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Archive for the ‘sketchbook’ Category

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Postcard from the Chagall Exhibit at the Palazzo Reale in Milano, December 2016 | Fountain ink drawing of Krishna’s silhouette on Muji thin sketchbook paper.

Art is a refuge from the busy hive of activity…and I’m lifted.

Sometimes I even float.

A fleeting instant, the diver coming up for air.

Digital painting on Sketches app. January 19, 2020.

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Rainer Maria Rilke writes:

Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write.

This above all — ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple “I must,” then build your life according to this necessity; your life even into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of this urge and a testimony to it.

[…]
A work of art is good if it has sprung from necessity. In this nature of its origin lies the judgment of it: there is no other.

In this spirit I offer you, Reader, this poem and these images, stemming from one brief November visit to the city than never sleeps – and several months of correspondence.

 

 

In a New York Minute [Glissando]

 

“If you can receive it at the wavelength is is playing at, you may love it.”

From a review of the series “Forever”

 

 

We existed

in the ellipses between

words appearing on screen

and giving up

 

Suspended above the city

you loved how I used the word luscious

 

We kissed with our souls

on the tip of our tongue

this is from Spoon River Anthology

 

You are morse code

and I need continuity

 

–when I asked if we were ships in the night

and you said yes did you notice me wiping the water

on my cheeks? I barely noticed too.

 

But then you said : “Body and heart.”

Body and heart.

 

You spoke of fire between our souls,

as if you knew about souls.

You only know about fire.

 

My tears don’t fall

I do

every single time

— how many goodbyes did it take?

 

So elegant in your detachment, like it was an art form.

Precise in your choice of words,

I fell in love with your philosopher brain.

I still fall in love with it every time — liminal.

 

A New York minute.

You were the space separating

Love and reason

 

I was addicted to a city

giddy at the thought of walking her streets beside you

how do you fly and walk

at the same time?

 

Even if you don’t see her torn feet

the effortless dance of the ballerina

is a flower bloomed out of pain.

 

Take each sentence, rearrange as you wish.

This is not to scale.

The timeline is not linear.

 

To hear you whisper, half-asleep: “When?”

Zero things better.

 

I heard that New York is the heartbeat of the world.

In that heartbeat a part of me is marked by your passage.

 

We will never go to Tokyo.

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Well,  Happy New Year.

I think it’s valid to still say that, as long as we are still in January.

Last night I attended the last Friday night Jazz at the Handlery Hotel. I had only some copy paper, a bic pen and an Arabic calligraphy in my bag ..but was so thirsty for drawing that I started something I was hoping would just be an exercise…but I’m actually happy with it.

I am sure You, Single Reader, have been wondering if the Earth swallowed me whole…

Since my last post I visited Oaxaca, Mexico, then was in New York (each for a long weekend) and finally, in Milano for the Christmas holidays.

Instagram is the reason I have neglected my blog..it is much easier and more immediate to share work there..where in here the point is to craft each post. But I am here today because (thankfully) the Instagram Gods thought my drawing too long to post it there in its entirety..and so I am following my own advice (which I never do) and posting here first..and then a “teaser” on IG.

I have been working on a long New York poem, and still have to share my photos and a drawing from there…same with Oaxaca. I also have couple of artist features to share with you (and which you will love). But, this shall suffice for now…the demands of life and career are calling me- the forces which prey me away from my craft and from this digital room which is my calm and my natural habitat.

The good news is that I am teaching a Drawing/Representation course for design (not Architecture) students, so I have been practicing what I preach. And,  there is more freedom and anarchy to be outside of the realm of my chosen profession.

Until soon…..

Here is to closing parenthesis.

 

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I finished my visual journal a week after Roxanne Evans Stout’s beautiful workshop, but left right away to Oaxaca, Mexico ( photos forthcoming 😊). Here are some photos taken outside of Jana Freeman’s fabulous Way Art Yonder workshops (above) , Day 2 of the workshop ( details from Roxanne’s teaching table and my work area with “preparatory piles”) and, finally, my completed journal.

At home, I had to co-opt my kitchen ( I need my studio back 🤪)… but thought this would make a nice tableau, so I’m sharing it here. This is how things looked deep in the night, two Sundays ago..

And finally…c’est fini! My first art journal – and first video posted here on SketchBloom.

All of the lovely journals from the workshop:

A closing plen air celebration at the end of the weekend. Can’t wait for my next (February) art workshop…

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Butterfly Closures (a type of band-aid for deep cuts and stitches sold in the U.S). Mixed media on paper, ink and graphite. Better Buzz Coffee Roasters, Mission Beach, San Diego. September 22, 2018

 

The belief that women talk too much is rooted in the understanding that women should be silent.  “The talkativeness of women has been gauged in comparison not with men but with silence,” is how well-known feminist Dale Spender explained her reasoning in her book Man Made Language written decades ago. “Women have not been judged on the grounds of whether they talk more than men, but of whether they talk more than silent women.”

Emily Peck

 

This is another novella.

“Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.”

William Wordsworth

 

Angel comes from the Greek angelos, the messenger, the sent one.

 

Who more than the poets can speak about love?

-she said I contain worlds-

after six days his kisses stopped

he who told me all my no’s became yes’s

he who brought the wind

he who said I talked too much

-but could not spell-

and taught me to stay

by being the one who left.

 

“Never gift a book to someone who doesn’t understand vowels.”

 

I’m just removing the pebbles I’ve had in my shoes for two months, yes tonight- yes he was sweet, boiling ice. Yes he was heartless.

It’s the light in your eyes I cling on to save me

-or distract me-

my fallacy

the shine of yet another city – and i am the magpie with butterfly wings.

 

Of eyes i like when they tighten to focus like the lens of a camera

a mind is sometimes a beautiful forest, and layered people

a cosmos

he was my mirror, but you are on the other side of this screen

 

I have been running for seven years

but i was never more beautiful than the night we first went out – that glow was hope.

Seven years is what it takes for all cells in the body to renew

therefore in November I am, molecularly, a whole different person than the one she knew.

 

In July the old woman asked me why I was not married.

“God has to send me an an angel.” I replied. “An angel.”

 

We made fire in August. Consume.

We were southern blood, I was like sea.

To suffer for love is the greatest privilege.

In the morning the sun would wake me up by warming my feet; at one the vendors made their way back from the beach. We passed black bodies picking tomatoes in the fields of Sardinia.

They started pulling the umbrellas from the sand in the clubs in September. The light in the house was always crepuscular, like Tara in Gone With The Wind.

 

I guess it boils down to a lack of belief, a lack of patience

I am impetuous, and impulsive – female like guerra

if two pieces in a puzzle are too much alike, they don’t lock

I never thought your tattoos could cut me

I followed their path : they taught me the root of the word “seduction”

your eyes stopped seeing me, and it felt like violence.

 

Poetry is making pain elegant, and writing with broken hands.

Cruelty is not giving the beautiful words you say you have- to someone who lives by them. Mercy is never knowing when the last time comes.

 

“What we initially fall in love with is what hurts us the most in the end; he dressed really well, he was early, and his hair spelled trouble.”

I ran away to the ease of palmtrees and terracotta tiles (a cop-out)

because you cannot heal where you got sick – and I know you take yourself wherever you go, but 7,000 miles in between help.

They say it’s enough if only one of the two loves

and we know that i’m in love with the feeling,

the person is just an excuse.

it is not you who i missed- but what came with you;

I belong to freedom, and my art.

I steal words from my travels.

 

I can tell you in real life (IRL) men do not come in the middle of the night to tell you they don’t want to lose you- no matter how pretty or intelligent you are. nothing is fought for any more, and stories end for a nothing, for fear, on cloudy mondays.

 

Poets are one soul in the end, share one collective heart

the only ones who are not ashamed of being publicly immolated

but on the contrary, they show their wounds to the sun

they never explain them

– and that’s how they heal.

 

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Ink and graphite on hand.book paper. Sardinia, August 5, 2018.

Travel and tell no one,

live a true love story and tell no one,

live happily and tell no one,

people ruin beautiful things.

Kahlil Gibran

 

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Paintings by Suanne Summers

On Sunday I was lucky enough to spend the afternoon at my friend Jana Freeman’s Way Art Yonder Studio for one of her monthly open studio days. I met Jana at my school, first we were friendly colleagues then mischievous friends, and now she is living the Dream running her own art studio and hosting incredible workshops with Mixed Media artists the world over…

Here is a sample of the work I was “curiousing” on on Sunday ( yes, I am making up this word). Most of the vibrant work I photographed is by Suanne Summers, then there is the dreamy stitch/ fabric art of Shelley Watkins and the layered collages of Krista Jarrard. Jana, the studio owner, can be seen completing one of her exquisite pieces. This is my Art tribe, comprising of Carla Bange who could not make it this time.

Paintings by Suanne Summers

Collage in progress by Krista Jarrard

Jana in the process of assembling one of her captivating mixed media works on small square canvases, painted black.

This cool collage is by a sweet lady from Minnesota (!) . I will find out her name 🤔[[[[[[

Fabric/stitch art by Shelley Watkins. She dyes her own fabric 😮

Above, Jana and her regal ring touching one of Shelley’s distressed samples of fabric. She uses a process involving peroxide to “ eat through” the fabric. We named this “ Dickensian Orphanage, or the street urchins.”

Here is more of Suanne’s work:

What can I say, these ladies have been at this a long time and I need to up my game and get back to my collages instead of collecting drawerfuls of materials (but if I say so my self I have lots of exciting materia prima from my travels).

But first I want to finish my “flower portrait”- here is the work-in-progress ( which will include poetry and mixed media). The

The original was GORGEOUS, made for me by a very special person who ” painted” my portrait with handpicked flowers. {swoon}

Work in progress, acrylic on canvas.

Jana and I at Way Art Yonder, my happy place!

Thank you Jana!

I will soon be back under the portico with my bags 😉

This is one place where I don’t feel bad lugging all my stuff with me- as all the other tribe members do the same. I think I found my people.

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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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The French poet Paul Valéry said that all things are generated from an interruption. I learned this from my favorite Italian thinker, Alessandro Baricco, here in en español, whose lectures – to be found only in Italian – I listen to to learn about literature, writing, and life.

There were many interruptions this year, and not just personal. I can think of the devastating Hurricane Irma in my beloved, beautiful Puerto Rico, or the September 19 earthquake in my favorite city this side of the Atlantic, Ciudad De México – which occurred on the 32nd Anniversary of an earthquake that killed more that 10.000 people.

My personal earthquake and hurricane happened on August 21 of this year, when my dad passed away. I can now finally begin to write this sentence, and about it, without being swallowed up in the chasm that this loss left in my life. I know his spirit went back to his sea, where he returned, and I feel he is near, both inside my heart and dancing around in freedom and light. I like to think I can take him with me wherever I go now, and share my life in a more immediate way. I like to think his energy was transformed into waves of the sea. The sea can hug you, yet you can’t hug the sea, his immensity. I like to think he is in a butterfly, sometimes in a song. A friend of mine wrote “I heard your dad went back to the Universe”. I like that.

My dad loved the Old Man and The Sea, drawing boats and fish, Jonathan Seagull, reading, Venice, watching documentaries on nature, fishing, and working on his boat. He loved his friends and he loved me. He is the reason art is in my life. He is the reason I read One Hundred Years of Solitude in middle school (I used to raid the books of his youth unbeknownst to both my parents). It became my favorite book, it still is, and magical realism, anarchy and arcane literary worlds shaped who I am.

I thought about coming back to SketchBloom with a post on Van Gogh, and the film Loving Vincent, which I saw this month. The movie reminded me of my dad, of his love of painting, his simple bedroom , and his fisherman shack on the beach, La Baracca Del Bucaniere, which he lovely composed for the last ten years of his life here on the Earth school.

That post is in the pipeline, and I took new photos of his sculpture when I was last in Calabria –  but I wanted to return with a sketch, a return to art.

I just got back from Mexico (that is how the locals call it, Mexico…no need to use “Ciudad de”) yesterday, where I finally got over my protracted artist’s block.

Here, a simple sketch (above) and some photos/vignettes/stories I bring back from my trip.

Walking in Coyoacán – Frida’s neighborhood:

Scenes from Roma, one of the neighborhoods of DF:

This is Barba Azul, a cabaret from another era, where salsa is danced from midnight till dawn, where there is an altar upstairs (I have seen them in parking lots, too) and where the exit is a tiny rectangle carved into a decorated garage door- something out Pinocchio’s Paese dei Balocchi (toyland)…or a circus in a Fellini movie. One of the many surreal vignettes of this metropolis.

Unfortunately I could not take a better photo of it (with the usher emerging!) but it is on my list for next time. I also learned about the ficheras , the ladies of the establishment who sell a dance for a token (and more, at their discretion).

The obligatory photo of the Palacio De Bellas Artes, November 2017 version:

Where I had the chance to see Diego Rivera’s murals…

…and learn about the Rojo Mexicano (the red pigment from cochinilla bugs found inside the cactus fruits in Oaxaca, which was utilized in paintings around the world from the XV Century to the XIX) and see Van Gogh’s Bedroom At Arles with my own eyes (!!!).

I also visited Cuernavaca, La Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera (The City of the Eternal Spring), where i completed my yearly self-evaluation for #work in a garden within Jardines de Mexico, surrounded by butterflies. Talk about INSPIRING.

Italian Garden at Jardines De Mexico (my favorite, obv)

In Cuernavaca, I stayed in a copy of Unité d’Habitacion (but if you follow me on Instagram you already know this).

I want to close with a poem by Octavio Paz — who is considered the greatest Mexican poet and thinker — and, of course, was a native of Mexico City.

This is his poem Hablo de la Ciudad | I Speak of the City. Below the text in the original Spanish and the translation in English.

This poem perfectly encapsulates what Mexico City is. I have more posts on La Ciudad to craft, from my previous visits, and more poetry- but this shall suffice for tonight.

Here is to more gentle earthquakes and hurricanes in 2018, inner ones to bring soul renewals, and to a kinder year.

For the Aztecs, this was the bellybutton of the Moon.

Nos vemos pronto, Tenochtitlán.

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Piazzetta Basilone e Civico 1845. Little Italy, San Diego.  Graphite, ink, and marker. September 2016.

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You might remember this drawing from November.
I finally finished at the beginning of January, on a cold (for San Diego) night, sitting in front of this 100-yearY building, under a portico.
Balboa Park always takes me back home. This entire drawing was done plen air and took me few sessions over several months to complete.
It will be on its way to San José, Costa Rica soon.

This is a quick photo, but i have a piecemeal scanned version ( sheet too large for my scanner, and the wide format at work is not very kind to graphite).I will try to compose the image and sub for it soon – but it has already been a whole week since this post languished in the draft purgatory and i want to get to my next night photography post.
Clouds make nocturnal old San Diego heartbreakingly beautiful.

By the way, i hope you all had a fantastic Holiday Break.
I just got back from another trip to México, and i have Mayan pyramids,cenotes, colonial towns and caribbean waters to share. I cannot believe i haven’t had the chance to share my two trips to Ciudad de México D.F from last July and November (¡Frida!) ..yet.
So next there will be a series of posts on México “lindo y querido”.

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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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Luminaires- Café Lulu. San Diego, May 9, 2014. Ink, marker, digital collage.

Luminaires- Café Lulu. San Diego, May 9, 2014. Ink, marker, digital collage.

 

 

On Being an Artist

Noelle Kocot

 

Saturn seems habitual,
The way it rages in the sky
When we’re not looking.
On this note, the trees still sing
To me, and I long for this
Mottled world.  Patterns
Of the lamplight on this leather,
The sun, listening.
My brother, my sister,
I was born to tell you certain
Things, even if no one
Really listens.  Give it back
To me, as the bird takes up
The whole sky, ruined with
Nightfall.  If I can remember
The words in the storm,
I will be well enough to sit
Here with you a little while.

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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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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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Collage, Buffalo, NY. April 2013.

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Collage, Buffalo, NY. April 2013.

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Ink and lipgloss on hand. book paper. November 2012.

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This photo was taken by my dear friend and photographer/artist extraordinaire Maha Comianos.

She is currently exploring the creative side of architects in her Archi * Artist Series, among many other artistic endeavors.

Check out her inspired work at:
http://www.studiomaha.com

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Ink drawing of The Age of Enlightenment – Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breuteuil, Marquise de Châtelet, 2008 by Yinka Shonibare, MBE



There are particular nights, small time frames, where everything you want, and, yes -everything you need- is given to you.

You watch your life unfolding perfectly, like a well-written screenplay of a comedy of errors, where the characters, after a series of ‘harrowing events’ and near misses, find each other at last. These nights you believe in signs, and that there are no coincidences.

I am not saying that life or love have a happy ending, but some days do.

Last Friday, the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park hosted an extraordinary event, part of their Summer Salon Series (inspired by the tradition of French literary and cultural salons). This event was a 36 Hour ‘continued’ Salon taking place in the museum’s galleries (open consecutively for 36 hours…I will never forget contemplating Egon Schiele at 2 in the morning), auditorium, and outdoors in the sculpture garden.

Needless to say, the collection of happenings taking place ranged from the superb to the surreal. Wandering in the museum galleries in the wee hours of night with other artists, revellers and cool types felt very subversive and….Big City.

A Yes Men lecture, an avant-garde play on self-loop for four hours, museum tours, German Expressionist Cinema, ambient music with obligatory trippy visualizations, live bands, a napping station plen air, stargazing on the lawn of the sculpture garden, drawing dreams and nightmares and, my favorite, a marching band in which us, the audience, were given a makeshift instrument and played (and marched) directed by the one-man band’s crazy frontman.

The general feeling of anarchy, and being caught between confusion/freedom/disbelief/engagement made this event very Dada, or something the Situationists would have conjured up…

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During a lecture, I drew one of the pieces on display {above}. you can find a photo of the piece here.

From the museum’s literature: The Age of Enlightenment – Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breuteuil, Marquise de Châtelet, is from a series of five figures depicting notable philosophers from the eighteenth century. The marquise, fluent in several languages and an accomplished mathematician and physicist, personified the “enlightened” person. Her lasting legacy is the translation and critique of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica that is still used to this day. Despite the fact that the Marquise de Châtelet was a leading mind of eighteenth-century France, much of her work was overlooked because of her gender. Her most famous lover, Voltaire, described her as a ‘great man’ whose only fault was being a woman.

I like to think that the Marquise is headless because she has never been recognized for her work and her name is virtually unknown.

She has been deliberately omitted in the annals of His-tory.

The fabric of her dress also tells a fascinating story of colonialism and the fallacy of ‘tradition’.

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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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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 on Miquelrius paper. September 20,2011.

Ink on Miquelrius paper. September 20,2011.

You can write anytime you like,

But you can never reach.

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Thinking of Valerie. Ink on paper. August 10,2011.

From 'Art and Anarchy', Edgar Wind. 1965

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Book: Eros e Thanatos; sketch, ink on paper. April 2, 2011



History of Coffee

 

Ethiopian sheperds

discovered coffee

when they realized

their goats

began to dance.

 

Michelle Ramadan

 
 

 
 

 

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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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Ink on paper. February 2011.

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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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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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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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