Archive for the ‘art,poetry,writing’ Category

Night Tree. Untouched Photograph. San Diego. February 18, 2010

Photography means ‘writing with light’.

Tonight the sky is lit up, and I took one of my ‘apnea photos’ as I was  walking home. I set the camera on the night setting, then, since I don’t have a tripod, hold still and don’t breathe until the camera finishes computing all available light.

Earlier in class  (History of Art Neoclassic-Modern) we discussed the concept of ‘organic photography’,  that is photography that is not retouched or  enhanced digitally (Photoshopped). Well, what you see above is a direct dump from my camera. I read the recent review of ‘Werewolves’ and our very own Duncan Sheperd mentioned a David Caspar Friedrich light throughout the movie.

The sky tonight reminds me of German Romantic poetry.

David Caspar Friedrich. Mann und Frau Den Mond Betrachtend. Oil. 1819

The one true source of art is our heart, the language of a soul infallibly pure.

A work that is not begotten from this source can only be an artifice. Every authentic work of art is conceived in a sacred hour, and borne in a happy hour, often without the artist’s knowing, by the inner impulse of the heart.

David Caspar Friedrich

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Happy Tuesday. Throughout my four years of teaching Tuesday has always been my ‘work at home’ day, the one costant in the changing tides of quarters, classes and schedules. Today I thought I’d start a special Tuesday section, when I have more time to start new projects. So here is the first artuesday: this is the view I wake up everyday to, small happy townhomes in earth colors. I always wanted to do a watercolor of these homes on the edge of urbanity and nature (they sit on a canyon in uptown San Diego). Yup, I live near a canyon, yet in the city, more on this later. So here is my progress, I started with some guiding lines and this is as far as I got today. The watercolor will be a simple wash.
[click to enlarge. Unfortunately, soft graphite drawings are infamous for not scanning well]

Starting the drawing with tree shadows, to warm up the hand. From stationary point on the ground, the proportions are lightly drawn.

Vertical guiding lines.

Vertical and horizontal guidinglines of doors and windows-

Drawing and leaning on car, then sitting on the curb or grass in front of each house in my neighborhood was fun, and different cause I *never* hang out near my house. I even met a neighbor who was an artist! Doing art outdoors can tell you so much about where you live, and I am so glad no paranoid people called neighborhood watch on me (:P)

I used a Derwent Sketching for roughing in the proportions, the (only) tree and the tree shadows. You can see my new Faber Castell mechanical pencil, bought in Kuwait. What a dream drawing tool, see how ergonomic it is? (ok I will stop showing off now).

Derwent Sketching 2B, Faber Castell Grip Matic 0.5, Staedler eraser, Kneading eraser (to tone down lines).

A thing of beauty. The eraser part twists to reveal the eraser stick.

Sometimes I see my students sketching from photos, and it breaks my heart: there is nothing like the training of the hand to succeed as a designer and architect. I like to tell them to use the verb ‘draw’ as in ‘drawing information’.


Don’t get me wrong, I am not a dinosaur.  I love Sketchup, as a 3D modeler use 3D Max, have done my fair share of CAD and Revit and  Photoshop is my religion, but, as this article says, if you don’t know how to draw and sketch, and quickly convey your ideas through hand-eye coordination, your role as an architect will be very limited. Thank you to Andrew Duncan for sending me this.

Should rulers be outlawed when sketching? I believe in training your hand to be a plumb weight, creating straight yet ‘human’ lines.

Ah, the ‘Tyranny of the Straight Line’!


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For many artists/designers endeavoring to build an online a presence, a blog is an incredible way to show up to their work and share new projects. Still, designing a high-quality blog and content is not enough. You have to get the word out ( is a blog still a blog if nobody reads it?)

So how can you make it inviting for people to visit your digital studio?

I believe a non-cluttered, restful design is key, for starters. My design zen inspiration is An Open [Sketch] book. Joining blog/aggregating communities such as networked blogs, technorati and notcot.org can bring like-minded people to your online home.  Also, blogging websites are full of advices on how to ‘get read’ (see ‘On Blogging’ on my blogroll).

In December, I designed my new business cards so I could share my online work and vision with artists and professionals I met  (do you like them? – ordered with Vista = very happy)

I also found a way to have a  digital V-Card as a gmail signature so that people could visit my art and architecture websites when I sent them an email- we will talk about this next.

But I believe the best way to reach out to people is to be an answer to their problem, i.e tutorials ( like I’m doing now…this is so meta). In other words, if you couldn’t find something online and had to build it yourself , save the struggle to other people and you will gain aficionados. In my case, I wanted to have a customized ‘Buy Me Coffee/Micro-Donation’ button for my WordPress blog, linked to Paypal, just in case someone wanted to take me out for coffee cause they loved my blog and art  so much:) A sort of digital tip jar.

What I found online did not fit my blog or design needs, and there were problems linking my button my free Paypal account. So i did a bit of code magic. I hope it helps you.

And if it does and you want to tip me…well… that would be just swell!

How to make a customized ‘Buy me Coffee’ Paypal micro-donation button

Premise:  You have a free PayPal (not-merchant) account, and a free WordPress.com blog.

Goal: You want to be able to place an attractive button where folks who enjoy your posts can drop couple of bucks to sustain your caffeine
addition (or other, who am I to judge?).


A. You have tried to generate the button code from your Paypal account but, once it is placed in your blog, it does not link to your
Paypal donation page. You tried messing with the code, and it still doesn’t work.

B. You need help with placing your own image on the Paypal button, or with creating the button on WordPress.


Well, I struggled so you don’t have to.

1.If you are here, I am assuming you have a blog.  If you don’t have one, go to wordpress.com and sign up for one. It is beyond the scope of this tutorial to enumerate the qualities of WordPress, but people who have shopped around invariably choose to host their [free] blog here. You will be well-cared for. For the WordPress.org [paid domain] folks, there is a Paypal plugin, so no need to go further.

2. After accessing your blog, sign up or sign on to your Paypal account. Look at the tabs on top of the page: under ‘Products and Services’, click ‘Website Payment Standards’

You will land on  ‘Website Payments Standards Overview’ >Payment Button tab.

Go to  ‘Accept donations anywhere on the web’ and click on ‘Create one now’

Fill out the fields (skip Step 2 and 3 unless you want to upgrade your PayPal account).     You can customize your button now, but you probably want to substitute the ‘donate’ image with something more appealing at a later time. I did not customize for this tutorial, and did not fill the ‘Company’ or ‘Donation ID’ fields.

When you are done, click ‘Create Button’ at the bottom of the page.

This will generate the button’s code. Remove ‘Code Protection’, on the top right of the box (very important) and click ‘Select Code’.

Copy (ctrl+c) the code. On your desktop, right-click anywhere, select ‘New’ and create a new text (.txt) document, or you can use your usual html editor as well. Paste (ctrl+v) the code.

You will get something like this (where the red X’s are your id numbers):

3. Normally you would now go to your WordPress blog dashboard, choose Widgets, drag a ‘Text- Arbitrary text or HTML” widget  to your sidebar  and and paste the above code to obtain a button. This time though, this would result in an empty field, and we need a workaround.

You will use the ‘Image-Display an image in your side bar’ Widget

Drag it in the sidebar and open it:

A. Widget Title: You can name your button ‘Donate’ or ‘Feed the Starving Artist’ etc.

B. In the ‘Image URL’  place the URL address of any  image that is hosted on image hosting websites such as Flickr, Photobucket etc.

(I always recommend hosting your own images). You can usually find this code under a ‘Share’ button by the hosted image in these sites.

The address will look something like this (where ‘yourhostingsite’ and ‘youraccountname’ are a substitute for your actual code):


C. In the ‘Link URL’ (where you want visitors to land when you click your button) you will paste this code, derived from the PayPal code above (with a sprinkle of magic).


(the X’s are your ID code from the Paypal button code in Step 2)

Now we have the ‘ingredients’ for our customized button: an image hosted online, its address, and a link to your PayPal donation page.

I like to have the button centered, so I adjusted the size and justification of the widget until I was satisfied.

Be creative, you can design your button to include text and credit cards symbols, in a software such as Photoshop.

Hope you will enjoy your very own PayPal/Donations button and that this worked out for you!


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Happy San Valentino!

Here are some card designs I have been playing with, let me know if you would like a hi-res version, and  which one I should put in my future etsy print shop.

Finally, I have been listening to my Buddha Bar CD’s today, and in Buddha Bar II there is a Rumi poem recited by Deepak Chopra and Demi Moore, set to beautiful, haunting music. If you are interested in the CD, here you go. Here is the text, and may all your days, like this one, be filled with love.

A lover knows only humility,
He has no choice.
He steals into your alley at night,
He has no choice.
He longs to kiss every lock of your hair,
Don’t fret,
He has no choice.
In his frenzied love for you,
He longs to break the chains of his imprisonment,
He has no choice.

A lover asked his beloved,
“Do you love yourself more than you love me?”
And the loved replied:
“I have died to myself and I live for you,
I’ve disappeared from myself and my attributes,
I am present only for you.
I have forgotten all my learnings,
But from knowing you I have become a scholar.
I have lost all my strength,
But from your power I am able.
I love myself,
I love you.
I love you,
I love myself.”

I am your lover,
Come to my side,
I will open the gate to your love.
Come settle with me,
Let us be neighbors in the stars.
You have been hiding so long,
Endlessly drifting in the sea of my love.
Even so, you have always been connected to me.
Concealed, revealed, in the norm, in the un-manifest.
I am life itself.
You have been a prisoner of a little pond,
I am the ocean and it’s turbulent flood.
Come merge with me.
Leave this world behind us.
Be with me,
I will open the gate to your love.

I desire you more than food or drink.
My body, my senses, my mind,
Hunger for your taste.
I can sense your presense in my heart.
Although you belong to all the world,
I wait in silent passion,
For one guesture, one glance.


Rumi’s words are often mysterious, yet often refer to his personal search and passionate, intimate connection with the Divine Presence within.

(via enlightenedbeings.com )

From: Love: The Joy that Wounds. Love poems by Rumi

Jean Claude Carriere

Lassaâd Metoui

Everything – strength, joy and knowledge – comes to us through love.
Love burns and devours, love destroys life and it gives life.
Love is both secretive and revelatory.
This is how it was for Jelalaldin Rumi, the thirteenth-century Persian
poet, grand master of the Sufi tradition and founder of the brotherhood
of Whirling Dervishes.
Born in what is now Afghanistan, then settling in Konya, in Turkey,
shielded from the invading Mongol hordes, he was a venerated teacher,
an unrivalled scholar. People from everywhere came to listen to him.
Then one day he met a wandering dervish, a man who was very
sensitive to the cold, and older than Rumi was. He spoke in riddles,
was insolent and irritable, and his name was Shams al-Din of Tabriz.
Love blossomed between the two men. They stayed together, locked
away, for forty days and forty nights.
When they went their separate ways, Rumi was no longer the
academic whom everyone had known. He danced, laughed, made up
poems. He had been illuminated, as though from within.
In a lightning flash he had become a poet.
And for the rest of his days, he forgot his professorial chair and his
teaching, and, instead, sang of this metamorphosis to the whole world,
with unforgettable elan.
In all he wrote some 50,000 lines of poetry, much of it collected
together in The Book of Shams al-Din of Tabriz and in the Masnari, two
jewels in the world’s history of poetry.
Love is a grace, Rumi tells us over and over. It is a fire, it is
intoxication, an unceasing turning, a breath from heaven. It is a way
for all lost people and a cure for every fever.
And love is limitless, for it excludes nothing and no one. Here, lovers
are not alone in the world.
Quite the opposite. To love someone is to love the whole world.
Jean-Claude Carrière

The following poems were written by Jelaluddin Rumi in the 13th Century A.D.  His words are often mysterious, yet often refer to his personal search and passionate, intimate connection with the Divine Presence within.

The following poems were written by Jelaluddin Rumi in the 13th Century A.D.  His words are often mysterious, yet often refer to his personal search and passionate, intimate connection with the Divine Presence within.


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Turning into pattern/abstract thoughts. Digital collage. Original mixed media on glass. 2008/2010

Art is a wound turned into light.

Georges Braque

(Thank You Lamees)

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Mubkhar (Bokhoor Holder). Bokhoor charcoal on paper. February, 2010.

Bukhoor made from sandalwood. via alharamainperfumes.co.uk

The charcoal is heated on the stove or fire and the bukhoor is placed on top. The resulting scented smoke can be found in Arab airports, home, stores, offices.

I received a container of bokhoor, the rare scented wood whose fragrance is used in Arab tradition to perfume rooms, clothes, and hair.

One evening, while listening to Gipsy Kings, I thought of using the bokhoor charcoal  left in the mubkhar to draw. Actual charcoal is more challenging yet has a smokey, tactile, fragrant quality that I really enjoyed. 

Soy Gitano. Bokhoor Charcoal. February, 2010

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Francoise Gilot (Picasso's Mistress), Self- Portrait. Copy. Ink on Paper. I saw this at the San Diego Museum of Art, and needed to have it.

Françoise Gilot. Self-Portrait. Copy, ink on paper. January, 2010. Françoise was Picasso's long-time mistress, an accomplished artist in her own right. I saw this piece at the San Diego Museum of Art.

The original drawing. I couldn't find it anywhere online, so hope it helps someone. No photos allowed on this one *cough*

Somebody bought me blue roses....Watercolor and Graphite. January, 2010.

Photograph edited in Photoshop. February, 2010.

Coffee Carrier (delle). Graphite on paper. Kuwait. January, 2010.

Miniature Pomegranate. Watercolor on chocolate wrap. Kuwait. January, 2010.

February 1st, Monday. I like it when a new month, sparkling with possibilities, starts on a Monday, a beginning of a new week. This February finds me physically incapacitated ( I have been down with a bad cold since last week)-  but my spirits are up, because of the things I have been reading, the art documentaries I have been watching, the places I have been (a brief jaunt to San Francisco) and the interesting people I met. I have been feeding my mind and doing lots of different things, so today I want to catch up, and share.

What I have been doing: Teaching. This quarter my classes are First Year Design Studio; History of Architecture; Art: Neoclassic to Modern (where my students are researching Women Artists); and Non-Western Traditions (where I can share my travels in Kuwait). Perfect, but insanely busy.

What I have been listening: Gipsy Kings and Sweetheart 2010, a Hearmusic compilation. Great. Now I have to buy the others in the series. Damn you, Hearmusic, why are you so good?

What I have been reading: Design Anarchy (it is a dangerous book, Buy It), Che Guevara- Una Vida Revolucionaria, Feminist Literature, The Guerrilla Girls Bedside Companion to Western Art. My brain is broiling- in a good way.

What I’ve been buying: My only shopping in Kuwait consisted of pens, pens, pens. I received a bounty of gifts, so that anything I could have wanted to buy, was given to me. And for this I will be forever grateful. But my contribution to the Kuwaiti economy can be seen below:

Pens such as these can be found in regular, small office/school supplies stores in Kuwait. In Italy they would be called 'Cartolerie'.

So I gave myself a belated Christmas present by buying a much-needed 1.5 TeraBytes External Memory (It’s a thing of Beauty), and shopped at NaraCamicie, an Italian brand known for the best shirt design in the world. I was so delighted to find it in San Francisco. I visited their Firenze store three years ago, and have been pining for Nara since then. Apparently there are only two U.S stores and when I saw the San Francisco one, I promised myself a visit for a special occasion.

What I have been watching: Art:21, a series of PBS (Public Television) documentaries on contemporary American artists, mostly alternative, independent ones.

What I have been pondering (on Photography):

Joe Nicholson, the First Year coordinator at my school, a veteran academic, who brings a Yale-borne rigour to our class and an incredible dose of warmth, fun and passion for art and architecture (and who I consider my mentor) shared with us this anecdote:

When I was a young man and new to San Diego, I stumbled upon a photographer’s studio. ‘Oh, so you take pictures’ I said to the Photographer. And the Photographer answered: ‘I don’t “take” pictures. I make pictures.’

Joe Nicholson


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Ink on tracing paper. Kuwait, January 2010. The scene at the bottom is what I saw-or decided to see- at The Avenues, the most popular mall in Kuwait City. There is nothing like seeing photography and drawings from a trip abroad to let it sink in that all reality is subjective, and we choose to see what we want to. We just don't realize it in our own backyard.

This was my small parting gift to my art-sister
Ghadah. I went to Kuwait without a proper gift for her, so I thought I would leave her with a low-tech collage, on tracing paper, of my trip. In keeping with the theme of censorship, which fascinated me- and was the basis for a project of a good friend of Ghada’s-I smudged the personal writing. Censorship frustrates me, and in some cases, puzzles me (especially the haphazard application of it); in other it surprises me- when the censor shows some obvious artistic abilities and inclinations- and I wanted to explore this in something I made. Seeing blurred information makes me feel denied.

(Mis)Using the name of a british band, Does It Offend You, Yeah?


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Well, I cannot believe almost three weeks went by since the last post! I returned from my incredible trip on the 7th of the month and school kickedoff at  lightning speed.  I have two more classes I am teaching this quarter, so there’s been quite a bit of readjustment. But I am back- and it feels good-  and I still have two more installments of my Kuwaiti Diaries.

As the days and weeks go by, and as I go through the hundreds of photos I took, the notion that I was actually–ever-too-briefly– in this faraway country of pied beauty, of warm and generous people, and of jarring contrasts between tradition and modernity seems closer and closer to the realm of Illusion.  I left just as I was beginning to understand.

I hope you enjoy what I brought back.


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The local ‘Souq’ is called Mubarakiya, named after Mubarak, a leader who was the sheik (‘shehk’, family ruler) from the Al-Sabah family, which is still the ruling family of modern Kuwait. Kuwait combines ancient tradition with a democratic political system (Parliament), and is a melting pot of past and present, as I was able to see in the Mubarakiya.

Kuwait | The Present and The Present


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All photos taken using Panasonic Lumix Digital Camera with Leica wide lens

Mother of Pearl, translucent

Wispy, cloudlike, ethereal

Ephemeral, iridescent


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Do you remember this, my sketchbook exchange with Jennifer of Habit of Design?

I actually completed my ‘project’ last week, but wanted to wait till Jennifer received my sketchbook by mail so not to spoil the surprise!

The cover, before and after….. (yes I was not authorized to operate on the sketchbook cover…I did it anyway):

A blank sketchbook cover...an invitation to mischief!

Front Cover- inspired by various things among whom (is this how you say it?) Death in Venice

Back cover

And who knows what it might turn thanks to this. (More on Renga)

I know, I am so demanding.

SO my assigment was Typewriters… Yes, these are all my drawings and photos! What do you think?

Typewriters - Page 1

Typewriters - Page 2...and that's why my fountain pen matters.

Typewriters - Page 3

Typewriters - Page 4

Typewriters - Page 5

This was a wonderful experience- to be soon repeated.

Thank you Jennifer for the Brilliant idea!

I have to thank Professor Booker…Back in my Undergraduate days @ NDSU, he introduced us to Renga Arts and the stunning, surreal, Moorish-inspired “Forgetting Room’ by Nick Bantock.

About Renga and Renga art…[and here it’s to future Renga poetry and art collaborations]

Renga Platform Contemporary forms of Renga in the UK
Renga Arts Functional Art.
Renga @ Wordshop.com (love the name! and yes, it does take two to renga)


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Ink and graphite on paper. December 2009.

I stole took this beautiful knitted giftcard holder from Starbucks the other day.

The cards are also art objects in themselves- i love the micro-cards and their micro-holders.

Starbucks Gift Card Holder- Back

Collection of Starbucks Cards


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This book awoke all senses in me. 

Keri smith possesses a truly remarkable voice; she embodies that Fellini quote:


Put yourself into life and never lose your openness,      your childish enthusiasm throughout the journey that is life, and things will come your way.

Federico Fellini

Take a peak of the book here and check out Wish Jar, the blog of Keri Smith.


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Ink on Paper (original). November 2009


Influenced by my new find, Applied Arts – Canada’s Visual Communication Magazine I wanted to try my hand at product placing, color iterations and offsetting, a great Photoshop tool that I am sure all of you in Graphic and Interior Design know and love, but that is seldom used in Architecture applications (we specialize in skies, people and -yawn- cars).

The issue I perused was all about the winners of Canadian print, media and radio ads. This territory is completely new to me, but was fun to explore, in a sort of ‘provocative foreign art gallery’ kind of way. The creativity and innovation out there is astounding.  Some of these advert are pure genius. Go Canada!

So here are some things that definitely piqued my interest:

1. Insane Spots (for you yankees, ads) for Milk:
These are short (sometimes micro), irreverent and bizarre videos on the virtues of milk, each shot with a different animation technique and visual style. You can find them here and here.
Personally, i prefer soy milk, but wanted to share the artistic innovation.

2. Provocative campaigns
     I looove these ads:

Campaign for the new Vancouver Convention Center. Images via http://www.underconsideration.com, and created by ddbcanada.com

I loathe thee, carpet! 

Cigarettes always win, in fact, "cigarettes smoke people". Campaign for the Canadian Cancer Patients Aid Association, created by bleublancrouge.ca

Cigarettes Smoke People II


Amy Winehouse en crochet. Dose. ca campaign by rethinkcommunication, image via their website

Paris Hilton made of chewing gum. Dose. ca campaign by rethinkcommunication, image via their website

Lego Tom. Dose. ca campaign by rethinkcommunication, image via stillad.com

For a great commentary on this campaign, read here

And lastly, this ad which I stumbled upon- a very dear message to me –as a lover of letters, books and all things paper.

Campaign By the Australian Post, by Saatchi Melbourne. Image via pixelpastahome.blogspot.com

It says “If you really want to touch someone, send them a letter.”

I am actually sending a letter to my mamma sunday, with some of my art, since she never saw my blog – and probably never will. She doesn’t have a computer and loathes the internet.  She does however, prefer texts to phone calls.  Please, Santa Web, come to my mother’s house!

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Time is fluid. Somewhen. Photograph. 2009



In My Craft or Sullen Art

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.

Dylan Thomas, 1945

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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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Still thinking of Mara….this could be her ghost.

Incomplete Mara (My Mona Lisa). Photoshop. October 2009.

Incomplete Mara (My Mona Lisa). Photoshop. October 2009.

I have also been pondering the implications of this Fellini quote I found:

A different language is a different vision of life.

Federico Fellini

If so how can we ever bridge the divide?

Perhaps only in music.

Or silence.




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So , I have been busy doing some art here

This the bounty I received by mail this week!

1.  A wonderful watercolor postcard from my blog/artsister Ghadah, especially made for me!

Mara by Ghadah Alkandari

Mara by Ghadah Alkandari

2.  A new sketchbook (and drawing project) from Jennifer at  habitofdesign.blogspot.com.

Jennifer has started a wonderful project called ‘ A Study In…’ This is a sketchbook exchange where two artist pick a topic for each other -to fill few pages of the sketchbook, and send the work back and forth.  Jennifer started with ‘Trees” and below you see what she chose for me (so excited!)

Jennifer's Package for Yours Truly.

A new SKetchbook. Tabula Rasa!

A new Sketchbook. Tabula Rasa!

The Instructions.

The Instructions.

Jennifer chose this topic for me : Typewriters. Guess I am going to research that next...and I DO love them!

Jennifer chose this topic for me : Typewriters. Guess I am going to research that next...and I DO love them!

The beginning of "A Study In..' Project Designed by Jennifer Reece

The beginning of "A Study In..' Project Designed by Jennifer Reece


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Mies Van De Rohe's Barcelona Chairs @ the College of Environmental Design in Berkeley. Oct. 2009

Mies Van De Rohe's Barcelona Chairs @ the College of Environmental Design in Berkeley. Oct. 2009

Reading Lounge at CED Library, Berkeley. Oct. 2009

Reading Lounge at CED Library, Berkeley. Oct. 2009



My absolutely favorite part of Wurster Hall building is the CED library- which is so up to date it has its own facebook and twitter page.
In it, we find large, custom-designed tables with great lighting and comfortable wooden chairs.
Plenty of room to spread out and a wonderful atmosphere for working and studying.
I also love the sitting area with Mies Van De Rohe’s Barcelona chairs, which lends a hint of sophistication to the space and makes it really inviting. You can learn more about chairs’ design here.

A library should feel like a special place, and this one definitely celebrates knowledge and books.

These days, much is said about the future of libraries (and books), in a digital age of downloads and Kindle. Print newspapers are disappearing or undergoing big cuts, and one of my favorite Op Ed contributor at the New York Times covered the issue, saying that desperate times call for desperate measures. Last week the Times also wrote about libraries who are embracing digital lending (albeit on a reservation system).

As an avid book lover and collector, I am intrigued by debate of the future of books (and e-books- does the brain like them?) and ponder about a future in which books will be obsolete or prized collections, such as records are today.

It seems like this topic is covered everyday in one form or another, and now even art has contributed to the  fetishism of the book. Do we celebrate a form of communication right at the moment when that form is losing its relevance? Recently, I have started the whole contents of my library on LibraryThing, and , through this process, I am appreciating my books all over again.
Considering they have made the trip across the pond several times, they are all very expensive books by now, too. A point has to be made that, with the advent of e-books, I would not have to pay hundreds of dollars each time to ship my body of knowledge. I still remember how cumbersome it was to try to bring all my CDs on trip and I am, it’s true, ever-so-thankful for my 120GB Ipod.

Of course book lovers will say that books will never lose its relevance, but when the new generation is getting the book contents via the internet (legally or illegally), and even the University of California Libraries have been collaborating with Google on its mega-scanning project, we need to accept the fait accompli: a paradigm shift is taking place, whether we like it or not. The enviromental cost of printing on paper needs to also be taken in consideration.

The dream is an old one to unify all books ever printed, , in every language, and make that body of knowledge easily accessible. A sort of modern-day version of the Alexandria Library. Sure everyone knows about Google books, but do you know that the Boston Public Library will scan on demand any public domain books you request? And send you a link to download it? That is, I have to admit, incredible.

I will throw my two pennies in the fray: I spend lots of time in front of the screen, and so far, I have found the experience of reading a book (in my case, Death in Venice) online the equivalent of eating junk food. Sure it can fill your stomach, but the quick and easy fix, notwithstanding the empty calories, robs you of the ritual of eating a meal. In Italy there is a movement that is trying to save movie theathers, and it studied the difference between watching a movie in the big screen as opposed to downloading it and watching it on the computer. It surveyed young viewers who were asked to make a drawing after seeing a movie in the movie theather and once again, in the computer screen at home. The difference in the creative output is outstanding. Watching a movie on your laptop does not feel ‘special’ and I do believe some of the magic, the ‘suspension of disbelief’ is lost, when right outside of the borders of your screen you see the laundry that neds to be folded, or dishes needing to be washed. Indeed , once televisions were installed in every home there was also a cry for the ‘death of the movie theather’. As it has been said for drawng, in that case, the advent of tv dinners did not eradicate home cooked meals , just made it more special. Yes, Okay, but if reading abook becomes rarer and rare, how special is it? Could reading in front of a screen kill the magic and wonderment of a story? The e-culture, or i-culture, is exponentially more of vehicle of change than tv ever were for the movie theather. It does more than shift the paradigm: it shatters it.

The digital revolution is here, and like the Nothing in Neverending Story, it will eat the book culture we have now, to substitute it with gadgets increasingly more sophisticated and more ‘realistic’:
[Behold! Perfect imitations of ‘ Real (TM) books’]!
E-book publishers are even claiming that people are reading more now that they have access to electronic book readers.

Soon the books will go the way of music and MP3’s…and when offer is abundant , invariably the value (both economic and of personal attachment) plummets. It is the plastic culture, Andy Warhol would have loved it.

I am sure my dialectic has some holes in it, but I hope you catch my drift.

This is the end of the world as we know it (TM).


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Barcelona Chairs by Mies Van De Rohe, 1929 @ the CED Library in Berkeley

Barcelona Chairs by Mies Van De Rohe, 1929 @ the CED Library in Berkeley

This post started (two weeks ago)  as a celebration of my favorite library, the CED library in Berkeley. I was just going to show you the sketch of Mies’ Barcelona chairs and tell you how much I liked there– and how conducive the environment is to getting things done and eating your frog, and call it a day. I then found a very interesting brief history of the building this Library is housed in, which actually embodies the creation of the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley: it was so fascinating and full of great quotes, I wanted to share with you.

The ongoing debate about the relevance of libraries  and printed matter begged to be included, since this was a post on libraries. As it happened once before, the Times published great material on the topic as I was crafting this post. I hope you ejoy it and will join in the discussion.

During a recent quiet (read: my internet was down) evening I pulled out a paper I brought home with me from Berkeley, a brief history of the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley and the building it is housed in: Wurster Hall. The paper was originally written in 1984 by Sally B. Woodbridge to mark the 20th anniversary of the building, and the following is a summary of its contents (read I am paraphrasing, not all ‘flour from my bag’ as we say in Italy).

As William Wilson Wurster said in 1964:

I wanted [future Wurster Hall] to look like a ruin that no regent would like…It’s absolutely unfinished, uncouth, and brilliantly strong…The Ark  [previous Architecture building], for instance, is a ripe building; it has been lived in; it’s been used; it’s been beaten up…It’s arrived.
Our building will take twenty years to arrive.

Oral History, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library.

Detail of Interior Courtyard Elevation- College of Environments

Detail of Interior Courtyard Elevation- College of Environments

In 1984, the twenty years had passed, and, as Woodbridge says, they had left the building lived in, used, and beaten up.  The crisp mountain of concrete did not age gracefully, mainly because the university judged the building to be maintenance free: weak points such as the caulking were never redone or checked when necessary.
Woodbridge’s paper was reissued in 2009, with a new introduction, this time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the building and the college.  For, in fact, the building embodies the college, and the struggles to find unity in a name ( I had no idea that Environmental Design was a term fraught with so much political meaning) and in differences in design visions.
The issue of the name is important, because the CED was not just another college at U.C Berkeley, it was the world’s first institution dedicated to the study of Environmental Design (Woodbridge, 2).

The new building was going to be housing the City and Regional Planning, the Landscape Architecture, and Architecture Departments. In reading the essay, one realizes the power in a name, for there was a waryness of the other departments of being subordinated to the older and larger field of architecture.

Wurster, the Dean of the School of Architecture from 1950 to 1963 ,started working on the unification of the departments shortly after he assumed his academic duties, and formed a committee which met for four years, but the disapproval of the college names and disagreements over the new college led to a very poliically fraught atmosphere. Wuster disbanded the committee, and when the legislation finally approved the creation of the new building (prophetically without a name) in 1956-7, he assembled a team of unlikely-mind architects to design the new building.

It is very telling that the administration disapproved of choosing three faculty members to design a major building, but Wurster argued successfully that not choosing Architecture faculty would be a vote of disapproval. Wurster abhorred Avant Garde Design, ‘I want you to design a ruin”, he said, pounding the table for emphasis. He was concerned with consistencies of use of forms and materials. Some say he had a Brutalist approach, à la Kahn.  Unfortunately, as Esherick, one of the architects, said, the funds  at their disposal did not allow them to do the fantastically controlled concrete work that Kahn used at the Salk Institute in LaJolla.

Wurster got his wish, no regent liked the building, in fact, one of them remarked: ‘They should have not disguised the building with trees’, referring to the elegant renderings made to ‘sell’ the new design.                                                                                                                   If, as many think, the building did not age gracefully, it was and is certainly appreciated for its capacity to withstand neglect and intense use.  Wurster was of the opinion that a school should be a rough place with many cracks in it. If, as many think, the building did not age well, it was certainly appreciated for its capacity to withstand neglect and intensive use . While it took a beating, it kept the uncouth character that Wurster so admired.  Perpetually unfinished, Wurster Hall was an pen ended and provocative environment for teaching and questioning.

Right up to the exposed ductwork (sounds familiar?)

Rendering of the Interior of Wurster Hall. From CED Library, Berkeley. OCt. 2009

Rendering of the Interior of Wurster Hall. From CED Library, Berkeley. Oct. 2009

As J.B Jackson wrote: Where beauty has to be sought out and extracted from a reluctant environment, the arts often seem to flourish best. wherever it exists in profusion and variety it is likely to be accepted as a condition of daily existence, a kind of birthright calling for no special acknowledgement. American Space 1972

Extracting beauty from the environment is what the College of Environmental Design is all about.

A summary of:   Sally B.  Woodbridge ‘The College of Environmental Design in Wurster Hall: A History”, 1984, 2009

And now, for fun, or as my German teacher used to say, ‘zum spiel’, I would like to talk about that ‘brilliantly strong’ character, and what it reminds me of.

Wurster Hall. Elevation from Courtyard. Oct. 2009.

Wurster Hall. Elevation from Courtyard. Oct. 2009.


Casa Del Fascio by Terragni, Como, 1930.

Casa Del Fascio by Terragni, Como, 1930.


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Photograph- Organic (unretouched), 10.19.09

I 'll Carry You, You'll Carry Me (Orange Frogs). Photograph- Organic (unretouched), 10.19.09

Until One is committed, there is hesitancy.
the chance to draw back
always ineffectiveness.

Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation)
there is one elementary truth
the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and endless plans:


All sort of things occur to help one
that would never otherwise have occurred.

A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents
and meetings and material assistance,
which no man could have dreamed would come his way.

Whatever you can do or dream you can,
begin it.

Boldness has genius,power and magic in it.

Begin it now.


Thank you Barbara , for giving me this quote, so many years ago.


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Card Design 1 of 7- Fall 2009

Card Design 1 of 7- Fall 2009

I am always happy if my internet connection goes down for a bit. It is the time I can then dedicate myself to catching up with my offline (old school) reading. Books, magazines, San Diego weeklies…. things I find in the most disparate places.

I am an unapologetically omnivorous reader and that, combined with a respect for the written word I have inherited from my mother, results in knowing a bit about everything and being at constant risk of  being overwhelmed by paper at all times.

Well, the past few days i have had intermittent connection, and that combined with a very ambitious redesign of my little place and general reorganizing and putting away of things, plus the getting ready for the new school year  means that today I am definitely  stealing time and burning the candle at both ends– and putting up two posts that have been simmering for a week.

Being plugged into art and writing means that sometimes art just must BE, that is, I have been immersing myself in design inspiration (see the augmented blogrolls and site freshening up/networking!!) and seeing the amazing amount of creative output these talented souls put out almost daily inspired me so much to claim the time to post new discoveries, and sketch, and share.

In my dreams I would have time to be like a professional blogger and post everyday or at least every other day, but the reality is that writing needs time, and if I want to be more prolific, I ought to start alternating written pieces with art, and do I have lot ready to share (in my famous digital trunk).  Geez, I don’t want to sound like Julie from Julie and Julia, I am not cooking elaborate french recipes and waking up at five in the morning to post the daily progress . Clearing actual and digital clutter, ‘feng-shui’ing’  life to make ways to creative endeavours is invisible labor, but of immense consequence.

It seems like the work never gets done, and that one could always do more, or  re-do things using a finer comb, or to greater degree of perfection.  See, here is where my mom comes in with her ‘il meglio e’ cattivo del bene’ or ‘better is enemy of good enough’. I tend to perfectionism, and sometimes at results in over-ambitiousness. Hence, the effectiveness blogroll for inspiration!

I am aiming to making this website, my digital live-work loft, more inviting, more connected, like Making it Lovely , and that meant coding and learning a bunch of new stuff- like subscribing to networkedblogs- thanks for ALL the views :)! All of that was worth it (i have been a busy little bee since the last post) because the fans and subscribers and have been growing and I can only hope a year from now to be where my Design Inspiration gurus are.

Thank you for all the support!

Personal success has nothing to do with ordering others, but is a matter of ordering oneself. Nobility has nothing to do with power and rank, but is a matter of self-realization. Attain self-realization and the whole world is found in the self.
Happiness has nothing to do with outward wealth and status, but is a matter of inner harmony.”

Wentzu, Verse 4


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Interior of 'Copley' Symphony Hall, San Diego. Love my new 0.25 pen!

Today the whole school attended Convocation, to kick off the new school year and Fall semester.

The venue was spectacular: Copley Symphony Hall, built in 1929. I took some liberty with the size of the coffers, and the left side was a little too ‘spanish rococo curlicue nonsense’ for my taste.

As the sandiegosymphony.com site explains:

The theather was surrounded by the new redevelopment that took place in the site (the Syphony Towers Office Building, Sheraton Suites Hotel and a parking garage). A very important point: none of those structures is in direct contact with the walls of the theatre, and so no sound or vibration disturbance from any of the surrounding structures will ever interfere with the sound of the music played inside.This is one of the few venues in the world that belongs to the orchestra playing in it. It has proved to be a gem and a pleasure to sit in to hear great music performed superbly.

Symphony Towers was also the first building I worked in when I moved to San Diego seven years ago, and Symphony Hall where I saw Ani di Franco play in 2002 0r 2003.  It was very surreal being there tonight but…

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.


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Sketchbloom has bloomed!

During the past few weeks, I have been working on completing  my portfolio tabs, and I am so happy to announce that now SketchBloom is’open for business’!

I understand now why people refer to ‘building’ a website= lots of work! Feel free to explore.  The portfolio tabs comprise of my work up to Feb.2009- recent work can be viewed through Recent Musings, Categories and the Archive.

Check back weekly here on the blog, bookmark it and sign up for RSS feeds on top of this page:

… so you will know about new postings and news.

[Want to know about RSS feeds? click here ]

There is a lot more in my ‘digital trunk’, and lots of new projects and art waiting to be shared. I am looking forward to this creative journey and to read your comments and feedbacks.

Please pass me along to fellow creatives, and let me know if you would like any info on any of the works shown. I put some of my favorite creative websites in my blogrolls, feel free to add me to your site and let me know of all the amazing art and creativity out there!

The next step for me is to head on over to archistdesign and post/ready my architecture portfolio and post-graduate work. (wish me luck!)

Welcome, welcome, welcome- and thank you so much for visiting.

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The Sun, the Moon, and on there being no abstracts in life. Pencil, ink, watercolor on 4"X5" canvas.2009

The Sun, the Moon, and on there being no abstracts in life. Pencil, ink, watercolor on 4"X5" canvas. 2009

Looking For Your Face

From the beginning of my life
I have been looking for your face
but today I have seen it.

Today I have seen
the charm, the beauty,
the unfathomable grace
of the face
that I was looking for.

Today I have found you
and those that laughed
and scorned me yesterday
are sorry that they were not looking
as I did.

I am bewildered by the magnificence
of your beauty
and wish to see you with a hundred eyes.

My heart has burned with passion
and has searched forever
for this wondrous beauty
that I now behold.

I am ashamed
to call this love human
and afraid of God
to call it divine.

Your fragrant breath
like the morning breeze
has come to the stillness of the garden
You have breathed new life into me
I have become your sunshine
and also your shadow.

My soul is screaming in ecstasy
Every fiber of my being
is in love with you

Your effulgence
has lit a fire in my heart
and you have made radiant
for me
the earth and sky.

My arrow of love
has arrived at the target
I am in the house of mercy
and my heart
is a place of prayer.


from  http://jaibhakti.blogspot.com

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These orchids smelled like bakhoor .
I had to get them down in my sketchbook before they wilted away.

Orchids and the Happy Mistake. Ink and watercolor. Sept. 20, 2009.

Orchids and the Happy Mistake. Ink and watercolor. Sept. 20, 2009.

Caffe’ Strada in Berkeley has- in my humble opinion- the best cappuccino this side of Firenze. The foam (crema, really) is so thick it actually lifts up from the glass Strada baristas serve their famous cappuccino in. On a whim, I strayed from my usual cappuccino habit and ordered their regular coffee. Well, they do not serve drip coffee, so I got an Americano. You might ask what prompted me to ask for drip, or ‘Regular American’ Coffee….well, it is my recent obsession with Twin Peaks and Agent Cooper.
‘That’s a damn good cup of Joe’!

Americano at Caffe' La Strada, Berkeley. Ink and pencil. Sept.20, 2009.

Americano at Caffe' Strada, Berkeley. Ink and pencil. Sept.20, 2009.

Americano at Caffe' La Strada- Berkeley. Pencil, ink and photoshop. Sept. 20, 2009.

Americano at Caffe' Strada- Berkeley. Pencil, ink and photoshop. Sept. 20, 2009.

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The respite from teaching means more time to dedicate to looking around and showing up daily to my sketchbook.  I have been experimenting with watercolor, a medium that I am enjoying more and more since my Rendering and Delineation class, and the coffee paintings. I have been visiting Ghadah’s website daily and leaving what probably are too many comments ;). Seeing her work inspired me to compose art as in a journal, and I did always enjoy words and illustrations.  So here it is, my first in the ‘Berkeley Diaries’ series. I love leaving San Diego and visiting San Francisco when we are in between quarters, and this time of year is perfect for sailing and for long plen air painting sessions.

Her Lady in Red. Ink and Watercolor. Sept.19,2009

Her Lady in Red. Ink and Watercolor. Sept.19,2009

Berkeley Bay. Pencil and watercolor. Sept.19,2009

Berkeley Bay. Pencil and watercolor. Sept.19,2009

Amina's BCBG Shoe. Ink and watercolor. Sept. 19, 2009

Amina's BCBG Shoe. Ink and watercolor. Sept. 19, 2009

Amina reading. Ink on paper. Sept.19,2009

Amina reading. Ink on paper. Sept.19,2009

Amina Reading II. Ink on paper. Sept.19,2009

Amina Reading II. Ink on paper. Sept.19,2009

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Cappuccino a Giubbe Rosse. Piazza Repubblica. Firenze. Photograph. Nokia phone. 2007

Cappuccino a Giubbe Rosse. Piazza Repubblica. Firenze. Photograph. Nokia phone. 2007

When I was six years old I had a journal for notes (‘dediche’) my classmates would write me at the end of the year. It was a sort of summary of the things they liked (or did not) about me. We don’t have yearbooks in Italy (or proms, or school mascots- or cheerleaders). We just study. The seriousness of the Italian school system is reflected in these sober writings, coming from first graders.
Children’s greatest gift is honesty, and my dediche range from innocuous/benign to decidedly prophetic (your rambling result in interesting information sometimes), to right down ambivalent (I like you when you are nice to me. I don’t like you when you don’t share your comic books).
They are a treasure to hold.

Well, on the cover of this little journal there is a quote, a simple quote, I have always loved:

There is a rose in memory’s garden
That grows because of you,
And whenever my heart wanders there
Then that rose blooms anew.

The rose that blooms constantly for me is the memory of my magical year in Firenze.
There is a caffe’ flanking the expanse of Piazza Repubblica– a large square situated on the site of the ancient Roman forum: Giubbe Rosse.
Giubbe Rosse has been called a ‘a forge of dreams and passions’, and is an historical literary cafe’ opened in the 1900’s, with important ties to artistic movements such as the Italian Futurism. The waiters wear red shirts in memory of Garibaldi’s Red Shirt army , a symbol of liberal Italians (this was before red was associated with communism).

Giubbe Rosse was where my classmates and I would congregate, late at night, to take a break from architecture, sip the delicious cappuccino (the best in Florence) and sit outdoors, contemplating the starry florentine sky, the palazzi surrounding the square, the poignancy of time inexhorably ticking by.

I miss squares. I miss the feeling of being enclosed by the city. American cities are made of streets, avenues and boulevards. Not squares. Energy flowing, never resting. Restless? I have longed for the contemplative feeling of a piazza, the restful period at the end of streets like sentences. Perhaps the lack of squares means that american streets are sentences with no periods. Stream of consciousness cities.

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Starshaped. Digital Art- Photoshop(2001). Revisited 08.09

Starshaped. Digital Art- Photoshop(2001). Revisited 08.09

F R A G M E N T S is a series that I am starting to ‘salvage’ pieces of artworks in my digital trunk.

I sometimes find old artwork that, while it may not work perfectly on the whole, still contains interesting textures or details. The image above is part of a larger digital piece I did in college. It is a poem i wrote: #1.  Eventually these  fragments could all be composed in a collage of their own.  Salvaged Art.

I have also been reading and researching  art and design blogs, and learning about writing copy (especially here on copyblogger ).  Copyblogger inspired  me to write in short, incisive sentences ( Hemingway style).   As for the deluge of design and art I indulged in, it Really made me understand what is ‘delicious’ to the eyes!

The amount of incredibly talented folks out there is source of enormous inspiration, and  I have been compelled to start my very own blogroll to pass on the love 🙂  Speaking of inspiration, you probably know that the term “inspired” comes from the latin inspirare, to breathe in or unto.  But , did you also know it  has roots in the Greek word Theopneustos which means “God breathed” (Theos, “God,” pneo, “to breathe”) ?   Both ‘passionate’ and ‘enthusiastic’ have similar soul connections.   All art has spirituality, in one form or another, as its source.♥

Completely unrelated, or maybe not:  I recently found a quote that really resonates with me –from the title of a  current marketing book, of all places:

‘Stop being perfect and start being remarkable’.

How many perfect people do you know that stay unknown?

Then think of the greatest artists, or architects, or even the greatest people you know:

are they perfect,or are they remarkable?

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Queen Califia's Garden, Totem/Sculpture. Ink, color pencils and markers. 2009

Queen Califia's Garden, Totem/Sculpture. Ink, color pencils and markers. 2009

Recently I had the chance to revisit one of my favorite places in Southern California, Queen Califia’s Magical Garden by Niki St. Phalle, which is located in the Kit Carson Park in Escondido.

The sculptures and the garden are breathtaking and the setting -within Escondido’s botanical park- makes finding the garden a bit of a treasure hunt. And what a treasure it is.

Niki St. Phalle’s sculptural garden is one of the few such structures in North America. It is dedicated to Queen Califia, the mythical black warrior queen of an enchanted, bountiful island- inhabited only by women- described by a 16th century Spanish novelist.  It is said that one of the first Spanish explorers to reach California, proclaimed it to be ‘Queen Califia’s land’ (California) due to its bounties and lush vegetation.

Niki, who recently passed away, was a French American artist famous for her Nanas, voluptuous, gigantic female figures reminiscent of earth goddesses. Her application of mortar and tiles in organic mosaic patterns reminds me of Antoni Gaudi, and his benches in Park de Guell.  Few of Niki’s works can be found in San Diego: nanas in Balboa Park and a monumental piece by the Convention Center.  Niki came to La Jolla to recover her health, which was poor due to years of exposition to toxic art materials. Rejuvenated by the balmy ocean breezes, she fell in love with California, her oceans and her deserts. She dedicated Queen Califia’s Garden to California and to children. The garden is a place where the public is encouraged to interact with the art, and the inspiration -and craftmanship- are incredible.  Niki did not live to see the Garden completed.

During this visit I was able to do a rendering of one of the sculptures, part of a series of marker and pencils exploration.  I would like to eventually draw each ‘totem’ and put them together in a poster, postcard, or stationery set:)

Below are some photographs – part of a shoot from a previous visit. The ones in the gallery can be clicked and enlarged. You will see that some of these photos are by Amina Alkandari…Thanks go to her for letting me borrow some of her beautiful work.

Queen Califia. Detail. Photograph. August 2009.

Queen Califia. Detail. Photograph. August 2009.


Queen Califia. Detail. Photograph. August 2009.

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Terragni, Casa Del Fascio, Como, 1932

As part of the exploration in coloring with coffee, I wanted to experiment with overlaying digital sepia tones to previously drawn sketches.  The building above is Terragni’s Casa Del Fascio. Terragni is often overlooked as one of the pre-eminent modern architects in Italy, mainly because it has been hard to separate his architecture from the political regime of the time. Taken on its own, though, this building is single-handedly one of the most fascinating works of architecture in Italy –and the most illuminating example of Italian Rationalist architecture– due to its play of extruded volumes, transparencies and honest use of materials.

In 2003 none other than Peter Eisenman published an opus forty years in the making, Giuseppe Terragni: Transformations, Decompositions, Critiques, a thorough analysis of this and another work by Terragni, Villa Frigerio. Thanks go to Raul Diaz, AIA, for telling me about this book.  Surprisingly (or should I say, not surprisingly, the author being the controversial Eisenman), the book garnered very mixed reviews by readers on Amazon.  Nonetheless, the fact that Eisenman spent forty years focusing on the Casa Del Fascio speaks volumes (pardon the pun) on the work, mind and intellectual acuity of this Italian Rationalist.

I had the fortune to visit this building in the Spring of 2007, on the same day that I saw the Mausoleum of  Antonio Sant’Elia (Architect of the Italian Futurist group).  The sketch below is an example of what happens when graphite drawings are scanned: the original had much more contrast and much of it-along with the ‘life’ of the drawing- was lost in the digital translation.

I therefore bumped up the contrast in Photoshop and played with sepia tones and shadows. A great way to make a sketch presentation-ready. Another way to gain some layering would be to layer via-cut the body of the building, and subtract the volumes on the upper floors (the indoor-outdoor spaces).  By playing with the blending options of this new layer, new shadows could be cast, which would give a three-dimensionality to the sketch.

Casa Del Fascio, scan of original sketch (notice loss of contrast), Como, 2007

Casa Del Fascio, scan of original sketch (notice loss of contrast), Como, 2007

Casa Del Fascio, contrast corrected thru Photoshop, Como, 2007

Casa Del Fascio, contrast corrected thru Photoshop, Como, 2007

Casa Del Fascio, Sepia color with Photoshop, Como, 2007

Casa Del Fascio, Sepia color with Photoshop, Como, 2007

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Original Sketch, Candelas Restaurant, Pilot Pen on Paper

Original Sketch, Candelas Restaurant, Pilot Pen on Paper

I have been experimenting with sepia tones done using espresso and with watercolors.

I am teaching a Rendering and Delineation class and the work done as demonstration for the students was great inspiration to continue sketching and using different ways to color the initial drawing. I suggested to my students a technique that I found of great help: instead of applying color directly to the original drawing, make multiple copies and experiment with different media. This is especially useful if the original drawing is done in graphite, or if one wants to keep the original version.

The experiment with Espresso was most revealing: by using regular American coffee I was only able to get couple of values/hues, but when I used an Italian Espresso-expertly made by Adam, our new coffee-cart owner here at the school (who was taught how by a professional Italian Barista :))- I was able to obtain a full scale of values, and even use the grounds for textures.

Watercolors are a fantastic rendering tools, for they can easily be augmented by pastels or pencils for more texture. I like to keep three or four fine watercolor brushes in different sizes in the sketching satchel I carry with me. I told my students to think of these different sizes as different lineweights for technical pens.

Candelas Restaurant- Rendering done using Espresso

Candelas Restaurant- Rendering done using Espresso

Candelas Restaurant- Watercolor

Candelas Restaurant- Watercolor

The sketches/drawings above were done during a tour of Downtown San Diego.  I found out that, even using plain copier paper the results obtained are fairly good, and, what was even more exciting, once I made color copies of my renderings, the results looked really polished and professional. Nevertheless, I am posting here the originals rendering to show the process. I actually like the rough quality of the results, but I cannot help but wonder what kind of fantastic effects one could obtain by manipulating these images in Photoshop and turning them into photocollages. I found out that the most successful photocollages are those done starting with solid, traditional work, whether in original, scanned or photocopied form.  Ah! The possibilities!

We also went to visit the brand new San Elijo Nature Center, and I will post the sketches from that site visit, where I experimented with a series of ‘watercolorable’ Graphitint pencils, which come in natural, landscape colors.

Next I want to further explore markers and pencils, and again use the Color Drawing book by Doyle as a guide. Rendering is a combination of Art and Architecture and I have to thank my former Professor Milt Yergens for supplying very inspiring watercolor renderings from his travels sketchbook. When using watercolor to give life to loose architectural sketches and drawings, the most important thing is not to be afraid of making mistakes and remebering to keep the brush ‘loose’.  After all, in these preliminary experiments with watercolor, the object is not sheer perfection, but playing with ‘splashes’ of color and learning about different effects and applications.

Faber Castell markers Faber Castell - Different lineweights

Other tools I really love is the Faber Castell artist pens: I have the sepia and landscape series. These markers come in Small, Medium, and Bold size.  The Bold size is shaped like a brush and is Great for quick, Venturi-like sketches, forcing one to get down the proportions quickly. I remember all those 10 seconds quick sketches in Drawing classes, and it is all about training the hand to get down on paper the greatest amount of information in the shortest time. Wonderful training for traveling artists, fans of the Moleskine.Speaking of Moleskines, I made great discoveries online about the beloved notebook, and will post my findings.

Robert Venturi. San Giorgio Maggiore

Robert Venturi. San Giorgio Maggiore

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Concept for jewelry piece 'twomoons'
Concept for jewelry piece ‘twomoons’
I designed this piece in the summer of 2008.
Here is the concept on a Post-It (where else?).
I then took it to a friend of mine in Calabria who has a jewelry shop and, from this design,her and the metalsmith first made a wax model then used  brushed silver to obtain the finished piece.
It was presented to me with typical Italian flair and attention to details.
I was ecstatic when I saw the result. The first thing that I designed in its entirety and that got ‘built’ 🙂
Twomoons Wax Proof-modeled after concept sketch

Twomoons Wax Proof- modeled after concept sketch

Final Twomoons Piece, Summer 2008

Final Twomoons Piece, Summer 2008

Here is how the jeweler presented me my 'project'. Italian taste!

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Capitalist Collage, Digital Media. July 26, 2009

Capitalist Collage, Digital Media. July 26, 2009

UPDATE: Great timing. NYT just published an article on Polyvore 11 hours ago! The site will now get a lot of attention. You know you heard about it first here;)

This collage was created with Polyvore, an online tool which allows users to compose collections using everyday objects of consumptions.   More than a game, some of the works result in interesting examples of digital collaging techniques, composition, and graphic design.  In some instances, interior architectural illustrations have been created.

I experimented with the application and, although this collage exceeded the 50 objects limit- and thus could not be published, I was allowed to complete my work. By using ‘printscreen’ I was able to have a copy. The idea of using objects as paint came to me after seeing the way objects are categorized not only by type (bags, dresses, etc.) but also by color- and there are about 70 colors available. Here is a snapshot of the color ‘fuchsia’:

Polyvore  - Dashboard

Polyvore - Dashboard

The software/application is designed to allow users (usually females) to create ‘spreads’ of objects such as those seen in popular fashion magazines, reflecting one’s taste and ‘style’.  The application is built well and is fairly user-friendly:  it  has definite potential for artistic expression and original creations. The text tool is also really versatile and yields results which are, at times, beautiful.  A cross between a simplified version of Photoshop and the customization tools of Myspace, Polyvore ‘sets’-as they are called- trigger questions on whether some of the resulting work could be rightfully called ‘art’ (what is the difference between using this tool and cutting  images from magazines by hand and collaging them)? An artist I read about years ago became famous for creating micro-worlds and  fully furnished ‘homes’ by painstakingly cutting and collaging from glossy magazines and newspapers. Could Polyvore be a way to do the same, but digitally? And, as in everything, is the creativity lying with the user or with the creator of the proprietary software? We have had the same conversation for years, among architecture professors, on the differences between drawing by hand and drawing on the computer. Michael Webb (thank you to my colleague Gregory De Peña for passing this on) writes:

A case can be made that a drawing produced by a computer,or rather, by fingers that are instructing a computer to produce a drawing, is part of a joint effort…that is, the skills of the person, to whom the fingers are attached, are combined with the truly remarkable skills of those original designers of the program being employed.

Thinly disguised is the fact that Polyvore  is nothing but a cunning media for advertisement. By browsing through the shopping categories, users are exposed to the price and website where each object showcased is available for purchase. Few click of the mouse and a credit card, and the object is acquired.
I was very interested in studying this game/art tool and its agenda.

In the best of scenarios, Polyvore offers a creative outlet for women- a digital take on the classic ‘paper doll’ game.
In the worst, it is part of the advertising machine. It is up to us to decide.

Here is an example of some of the site most creative work, also here. Naturally, I find myself drawn to collages about environments, shadow boxes and painting-like works. The environments speak of space, and offer a novel way of thinking about architectural renderings or photocollages normally composed in Photoshop. Design and fun.

I have not spent too much time analyzing the demographic, but it seem a truly fascinating social trend, specifically where the tool has been used for political reasons (Iran collections), or as sort of illustrated letters, manifestoes and visual status updates. Collections are also made as gifts.
On a side note, I do believe that the tool is not more popular- despite its originality and versatility- due to its name, which I find unfortunate and ominously medical-sounding. Polydent anyone?

Incidentally, as I was composing the collage, Giuseppe Arcimboldi came to mind.
He was a fellow milanese.

As Shelley Esaak notes in arthistory.about.com:
‘Submitted for your consideration: Cubism, 350 years ahead of the official movement’…by an Italian:

(for more click here)

Giuseppe Arcimboldo- The Librarian (Wolfgang Lazius)

Giuseppe Arcimboldo- The Librarian (Wolfgang Lazius)

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Appreciate the beauty

of stacks of firewood.

Or the sounds of tall, tall trees

Their leaves glistening like tambourines,

coins on a woman’s collarbone.

Say silent thank-you’s for the clouds

The majesty of their shadows

-on canyons and Badlands-

some people never fly above them.

The air fresh like a new day,

carrying the faint smell of beets-

earthen work done by honest men.

Travel to see yourself from far away.

Fargo, July 20, 2009

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Starry Sky Mosaic- Queen Califia's Garden, by St. Phalle, Escondido, CA

Starry Sky Mosaic- Queen Califia's Garden, by Niki de Saint Phalle, Escondido, CA

Your sounds
Your presence
A starry-skied cathedral
You do not inhabit a space.
You illuminate it.

Miti Aiello

San Francisco,           
June 25, 2009

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It all started with a visit to the Desert Garden at the Huntington Library.

Cactii @ Huntington Gardens. Photography/digital color manipulation. 2009

Cactii @ Huntington Gardens. Photography/digital color manipulation. 2009

As I was shooting the cacti, these fragile, blue-green plants, the image of a community came to mind, a community that had the desert garden for habitat, where nature functioned thanks to symbiosis. I thought about overlaying the images of the community of cacti –made to resemble continents- on a world map.

Detail World|Mug Project, Digital Manipulation/Photograph. 2009

Detail World|Mug Project, Digital Manipulation/Photograph. 2009

World Map. Courtesy of Google Image search.

World Map. Courtesy of Google Image search.

Final Artwork for World|Mug project. Digital Collage. 2009

Final Artwork for World|Mug project. Digital Collage. 2009

This became an idea for a customizable mug and pen (image was used in a 3D program to better visualize the result)

3D Model of artwork on mug. (done with 3D Viz/3D Max) 2009

3D Model of artwork on mug. (done with 3D Viz/3D Max) 2009

Final design in customizable mug and pen.

Final design in customizable mug and pen. 2009

Shortly after, I was made aware of a competition for a commencement poster design, which needed to express the ideas of sustainability.
Well, I believe there are no coincidences!
The cacti/world project was used in the brainstorming phase and design of the commencement  program cover.

This was the final design which won the the Honorable Mention- the letters say ‘water the plants’, and are both a chart and a cityscape:2009_commencement2

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Original Munny -image courtesy of forbiddenplanet.com

Original Munny -image courtesy of forbiddenplanet.com

This was a fun art ‘project’ I did in the Fall.
It reminded me that art should be, above all, fun.
It should never feel like a chore or like “work”. Making a Munny is pure fun, and could be a warm-up for more serious endeavors.

Sometimes, as adults and as artists, it is a great thing to re-learn how to play, to create while being completely unattached to the outcome,
to forget ‘good’ and ‘bad’, and remember that ‘good’ is when we enjoy ourselves.

The results of creating without judgement may please you or amuse you, maybe even delight you.

I bought my Munny at Urban Outfitters, for about ten dollars, and used pencils, pastels and markers.

Munny- Before and After

Munkin (Munny project), Digital Background. 2009

Munkin (Munny project), Digital Background. 2009


Munkin at home
Munkin at home

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image courtesy of photobucket.com

image courtesy of photobucket.com

To the Moon

Moon you are sand.

Moon you are the sweet sultry night breeze that cools skin,

Dances with the crinoline curtains on my roof,

Where I sit and think,

Sending sweet-flavored spirals in the air–towards You.

The City skyline falls,

Someone is playing the oud near.

The cafes fill with light and music

…and fragrant coils,

become an oil painting.

Although I sit here

Among damask pillows

Waiting for your rising


You are Always.


san diego|nov.20,2007

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No Thanks - Fall 2007

My portfolio albums:  please click on the tabs on top of the page for my in-progress portfolio of work.


Painting and Collages


Check back often as I am digitizing all my work:)

…this is a Long awaited moment.
I wanted to have my small corner of the online galaxy since 2002, and I feel I am finally getting there. There is a pain in opening up and letting go, but the inevitability brings joy and the freedom to stand up to who you are, to who you are meant to be. I always saw myself as an Artist, in a sense or another and those who know me know I love many things.
I do not have a unified style, or method, or technique etc.

I am just very curious, and can be pensive and observing.
I am also sure I can be blind to details, or stubborn… but there are moments when I see my work and I know I want to capture these moments of light, of life….forever.
I know that I want to write poems, or thoughts, or musings all my life- and be surrounded by friends who can encourage and guide.

Ever since I went to the Huntington Gardens a part of me has awaken, a part which was denied for so long.
I am SO thankful for the having the opportunity to teach Art (History), to a group of upstanding, caring gentlemen (yes -they are all guys) architects who have motivated me and awed me with their insight. thankyou for the kindness and the patience.

Also I want to mention my heroine as of lately: Artemisia Gentileschi. Listening to her story and the sacrifices she was willing to make in order to follow her calling inspires and motivates me. She is a muse and an angel.

I know I may never be able to be an artist full time, because I love architecture, and I love teaching, and I have perhaps interests too diverse to be packaged in a neat little “promo”, but I want to continue to explore and share. thankyou for being out there in the ether. The portfolios are for all the work up to now- new work will be published as new post.

I would LOVE to hear your comments.

PS I am ‘keeping away’ my architecture projects/portfolio…all that is for a separate, more structured website I am working on.

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You can find my little book

Let me know if you want a copy.

Once I have enough funds, I will start distributing it in local coffee houses.

Love and Light

sleep on my heart - cover

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charcoal on canson paper

charcoal on canson paper

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Photograph Feb. 09

Photograph Feb. 09

This is an example of extemporaneous art.

Art happens all the time, on the edge of our consciousness.

The difference between the artist and the art-aware, is that the artist captures the object of wander and preserves it for future use.  We do not/ cannot let go of  a moment in which Art manifests herself.  We need to posess it, not only experience it.  We are collectors, time keepers.  We are greedy.

This play of light happened as I hung my father’s japanese robe on a window.
I appropriated this robe few years ago, as it was stored inside my parents’ armoire and had never been used since my father received it as a gift, sometimes in the 70′ s or 80’s.
The light streaming through the silk yarns made it alive. Red light bathed the room.  What was captured with the camera is, at best, an approximation, as are all emotions “collected in tranquillity” (Wordsworth).
The robe- and the air in the room- was on fire.

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Pavillion @ Chinese Garden, Huntingto Library and Gardens


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Sketchbloom is a place for poetry and art.

Art can take many forms, but I believe the common denominator of all those human endeavors we  define as art is its ability to enlighten our soul and define another face of Beauty.

Creativity happens when heart, mind and soul are working in unison and- and I believe this is important- mindfulness is practiced.

Mindfulness is simply being in the moment- with your whole being.

It means being focused on the present (here and now), sometimes, even laser-like focused.

I wanted to create this “place” to share my poetry and art with kindred spirits, to show work in progress and as a way to inspire me to always keep on creating.

Today was the day where it became harder to be “tight in a bud than blossom”, to paraphrase Anais Nin.

It is so difficult for artistic minds to focus on one thing only, for our greatest gift is to see the world holistically.

We also tend to love so many things, but experience has taught me to “do one thing (at a time). do it well”.

This requires discipline and , most of all, knowing ourselves and what works for us to realize our vision.

My passion is art-making, photography, and writing, sometimes poetry–sometimes just my thoughts. I am in love with music, all kinds, for music is portable art!

I believe one of my callings is to share knowledge, so this is also a place for books and learning, of all sorts.

I am passionate about books and especially, about books that can inspire artists to create.

One of these books is, of course “The Artist’s Way”, but I found helpful also “” Eat Your Frog”–which is a book about procrastination.

I am sometimes guilty of the latter, as are the most talented, brilliant people I know. It could be read as perfectionism.

One of the tips that really helps me is to set aside a large chunk of time to one project and trying to keep my borderline-ADD (which comes from being an artist;)) under control.

Removing ourselves from usual settings also works.

We all work in progress, as I see it. There will be times of brilliance and there will be times of falling.

To me, this”place” ( i like the world “place”, better than “blog”) is also a way to keep myself accountable, to “keep showing up” to my Art.

I wrote a book of Poetry and Art in 2007 and meant to publish it in 2008. It did not happen. But It does exist online, and I will share it here.

I also have a book to write (on my long “to-do” list) and memories will start fading if I do not tackle this soon.

I used to think that Art happened only when I painted or sketched, but lately I appreciate the time for photography , which an art that can happen everywhere, and digital art.

I work on the computer a lot, and it seems only natural.

It does not matter what the product ends up being, as long as we keep the creative part of us alive and protect the time for soul-inspiring work from the endless day-to-day errands.

It is a precious gift and requires dedication, even stubborness. Your errands will expand accordingly to the time available, so make time for art.

Of course I am telling this more to myself than anyone who might be reading.

Thank you so much for coming to my “place”.

There are lots of good things to share.


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