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Digital experiment using layers from the Tayasui Sketching app + Procreate app on IPhone 7. Excerpt from the novel Chokher Bali by Rabindranath Tagore. November 15, 2016.




For lifelong companionship, it’s not necessary to live together.

We have gone as far as we had to go.

From here, our paths diverge.

It’s better for both of us.

I will atone for my mistakes by serving other people. If you settle down, I swear, I will be really happy.

Now I have no grievances in this life. Life has done us a big favor by bringing us together again. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to resolve our grievances.

I was at fault, but you didn’t let your love for me wane.

Your Binod will learn to live with the help of this thought.

Before leaving, all I will ask is that…

..in our next birth, you should only belong to me.

Don’t belong to anybody else.


From the last letter of Binodini to her beloved Behari. 

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Digital painting made on ProCreate app for IPhone. November 11, 2016.



Dark days here in California.
Days of mourning, but also poetry, catharsis, resolve for Resistance.

The Sun broke through the clouds today.

Words, thoughts, and memories flowed and something beautiful is emerging from the summer blush, the gentle nights, the dawns of Bahia de Los Angeles down in the peninsula.

The blood and ink spilled on the battlegrounds of a war lost before it began.

Red like the heart, yellow like the fire, orange as the light.

Some days all of this will make sense. The humbleness of things not going your way, not going as predicted.

For now huddle with your familiars, write manifestos, memorize lines of poetry

To leave as flowers as you bid your adieu.

In the end nothing mattered, not eloquence, preparedness, not even expertise.

It boiled down, as it always boils

down

to

emotion.

In love, in war, in politics.

These scars will become constellations.





I recently switched to an IPhone.

I was  always an Android/PC person, but did it all for the camera (and the IPhone 7 larger screen, which brings it closer to a tablet). Today after some research I downloaded ProCreate, a painting and layering app and Tayasui Sketching, a drawing and watercolor app. I’m looking forward to exploring them with my Sensu brush. The layers aspect of ProCreate pushes this app beyond what I was used to with Paint Commander, my Android painting app. If I don’t sound as my usually excited self is because I’m still numb.

The spontaneous construct above was an experiment with ProCreate inspired by Rothko, some photographs I took in September in Baja California, the recent elections and the high-strung feeling running through social media- especially related to some alarming episodes of intolerance already happening.
I guess things have to fall apart before they are made anew, and I guess the heart has to break in a myriad of pieces to become a mosaic, a kaleidoscope. This was the autumn of earthquake faults and fractures, of buildings and people.

There is a Japanese custom of repairing broken antique vases with gold, making the wound not only visible, but the whole more precious for having being shattered.


I was dead then alive. Weeping then laughing. The power of love came into me and I became fierce like a lion then … then tender like the evening star.


~ Rumi 

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Cafe'-inspired ink drawing and collage. San Diego, June 2016

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Café Lulu, Sun and Moon. San Diego, Gaslamp Quarter, June 2016.

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The Reader. Café Bassam. San Diego, June 2016.

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Rosa de Tijuana 1/15 . June 2016.



A Mi Tijuana

Milton Ríos

Spanish | English


La olvidada, la 100 por ciento criticada!..

A la que puedes dar mil opiniones sobre ella

La única que es coherente con su equilibrio

Entre las cosas buenas y malas!

La ciudad malvada… la maravillada,

La llena de narcos!

Artistas, multicolores y muchos tantos…

Esta ciudad… ciudad de paso

Y paso a ser mía,

Mi ciudad! Mi metrópoli confundida

Ayer la mas violenta

Hoy el ejemplo de paz!

Pero solo en mi Tijuana se puede vivir esto!

Balazos, teatro… buena música, cineastas en acción

El party el revolución! La que ya no es nada

Por que nació la calle 6ta.

Donde se junta lo subterráneo,

Las culturas urbanas, donde no ahí negros ni blancos!

Ni mexicanos ni gringos…

lo que importa es la noche bohemia,

algo de baile y alcohol

que viva la diversión…

la ciudad de segunda!

De segundas oportunidades

Donde caen los deportados

Donde comen y duermen los emigrados,

Donde se respira libertad

Donde ahí policías buenos y malos!

Y aquí te preguntas? Para que ir al otro lado…

Si acaso nomas de compras,

 a conocer lo bien planeado.

Pero para dormir a gusto! Para respirar a diario…

Con la adrenalina constante,

De Tijuana ahí que ser amante.

Y así a donde vallas al decir soy de Tijuana

Obtendrás ese silencio! Que es un silencio ganado

De respeto por que para criticar Tijuana

Solo  nosotros los que la vivimos

Los que la hemos hecho nuestra

Y ser tijuanense, claro que satisface

Pero también pesa y cuesta!…




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Sunset and stars, for Martha. Acrylic paint and Encaustics. San Diego, 2003.

 

I finished this painting with encaustics (wax dripping) in 2003, for Martha, my oldest and dearest friend in San Diego.

This is how the painting looked for years:
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I was dissatisfied with it.
It just seemed an ‘experiment’ with golden acrylics, was too heavy on the left side and just, in general, looked like a 90’s Dave Matthews Band CD cover gone wrong.

While there were some reedeming moments ( the night sky/ starry side had a loveliness to it) the demarcation line was too abrupt and the piece as a whole did not make sense
.
So, I took it back sometimes in 2010 to ‘work on it’. Poor Marthita..who does that? Thank you, ever-patient friend.

This untitled ‘thing’ sat on an empty wine rack in my kitchen for years, becoming mine again, in a way, a de facto piece of furniture.
I was at a loss…I knew I had to give it back at some point, yet had no idea how to fix this obvious statement on dichotomy that just looked wrong.

Enter Beverly. One night, a couple months ago, my very eclectic, ageless, artist neighbor Bev was talking to Mingus, her black cat ( I am pretty sure it’s a familiar 😉 ) on the walkway we shared.
It was one of those rare days my place was guest-ready, so I invited her in for a glass. She was interested in the painting on the easel, still turned the ‘wrong’ way. I shared my conundrum with her. She just walked up to it and said ‘What if you turn it this way?.
Now, “thing” was a fiery California sunset. She found the sea in the paint, and it took 12 years.

Something like this gives me faith that everything comes into its own in time.
That timing is always right.
That years are necessary.
That the right person comes in and points to you what has being staring you in the face, what you could not see.
Thank you, Bev.

….
Below, a flipped, filtered version I think
it really is what this painting wants to be, in its dreams.

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We’re Always Under Stars

 

You took me star-gazing
the first night
I was looking for Orion.

(when i went home
I found him,
hung low over my window
at 5 am.
I could never sleep
after you.)

You shared the impossible poetry of Hikmet, which nobody in their right mind should reveal to someone they just met.

On the second day
you came with your convertible,
the passenger side devastated
by an accident.
I had to get in from your side,
for a month.
Climbing in, crossing over,
my body awkwardly tilted while trying to maintain grace in my version of
a courtship.
I did not mind, not one time – though I always forgot.

I should have, maybe, read the sign.
Instead, I thought it was endearing
it meant you had your wounds, too.
I did not feel so bad about my messy house, my scars.

We drove to the beach,
California style.
It was a semi-deserted nudist beach, and we had to hike a steep cliff
to get there.
There was always a sense of the
unexpected
with you.

We talked while girls with bouncing boobs
and men with various appendages
were too away for us to really see
–I was, at once, at ease with and acutely aware of the french strangeness of the situation–
another would have thought about
how progressive it all was.
Unaware until later that that was a choice, I kept my top on.
In hindsight, perhaps,
you were testing my boundaries.

When you touched me,
you touched me
the sun kissed me
another star, on our second date.
We dipped in Mediterranean warmth.

I looked at you
like Sicily looks at Calabria
over the Strait.

I thought this time things would be
different, because we shared the same language.
I forgot stars rise and set at night, too.
And we are always under them.

 

San Diego, November 2015

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Balanced Recklessness. Milano, December 2014.

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San Diego, April 20, 2014

Open the windows of your soul,
And let the light in,
As a house shuttered for months
Receives the Sun.

San Diego, Easter Sunday 2014

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Thom, one of my past students, showed me his project during our school’s Finals’ Exhibit –where the best projects from each year were showcased.
He had found a silhouette that happened to look like me and placed it in his final rendering. 🙂

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Collage. Graphite, Ink, found printed material. December 2013

Collage + Digital manipulation. Graphite, Ink, found printed material. December 2013


These are visual notes of a different kind.

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Steel. Digital manipulation, text brush. December 2013.


Movement Song

By Audre Lorde


I have studied the tight curls on the back of your neck
moving away from me
beyond anger or failure
your face in the evening schools of longing
through mornings of wish and ripen
we were always saying goodbye
in the blood in the bone over coffee
before dashing for elevators going
in opposite directions
without goodbyes.

Do not remember me as a bridge nor a roof
as the maker of legends
nor as a trap
door to that world
where black and white clericals
hang on the edge of beauty in five oclock elevators
twitching their shoulders to avoid other flesh
and now
there is someone to speak for them
moving away from me into tomorrows
morning of wish and ripen
your goodbye is a promise of lightning
in the last angels hand
unwelcome and warning
the sands have run out against us
we were rewarded by journeys
away from each other
into desire
into mornings alone
where excuse and endurance mingle
conceiving decision.
Do not remember me
as disaster
nor as the keeper of secrets
I am a fellow rider in the cattle cars
watching
you move slowly out of my bed
saying we cannot waste time
only ourselves.




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Digital manipulation. Paint application on Android. November 2013.

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Digital manipulation. Paint application on Android. November 2013.

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Builtculture logo. Digital Manipulation. October 2013.

Happy November!

If you have been wondering what I have been up to, I have been here.
Builtculture is a project I have started last year with a graduate student, Samar Sepehri. It is finally taking off.
(If you are so inclined, and feel like Liking our page, please do so!).
I designed our logo, starting from an image of bukhoor, and overlaying over an image of San Diego.
The creative juice have been applied to community outreach, still I was happy to be making something art-like.

Related to this, I have been working on bringing speakers and workshops in the field of community and activist design, such as this:


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Also related to this, I went over the border, to Tjiuana to work on an international project, make connections and do a bit of wine tasting and cultural sightseeing.

I also went to Deer Park Monastery for a Day of Mindfulness.

Photos coming soon.

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The Schism Series

The Schism Series I- Digital Manipulation. October 6, 2013.

The Schism Series II- Digital Manipulation. October 6, 2013.

The Schism Series II- Digital Manipulation. October 6, 2013.

The Schism Series III- Digital Manipulation. October 6, 2013.

The Schism Series III- Digital Manipulation. October 6, 2013.

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Photograph, digital manipulation. Calabria, Italia. August 2013.

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Ink on Hand Book paper and digital manipulation. Berkeley, California, 2010.



Sometimes it takes finding a portrait you do not remember drawing….a sketch you do not immediately recognize as your own- yet find intriguing and technically correct, to remind you you are an artist, you can do these things.
You, in fact, do these things- it is your work, a beloved toil- your ink on paper is like rubber on the road for others.
Days with no art are never complete, nor true – or honest, as Papa Hemingway would say.

I can’t help but thinking one should not need such reminders….

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What happens in dreams. Digital manipulation. August 2013.

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What happens in dreams II. Digital manipulation. August 2013.

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You have to keep breaking your heart
until it opens.
Rumi

Without the use of a camera Portland-based artist Jim Kazanjian sifts through a library of some 25,000 images from which he carefully selects the perfect elements to digitally assemble mysterious buildings born from the mind of an architect gone mad. While the architectural and organic pieces seem wildly random and out of place, Kazanjian brings just enough cohesion to each structure to suggest a fictional purpose or story that begs to be told.
Reblogged from here.

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The set above was designed by Jenna Ann Mac Gillis for the performance
‘The Desperate Characters of Mercer County’
which took place at San Diego Space for Art on November 10, 2012. Read all the lurid details of this Americana story here.

Like a Gillian Welch Song

I can feel poetry
rise out of silence
like an undeniable tide,
a Polaroid floats to the surface.

The words appear
Oh honey, just take out your lighter,
they are written in lemon juice

Loving you was like
carrying a cardboard suitcase
in the rain

In the absence of

I collect mugs by my bedside
Ride in empty buses
-straw bale leggings-
and always get to the theather
after the movie ended

I walk among the Saturday night revelers huddled around a screen
-the miniskirts march in lockstep

It’s date night in San Diego
a cold one too
knights in shirt sleeves have donated their coats
and presents are opened inside cars.

I steal glances and compose poems
that don’t help anyone tonight.
The lines start to sound
like a Gillian Welch song.
If you have a mind like a diamond,
expect it to cut.

I was in love with the dream of you
And now I am shackled to a ghost.

Some kinds of pain never die;
they can only ease a little,
and not every day
.



San Diego, November 2012

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In the winter, Venice is like an abandoned theatre. The play is finished, but the echoes remain.

Arbit Blatas

To build a city where it is impossible to build a city is madness in itself, but to build there one of the most elegant and grandest of cities is the madness of genius.

Alexander Herzen

There is something so different in Venice from any other place in the world, that you leave at once all accustomed habits and everyday sights to enter an enchanted garden.

Mary Shelley

It is the city of mirrors, the city of mirages, at once solid and liquid, at once air and stone.

Erica Jong

I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs;
A palace and a prison on each hand.

Lord Byron

A train-ride takes you from Milano to Venice..whose real name is Venezia, the Most Serene city and splendid, golden Republic. On the train you think about Byron, his letters written on trains, his Venetian Countess.

Through frozen fields and dormant earth, through fog and long-gone rice paddies , you deboard to the Sublime.

At dusk the lights from bars and cafes shimmer on the dark waters, and you start thinking in cliches, such as temporarily inhabiting an Impressionist painting.

Yet the feeling is fresh and true: each visit to this surrealists’ dream had its poignant moment of suspension of disbelief.

Each time the city grabs you and takes you away with her.

Here’s a taste of today’s acts of flanerie in La Serenissima.

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Ink drawing, Watercolor. 16 November 2011.

Ink drawing, Watercolor + Digital Manipulation. 16 November 2011.

I was recently reunited with luggage lost 45 days ago.

Three items were missing: a bottle of Cinema Eau De Parfum by Yves Saint Laurent, a beloved collaged orange umbrella bought in Barcelona and a pair of Sketchers shoes. Go figure.

Immediately i set out to substitute my lost umbrella. As said in one Law and Order episode (I paraphrase): “Hardheaded Calabrese: the people there are very stubborn… once something is taken away from them, they don’t rest until …they get it back.”

My mind went back to the orange umbrella I bought for my mom in Milano last Christmas (probably with her money;)), from one of my favorite stores: Muji.

In my quest, I ran into this glorious essay on a particular shade of orange.

I have a box of orange objects in my house that I have been meaning to combine into a series.

Tomorrow seems like a good day for it, and orange thoughts are perfect for winter-short days and too much yin.

Before you read, keep this in mind:

Fire in Arabic is ‘Nar’.

………….

My Orange

by Michele Foyer


If we lived during the time of the Dutch West Indies Company, I would tell you that the color that so captured me was the child of paprika and chocolate. The world no longer swoons over spice willing to risk a sail beyond the end of the known. And yes, sadly rape and pillage in its desperate greed. I had only to pass the window of the Muji store in Manhattan’s Chelsea to discover this color in an umbrella.


What is it that grabbed me? Is it a vibration for which the color is only a foil? Or is it something about the color itself lodged between memory and desire? This redder orange infused with luxurious chocolate yielded a strangely jazzier yet muter tone than orange. But if we are mapping out its terrain inevitably the orange relation comes up.


My “Muji Orange” is a distant relative of the neon orange of warning, as well as a “tangerine streamlined baby” of sixties psychedelic abandon. Its crazy older paternal cousin might be the Tang of astronauts or maybe the impossible orange of orange Crush soda, or possibly even Blake’s Tyger burning bright, but its doting grandmother, is definitely — yes, most definitely — a bittersweet French marmalade.


There is some mystery to orange. Orange is the only color in the seven-color spectrum besides violet that originates as a noun, naming a particular thing. It refers to the berry fruit of the orange tree, something very concrete and specific and not as abstract as the other colors. Was the experience of the orange fruit so strong that it came to stand for the orange experience?


The Old English Dictionary (OED) states that in Medieval Latin “the forms ‘arangia’, ‘arantia’ (Du Cange) whence ‘aurantia’ have “popular association with ‘aurum’ gold from the colour.” Perhaps, the OED postulates, there is an etymological relationship between the Old French “orenge” for “arauge” after “or” gold. The OED traces the “loss of the initial ‘n‘ in French, English and Italian” as “ascribed to its absorption into the indefinite article” resulting in “narange” absorbing “une” and “narancia” absorbing ”una.”


Also from the OED we understand that the “native country of orange appears to have been the northern frontier of India, where wild oranges are still found and the name may have originated there.” In Late Sankrit the word for orange is “naranga;” in Hindi it is “narangi” (OED, p. 2001)


Is “orange” related to the color of the fruit and/or to gold and the word “ore” (OED, p. 2001)? Are both these not only things, but also perhaps experiences of light? More questions arise as we consider other correspondences that I call “rhymes and ricochets.”


In Persian the world for pomegranate is “nar” (OED, p.2001) which echoes the nar of narange. Is this coincidence or relationship? The OED states it is not certain. Was the “nar” / pomegranate the fateful fruit of the tree in the Garden of Eden myth? It is possible because the pomegranate rather than the apple was the indigenous fruit. If the pomegranate was the tree of knowledge, what was the knowledge that this golden ball embodied? Might it have reflected a relationship of light to dark?


Is there anything other than coincidence to the resonance of the pomegranate which also figures in the myth of Persephone who spends half her days in a descent into Hades when the earth experiences the dark of winter and the other half above ground when the earth experiences the light of spring – alternations or gradients of light and dark?


In one narrative color is dependent upon history and culture. The OED by definition is a history of the English language, tracing the history and values of the western world with its migrations and roots to the East. Today we think oranges are synonymous with the warm climates of Florida and California. We often believe they are indigenous to North America. However, they were planted by conquistador sailors who needed to create supplies of vitamin C to take with them to guard against scurvy on their long sea journeys.


What is orange in cultures outside of the European? In other cultures closed off to our own for so long by the migration and exchange of trade, say the Japanese or Chinese, what is the etymology of the word orange? In Cantonese Chinese (but not in Mandarin), the word for orange is related by sound to the word for gold. At New Year’s the Mandarin orange embodies good wishes for prosperity. Are “gold” and “orange” a conflation of all these color experiences of light?


What about other earlier societies? I wonder whether orange might “rhyme” with “fire.” Fire had the life-giving power that made a large difference to a culture. If gold wasn’t the commodity of value, it might make sense for the word for this experience to be “fire.” Might gold be in part only an imitation of the light of fire?


These richoceting ruminations about gold and fire are vital, because it is precisely the light of gold or fire that starts to go missing in “my” Muji Orange. It is that chocolate brown in addition to the red of the orange that makes the color “step back” toward the shade. Muji Orange recedes from the saturation and almost clear brilliance of an ordinary orange that lags just behind the brilliance of yellow—whether the origin is the light of sun, gold or fire.


Muji is a Japanese company and that perhaps contributes and infuses a measure of its aesthetic into that of the west. The store’s name is related to “mujo” which evokes “transience” in Japanese. I once heard about Japanese “killed colors.” These colors had a little bit of death in them, fading from their original brilliance and glory. I couldn’t find reference to them again but only to the rikuyu colors made from graying. In Muji Orange the quality of orange steps away from the brilliance of the sunny orange into the shade, holding a note of something that is darker. It is not a sinister dark to be avoided but one to be savored like a fine chocolate.


Is my “Muji Orange” so beautiful to me because it captures the life of light and its brilliance — and the life of dark and its recession? To me “Muji Orange” is a kumquat color par excellence. First like the sweet rind of the kumquat there is a “taste” of brilliance and then immediately, almost simultaneously, just as the fruit yields a sour taste, my Muji orange bursts with another very different moody, darker earthy “taste.” Does Muji Orange with its paprika jazzy zest want to dance the tarantula? Is it death or lack of light that gives my Muji color its kick?
I have questioned whether it was the vibration of the color that pulled me into the Chelsea store — the umbrella an extraneous element. But I wonder if the precise color of orange might also be a “rhyme” with the function of “umbrella”? Are the form and the vibration related in the poetry of memory?


Recently I recalled an earlier encounter with umbrellas. When I studied in Madrid in my 20s, I would often take the subway to go downtown to the Turner bookshop. I’d climb the stairs of the appropriately named Sol subway stop that spilled out onto Jose Antonio, emerging more often than not into a scorching sun.


On my way to the bookshop I would pass outside the window of a store that made confectionaries of violets sold in white and purple miniature hatboxes. But my favorite was the neighboring shop entirely devoted to umbrellas with a placard handwritten in a swirly old-fashioned cursive script in the window that read “Manana llovera.” Both its whimsy and its sales-minded craft were not lost in the English translation — “tomorrow it will rain.”


Last December, many years after my sunny Spanish sojourn, when to me it is now irrefutable that night and day, death and life are folded into one another and that Persephone must braid both dark and light — the Muji Orange color caught my eye. Manana llovera. Tomorrow it will rain. Dear Reader, I bought the umbrella.


Bibliographic Note The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, Volume I, AO, (Oxford University Press, United States, 1982).

Copyright Michele Foyer. Web: http://michelefoyer.com/news.html

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Thoughts set free. Ink on paper and trace. November 9,2011.

“If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time,

then I’m neurotic as hell.

I’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another

 for the rest of my days.”

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, Chapter 8

 

I have to thank my colleague Alan Rosenblum for sharing the concept of thinking with one’s hands and the visual poetry of The Mystery of a Murmuration. His advice is to watch this in silence.

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Embrace All Your Selves. Digital Collage. August 16,2011.

Embrace All Your Selves, Exhale. Digital Collage. August 16,2011.


 

The title of the book began as a very sophisticated literary joke, an allusion to John Donne’s “Meditations on Emergent Occasions.” But as sometimes happened in O’Hara’s poetry, the joke turned out to have a surplus of meaning. His poems are meditations — but not the kind that comes after hours of quiet thought; they proceed from the heart of noise; they are written on the run, in a hurry, on a lunch break, in a perennial emergency. O’Hara’s poems perfectly capture the pace of a New York day in 1962. He is a master of the art of gentle self-laceration: “Now I am quietly waiting for / the catastrophe of my personality / to seem beautiful again, / and interesting, and modern.”


Meditations in an Emergency

Frank O’Hara 1926–1966

Am I to become profligate as if I were a blonde? Or religious as if I were
French?

Each time my heart is broken it makes me feel more adventurous (and how the
same names keep recurring on that interminable list!), but one of these days
there’ll be nothing left with which to venture forth.

Why should I share you? Why don’t you get rid of someone else for a
change?

I am the least difficult of men. All I want is boundless love.

Even trees understand me! Good heavens, I lie under them, too, don’t I? I’m
just like a pile of leaves.

However, I have never clogged myself with the praises of pastoral life, nor
with nostalgia for an innocent past of perverted acts in pastures. No. One need
never leave the confines of New York to get all the greenery one wishes—I can’t
even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there’s a subway handy, or a record
store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life. It is
more important to affirm the least sincere; the clouds get enough attention as
it is and even they continue to pass. Do they know what they’re missing? Uh
huh.

My eyes are vague blue, like the sky, and change all the time; they are
indiscriminate but fleeting, entirely specific and disloyal, so that no one
trusts me. I am always looking away. Or again at something after it has given me
up. It makes me restless and that makes me unhappy, but I cannot keep them
still. If only i had grey, green, black, brown, yellow eyes; I would stay at
home and do something. It’s not that I’m curious. On the contrary, I am bored
but it’s my duty to be attentive, I am needed by things as the sky must be above
the earth. And lately, so great has their anxiety become, I can spare
myself little sleep.

Now there is only one man I like to kiss when he is unshaven.
Heterosexuality! you are inexorably approaching. (How best discourage her?)

St. Serapion, I wrap myself in the robes of your whiteness which is like
midnight in Dostoevsky. How I am to become a legend, my dear? I’ve tried love,
but that hides you in the bosom of another and I am always springing forth from
it like the lotus—the ecstasy of always bursting forth! (but one must not be
distracted by it!) or like a hyacinth, “to keep the filth of life away,” yes,
there, even in the heart, where the filth is pumped in and slanders and pollutes
and determines. I will my will, though I may become famous for a mysterious
vacancy in that department, that greenhouse.

Destroy yourself, if you don’t know!

It is easy to be beautiful; it is difficult to appear so. I admire you,
beloved, for the trap you’ve set. It’s like a final chapter no one reads because
the plot is over.

“Fanny Brown is run away—scampered off with a Cornet of Horse; I do love that
little Minx, & hope She may be happy, tho’ She has vexed me by this Exploit
a little too.—Poor silly Cecchina! or F:B: as we used to call her.—I wish She
had a good Whipping and 10,000 pounds.”—Mrs. Thrale.

I’ve got to get out of here. I choose a piece of shawl and my dirtiest
suntans. I’ll be back, I’ll re-emerge, defeated, from the valley; you don’t want
me to go where you go, so I go where you don’t want me to. It’s only afternoon,
there’s a lot ahead. There won’t be any mail downstairs. Turning, I spit in the
lock and the knob turns.

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The Fabric City is finally finished! Yay! Back to collages and sketches now.

From this…

…to a process of cutting and puzzle-making…

to this:

The Invisible City|La Gitane. Fabric and colored yarn, sewn by hand. June 24, 2011.

Tomorrow the ‘city’  will be cut and applied to a presently plain backpack and signed.

I also want to share this impromptu jewelry design, my second, kindly modeled!

Earth and Water. Ceramic beads and yarn. June 24, 2011

Finally, work inspired by New York in form of a guest post:

Winter Kisses. Ink and Watercolor on translucent Yupo watercolor paper. By Amina Alkandari. June 2011

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City of Salt by Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick. Image via amazon.

“Here is a splendid volume from the Terry Gillam school of fictional photography… The book comes in a sturdy slipcase and features complex landscapes, painstakingly created, and digitally peopled by actors playing out scenes which conjure up a mystical Middle Eastern civilisation. Enigmatic, but beautiful.”
AG Magazine

“This is a beautifully structured text with an imaginative use of words and photography. This wondrous book of tales is a complex work of art that will be read throughout our generation.”
Focus: Fine Art Photography Magazine

“City of Salt… creates and documents alternate realities in miniature, accompanied by narratives inspired by Sufi tales, Italo Calvino and more.”
Michelle Wildgen –Publishers Weekly

 

The City. Image via kahnselesnick.com. Click to enlarge.

Suspended! Image via kahnselesnick.com. Click to enlarge.

 

Two Streets. Image via kahnselesnick.com. Click to enlarge.

 

The Flyer. Image via kahnselesnick.com. Click to enlarge.

 
From Amazon:
 
Panoramic photographs of fantastical landscapes make a bizarre Baedeker to alternative realities in City of Salt, by Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick. The second volume, after Scotlandfuturebog, in an intended trilogy of such otherworldly guides juxtaposes those scenes with similarly inspired texts: Sufi tales, the writings of fabulist Italo Calvino, and parables by the artists themselves. The strange deserts, marshes, sandy shores, villages, and fields are often traversed by wandering figures, frequently in peril or precariously alone. Kahn and Selesnick’s process combines sculptural and photographic media. The artists first construct the intricately detailed worlds in three-dimensional miniatures and dioramas, then digitally photograph the scene and populate it with characters in allegorical, though intriguingly puzzling, tableaux.
…………………………..
 
I ran into this gorgeous, oversized, substantial book few years ago while visiting UCSD’s excellent Architecture library. Words and images weave imaginary tales and create an escapist landscape. May days verge on the surreal, time is suspended, perhaps in a cruel, paradoxical loop. To travel through time, for once forward instead of backwards…to harness the days as though wild horses, bridle their energy. May seems to slip through my fingers, each time. I am lulled by the calm (before the storm? No, before more tense calm.)
Dreams and collages await. I find the only cure for restlessness is mindful awareness, in brilliant execution of each undertaking- as small as it is, as humble as it is. Ambition can paralyze you in May, when mid-year approaches and mental harvests take place. Each day we need to reconcile heaven and hell within us. Refusing to attemp the feat, or lack of acceptance of our opposite instincts,  is the only way the battle is lost. In numbness lies defeat.

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La Gattamorta. Digital Manipulation. May 19, 2011.

 

 

As I Walked Out One Evening  
by W. H. Auden
 
As I walked out one evening,
   Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
   Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
   I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
   'Love has no ending.

'I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
   Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
   And the salmon sing in the street,

'I'll love you till the ocean
   Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
   Like geese about the sky.

'The years shall run like rabbits,
   For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
   And the first love of the world.'

But all the clocks in the city
   Began to whirr and chime:
'O let not Time deceive you,
   You cannot conquer Time.

'In the burrows of the Nightmare
   Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
   And coughs when you would kiss.

'In headaches and in worry
   Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
   To-morrow or to-day.

'Into many a green valley
   Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
   And the diver's brilliant bow.

'O plunge your hands in water,
   Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
   And wonder what you've missed.

'The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
   The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
   A lane to the land of the dead.

'Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
   And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
   And Jill goes down on her back.

'O look, look in the mirror,
   O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
   Although you cannot bless.

'O stand, stand at the window
   As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
   With your crooked heart.'

It was late, late in the evening,
   The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
   And the deep river ran on.

 

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The Screen Woman. Digital Collage. Text from "A Year in the Merde" by Stephen Clarke.

 

 

Photo from Inspired Goodness.

 
Founded in 2008, Inspired Goodness is a custom invitation and paper goods studio
located in Brooklyn, NY.
 
—————————————————————————-
 
Notable books:
 
 
 
 

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Digital Collage. May 16, 2011.

 

Ink drawing and digital manipulation. May 2011.

 
The Pretty Parking Lot
 
I have dreamt of perfect poems
faded like dewdrops upon awakening
 
About mice and buildings
built by men
 
Cities are sentences that haunt me
 
Book thieves, foreign movies…
the line is thin between memories and reverie
 
The fog has lifted
the rain felt soft (like a blessing)
yet I am in a pretty parking lot.
 
You left your eyes as you passed me by.
 
May 2011
 
…………………………………………………………………..
 

                     Where can I run? 
                    You fill the world. 
                   The only place to run is within you.

                        From Agata e la Tempesta| Agata and the Storm

 

 
……………………………………………………………………..
 

They miss the whisper that runs
any day in your mind,
“Who are you really, wanderer?”—
and the answer you have to give
no matter how dark and cold
the world around you is:
“Maybe I’m a king.”

               William Stafford

 

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Marrakesh. From ‘Domestic Architecture of the Arab Region’.

 

 

 

 

 

From 'Domestic Architecture of the Arab Region"

Digital manipulation. Commissioned artwork.

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Photography and Digital Manipulation. March 6, 2011.

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Bjarke Ingels came to speak to our school Friday night.

The venue was the Museum of Natural History in scenic Balboa Park.

I am still blown away by the lecture and, more importantly, the message.

It was truly (r)evolutionary.  The fact that BIG’s insanely brilliant concepts not only get built but a) give back to the community in terms of urban interaction b) are socially and ecologically responsible and c) are giving him fame and making him a household name is galvanizing.

Expanding the collective idea of what is possible through architecture: this is the optimism we need after years of gloom, in face of all the naysayers and ‘pie-in-the-sky’ disablers.  Something is blooming in the state of Denmark.

What an event. My friend Alan Rosenblum told me it would be as if  ‘Lady Gaga came to San Diego’.

And. It. Was.  The students loved it. Three days later, and we are all still giddy.

I could not agree more.  Thank you Mr. Ingels.
You intensified the dialogue between students and educators, and showed us how the ‘crazy’ ideas that are developed in studio and propose new typologies for the city are not only possible but timely and welcome. This creates a better learning environment, where pragmatism actually means being part of the solution, not propagating the problem.

I had the same dilemma when working in traditional, corporate offices and found refuge in academia. BIG showed us that there is a third way, the ‘Bigamy’ way. You can have it all. You can be good and successful. You can be extremely famous
and not be arrogant. He spoke of pragmatic idealism, and hedonistic sustainability. He demonstrated how to create building that are fun to experience as inhabitants and city neighbors and yet are sustainable. He showed us the intellectual approach and use of hybridization of traditional typologies to achieve new functions and forms. To wit: the Garbage to Energy plant in the middle of Copenhagen, which will be the city’s tallest structure and will house a ski slope (!) and blow smoke rings each time one ton of CO2 is burned. These are usually ‘crazy’ projects that we see coming from the upper studio division, when we ask the students to ‘dream big’ (pun intended) and question the drab, anti-interactive reality of center cities such as San Diego. The students, deep inside, try to dream but are conditioned to think that projects such as the one we saw in the lecture could never be built due to various factors such as financial interests or politics of control, or even lack of relevance of our role as architects.

We have been liberated from all of this because we can now point to BIG’s projects. Here it was demonstrated that the only limits we have as architects and human beings are those self-imposed, or those we feel ‘reality’ has burdened us with. I know that as faculty we felt validated by BIG’s successes ( does it make sense?). The music and videos, the whole presentation and BIG’s  infectious enthusiasm, warmth and positive energy were, in the words of a student ‘AWESOME’. Another student told me he learned a lot about diagrams from the lecture.
The lecture also was a model for engaging presentations. I have been toying with the idea, but now I am committed to use music and pop references in my History of Architecture classes; I ran the idea with few students and they were all for it. 🙂 I will quote Ingels when he says that we need to ‘cease to consider the building as objects but focus on what they do for the city’ : this informs and generates a new approach to ‘sacred architectural monsters’ and teaching history of architecture (or as I like to think, architectural stories).

A big thank you to Allen Ghaida, the AIAS and all my colleagues at the NewSchool Arts Foundation for making this dream of an event a reality.

I sketched feverishly- and took down all the provocative quotes. Here are my hybrid/computer-augmented notes.

I will add all of the proper building names and location as soon as possible.

click to enlarge

…..and this was my present 🙂

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The Flâneur: A Radical-Chic Icon

The Flâneur. Ink on trace paper. February 26, 2011

The Flâneur and his turtle in the streets of Paris. Digital collage. February 26, 2011. Background photo from San Francisco’s artist David Blumin. Click for his website.



Then I heard the phrase ‘Walk with a turtle’ on NPR, during an interview with Council of Dads’ author Bruce Feiler–and had an epiphany: I, too, had been a flâneuse in my early years. When I was 9 years old I used to tie a red ribbon to the shell of my turtle Stefania/Stefano (we are still not sure) and take her for ‘walks’ around my building and in the field of olive trees nearby. This cannot just be explained by mere coincidence or a sense of equanimity (i would take my giant schnautzer Zorro for walks- or rather, he would take me- and treated Stefania/Stefano to the same). By walking the city (ok , in my case the field of olive trees) at the pace of a tortoise, we are bound to pay attention to life around us, to read the city–not just skim it from the wheel of our car or glancing up from smartphones while we traverse sidewalks. Having a turtle as a guide nudges us to stop rushing. I am reminded of the buddhist monk in the documentary ‘Baraka’, slowly pacing the street with small steps , at the sound of a bell–in the midst of a hyperactive Japanese metropolis. The realization of possible multi-layered readings on the figure of the flaneur prompted a small research.

Historical evidence of The Flâneur? Or just man waiting for his wife? Undated image from: storify.com/virtualdavis/flaneur

The  Flâneur

The term comes from ‘flâner’, which means to stroll in French. From this verb Baudelaire coined the word  flâneur, a person who walks the city in order to experience it.  The flâneur is driven  by an  insatiable  hunger  for  passion; he  seeks  the  streets and  the  city  life  for they  provide  inspiration  and  cure him of the malaise and loneliness  of  being human. He practices mindfulness, or conscious dilly-dallying. In US they would call him a ‘loiterer’, surely shoo him away…or perhaps fine or even jail him (I always tell my students there is no such thing as the word ‘loitering’ in Italian….what else would we do in Piazzas!?). My friend Bruce and I were discussing the flâneur few days ago and he reminded me of  the symbology of the turtle and this quote from Rumi:

The soul needs as much time to wander as the feet.

Rumi

 

Baudelaire writes of the flâneur:

 The  crowd  is  his  element,  as  the  air  is  that  of  birds  and  water  of  fishes.

 His  passion  and passionate  spectator,  it  is  an  immense  joy  to  set  up  house  in  the  heart  of  the  multitude, amid  the  ebb  and  flow  of  movement,  in  the  midst  of  the  fugitive  and  the  infinite.

To  be away  from  home  and  yet  to  feel  oneself  everywhere  at  home;  to  see  the  world,  to  be  at the  centre  of  the  world,  and  yet  to  remain  hidden  from  the  world

impartial  natures which  the  tongue  can  but  clumsily  define.  The  spectator  is  a  prince  who  everywhere  rejoices  in  his  incognito.  The  lover  of  life  makes  the  whole  world  his  family,  just  like  the lover  of  the  fair  sex  who  builds  up  his  family  from  all  the  beautiful  women  that  he  has ever  found,  or  that  are  or  are  not  -­‐  to  be  found;  or  the  lover  of  pictures  who  lives  in  a magical  society  of  dreams  painted  on  canvas.

 

A Process of Navigating Erudition

From Wikipedia: Flâneur is not limited to someone committing the physical act of peripatetic stroll in the Baudelairian sense, but can also include a “complete philosophical way of living and thinking”, and a process of navigating erudition as described by Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s essay on “Why I Walk” in the second edition of The Black Swan (2010).  A Sunday Time review called The Black Swan  one of the twelve most influential books since WWII.

Benjamin  in his Arcades further describes the flâneur utilizes the city,  which becomes an  extension of  his residence:

The   street   becomes   a   dwelling   for   the   flâneur;   he   is   as   much   at   home   among   the facades  of  houses  as  a  citizen  is  in  his  four  walls.  To  him  the  shiny,  enameled  signs  of businesses  are  at  least  as  good  a  wall  ornament  as  an  oil  painting  is  to  the  bourgeois  in his  salon.  The  walls  are  the  desk  against  which  he  presses  his  notebooks;  news-­‐stands are  his  libraries  and  the  terraces  of  cafés  are  the  balconies  from  which  he  looks  down on  his  household  after  his  work  is  done.


Some of the questions I have been thinking about are : Can the flâneur be a flâneuse? Must he or she always haunt the city aloof and alone, or is ‘Flâneurie’ an activity that can be enjoyed in small groups, maybe of separate actors, each with his or her own turtle?

The flâneur is enjoying immense popularity on the Internet and blogosphere, among the hipster and (pseudo)intellectual crowd.  He is radical chic, a gentleman stroller whose eccentricity is afforded to him by indipendent wealth. He is a man of leisure who can make a statement about the bondage of work and busyiness: he is above it and does not need it.
On the other side of the coin, we might re-evaluate the ‘homeless’ people, the figure of the clochard (sounds better in French doesn’t it) as flâneurs without means, but with the same intellect and intent.  They also make the city their living room and library.

In “American Flaneur: The Cosmic Physiognomy of Edgar Allan Poe“, James V. Werner describes how ‘ highly self-aware, and to a certain degree flamboyant and theatrical, dandies of the mid-nineteenth century created scenes through outrageous acts like walking turtles on leashes down the streets of Paris. Such acts exemplify a flâneur’s active participation in and fascination with street life while displaying a critical attitude towards the uniformity, speed, and anonymity of modern life in the city.’

Hmm…Sounds like The Situationists.

A new interpretation of the activities of the flâneur appear in the writings of Guy Debord, the dérive also being a protest against the processes of consumption and capitalism:

One of the basic situationist practices is the dérive [literally: “drifting”], a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances. Dérives involve playful-constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll.

In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there. Chance is a less important factor in this activity than one might think: from a dérive point of view cities have psychogeographical contours, with constant currents, fixed points and vortexes that strongly discourage entry into or exit from certain zones.

–Guy Debord

While the flaneurs practiced ‘aimless wandering’, the Situationists devised processes to purposefully get lost.

There is no English equivalent for the French word flâneur. Cassell’s dictionary defines flâneur as a stroller, saunterer, drifter but none of these terms seems quite accurate. There is no English equivalent for the term, just as there is no Anglo-Saxon counterpart of that essentially Gallic individual, the deliberately aimless pedestrian, unencumbered by any obligation or sense of urgency, who, being French and therefore frugal, wastes nothinincluding his time which he spends with the leisurely discrimination of a gourmet, savoring the multiple flavors of his city.

Cornelia Otis Skinner.

Elegant Wits and Grand Horizontals, 1962

Watching is the chosen pleasure of flâneur. He is an ‘urban stalker’, as Susan Sontag defines him in her 1977 essay On Photography.  Modern flâneurs, let’s arm ourselves with cameras or a moleskine . Let’s pretend we are all ‘The Sartorialist’ and many, many other envoys on particular missions. Would you enjoy the streets of your city if you thought you were spying on someone, an urban detective, privy to secrets no-one else can know? What would the intelligence gathered from today? What stories could you tell(or draw)? What stories would the city reveal to you. There is so much life out there. And buildings are lessons.

Let the urban voyeurism begin.
Here are some useful links:

And, finally, my very own books for Parisian flanerie.

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The Creative License by Danny Gregory. Click for his blog and links!

Everywhere I turn these days i see the word Creativity..could this be a sign …cause I have not been posting that much???

This post is more like…four…but so be it.

The back of the book. Do you dare to be creative?

A dear student let me borrow this fantastic book: The Creative License: Giving yourself permission to be the artist you truly are. What a wonderful title. So this post, like the book is dedicated….

From Danny Gregory's book The Creative License.

This book is full of helpful suggestions, assignments and encouragements for artists, wannabe-artists and artists-to-be.
There are helpful tools, techniques and a great section on negative space. The style reminds me of Michael Nobbs and his ‘Start to Draw Your Life’ [find link to download his e-book here]
I love this quote:

I believe in the energy of art, and through the use of that energy, the artist’s ability to transform his or her life and, by example, the lives of others.

Audrey Flack

Inspired by the ‘sketch your life’ vibe,I finally got around drawing something that has been giving me JOY lately:

Ink and watercolor on paper and tracing paper. A bit of digital manipulation. Feb. 09,2011.

Yes! These magnific Illy concoctions have come to a freezer near you…I love these babies.
I also picked up the Oprah magazine…i do enjoy this publication…as a reader said ‘it brings a little magic into my life’. I devour news and ‘serious’ books ( I love novels, but have started a stack of non-fiction and architecture-related books in the past four years …and I am determined to finish it by the end of the year)…so sometimes Oprah reminds me to feed my spirit. Go ahead and judge:P
This month’s issue caught my eye, for the focus was creativity.
This is the un-quiz I am taking…designed by filmmaker Miranda July and Artist Harrell Fletcher, creators of the website Learning to Love You More. Click for creative assignments!
The results will be uploaded at oprah.com.
If you are so lucky to have an Ipad, you can check out Oprah’s own sketchbook app, SketchBook O.
Here are:
7 WAYS TO SPARK YOUR CREATIVITY:
(from designer Anna Rabinowicz)
1. Read Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
2. Go Outside
3. Start a collection
4. Touch Stuff
5. Travel Solo
6. Go Analog
7. Grab every opportunity
(read about this on this month’s issue of O, the Oprah Magazine)
One of the things I am always reminded of when I read Oprah is to give gratitude. It has been difficult lately, between my hypercritical mind, a full-out technological meltdown and a string of missed yoga classes. Nonetheless, I would like to give a shout out to these three creative individuals who are an inspiration!
1. Ghadah Alkandari @ prettygreenbullet: my blogsister, who elevates blogging to a religion, source of daily inspiration. I love you, woman.

Ghadah Alkandari, Goddess of Daily Goodness. This is her post from February 5,2011. Click to Ghadah.

2. Abbey Ryan @ abbeyryan.com

From Oprah's February Issue: the blog abbeyryan.com. She has posted an oil still life every day since 2007. WOW! Click to find Abbey.

3. St. Loup and his Secrets and Lies
Always thought-provoking…my virtual literary cafe’.

From St. Loup's Secrets and Lies: Maurice Ronnet Le feu Follet - Luis Malle (1963)

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Santa Maria Delle Grazie with Bramante's apse. Milano. Pilot pen on paper. January 2011

 In the monastery adjacent this church, just a few minutes’ stroll from my house, one can find Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’. The apse (widely attributed to Donato Bramante, and dated around 1490) is significant as it signals a crucial transition from the Late Gothic style of the nave to a splendid Northern Italian Renaissance in the apse, the choir and cupola.

.25 technical pen on cardstock. January 2011.

Photoshop manipulation of pen drawing. January 2011.

MITI’S RECIPE FOR SKETCHING:

Day One: Look. (First Encounter)

Day Two: See. (Visual Analysis;walkaround…resist the urge to take photos. Training your eyes will not only lead to better sketches, better lessons learned from the Architecture itself, it will lead to–if you are so inclined–even better photography in the end. Notice, examine and mentally record -on the exterior- connections, details, rhythms, proportions, materials; on the interior: spaces, rituals, light, sequences, apertures, passages…)

Day Three: Sketch. (even quickly…by now you learned the lessons, you acquainted yourself with the building. You begin to understand.) Use the verb ‘to draw’ as in drawing water from a well, draw information (this last advice comes from Travelling the World with an Architect’s Eye)

Tips for cold-weather sketching: stop when your legs fall asleep. Wear half (I call them ‘homeless-style’) gloves to keep the hands free. Listen to warm music on your ipod. Bring a thermos or mug with hot, organic, unsweetened english breakfast tea.

And…

for impromptu urban sketching, carry your pens with the very handy penholder by Muji (did I mention before that I love Muji?)

Sketchbook by hand book, penholder clip by muji.

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Marker on paper, digitally modified. December 2010

Think better, and multiply- The Vedic way. Thank you for existing, Open Culture.

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