worked that way, and I am almost done with the sketchbook. We’ll see with the next one.

As it usually happens, while composing this post, i stumbled upon fascinating websites for fellow lovers of writing instruments and cases.

Here they are:
Leadholder– if you love drafting pencils, you have to see this.

Parker Pens

Eco-friendly hipster laptop bags

Well enjoy, hope this inspired you to go out and do Art ! Oh, more on this and on my favorite book soon!


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Courtyard @ The Getty. Los Angeles. Pilot Pen on paper. November 1, 2009

Courtyard @ The Getty. Los Angeles. Pilot Pen on paper. November 1, 2009

On Sunday November 1, I was graciously invited by students from my school to join in a field trip to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

On the way there, we watched a video about the design and construction of the museum, and the controversy between the architect, Richard Meier, and the artist, Robert Irwin. I had already been to to the Getty couple of times, but I was not fully aware of the ‘creative’ conflict which embroiled Meier, who thought he would have complete control of the design of the museum buidings and the entire site, and Irwin, who was engaged to create a sculpture for the site but then went on to propose – and be assigned- the design of the area now known as the garden.  Of course it was not just about the ‘architect’ and ‘the artist’, but all the key decision makers, from the Getty board, to the Museum curator. Through an exhaustive architectural tour and key insights on the project– by none other than Andy Spurlock, the landscape architect of Robert Irwin’s garden– I came home with many thoughts on the ramification of the Meier-Irwin, Architecture/Art diatribe.

Here are some of them:

1. Perception

The project does seem to have a split personality. Obviously the linear axis was important, nay, fundamental for Meier. Robert Irwin had an approach that, he said, would give importance to all of the views of and from the building, not just the main axis. So we see a difference of approach between a ‘ritual’ on the architect side (by no means indicative of all architects’ approach) and a ‘sculpture in the round’ approach on the artist side (not necessarily a typical or expected’ reading’ of a site from an artist’s point of view).  Are both approaches equally valid?

2. Here’s looking (back) at you, kid.

Both projects are self-referential. Perhaps Irwin is more so, as it ends looking back at itself.  Meier’s ‘triumph’ would have celebrated the view, but also, of course, the museum. I wonder how much ego figures in the equation , and, not knowing the artist and the architect personally, I can only speculate.

3. Letting Go.

The issue of control (or lack-of- thereof) was very painful to see, on the architect side. The ‘plaza’ or ‘triumph’ that Meier envisioned (albeit a very short one due to site configuration), can be seen as a period to his exclamation point, and Irwin stole that thunder. Did the project benefit from the diversity of Irwin approach? And–sounding like a reader’s guide– how so? Are we married to ‘unity of design’?

3.5 The spiral.

People who know me know that I am very partial to spirals. It struck me as really beautiful , and convincing, that Meier at the opening of the video mentioned how he wanted to create a spiral because that is a shape ‘which embraces’ the site.  Irwin too used a spiral. When I asked Mr. Spurlock about it , he said that, in fact, the spiral shape  Meier used was limited to a central  stairway.  I liked to think the two were more similar than they let on. On an unrelated note, Meier also said something really poetic about the color white. White reflects, contains, and becomes all of the colors around it. So in this setting the buildings change hue with the light of the day.  It is a magnificent sight, one which makes you realize that white, so beloved by the Modernists, is, after all, a lot more organic and sensual that one may think. Not cold at all.

4. Ambivalence, and Art/Architecture

I can see myself playing devil’s advocate (and his devil’s advocate), because I still have not decided what I think of the project, whether I ‘like’ it, or ‘buy’ it. It is a great, real example of the art /architecture dychotomy, of different design approaches, and of the challenges in trying to define artists or architects. Meier does have an art backgrounad and considers himself (also) an artist. My experience is that architects are artists when they want to be, but more often than not, they are proud to be architects. So don’t go calling them artists. As for me, as they say, it is an entirely different story.

Is Architecture art? I thought so. But Architects can be artists, whereas the opposite is not true. Artists do not have the responsibility of creating a human habitat, as Andy Spurlock said. But what about artists like Robert Irwin , who created sculptures which become part of the built environment, or urban landscape –to use  a trendy term? His responsibility is not – and cannot be- just aesthetic. So here the lines between art and architecture are blurred.

When I was in college, with an architecture degree almost under my belt and taking art classes to complete a fine arts degree, I composed a collage ‘Everyone can be an artist Not everyone can be an architect’.  Perhaps that explains some of it.

5.  I am probably adding to the mythology, or myth-building of the Getty controversy by these suppositions of mine. Andy Spurlock really needs to write his own version of the story:). He said something that still resonates with me, the idea, or the perception that  ‘Gardens are about change, landscape design is about predictability’.

This time around I did not have much time for drawing or photography, just the quick sketch above. Feel free to see my previous Getty work under the  ‘Photography’ tab.

What I did have time for, though, was  a wonderful, leisurely luncheon al fresco, lively conversation and a background of lavender mountains.


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Pencil and watercolor on paper. November 2009


Persimmon Pattern

Original pencil and watercolor, Photoshop manipulation.

I have been involved in few art and architecture related events lately , among them a wonderful sunday visit to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles- of which more next.  Meanwhile, Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos came and went, and the persimmon tree in the yard has been heavy with wonderful, golden fruit.

It took me three days (one for each persimmon) to complete the first work, as I wanted to paint during daylight, and only had about a forty minutes each day to dedicate to my craft. So here they are, my small persimmons.  I wanted to do a study in pastel, but that will have to come some other day…as I actually ate the model:)

The pattern. I guess I have been inspired by the pumpkin colors all around, the fall, and , perhaps, domestic life?

This I feel could make a sketchbook cover, or a great tea towel. Now if only Crate and Barrel or Williams Sonoma would call…


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