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A Thousand Churches (Your Eyes). Graphite, Watercolor, India Ink. August 12, 2017.


Dear Single Reader,

You might have thought I had disappeared, and would be the third person in a week to ask me what happened to my sketchbloom…but I’m back for the summer.

An international conference in Hong Kong , research writing /presentations and academia have absorbed me until the end of June…not to mention that thing called life, and heart, and two moves in two months ( apartment renovation). It has been CRAZY. 

I just got back from two amazing weeks in Puebla, Mexico where I was part of ArtFest17 and went to teach at UVM (Universidad de la Valle México) a workshop called Myth of the City.  

Here you can see all the work done with my students and read about Puebla, the “Second” city – the first being of course, Mexico ( Ciudad de). It was an incredible experience, after having co-taught the course in Santa Fe, New México in 2013 and 2014. One could say I went from New Mexico to “Old” México with this.

In Puebla i was surrounded by “my people”, migente, artists, intellectuals..the bohemians and the romantics, and got back my creative juices!  Now, a new beginning…

I have lots of travel photography and new poetry to share so stick around 🙂 

Thank you for reading me and not forgetting about me ❤️ your support means everything to me, as art is and always be my first love- and the true love of my life. 

I am on an art-recovery program but I don’t know what to do about those pesky writing deadlines…#thestruggle. Life is so full, and exciting new design opportunities –like being a juror for Orchids and Onions in San Diego and a Pecha Kucha presentation on Storage Cities — keep presenting themselves. It’s accelerated, beautiful life…yet art needs the half-time of dreams.

Well, wish me good luck, there are some posts in the pipelines so I will see you soon and… work in progress as usual! 

I do hope you are having a glorious summer.

Below are some photos from lovely, lovely Puebla… two of my students’ models and the City that is home of so many incredible riches. A true treasure of humanity/ patrimonio de la humanidad. 

PS: I have been posting on Instagram but have to confess I always feeel guilty if I don’t post drawings/sketches/watercolor/collages… after all it is called Sketchbloom not Photobloom ( but you can follow me [@sketchbloom] there and it would make me so happy😊.) 




Puebla, Estado de Puebla, México:

What a magical city: Baroque churches where Tllaloc and Quetzacoatl are venerated, the fusion called Barroco Indígena ( San Francisco de Acatepec and Santa María de Tonantzintla – Barragán’s favorite church), Aztec temples and cities, 400 year old stone buildings, the tallest church towers in Mexico and the greatest covered stepped pyramid in the world ( Teocalli de Cholula)…finally the oldest public library of the Americas. Puebla is where the battle celebrated during Cinco de Mayo took place and where the Mexican Revolution started. Wow. 

Take a look…




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Bassam's Café , the post-art hangout

[ Updated, more crisp scans.
I hereby promise not to post phone photos when I can provide scans. ]

On the evening before the Winter Solstice, I rejoined the group that meets in the lower level of the San Diego Arts Institute {The Museum of the Living Artists} in Balboa Park, for “One Last Hurray”– tonight was the last night Live Modeling will be hosted in the Gallery . These rendez-vouz became scarcer with the passing of the last few months, from every other Monday, to one Monday a month, to a late summer hiatus, to this…the end.

Once more I am reminded that the only constant in life is change. I will miss these evenings of art, self-paced, the bodies of the models always surprising once translated into the page. The outcomes always tell me more about myself than them. I had not attended these Live Modeling sessions since October, when the school year resumed and I found myself teaching First Year again on Mondays and Wednesday evening (which was exciting, and cyclical at the same time…because as things change they do, occasionally, repeat).

It was nice to say goodbye tonight. I pushed colored water with brushes, with no expectations, reminding myself that I am a painter more than a drawer, and reciting my farewell to painting/drawing nudes. My interest lies in making (collages and pantings that do not involve bodies) and these ‘art therapy’ sessions did much good in helping me find time for art, but it is time to move on and find the discipline within me.

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Watercolor on the wrong paper- Strathmore Bristol. San Diego, December 21, 2015

Speaking of discipline, this time physical, this Fall I was also pining for my old Wednesday night zumba/dance class, taught by one of the best teachers in town and, lo and behold, that class is also no more. Everything is telling me to let go and let myself be unmoored because routines, and certainties, are only illusions of the mind and of time.

I am reminded at least few times a day that, since I became Assistant Professor, a title that I longed for and a milestone for me, the time that I used to have for Art and SketchBloom has vanished, leaving me with scraps, and occasional posts during school breaks. It is bittersweet, because when I had more time, I also had different challenges.  On the plus side, I feel that my classes are getting stronger and that all the energy put into what I do is bearing beautiful fruit, and my travels a re translating into lectures, thoughts, incipits of papers. My students have been blossoming , and what I offer them, though intangible, is perhaps my greatest art…the words and the stories shared in the intimacy of the classroom.  My favorite part of this Fall was new lectures on Native American Architecture and the Empires of the Sun (Aztec, Maya, Inca), along with those for Hindu and Buddhist Architecture. It was wonderful to share my travels to Teotihuacan and Mexico City, DF (July and November) and various museum visits. All these will be documented here in the coming days.
I am going to visit new Mayan sites soon 🙂 and I feel blessed that what I love to do (travel) also makes me better at what I do. One of my students wrote me that what I shared from my travels was her favorite part of the History of Architecture and Urban Design course, and that made me smile inside. Another told me that I am, indeed, a ‘collector of legends’, what I knew I wanted to be at 6 years old as I was put in charge of our classroom’s bookshelf.

I have been reading a lot on Hindu and Buddhist philosophy and there is a whole section of advice on, basically, doing your best, and letting go. Letting go of what you think is the idea of perfection, because life is already perfect, in secret ways that we will only understand in time. SO many ways to convey a message that I run into again and again.

I swear at least once a day in the past few months I have encountered and recorded places, people, feelings, stories, books, quotes, readings, images  that I wanted to share here but pressing obligations and life prevented me. I trust that what I have been collecting (the speed and quantity of memories accumulated akin to hoarding for its sheer size) will be shared and enfolded in time. The thought of living hard and traveling harder to make memories for my old age has crossed my mind. One thing I did not do is draw  or paint, but I believe, now, there are other ways to make art.
Photography is one. Or writing.
Also, creating the space and conditions that allow art to emerge: clearing your life and decluttering, physically and emotionally, to make room for art, for the NEW.
Is not prepping the canvas also part of the painting? Then I have weaved that canvas fabric with the threads of days full of wonder, struggle and discovery, primed it with an unshakeable faith, and strengthened with tireless service, resilience and endurance.

Please forgive me, it is the end of the quarter, and the end of a stupendous year …and I am waxing poetic. Time to sum up the past 12 months. I wanted to count all the things I was grateful for in 2015 and I counted 41. How many things are you grateful for? Every difficulty came with a breakthrough and a blessing for me, a strengthening lesson. I hope the same for you, Reader.

I know it is not the end of the year proper yet, but for me it already has come, with the close of another quarter and the time, silent and special, to calculate grades, my students’ and mine. I wish all my readers and visitors a great journey in 2016, untroubled by worldly events and guided only by that ‘light that never goes out’, our own.

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Watercolor on the wrong paper- Strathmore Bristol. San Diego, December 21, 2015

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Watercolor on the wrong paper- Strathmore Bristol. San Diego, December 21, 2015

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Another month of quickening days, of white skies, of scorching heat, of California monsoons has gone by.

The weather in San Diego has been positively schizophrenic.  Life has been full (I dislike the word “busy”), heartbreaking and healing at turns, magic, adventurous, challenging and with an overall trend of daily progress towards balance, harmony and mindfullness. Things are good.

I have been blessed to have crossed paths with soulful fellow travelers.

Since the beginning of 2015, the posts here at Sketchbloom have been so sparse…it’s embarassing. I miss my days before my professorship where I had the luxury of being an artist full time. Yet there were, of course, different struggles at the time.  I always heard that with privileges come responsibilities, and I felt those, so much, this past school year. Although the school year ended, culminating with Graduation at the end of June, I feel I am only (sort-of) beginning to breath now.

I completed my six-week five-credit Arabic course yesterday. I signed up for the class on what must have been an adrenaline rush from the tough Spring I had. The course started during Finals week at my University, which meant a seamless, yet intense/insane transition! I have some calligraphy to share from the course, and I am happy to say I can finally read and write in Arabic!

This month also saw me in Ciudad de Mexico DF for few days. I will post soon  some photographs  and recollections from that city of thousand faces. Alas, no drawings. (no time)

How to sum up a whole year? Only through recollection in tranquility. I am finally on break, and I plan to catch up with all the posts from my travels. I have notebooks full of thoughts and words, that might become verses, once distilled. Yet, this is also the time to make. I read that, a year from now, you will wish you had started today. SO I am starting, again, today. Every time I post here it feels like a new beginning. For those of you who have been following this blog (more than a thousand!), thank you for your patience and for the kind forgetfulness, and forgiveness, of promises not (yet) kept. I started running behind in 2013….no comment. My art and this blog can hardly catch up with my life and travels. I guess that is a good problem to have. Maybe you want to wander here, and see why time flies.

Annnyyyyhow…..Here are the rest of this spring’s nudes from Monday nights at the San Diego Arts Institute.

I noticed, going through the various drawings done there, that I tend to experiment with a different medium and paper each time. I guess I really miss my collages. I had the time to scan these drawings (i always feel quick and dirty when I post shots from my phone), and, well, what a difference.

One good piece of news is that I will get back my art studio in the Fall. I was part of the Brokers’ Building Artist Colony from 2003-2008 and I cannot wait to have a special place for my art again.

This summer – this year, really – feels like the long backward run, the gathering momentum

overdue

of the pole jumper.

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First experiment in Digital nude painting on my Android HTC ONE phone, using the Paint Commander App and the Sensu brush.

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Two months to the day of my last post, I return.

Like a lover who walks into the door surreptitiously, I offer no explanations.

Just Kidding.

This quarter saw me teaching three courses with a total of 120 students, so, dear Single Reader, the reason for my hiatus is self-evident. It was a ten-week long journey into different periods of History of Architecture and Urban Design, Urban Issues and so. much. more.

Here are snapshots of my bimonthly art dates. I have quite a few drawings, but could not conjure up the time and mental space to scan and post them. Ideally, these will be scanned version soon..but here they are.

I embarked on an Arabic adventure as of Monday, and this will be a spectacular summer, I feel and know.

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”


Anne Bradstreet

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Did you know I was a painter?
I know, hard to tell from this blog, where I have focused ,on the art-making side, on drawing and collages ( no art studio, less place for canvases). But I was a painter, an acrylic one, before I learned how to draw, architecture and other things, before sketching, collages, and before trying my hand with watercolor ( I still use watercolor as acrylic).

I was not a rigidly trained painter, as my teachers encouraged expression over technique. Painting is home.

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Camilla and I ( and watercolor ). Drawing by Gianni.

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Ta-Da! I want to walk this city with you.

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