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Archive for June, 2010

 

Reading Gemini. Half-Price Bookstore, Berkeley, California. Photography, June 28, 2010.

 All the following images have been taken at City Lights Booktore in North Beach (Little Italy) , San Francisco, on June 29, 2010. I dedicate this post to my dear English and Literature Professor at NDSU, Steve Ward. Long live The Beats.

McClure, Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsburg at the last Beats gathering, 1965.Outside City Lights Bookstore, North Beach, San Francisco.

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Playing the Muse by Bruce Matthes

Perhaps if we all had, every day, time for art and for poetry, just a daily dose, perhaps our lives would feel a little less hurried, a little less hectic, and time would slow down for that cup of tea in front of a vintage art book. Perhaps we could squeeze more out of our day by letting the mind lull a bit, recharge, empty itself so that we could squeeze more info, memories, ideas. How do we download the weight of each day, how do we discharge- our mind like a sieve- retaining only lessons that could benefit us, letting go of the inconsequential? Perhaps with few moments under the sun, or with nature, few breaths and a prayer.

Today I was listening to NPR and I heard a man say that it is the job of  human beings to learn to let go of large quantities, and hold on to the precious little.

Antonio Machado’s poetry, according to Antelitteram, evolved to acquire with time the personal aspects of reevaluation of time, nature and feelings, until it reachead a poetry influenced by a profound interest in philosophy.

Bruce Matthes, a fellow artist and humanist , told me over coffee (what else?)  about his illustrations of Antonio Machado’s poetry.  I was immediately piqued, having completed a similar project- which I hope to share here soon. Bruce was kind enough to let me showcase his beautiful, lyrical work.

Click on each image to enlarge and read the poetry.

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There is nothing that God hath established in a constant course of nature, and which therefore is done every day, but would seem a Miracle, and exercise our admiration, if it were done but once.

 John Donne

 

The Roots of Violence

 

Wealth without work,

Pleasure without conscience,

Knowledge without character,

Commerce without morality,

Science without humanity,

Worship without sacrifice,

Politics without principles.

 

Mahatma Gandhi

 

 As quoted by Dean Gil Cooke in his keynote address.

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Child's Pose | Thank you

Yoga is moving meditation. Feel your body melt on the ground. Feel your muscles, your bones dissolving into the ground. Be thankful for this time. The gratitude you feel spreads from your heart to your entire being, and radiates towards everyone around you.

Mercedes, Yoga instructor and, apparently, Rockstar in a band- I attended her class for the first time today.

I went to yoga today to plug out: I have been spending too many hours tethered to my computer and needed a retreat. The gym worked for that today, but I am hoping to spend some times, soon, away from technology in places like Yosemite, Sequoia National Park and, perhaps, Napa Valley. It is apparent that I failed at the NaBloPoMo self-challenge, missed too many days -like this weekend- and yet realize that blogging everyday is not my style, and have come to accept the fact that pauses result in epiphanies which can push inspiration forward. Nevertheless I do like to post aoften to show up to my day, art, intellect, just as I would like to make a habit of yoga to practice the mindfulness of the body.  The solitude after yoga practice  makes me realize many things, for example how infinitely precious moments with loved ones are, moments we take for granted. As I walked home tonight, looking at the night sky  I thought about Pablo Neruda, and his lines :

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry void,
likeness, image of mystery,
I felt myself a pure part of the abyss.
I wheeled with the stars;
my heart broke loose on the open sky.

From ‘Poetry’

How the sky would be with no stars, because that is how life is without the love of the people we care about….

So i frightened myself, and I can hear my friend Lamees that ‘frightening’ ourselves is good, for it wakes us up.  Awake means aware.  I resolve every day, like most of us, I’m sure,  to be a better person, yet fail and sometimes lose myself in petty feelings. A friend of mine told me that he heard from a wise, humble man to ‘just do one thing better today than you did yesterday’. So today I went to Yoga,  my way to tune in, because I am not there yet as far as daily meditation. Tuning in means more sun, but, sometimes, more rain.

I chanced upon a quote I like very much (I am kind of ashamed to say where I got it)

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”

I hear the music, do you?

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My client gave me this card and asked me to create a composition based on the flower/butterfly graphics.

I first mixed in the colors for the purple background my client wanted, then drew the graphic motifs with black grease pencil, went over with white pastels, only to realize that the black was not going to be easily cleaned at the end.              So I had to wash away all the black lines, and lost most of the white drawing.  I used the second drawing as a basis for the painting.

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Floral Composition with Butterflies (3'x 3'). Acrylic on Canvas. June 12, 2010.

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Explaining (imperfectly) the joy of sketching/vignette and perspective making to a student. Graphite on paper June 11, 2010

Drawing is thinking. Hand-eye coordination is essential not only to accurately render what you see, but to bring forth and execute what you see in your mind’s eye, i.e designing. I read once that we should use the word ‘draw’ as in ‘drawing information’, as from a well. To draw a building  or space is to understand it, to make it our own –to impress it on our brain’s matrix.  Photography, while wonderful and an art form in itself, leaves the lessons of buildings on the camera’s hard drive, not on ours.

Not to mention the warmth and ‘tactability’ , as my friend Luisa says, of a sketch or a vignette, the volumes it adds to a presentation, the process it unveils. Revit has the capability to render photorealistic imagery, with incredible texture and lighting. But it is in the process that a project is appreciated in all its nuances, that poetry can happen, that the design and the architect eye, mind and hand can be sipped, like fine, expensive wine. Without process architecture becomes a shot of cheap wiskey, vulgar.  Design, like diamonds, has no mercy… “They will show up the wearer if they can,” says one character in The Sandcastle, an early novel by the famous British author, Iris Murdoch. (I borrowed this bit on diamonds here).

Drawing is analysis. It is a deliberate act of  interpretation, and abstraction (as in capturing the essential).  In the book ‘Compositions in Architecture’, Dan Hanlon says:

‘I have found that since the act of drawing requires a high degree of graphic editing, each drawing emphasizes a particular quality of composition. Therefore, the information in each drawing is highly selective. This is what I mean by a work of interpretation.’

A drawing can be tuned to reveal and emphasize certain characteristics, and not others. It is a process of selection, of sharpening the way our brain takes notes of details. It is never alienating, never mindless, never automatic (unless as automatic art/ flow of consciousness), never repetitive, never listless as drawing on a computer can be.

In the introduction of book Non-places: Introduction to an anthropology of supermodernity, Marc Augé mentions the many devices that, by keeping us ‘connected’ at all times, alienate and separate us from the place we physically occupy. Drawing keeps us grounded (in the here and now?), and is an exercise in fully experiencing our surroundings, of mindfulness.

And after the alarming The Shallows: This is Your Brain Online , on the ability to train our brain (and affect its physical make-up) by our daily habits, anything that can help with the collective scattered focus we are ‘learning’ from too much technology should be a worthwhile endeavor.

So yes, the Zen of Drawing, or drawing as meditation (architectural therapy not just art?). Like yoga, unplugging and plugging in at the same time. By drawing we fully inhabit this place, this body, as architect and artists.

My blogfriend Suzanne Cabrera at [An] Open Sketchbook turned me onto Michael Nobbs, a Blogger/Artist into time management,who advocates drawing everyday. Here is his free, fun and inspiring e-book.
I already started drawing loved objects before I ‘release’ them.

Here are the books mentioned:

And here, the first part on the importance of drawing.

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These are drawings and photos of actual ships of the US Navy during WWI. To mislead German U-Boats (who shot torpedos in the direction the ship was thought to be going to), the Fleet Admiral used British Artist Norman Wilkinson’s Dazzle Camouflage or Razzle Dazzle. The war ship become huge canvases for abstract art. I love it. I found the original post here, where you can find more info and photos. All images via TwistedSifter.

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