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Posts Tagged ‘Watercolor’

The summer is near and it’s time to come back…

Here a quick watercolor from two weeks ago – a day trip with my Graduate students in the Architectural and Urban History Class.

We visited the Getty Villa- a replica of a Roman House in Santa Monica, California ( replica done with some poetic and unpoetic licenses…), contained in the Silvetti Machado contemporary expansion, a poem in stone that sets the Villa in an imagined archeological dig, with strata of travertine marble and concrete to pay homage to Roma.

Architecture is poetry in stone

The days since my last post have been filled with school activities, gratitude, beauty, poetry, reading, and finally.. some sun after the May Gray and June Gloom burned off. Oh, and I’m finally getting my place to where I want to be ( thankyou Marie Kondo).

Things are ( finally ) falling into place. It’s funny but I used to produce more art– and share more poetry — when my life was more chaotic, and centeredness has meant more introspection and less output. Now I’m much more deliberate and mindful of what/when to share…

I still have to steal these moments for art ( the demands of the modern living condition!) but I realize that there will always be more work to do, and let us all stop glorifying being busy.

Art helps us being in the Now- and that is all we have…I want to do less and be more. Thank you for reading, single reader.

Do you meditate? I have been for few months…and have added short gratitude prayers, reading and alignment to start the morning right. They say if you conquer the morning you conquer the day- and if you conquer the day you conquer your life.

Some days are better than others- and this weekend I will be going to my first spiritual retreat.

It has been one good, long day.

I trust all will be shared in time.

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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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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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Thank you mamma for letting me draw on the walls with permanent markers, for drawing our profiles in the moonlight, for the watermelon eaten with spoons on a beach still asleep, for all the walks,  for the picnics in lawns amongst the highways, where you would bring my net, so I could catch butterflies.

I’m still catching butterflies.
I love 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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I found and lost myself inside of that night. Collage. Graphite, fountain ink, found objects. San Diego. December 9, 2013.

I found and lost myself inside of that night. Collage. Graphite, fountain ink, found objects. San Diego. December 9, 2013.



These collages are starting to need a change of byline for SketchBloom: Art Therapy. Oh well;)

Above, a work in progress (and, darling aren’t we all?)..not sure which way it will go.

In the midst of nude painting to be done from memory (and I have started sketching, too bad the final product won’t be posted here), there’s been art and feelings on fire.

In the quest for ASCII hearts ( yes, lots of hearts are needed ) I found these lovely images.

All credits to benjscott.com

All credits to benjscott.com

The image above is from http://www.benjscott.com/artscii/. Click to be taken to more exquisite ASCII art images and his program.

The ascii art images above are from http://www.benjscott.com/artscii/. Click to be taken to his program.

This is a program called ASCIIART – which goes beyond recreating images in characters to delving into typography…and…this had me at hello.

I cannot wait to experiment with some black and white art.


Also, a return to poetry, literature and tender music. Maybe a new poem will blossom soon…the ingredients are there once again.

Some quotes from a book I am finally finishing (quotes that became a poem): The Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.
Freedom and loneliness overlap, look in the mirror, my face, these words reversed.


Hearing his name caused him to turn back again

looking into her eyes was like standing by a door slightly ajar

how could you not push open the door

see what lay inside?

And that door seemed to open a little.

and the glimpse he had beyond the door tortured him

he wanted to say more, to say everything on his mind, but he couldn’t.

It wasn’t a question of language.

He doubted the words existed in any language.

He  forced himself to look away from her then.

It was like prying a magnet off steel.

It was as though, outside of that room, there could be such a thing as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

And then there was her.

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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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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 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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Crocheting Cathedrals. Il Duomo with parasitic architecture (stage for New Year's festivities). Ink and watercolor on hand.book paper. December 31, 2011.

Aperol and Spritz. Most of the older ladies in my neighborhood are incredibly fashionable, decked in the latest trend winter coat. Here's two enjoying a mildly alcoholic aperitivo at 11 AM. Ink on hand.book paper. December 31, 2011.

Santa Maria Presso San Satiro. The obligatory pilgrimage to the second Bramante's church. Last year I drew Santa Maria Delle Grazie, which is near to my place. I am always amazed by the playfulness and modernity of the oculi (round windows) on the Northern Romanesque facade. I found out that the space in front of the church is called 'Largo Jorge Luis Borges'. Can it get better than this?
Ink on hand.book paper. December 31, 2011.

Window of the Pio Albergo Trivulzio. In an act of Flanerie, I got lost trying to reach the Roseto, and found these whimsical, almost Gaudi-like windows on a palazzo I had not seen since my childhood, painted in the typical warm 'Milanese Yellow' (think saffron rice and add a patina of melancholy, smog and time). Ink on hand.book paper. January 1, 2012.

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Ink drawing, Watercolor. 16 November 2011.

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

I was recently reunited with luggage lost 45 days ago.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before you read, keep this in mind:

Fire in Arabic is ‘Nar’.

………….

My Orange

by Michele Foyer


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

From this…

…to a process of cutting and puzzle-making…

to this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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Mango. Watercolor. June 6, 2010.

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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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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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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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Terragni, Casa Del Fascio, Como, 1932

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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