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Archive for the ‘Watercolor’ Category

Today was a beautiful day of art and comraderie!

I attended the first day of Roxanne Evans Stouts’ workshop at Way Art Yonder in Jamul, California. This was my second workshop in this wonderful art studio – and another opportunity to spend a day fully with my art, exploring mixed media and collaging.

Today’s workshop involved learning foundations and advanced tools for making an art/visual journal. I learned countless new ways of using acrylic matte medium along with pastel, plaster of Paris, Golden high flow acrylic, distress stain and different papers/ glazing uses to achieve translucent effects.

Then there were demonstrations on how to use plaster of Paris with stencils and ink pads.

We made the background pages of what is going to be a visual journal based on the concept of windows and daydreams.

This was the official workshop prompt.

“Daydreams and Window Light”

A book of expressions in mixed media and collage about the changing seasons with Roxanne Evans Stout

Imagine creating a handcrafted artist book in which every page is a window into the story of you… either symbolically, or perhaps even a literal window that we will make out of metal, plastic or cardboard. Our covers will be made of plexiglass, that we will sand, texture and glaze. Our inside pages will include vintage photo frames, mica and distressed metal sheets, all of which I will provide. Join Roxanne and she will guide you in creating beautiful books with pages that are rich in color and texture, and pages that sing of the light and magic that is uniquely you!

Some of the keywords of the days were texture ( of course), story, China marker, gesso,wax paper, deli paper, parchment, distressed, embossed, awl, hole punching, tacky glue, gloss and matte medium, layer, pan pastels, high flow , tracery, filigree, aluminum, gold and copper foil paper, plexiglass, sandpaper, etching, unfinished/open, assemblage, vignettes, patterns, glazing, negative space, russett and burnish.

It was really interesting to know that my professor was a botanical artist before coming into the world of mixed media/collage- she used to draw photorealistic flora and fauna for publication, but found mixed media and it re-lit the fire of art in her soul, a fire that was lost in the technical precision required of her former profession.

These are some of the background pages I produced today- tomorrow we will work with collaging and creating our windows.

And finally, some observations around the studio: photographing a a stack of stencils, and a single well-burnished ones. Washing the stencil, stenciling water on concrete.

The last three pieces are from my talented and formidable art-friend Carla Bange 🙂

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Digital drawing done on IPhone 7 Plus with Sketches app by Tayasui. June 27, 2018.

Napkin Sketch for fundraiser auction; poem La Ciudad by Octavio Paz. Fountain ink on Napkin paper. April 2018.

Yann Tiersen in concert at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, June 20, 2018.

Quick sketch using colored pencil and pastels. June 30, 2018.

My corner in the plaza of the Getty Villa in Los Angeles. June 2018.

One more post before the month is done.

This Spring was filled with intensity in and outside of my University.. the final stretch of the school year. Accelerated timelines, accelerated heartbeat. Stealing time between deadlines to go up to LA once more for a life-changing Yann Tiersen concert ( of Amelie fame), participate to sketching and art+Jazz events and jot down few lines to be shared later (after all, poetry is emotion recollected in tranquillity).

Stealing time from time… to be and to feel alive. Sketching (almost) everyday is doing wonders for my spirit- and glow!

Single reader, I hope you have time to disconnect and renew. Happy Summer.

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I just got back from another lovely stay at my personal retreat away from the world and telephone connection: Bahía De Los Ángeles in Baja California, Mexico.

I brought *all* my watercolor stuff with me (acquired some pretty awesome new pearly Japanese watercolor pods) but, typically, not watercolor paper- so the first experiment on drawing paper turned out a bit flat.

One of the guests i met at Mauro’s Posada, my Baja California home, had watercolor paper with him (!) so the water/sand beach scene shows a bit more promise. Still learning/ playing with watercolor techniques…

I also (re)discovered the zentangle technique and it has been fun to conduct a little tangle class with my friends –they call it “yoga for the mind” or meditation in action. I find it very freeing and love, as with collage, not knowing the outcome.

Below are some of the best sunrises and sunsets I have ever witnessed.

I put all my best photography from this trip on my Instagram page, @sketchbloom, so if you want to see more saunter over there.

The time in Baja California- and México- never fails to transcend into the magical, to bring unexpected gifts. The ones always awaiting are authenticity, peace and heart-naked beauty.

As for the others…who else/what else are you going to find and meet in a place named Bay of the Angels?

This place is an anachronism, the last Macondo…off-the-grid living, with no telephone towers, post office, atm’s or even too many people. It is a place for dreamers, wanderers and seekers. It is hard to get to – and always heals.

It is a place for reading, for the mind to be quiet. I took down some poetry lines, to be shared soon.

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L.A.nguid

While I wait for the next set of

glistening eyes

Yeah, when you say maybe

and mean never

When I met him I told him

You use your eyes like weapons

Some things are only meant to be burned on the altar of poetry, liquid like skin

Two planets colliding:

orbits not meant to ever meet again.

Some cities, like kisses that have no right to take and give so much, go to your head.

Where to start? Perhaps from the end

– going backward.

We danced on the H of the Hollywood sign

‘Tis the time of rose gold here

The color of California sunset

The spring of Lana Del Rey and Lorde

Laidback, the occasional listlessness

Head tilted backward on a convertible

We don’t know how lucky we are

His reckless back was softer than your silk robe. I’m not forty, I’m in my second twenties.

In an Uber, real tired, I realize the city I live in possesses the quality and repetition of a videogame,

“what should a town look like”- the approximation fails at convincing

I put the matchbook in your pocket so that one day you may find it in your hand and smile- go back to that night, that rooftop. that’s the scene from a movie.

If your man is gentle, and a good lover, you have two women to thank.

Before I even spoke

He was singing over me

He was counting each of my hair.

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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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San Francisco, Samovar @ Yerba Buena Gardens, April 6, 2014. Drew Fish (left) and Miti Aiello (right) . Ink, Watercolor.

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Found material and quotes from Tolstoi's Anna Karenina. Collage. San Diego. December 2013.

Found material and quotes from Tolstoi’s Anna Karenina. Collage. San Diego. December 2013.

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Collage part I.

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Collage Part II.

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La Baracca del Bucaniere - Fisherman's Shack - The Kitchen. Graphite and watercolor. Calabria, Italia. September 18, 2013.

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Black and White Figs. Graphite and watercolor. Calabria, Italia. September 18, 2013.

The fastest drawings, right before leaving.
So many watercolor sheets to fill, and beautiful travel magazines to cut up for my collages.
I had to leave them behind and go…
Until another summer.

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La Baracca del Bucaniere, Cucina. Graphite. Calabria, Italia, 2013

Few days ago I started this drawing, which I am hoping to finish in the morning. It’s time to pack and head back to my California.

I take with me many images, sounds, voices, messages…my metaphysical bag is always full after such extended trips to Italy, my home.

As a promise of things to come, I have been working the past few days on many posts that will feature the work of my father, my father the fisherman, painter, drawer, sculptor and designer.
My rugged, difficult, wonderful, talented father.

Then I have few posts on Calabria, my beloved and challenged Southern Italian region- sorting through three years of photos has been both grueling and rewarding.

Lastly, dispatches from my travels to Buffalo, New York City and Santa Fe.
The whole organizing effort has been quite the task.
This is the price for not posting enough this summer ;/

I always like to alternate drawings and artifacts to photography, so I offer today this humble work in progress which will become a watercolor.

Yesterday I was talking about sketchbloom to my friend Annamaria, who is a an apothecary with a lovely herbal store (erboristeria) in my little Southern Italian town.
Her store is called Radice Nuova or
New Root.
I was telling her that the days I do not share and make my art I feel I am neglecting a fundamental part of me…
‘as though you are not watering the plant’, she finished my sentence.

In fact, behind the stage,  in darkness and silence, seeds are growing and blooming…thoughts and ideas are taking roots. Philosophy lessons, Japanese pillow books. Russian classics, Italian troubadours of the anarchic 60’s…this is the water I have been drinking this summer.
And time, alone and together, time for many coffees with my father, time for night yoga by the sea, full moon, with my mother, time to pick figs and grapes, time to work and to rest, time to spend with beautiful friends of youth and the soul, family time with my people, time to fish, time to swim and soak, meditate, in the sun, time to write, think and renew, time to listen to Italian music and reconnect to my roots, time to love hard, time to read.
Time to finally have time.
Always time that processes, metabolizes and purifies..time that brings strength and clarity.

Above all, I am thankful for the time this summer to be, think, live like an artist, to make and organize art, storing things for the winter of the soul.

Leaving California is exciting, especially when I get to use my passport, but returning, having filled my eyes, mind and spirit elsewhere, always means new beginnings.

I travel to remember (Southern California is light, has neither memory nor regret…nothing like the weight of the past felt in Italy), and return to forget
— and live in the Now.

I always said it,
the year starts in September.

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Today is my mom’s birthday, she didn’t want me to buy flowers, so I painted her some…

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Collage, Buffalo, NY. April 2013.

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Collage, Buffalo, NY. April 2013.

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Drawing by Jackie McDowell.

I am posting the first of a series of samples of student work from the exhibit  History of Architecture: Analysis and Synthesis Through Visual Notes. Moving chronologically, today we start with the Beginnings of Architecture.  This body work was completed for the Graduate History of Architecture sequence, comprising of three courses, which i taught during the 2011-2012 school year.

I will also post some photos from the Exhibit.

These visual notes are by Jackie McDowell.

Drawing by Jackie McDowell.

Drawing by Jackie McDowell.

And here is the  paper abstract summarizing the project objectives and research purpose.  The full paper will be presented and published next Spring. 

History of Architecture: Analysis and Synthesis Through Visual Notes

Miti Aiello, Full-Time Faculty

NewSchool of Architecture and Design, San Diego, California

The need to update and make relevant the study of History of Architecture in an evolving profession and academic environment has never been more urgent: our discipline demands not only an expanded scope (mandatory inclusion of global or ‘non-western’ traditions and architecture of the vernacular), but new methods of delivery and course projects that are interdisciplinary, that bridge the divide between studio courses and history and that educate the young practitioner in reading history utilizing the same
methods learned in design practice.

Spiro Kostof, the legendary UC Berkeley architectural historian, advocated giving students “something tangible to carry away to the drafting table”.

It is possible to adopt an educational methodology that questions monumental architecture of the past and the traditional, vernacular “architecture without architects” in the same way as students approach a design problem in studio. Hans Morgenthaler’s “Chronology versus System: Unleashing the Creative Potential of Architectural History” – which served as this paper’s catalyst- denounced the inadequacy of relying on the chronological organization of history and suggested designing the History course as a series of design problems or buildings/events, illustrated through architectural drawings (the language of our profession) and not photos. History of Architecture instructors are encouraged to “occupy themselves simultaneously with the study of the past, with critique, and with invention”.

The argument for learning history through drawing, in this case in the form of student-generated visual notes based on textbook reading is related to the ‘invention’ mentioned above and supported by Morgenthaler: “This approach derives from the understanding that a drawing is capable of communicating information about buildings impossible through other means. In addition, as a subjective record, drawings could become part of the history of ideas, as opposed to photographs, which are only evidence. Moreover, drawings express the “belief in architectural precedent and typology which gave relevance to history.” Rachael McCann in her “Exploding the History Survey” also introduced ‘graphic summary pages’ as active inquiry in her course at Mississippi State University, breaking down her large lecture course in smaller sections which would investigate a question brought forth by a particular building, through visual analysis. It is clear that History of Architecture lecturers are seeking novel, more critical models to articulate the course, and better narrate “a story of architecture”.

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Just completed a watercolor/collage on a drawing by my father.

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Ink and watercolor on hand.book paper. July 16, 2012.




Ink and watercolor on hand.book paper. July 16, 2012.

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Do not write love-poems. Avoid those forms which are too trite and commonplace: they are the hardest, for a great and mature power is needed to give of one’s own where good and often brilliant traditions throng upon one. Therefore betake yourself from the usual themes to those which your everyday life offers you. Paint your sadnesses and your desires, your passing thoughts and your belief in some kind of beauty

—paint all that with quiet and modest inward sincerity; and to express yourself use the things that surround you, the pictures of your dreams and the objects of your recollections. When your daily life seems barren, do not blame it; blame yourself rather and tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for the creative worker knows no barrenness and no poor indifferent place. And even if you were in a prison, whose walls prevented all the bustle of the world from reaching your senses, even then would you not still have your childhood, that precious, kingly wealth, that treasure-house of memories? Turn your attention towards it. Try to recall the forgotten sensations of that distant past; your personality will strengthen itself, your loneliness will extend itself and become a dusky dwelling and the noise of others will pass by it far away. And when from this turning inwards, from this retreat into your own world verses come into being, then you will not think of asking anyone, whether they are good verses. Nor will you try to get journals interested in these works, for you will see in them your own loved and natural possession, a part and an expression of your life. A work of art is good, when it is born of necessity.

Rainer Maria Rilke – Letters to a Young Poet

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El Templete, Habana Vieja (with water from the Malecon).
Ink on hand.book paper. Habana, Cuba. April 2012.


Example of Moorish (Mudéjar) Architecture in Habana Vieja.
Ink on hand.book paper. Habana, Cuba. April 2012.



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Music is a total constant. That’s why we have such a strong visceral connection to it, you know? Because a song can take you back instantly to a moment, or a place, or even a person. No matter what else has changed in you or the world, that one song stays the same, just like that moment.”

Sarah Dessen, Just Listen

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Ink and coffee on paper.

One more post before the month is over. I still have a lot of sketches to share and  am working on finding time to do some more collages (wow, the previous sentence needs to have more conviction to it!). Lots of changes going on around the world…. I am just sitting and seeing it all turn.
Wanted to share some words I received today:


Events of these past weeks remind us that as designers, faculty, engineers, authors, landscape architects, students, and architects we build landscapes and cities that fuel revolutions. Of knowledge and of hope…..Act of civil disobedience in Tunis and in Cairo are fueled by the spark of indignity. And in their Main Squares, we are reminded that Cities are embodied energy too. Below are words on cities. There are many.
 
Come, let yourself fall with me into the lunar scar of our city, scratched by sewers, crystal city of vapor and mineral frost, city witness to all we forget, city of carnivorous cliffs, city of immobile pain, city of immense brevity, city of the motionless sun, city of the long burning, city of the slow fires, city up to its neck in water, city of playful lethargy, city of black nerves, city of three umbilical scars, city of yellow laughter, city of twisted stink, city between air and worms, city of ancient lights ,old city nested among birds of omen, new city next to sculpture dust, city reflection of gigantic heaven, city of dark varnish and stonework, city beneath glistening mud, city of guts and tendons, city of violated defeat, city of submissive markets, city reflecting fury city of anxious failure, city woven with amnesia….
 
Carlos Fuentes
See you in February!

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Made on Illustrator and Mac

My second board for the faculty display wall. I now have a list of new art to add to my portfolio tabs, as this was a great opportunity to curate my artwork.

It feels great to be done (for now). Happy Halloween!

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Toolenburg- Zuid. Steven Holl

All images are from a research project completed by my student, Mariam Thomas, on Architects as Artists and their rendering/design techniques.

The relationship between architecture and art, and the study of practitioners who are also artists (with the mindframe of artists), whose design process transcends design practices and pragmatism to include enlightment, discoveries and art- wonderings is of immense interest to me. Not only because I come from Italy , where the greatest architects of ‘our’ Rinascimento where first and foremost artists, but because I believe Architecture (with the capital A) is meant to embody Art and , in the best cases, become visual poetry (or frozen music). The relationship between the word and the built, i.e, literature and architecture, and architects/artists who are poets and writers…all these are dynamics that not only fascinate me, but give me hope and recharge me. I would love to one day explore these themes through one of more courses.

It’s fantastic to see the relationship between Steven Holl’s initial sketches and watercolors and his buildings, which preserve intact the spirit of their inception. I saw one of his works on the water in Amsterdam: it was similar to an e. e cummings poem, minimal and undeniable.

The line is so thin between his grayscale watercolors (an obsession of mine lately) and his white-grey walls. Holl’s book ‘Written on Water’ is one of my favorite books in our library, I steal it often.

Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful. I need to complete some collages soon, semi-architectural, archigram-style.

I have only been collecting ‘collage material’ for eight years. I hold on to fragments that could one day be part of a piece, it is time to justify these attachments.

I can hear the words in my future memoir:

At the end of the aughts, beginning of the twenties, there was no work. We were all doing collages….they were beautiful. We had time to think, sometimes not, but we still had books, and paper, and ink.

 

Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum(1992-1998). Steven Holl

Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum(1992-1998). Steven Holl.

Nanjing Museum of Art & Architecture (2002-2009). Steven Holl.

Nanjing Museum of Art & Architecture (2002-2009). Steven Holl.

Knut Hamsen Museum (1994-2009). Steven Holl.

Knut Hamsen Museum (1994-2009). Steven Holl.

Knut Hamsen Museum (1994-2009). Steven Holl.

Chapel of St. Ignatius (1994-1997). Steven Holl

Simmons Hall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1999-2002). Steven Holl.

Simmons Hall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, CAD drawing. (1999-2002). Steven Holl.

Simmons Hall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1999-2002). Steven Holl.

Toolenburg- Zuid. Steven Holl

Toolenburg- Zuid. Steven Holl

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10 AM Roy de Vries- Learn to paint with Windsor & Newton Oil Bar

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Roy was our first mentor, We started the day experimenting with oil bars, a mix between big oil pastels and oil paint. They allow for playfulness and immediate gratification, while lending themselves to interesting blending and the joy of an oil painting without all the cleanup and threatened muddyness.

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First experiment with oil bars. Can't wait to pair this up with a poem.

  

11 AM Valerie Henderson- Hands on Monoprint Workshop

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'Stretching' the ink onto the plexiglass.

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Removing the ink, working on negative space and texture with toothpicks and cutips.

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The result: the spent plexiglass, the image and its ghost. I love prints and textures. Ready to be a designer for Ikea now;)

  

12 PM Lisa Starace- Screenprinting Demo
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1 PM Marcy Gordon- Water Color.

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Learning new watercolor techniques: wetting selecting areas of the drawing, alternating petals in this case, allows the water to have 'boundaries' and results in more controlled bleeding and blending.

 3 PM San Diego Guild of Puppetry- Overhead Shadow Puppetry: Tips and Techniques.

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Shadow puppetry ...what a magical workshop. Here are my first movable 'puppets': a chicken and a worm/dragon. This was pure fun and I started thinking about shadow puppetry for architectural application (a city skyline to start a journey into form exploration).

The back of the puppets. Lots of work goes into making the moveable parts seamless and invisible.

 

4 PM Chris Warren- Laptop Musicianship.
5 PM Jennifer Bennet- Collaborative Linoleum Print.

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My first linoleum print since art school. Miss carving.

 

 8 PM Colette Plush- A Visual Interpretation of a Sentence.

My starting sentence.

We followed a pretty elaborate process in choosing various hardware and found objects from various mounds, according to the number of words, adjective , verbs, the color of our sentence...

The end product.

I attended these workshops two Sundays ago at SD Space for Art. It was incredible, a whole day of art, a sort of ‘intervention’ that every creative should undergo at least once a year.

I apologize for the delay in posting this, and for going a bit M.I.A.  Fall Semester has started at my school and while there is new energy and new purpose in the air — and I’m excited for the History of Architecture class– there just seemed to not be enough hours in the day lately.

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Ink and Watercolor on paper. September 30,2010.

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The measure of a good book is its ability to haunt us. I have been delinquent; the past few days’ in-between moments, usually dedicated to art and this blog, stolen away by a classic charmer of a book, Jane Eyre.

Yet I have been thinking, almost pining, for another book –and the time and the place of its reading. This particular story begun for me on a train to Nice, on my way to Provence, during a fall where everything changed.
A  book, unlike anything read online, is forever tied to its place of discovery and unfolding. This alone speaks to the mindfulness of reading books.

The images, feelings before words, that keep coming back to me like a calling are from an exquisite, excruciating novel by Marguerite Dumas (of ‘The Lover’ fame- if you have not read the book or watched the movie, you are in for a ride) called, simply, Blue Eyes, Black Hair. In Italian though, it does sound better, more poetic, and less like a description of a convicted felon: Occhi blu, Capelli Neri.

The story, and premise of the book are meant to be forgotten, but not the feeling, the soul state (stato d’anima). The book is filled by silent presences and vocal absences; the words, the dialogues take place in the mind of the two main characters, but alas, they are never uttered.

Occhi Blu, Capelli Neri is about longing, isolation, deprivation and a love/passion/dependence that is meant to be measured out and sipped slowly (the italian word I am thinking of is centellinare); each moment, each degree of ‘closeness’, each kindness, must be begged for. The object of this liason is the breaking down of any vestige of pride till all is left is naked, raw need.

At least this is my interpretation of the book: while I do not remember all the particulars, I see ‘shots’ of the book as if, in reading it, I was already seeing the movie. If this ever became a film, it would be one of those French movies where the waiting replaces the action, where the climax is anticlimatic but intense. It would be a difficult, anxious, art house  movie that would no doubt not work for the majority of the moviegoing audience in this country (hard to eat popcorn to this, Eddie Izzard docet). But it would be a poignant, bittersweet movie that would leave a beautiful lingering sadness. Well, beautiful if you happen to believe that there is something arresting about sadness.

I read this review of the book, and have translated some sentences from the original Italian. I found the words used to describe the book intoxicating. Is it possible to get drunk on prose?

I enjoyed the nod to Dumas’ architectural awareness, I enjoyed finding in this essay a communion of feeling for the book, which became for me a shared human experience. It is surprisingly comforting to discover that I am not alone in the feelings elicited by this strange novel, and that there are people walking about, being haunted by the same imagery, poetry, longing.

 I owe this post to St Loup, a literary inspiration. Thank you, flâneur . And to these word I accompany some grayscale objects from my life, some recent watercolors (wanting chiaroscuro).

Here are some excerpts from the excellent review of Occhi Blu, Capelli Neri {Blue Eyes, Black Hair} by millenovecentosettantatre on ciao.it.

..Libro d’arte. Espressione vera di capacità e sensibilità, oscillanti tra le tre stoffe di prima. Una pièce, più che un romanzo

Arthouse book. True expression of ability and sensitivity, fluctuating between the swaths of fabric aforementioned. A pièce , rather than a novel.

Una concentrazione di parole fluide e belle, strutturate con la parola del narratore ad interferire e le intenzioni espresse a chiarire, spiegare, provocare.

A concentration of words, beautiful and fluid, structured with the narrator’s voice to interfere, and expressed intentions to clarify, explain, provoke.

Finta sceneggiatura di qualcosa, tra teatro e recitazione astratta e pensata con personaggi predefiniti, semplici nelle iconografie, fortissimi, tremendi, assurdamente complessi nelle logiche individuali.

Fake scenography of a something, between theatre or abstract acting with predefined characters in mind, simple in their iconographies, powerful, tremendous, absurdly complex in their individual logic.

L’amore è il Nuovo Romanzo francese, di cui l’autrice è figlia legittima. Quella struttura che in Alain Robbe-Grillet vede il fautore della nuova comunicazione scritta, che passa negli oggetti, nelle fantasie degli oggetti, nelle descrizioni paranoiche e reiterate, nell’immobilità e arriva al marchio finale, provato anche dal lettore alla chiusura del libro.

Love is the New French Novel, and the author is its legitimate daughter. That structure which, in Alain Robbe-Grillet witnesses the proponent of the new written communication, which traverses objects, fantasies of objects, paranoid, reiterated descriptions, stillness, and reaches the final stage, the selfsame felt by the reader at the closing of the book.

E’ l’amore mio per esso e per quel senso di configurazione deciso che prescinde dalla trama del racconto per lasciare un’orma, un’impronta, come se il libro fosse un album di foto personali, che non si riapre più ma che impolvera nel diritto di essere stato e avere dato.

It is the love I have for [this book] and for that impression of deliberate configuration which transcends the plot of the novel and leaves a footprint, a fingerprint, as if the book was an album of personal photos, which is meant to be open no more, yet gets covered in dust with the right of having been, and having given.

Località di mare. Non è nuova l’Autrice a parlarne. Spazia dall’Indocina alla cittadina francese dal mare freddo e bianco, tra architetture nate apposta per essere fuori stagione e spiagge testimoni di passeggiate silenti.

Seaside resort. Nothing new to the author. She ranges from Indochine to the French town endowed by a white,cold sea, to architectures born to be out-of-season, and beaches witness of silent walks.

Pareti, finestre, pensieri, silenzi, pensieri mentre l’altro o l’altra dorme. Nuovo romanzo puro. Silenzi. Dovrebbe essere pieno di pagine bianche, un libro come questo. Ne rimango sempre tramortito. Sempre.

Walls, windows, thoughts,silences, thoughts while the other (woman or man) sleeps. A New pure Novel. Silences. A book like this should be full of blank pages. I always end up stunned. Always.

Le pagine scorrono mentre montano le storie. Il distacco iniziale si fonde in una miscela densa che prende corpo e dona il sapore della trama, senza in realtà che ci sia mai stata.

The pages run as the stories mount. The initial detachment coalesce into a thick mixture which takes form and lends the  flavour of a plot, without a plot actually ever having been there.

Grande la Duras, in questo. Il romanzo corre via e sembra accompagnato da una musica di piano, leggero, struggente, assolutamente non enfatico o retorico. Neanche Chopin, forse Mahler per quel che ne so io.

Duras is great in this work. The novel spirits away and seems to be accompanied by the notes of a  piano, light, poignant, absolutely not emphatic or rethorical. Not even Chopin; for all I know it could be Mahler.

Sembra accompagnato da balli senza senso, modello maliarda, tra effluvi e movimenti di veli di seta, come nella descrizione della ragazza, spesso si legge. Un tourbillon di dorsi di mano e lacrime e sonni precari, tra “ieri ero lì” e “ieri era lì…” e così via con ogni coniugazione e meditazione possibile. Senza dolcezza sprecata, assolutamente.

[The novel] seems accompanied by senseless dances, as if by sorceress, betwixt efflusion and movements of silk veils, as we often read in the descriptions made by the girl. A tourbillon of backs of hands and tears and precarious sleeps, between “yesterday I was there” and “yesterday [he/she was there] and so on with every variant of conjugation and meditation possible. No wasted sweetness, whatsoever.

Un giorno di nubi diventato libro, con la stagione presumibilmente in decadenza e la noia che abbraccia e bacia le ore, una per una, come fossero tutte figlie sue, conosciute per quel che possono dare e odiate per quel che danno.

A cloudy day which becomes book, with the high season presumably decaying and boredom embracing and kissing the hours, each by each, as if they were all her own daughters, known by what they can give and hated for what they do give.

Il romanzo è complesso, intollerante di distrazioni o scivolate inerti. È un libro per persone sveglie e zitte, leste di emozioni nel torpore di un dolore qualunque.

The novel is complex, intolerant of distractions or inert slides. It is a book for those alert and quiet, quick of emotions in the torpor of any given sorrow.

È un cortometraggio breve di vita e di proibito di essa, girato e concepito dentro i privilegi tipici delle realtà durasiane, senza ipocrisie.

It is a short-lived, forbidding short, filmed and conceived within typical privileges of Durasian realities, without hypocrisies.

Un attacco ai piani alti dell’esistenza, condensati nelle bramosità e nelle ovvietà più inconfessabili. Condito ad arte dentro le attenzioni meravigliosamente femminili che l’Autrice dispone con senso teatrale, quasi da architetto d’interni oserei dire, che dispongono negli occhi blu a pelle chiara e capelli scuri, il fenotipo perfetto per la rappresentazione così disagiata di sentimenti forti e originalità estreme.

[It is] an attack to the lofty spheres of existence, condensed in the most inconfessable longing and obviousness. Artfully seasoned with wonderfully feminine attentions arranged by the author with theatrical sensibility, almost as an architect of interiors I dare say, which display in the blue eyes with fair skin and dark hair, the perfect phenotype for a most uneasy portrayal of strong feelings and extreme originality.

La passione, unico motore in un contesto straordinario dipinto d’arte, come è il libro, frutto di enorme talento. Se ne prova distacco e attrazione insieme. Antipatia per il fulgore di quei caratteri somatici così caldi e freddi insieme, tanto da far innamorare o incazzare senza  vie di compromesso. Il titolo ne enfatizza l’antitetica possibilità contenuta.

Passion, sole engine within an expertly painted, extraordinary context is, as the book, fruit of enourmous talent. One feels detachment and attraction at the same time. Antipathy for the blinding light of those somatic traits together so hot and cold, such as could make one fall in love or in a fit of rage without any way of compromising.
The title [of the book] underscores the antiethical possibility contained therein.

Niente di scomodo. Niente di decisamente scostante. Le pieghe scomode sono nell’essenza stessa semmai. Nella cerchia ristretta degli identificanti possibili: personaggi a parte, il mondo durasiano è fastidiosamente elitario a volte. Di quell’élite da sturbo, ideologica e strutturata nei salotti, di cui mi lamento ovunque. Una selva di cose belle per persone belle che ad una lettura profonda si immaginano poi neanche così belle. Alla francese più che altro.

Nothing uncomfortable here. Nothing decidedly unsettled. The uncomfortable folds are, if anything, the very essence of the story. Within the narrow circle of the possible identifiers: aside from the characters, the Durasian world is bothersome in its elitarianism at times. That self-numbing elite, ideological and designed around parlours, which I complain about everywhere. A moltitude of beautiful things for beautiful people who, upon further analysis, we imagine, are not even that beautiful. In French fashion, more than anything.

Il libro avanza, si srotola e finisce. Passando per la Duras, va letto assolutamente. Non passandoci, si può anche regalare e basta.
Un libro da donna non più giovane ma lontana comunque da tutte le donne possibili.

The book advances, unravels, then comes to an end. A must read, if your literary wanderings traverse Duras. In case they don’t, this book can be given as a gift. A book suited for a woman no longer young, yet invariably far from all possible women.’



The intricacies of the human heart, the complex workings of our minds are the true subject of Occhi Blu, Capelli Neri.

Catharsis: intense hatred must invariably stem from intense love; they are but two sides of the selfsame coin. I am humbled.

‘Never worry
About things
That you are unable
To change
Change your own way
Of looking at truth.’

Sri Chinmoy

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Loose Rendering. Ink, watercolor, prismacolor pencils. August 2010.



Lately, I’ve favored the watercolor and pencil technique, but want to get back to working with markers.

I found these two great tutorials on marker renderings from my blog friend and Urban Sketcher extraordinaire Suzanne Cabrera at An [Open] Sketchbook: can’t wait to share them with my students!

{ Tutorial 1: Furniture/Fabric }

{ Tutorial 2: Interior Rendering }

As usual, the wonderful Color Drawing book by Doyle will provide a lifetime’s worth of lessons.


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Marker Test @ Queen Califia's Magical Garden

Initial Sketch. Felt tip on heavy bond (sketchbook) paper.

Felt Tip on Marker (Rag) Paper.

Applying Watercolor 1.

Applying Watercolor 2.

End of ession at site. 20 Minutes. Wanted to have a loose base of color.

Adding Pencils (Albrecht Durer- Made in Germany), texture, few days after.

Do you remember Niki St. Phalle’s ‘Queen Califia’s Magical Garden’?

Well, I went back with my students for some loose watercolor and pencil renderings.

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After some meetings today I stopped by the library, Futo coffee in hand, and indulged in my favorite Architecture periodicals: Domus, Architectural Review and Harvard Design Magazine. An article on Surrealist Houses launched an expansive search on the Architecture of René Magritte; will share some of the findings here.

I've had Magritte (and collages) on my mind. Digital Manipulation on a photograph by Vijay Raghavendiran.

I am also thinking about watercolor these days: in both Freehand Drawing and Rendering and Delineation classes we are working with loose techniques. Here are some images that stopped me in my track during my quest.

Winter in Florence-La Pioggia- Watercolor and Ink. Professor George S. Loli, Dept. of Architecture, University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

Starry Night over the Rhone. Vincent Van Gogh. 1888.

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Freehand Drawing- In Class exercise. After rendering with Espresso, we use the leftover coffee to draw chair combinations, or rather, the void around the chairs, in a figure-ground setting.

Another exercise with  ‘Drawing on the Righ Side of the Brain’.  By drawing the space, not the chair, the proportions were incredibly accurate in all drawings.  The drawings can be read as Nolli Maps of imaginary cities, we can see piazzas, palazzi…we can see perspective, spatial configurations/plans, abstract paintings… I love the ambivalent water medium, the subtle, duplicitous, always multilayered  sepia tone.

From 'Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain' by Betty Edwards

From Page 54:

Look at the drawings on the right-hand side of Figure 4-11. Studens 1 and 2 copied Picasso’s drawing right side up. As you can see, their drawings did not improve, and they use the same stereotypic, symbolic forms in their copies of the Picasso Stravinsky as they used in their Draw-a-Person drawings. In the drawings done by Student 2, you can see the confusion caused by the foreshortened chair and Stravinsky crossed legs.

In contrast, the second two students, starting out at about the same level of skill, copied the Picasso upside down, just as you did. The Student 3 and the Student 4 drawings show the results. Surprisingly, the drawings done upside down reflect much greater accuracy of perception and appear to be much more skillfully drawn.

How can we explain this?

The results run counter to common sense. You simply would not expect that a figure observed and drawn upside down could possibly be easier to draw, with superior results, than one viewed and drawn in the normal right-side-up way. The lines, after all, are the same lines. Turning the Picasso drawing upside down doesn’t in any way rearrange the lines or make them easier to draw.  And the students did not suddenly acquire “talent”.


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Mango. Watercolor. June 6, 2010.

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Dr. Gregory House. Watercolor on Paper. June 3, 2010

I am a huge fan of House, MD, not only because the writing is refreshing and clever  (Cuddy:  I have a case! House: Beer? )and the ‘hero’ is an anti-herowith serious flaws but a rugged, sarcastic way of caring — I love the show because there is a link between House and Sherlock Holmes – and you all know how much I love the British sleuth (no, not the recent ‘action’ movie…eek).  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fashioned the character of Sherlock after his mentor, an eminent surgeon in Britain: with House, MD (whose name reminds us of Ho(l)mes)  we come full circle.

As I watched the Season Finale last night (go Huddy :)) I caught a bit of the making of the stage of the collapsed building. MMM…models! You can never get away from architecture.

PS. If you have never seen House in your life ignore the writing and enjoy the painting of the strange man above.

The Set Design in House’s Season Finale

Image via official website of House, MD. Is that a model??

Image via official website of House, MD. Yes, that's a crane. It would be fun to recreate movie or show sets in studio.

Image via official website of House, MD. Building the set.

Image via official website of House, MD. The final disaster scene.

If you like this sort of thing, here is a fantastic book, or three, on the relationshio between architecture and TV and movie set design.

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Watercolor on paper. June 3, 2010

The original family.


NaBloPoMo writing prompt of today:

Define ‘freedom’.

Traveling.

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(Follow the) Butterfly, Bone, Koa, String(s). Ink on trace paper. May 2010

Koa and Bone. Graphite and Watercolor. May 16, 2010


Some of you may remember my koa and bone set; here it is in ink and watercolor. The ink version is the one that surprised me the most: I noticed that by scanning the back of the drawing, the bracelet/string become more realistic, acquire thickness. The translucent properties of the trace paper and the shadows/distance/spaces created in the crevices lend this effect…something to keep in mind for the future.


We wander at night and are consumed by fire

I have been thinking and reading about Situationism:  there was once a time in which we were all Situationists.  I remember, as a teenager, roaming in the deserted streets of my neighborhood, on the ‘marina’ side of a small Calabria town. The whole neighborhood was a seasonal development and, in winter, my family (comprised of my mom, dad, and yours truly) was the only one living by the sea. Sometimes I would take off with my moped, the latest Stephen King tome and explore the abandoned villas, hide in construction sites, or walk over dried river beds– before exams, I would memorize historical dates while jumping from summer cabin to summer cabin, in the spring, when the grey beach and the deep sea were laying dormant, awaiting the summer sun, awaiting the brilliant cobalt colors and the golden heat…like they are probably doing now.
The Situationists would be proud of this roaming, untouched as it were by what they called ‘the consumer experience’.
Today I was an urban bedouin again, gathered in my scarves, on my pilgrimage (when you travel by bus it does feel like a pilgrimage, especially on Sundays) to the sea. Only grey waters reflecting grey skies today, but the sound was what I sought: this is my church and this is where I worship.



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Third Street Homes. Final. Watercolor, graphite, Prismacolor pencils. March 16, 2010


I finished my Third Street Homes ‘portraits’  (thankyou
Planetary Folklore for the great quote).

Since the last iteration I refined ground and sky, went over the watercolor with Prismacolor pencils to give the homes some texture, bumped up the contrast, pushed the darks a bit and, finally, worked on the vegetation and added the framing branches. You can see the first and second step here. C’est fini.

Speaking of buildings, here is an artist who goes around the world fixing crumbling buildings with Legos. (!)

The topic of these first three Artuesdays has been watercolor, and I would like to share the work of some very talented folks who are inspiring me for future paintings, in subject matter or technique:

Small Oil Paintings

Linda Halcomb

A Painting Today

Art and Design Studios

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Sea Fruit. Watercolor, charcoal and white Prismacolor pencil. March 13, 2010

This is a mental recollection of an exquisite painting, smaller than 8 X 10, that I once saw in my friend Sophia’s place. It was an oil painting, varnished, and the raspberry on the beach looked so large, lustrous and luminous. You could tell the translucent quality of the skin. This is my humble attemp at recreating that piece in watercolor: oil paint allows for more luster, and maybe one day I will try that as well, even though most of my painting are done in acrylic .

What symbolism this piece recalls, and what do you see, I wonder…

I had a wonderful art session with my favorite artistes today, a lunch at my favorite French Bistro and a stroll through Little Italy’s Farmer’s Market, where we picked up fruit and vegetables (our models). A good, full day, not untouched by worries ( hard times to be had by all) rather, a respite…and realizing that, in the words of a fellow New York Times reader:

‘A good academic degree pays for itself in a flexible mind and an ability to adapt as well as the richness of inner resources to survive hard times without despair.’

Sitting in Cafe’ Italia, with my watercolors, and my ‘model’ perched on a napkin, envisioning faraway beaches and the quality of the water in Calabria– and feeling glances from patrons–I realize Art is a wonderful privilege, an ability to lose one’s self and a giving of kind, compassionate time to one’s self. Like every privilege, to me at least, art is also a responsibility.  Of course the endless list of chores awaits, yet I felt what art offers is more than escapism or absorbing creativity produced by others , as in savoring a book or basking in a glorious movie ( I love both): with art we create our own narrative, as in writing a book vs.  reading one. Does it make sense to be then a bit exhausted after a creative session? Perhaps it is all about resistance…learning to teach the wrist and mind to embody ‘effortlessness’.

Not to mention the refinement of the medium. This was the fourth serious attemp/experiment with watercolor I have done.

I will never forget, while following ‘The Artist’s Way’, one was to go for a week without reading. Reading has been in the past a way to procrastinate creating in the first person, a way to be vicariously creative . We must watch that.

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Third Street Homes. Graphite and Watercolor. Feb. 25, 2010.

Well, here is the finished (first) watercolor layer.   One more iteration is needed, as much as I am ready to move on to the next project.

Contrast and shade and shadow, ink and lineweight, and perhaps a layer of color pencil for texture.  What I am looking for is for these homes to ‘pop’, and come alive – just as the first house on the left begins to do; perhaps one more targeted watercolor wash is needed (just on the areas of shade and shadow), perhaps just going over with ink.  Perhaps more art, less architecture.  I am proceeding with caution as there is a hair of a difference between a watercolor and a muddy mess.  Somewhere in between there is a rendering that satisfies.   I will keep you tuned.

Speaking about the Impressionists in class last Thursday, we discussed how they believed that an object, painted in a different light, becomes a different object altogether, imbued with a changing feeling, a changing ‘impression’.

Perhaps we, as viewers become different people too.

As I was completing the watercolor I met Wanda, a neighbor, who kept me company for my plen-air session. I told her how Monet painted the same cathedral and haystacks about a hundred times, and we pondered how much persistence and dedication it would take. Would familiarity become comfort after a while, a sort of therapeutic, zen-like activity?

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Third Street Homes- Ink on trace. February 24, 2010

Third Street Homes - Graphite and watercolor. February 25, 2010

I have been squeezing some plein air drawing/watercolor-ing in between classes, lectures and sketchbook exchanges.

This is the continuation of the project started last week. I inked the pencil drawing to use for a future marker rendering, and started to give it some lineweight, while I continued with some washes on the original- now finished- pencil drawing. Hope to finish to the watercolor tomorrow.

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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’.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SKETCHING

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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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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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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lemons

Watercolor and Graphite. November 12, 2009

persimmon1

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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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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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.

–Rumi

from  http://jaibhakti.blogspot.com

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