October 21, 2014

sketchcrawl 45: san francisco

Unusually small turnout for the sketchcrawl this time. We met at the Ferry Building on Embarcadero, which I've drawn many times before, so this time I went to check out the nearby sculpture SOMA by Flaming Lotus Girls which is said to represent two neurons firing in communication and apparently glows at night. Later in the evening I stopped by Academy of Art University on Powell Street, where I teach, where the students were well underway in their 24 Hour Comics marathon. Such focus and creativity and enough participants to fill Bradley Hall, our ballroom turned drawing theatre. For sure a better turnout than sketchcrawl!

Rota Vicentina

I have been walking ROTA VICENTINA, a track (GR) along the south atlantic coast of Portugal. The whole trail will need about 15 walking days but, after the first experience, we don't want to spare any of them.

It is a wonderful walk, along the shore, with stunning viewpoints and great beaches.
All the way beautiful views want to jump into my sketchbook and, some of them, finish on my BLOG. The trouble is to select them, keep walking, and arrive on time for dinner and sleeping by the end of the journey.

October 20, 2014

Sketchcrawling in LA...

Saturday was a beautiful fall day in Los Angeles for the LA Sketchcrawl group to meet...and as always, Shiho Nakaza organized a great day!  Shiho and I are posting together on this one.  As you see, we had a good turnout!

The Los Angeles Sketchcrawl group decided to revisit our favorite sketching location: Union Station. This sketchcrawl was also a part of Big Draw LA events (http://thebigdrawla.org/), so I'm glad to meet new people that found out about this event through Big Draw LA event calendar. I could only stay for about an hour and was busy chatting with other sketchers, so I did a quick sketch in about 5 minutes, and added the colors with watercolor later. I chose to focus on the iconic lighting hanging inside the lobby area, and I love how morning light was filtering through the high ceiling and frosted glass. 

Union Station is a real architectural treasure, built in 1939 and is variously described as "Mission Revival" and "Streamline Moderne".  I sketched this view of the clock tower from one of the Spanish-style garden patios that flank the elegant waiting area sketched by Shiho above.  Sketchcrawls are always a great way to meet fellow sketchers--and I find I need to sketch faster than usual...

Many of the group headed next across the street to Olvera Street, at the heart of the original El Pueblo de Los Angeles for lunch and more sketching...here visitors browse the stalls in the afternoon...

Above Olvera Street is another treasure and an important piece of history, "América Tropical".  In 1932, David Alfaro Siqueiros, a founding member of the Mexican Muralist movement, created a mural overlooking Olvera Street.  Those who expected a nostalgic scene were shocked when they saw Siqueiros' passionate political imagery.  Sadly, the mural was whitewashed in 1938, but later on began to show through and has now been conserved.  I sketched the ghostly image from the viewing platform, listening to the very gracious museum guide explain its history to visitors...

My quick sketch doesn't do justice to the mural...here's a photo I took of what it looks like now:
...and a link to more information and a black and white image of what it looked like in 1932:

Two visits to São Paulo: Before and After the Symposium

Just when you thought the Brazil posts were finishing… I am finally about to getting around to sharing a few highlights and reflections. I had nearly three weeks in Brazil and it was a totally unforgettable experience. Not only did I love being in such a vibrant place but I was always in the company of fellow urban sketchers - either visiting like me or locals. I was in Sao Paulo at the start and the beginning of the trip and it is interesting to compare the sketches from the two periods - so that is what I want to do with this post.

There is no better way to start a trip than by two serious sketching days with Marc Taro Holmes. Every symposium we try to have at least one day together (the tradition started in 2011 with our Belem Day) so to have 2 was a special treat. Sketching with Marc is always fun - we have all kinds of fascinating and insightful art chats and he always manages to produce masterpiece after masterpiece - even when he is using a non tested palette of new colours! You can read all about Marc's sketching and the impressive collection of sketches he produced with this limited palette here.

I had not been doing much urban sketching in the lead up to the trip - seriously sketching too many teacups - so it was a total shock to the system to be out on the streets in a mega busy city on my first day after my long haul flight. The first sketch of the Cathedral (above) was done in the most intense situation ever - surrounded by 'interesting' people, a man shouting behind us, a woman shouting at me (and blocking my line of sight),  people coming up to look and chat… and I was worrying at all times about security. But if you sketch regularly somehow your reflex sketching kicks in and I was thankful that Marc was doing most of the chatting to onlookers. You can read the full report of the day on my blog.

I find that it takes me 24 hours to get the feel for a new place - the vibe, the local colours and light - and how to translate it onto my page. In addition, after a long haul flight I need time, to get back into 'the groove' - the state where I am feeling comfortable and my work flows out of me. But even when I am in the goove there is always a number of tensions that are bouncing around in my head. A big scene or a control composition? - how should I use line and colour? are two recurring themes while I sketch. Till I found my feet, I sketched in my traditional way of line first then colour. But on the second day I made a switch after this sketch of Casa das Rosa. It is a beautiful 'coffee mansion' on Ave Paulista… one of the last standing.

These days I find the line first approach can be a little dull - whilst I like the outcome I have more fun when I mix up line and colour. For the rest of my time in Sao Paulo that is what I did.
Sketching the magnificent Estacau de Luz in a looser and quicker style - mixing line and colour and using the variable thickness line of my Sailor pen. It is faster if you add colour first and you are less likely to overdo the linework.

An afternoon spent in the Consolacao cemetery - using a similar approach and with a very limited palette. Read the full report of the day here.

On my return to Sao Paulo after the symposium (and after a week in Rio) there is quite a change in my work. For one thing my colour is stronger and I was really striving to base my sketches on good strong shapes. Doing Behzad Bagheri's workshop was a real catalyst for me to focus even more on shapes and rich watercolour mixtures on the page. There is a  difference in the subject matter too - still architecture but a radical shift in style! Pre:Paraty I was with Marc sketching all the elaborately decorated buildings from early 20th century. Post:Paraty I was with architects (Emma Fitzgerald and local USker Ronaldo) and we were tracking down modern buildings.
I really fell in love with the work of Lina Bo Bardi and her MASP building on Ave Paulista. I was so in awe of its strong architectural form and worrying about doing it justice with my lazy perspective that I decided to throw caution to the wind and paint the red first. I was happy with my decision!

Another strong form was the Auditorio Ibrapuera by Oscar Niemeyer. In a similar approach I drew the sky first. I do find that if you focus on shapes the perspective will try out right (or right-enough!) Full report of the day here

My final day in Brazil was a Lina day - we went to SECA Pompeia in the morning. I know of this building through Eduardo's sketches but the real thing blew me away.

The afternoon was spent doing a tour of Lina's private house - the Glass House. There wasn't any time or opportunity to set aside for a 'decent' sketch but I decided to test out the ideas I had picked up from Richard Alomar's Unfolding Story activity at Paraty.  Here is one page of my quick note taking approach (you can see how my recent Gehry construction site sketches have flowed on from this)

If you want to read all my detailed posts from my trip (lots of photos as well) I have a summary post on my blog.

Sketchers meeting in Rome, along the river Tevere

Caput Mundi
Roma Caput Mundi: you can read it in this stone fragments in front of a cafè in Trastevere. 
From my friend's house, I sketched the same view of last year, where I found the squatter better organized than before. Nearby, I passed under Porta Portese, near the famous fly market that take place on Sunday.

Porta Portese


I've been in Rome briefly a few weeks ago for a sketchers meeting I proposed to welcome a group of students from the Fine Art University of Moscow, visiting the italian capital for an art tour.  Federico Gemma suggested to sketch in front of Isola Tiberina and the Ponte Rotto, on the river Tevere. 
I found the local group of sketchers really growing and very active: they meet nearly each weekend as you can see in FB Sketchcrawl Roma. Location proposed are always great and the city is so magnificent that I should join them more often.
I met old friends like Salvatore Santuccio and new ones like Marco Carloni, one of the main organizer of the group and with the Russian students we spent a nice morning. 
Rome Caput Sketchcrawl!

sketchcrawl roma

Enclosures in New York City.

 In New York we lived in enclosed, defined spaces.  Even the parks have boundaries. The mental space is, however, infinite.

On the F train.  Of course there's one (9/11) every year.  And in New York City we talk about and think about that day in 2001: where we were and when we found out about what had happened.  " I was getting ready for work."  "I was walking to work."  "Smoke filled the air."  All of that.

In front of the window gate in the kitchen.  I need a haircut. I don't even see the gate anymore -- I go right to the sunlight and the trees beyond it.

Time seems to stop on the F train.  Sitting still rapidly.  It's quite a concept.
Julio Cortázar on the F train -- 100 years since his birth.

Sharon Frost. Blog: Day Books

Denmark Street

Denmark St panorama

London, UK: This is Denmark Street, just off of Charing Cross Road in the heart of Central London. I sketched it over a period of two and a half hours one Wednesday afternoon in late July, sketching until my hands and feet hurt (I stand while sketching these panoramas), and added the rest of the colour later on when I had somewhere to sit down (that would be a pub round the corner). Denmark Street is famous within British musical history as our very own ‘Tin Pan Alley’, home of music publishers and recording studios, and later of music stores. There are lots of guitar shops, as well as other instruments of course, and there's also the famous 12 Bar Club. The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, all are associated with this street in some way (the Pistols actually lived here for a bit). Not only music – the comic shop Forbidden Planet was founded at number 23, where that red awning is in the picture now. It’s based around the corner on Shaftesbury Avenue now. This place is steeped with history and it’s a street I have always had a lot of love for, being a bit guitar-obsessed when I was younger (it took me years to actually pluck up the courage to enter one of those stores though, they were very intimidating to a shy teenager!). I actually bought my current acoustic guitar from Macari’s, though it was from their other branch, on Charing Cross Road, back in 1996.

Sketching Denmark St, London

So when I heard that Denmark Street was under threat of demolition, all part of the Crossrail redevelopment that has completely destroyed the junction of Oxford Street and Charing Cross Road, I knew I had to sketch it while it still looked like this. Many of these buildings are ‘listed’, historic buildings of importance. Whether they will be knocked down or just somehow modernised is not clear, what it will mean for the historic character of Tin Pan Alley is also unclear, will the music stores be forced out in favour of latte shops and luggage stores and corporate office space is also not clear, but let’s face it. If Denmark Street loses its character it will be yet another blow to London.
Denmark St map sm
Here is Denmark Street on a handy map.

And finally, ss some of you may know, I like drawing fire hydrants, mainly because I find them exotic and foreign - we don’t have them in the UK. Well, actually we do, but they are underground, with metal coverings on the pavement. Here is one I sketched on Denmark Street. Despite my panorama sketching-aches, I couldn't resist doing one more.

Fire Hydrant in London

by Pete Scully

Kiosk in Ku'damm, Berlin

When I was walking through the Kurfurstendamm (oder einfach Ku'damm), I was attracted by this kiosk located in the corner with Uhlandstrasse. Ku'damm is a fancy street in West Berlin, where all expensive brand name stores are. The boulevard's design was inspired by Champs of the Elysee, in Paris.  It is a nice place, with many old buildings that survived the war.

At the beginning of the century cities used to have many kiosks as urban furniture. They were small, built in a round or polygonal plan, crowned with a roof like a chinese hat (the inspiration were chinese pavilions) The uses were simple, coffee & beverages, flowers, magazines or tickets.

Nowadays there are hardly present in modern urban design. However kiosks always later occupy the streets, but in boxy shapes, crowding a street already too narrow. So why not plan from the beginning to do something nice?

Do you have kiosks in your cities that you like? would you share them with me?

October 19, 2014

Sketches from the Red Sea

We back from a 3 days family vacation in Eilat - the farthest place you can go to vacation in Israel. In our tiny country you can't really disconnect, only after driving for a 4 hours through the desert  surrealistic views, you can feel that you're in a different place.
I love the Red Sea surrounded by maroon mountains, its crystal turquoise water, with corals and colorful fishes. And always cloudless sky above it.
Eilat is a paradise for a sketcher - besides the beautiful nature, the city filled by colorful variety of people - locals and tourists, funny mixture of all from everywhere. I wish I could sketch everyone I wanted! 
But... here some of what I managed to capture between swimming, sunbathing and spending time with my family, of course!
You can see all the sketches from Eilat on my blog.
Coral Beach - the most beautiful beach in Eilat 

guitar player at the street
street artist - portraits for everyone 
catching sun
more sun catchers
diner american style - Barbis
couple at the Coral Beach
Fireball - one of the most popular kinds of the entertainment 
the last look on Eilat

Little beauty

Not the most attractive thing we have in the garden by a long way, but it's a 'little beauty'
nonetheless, happily converting our organic waste (vegetable scraps, egg shells etc,
even paper and cardboard) into liquid fertiliser (worm tea) and solid fertiliser
(worm castings) for the garden. 

Unsurprisingly I don't get a lot of help with this job, but this time our youngest (8)
was very keen to help spread the worm tea around the garden. He even helped out
as a hand model showing off one of the Tiger worms while I tried to sketch it.

"Ol' Man River, he just keeps rollin' along"

The Mississippi River is the river. Oscar Hammerstein's lyrics are from the 1927 Broadway musical Showboat. The River is metaphor for the relentless, unforgiving life that Joe, the main character, lives working as a stevedore on a showboat.

It's the river of Mark Twain's autobiographical Life on the Mississippi and the river that Huckleberry Finn's adventures play out on.

The Mississippi River is the eastern border of Iowa, where I've lived for nearly 30 years. It's a 100 mile drive, due east from my home in Cedar Falls to Dubuque, Iowa--a city half on the bluff above the River and the rest down on river level. Until recently, Dubuque, for us, was the bottleneck before crossing one of the two bridges into Illinois or Wisconsin. Now that my husband and I are retired, we have the time and health to roam.

These drawings are from two excursions taken in the past month to Dubuque. On the drive there, the scenery is mostly flat farmland. Then 15 miles before Dubuque, the terrain changes drastically to deeply cleft hills, with rocky outcroppings, which evolve into limestone palisades on the Mississippi's western shore.
Mines of Spain
Julien Dubuque, a French-Canadian pioneer, was the city's founder. In 1788, the Spanish government deeded him the rights to mine lead. Mines of Spain Park, minutes south from downtown, allows breathtaking glimpses of the River and the State of Illinois on the other side.

Julien Dubuque's gravesite commands a view of downtown and the Julien Dubuque Bridge (built in 1943), that connects Iowa and Illinois. Here, with my back to the grave, looking north:
Mississippi River at Dubuque
As I sat on my stool drawing, many--young and old--came to look out from this premier spot. It was a Friday and the weather was gorgeous. Obviously, there was good reason to play hooky from school and work. Below, on the River, a barge moved upstream towards Minneapolis/St. Paul to fetch grain and beans, destined at the end of the return voyage to be unloaded onto freighters in the Gulf of Mexico. The occasional recreational houseboat tootled by and a sightseeing steamboat, paddle-wheeler replica made a U-turn just below the gravesite promontory.

There are 29 locks and dams along the Mississippi. Lock and Dam #11, on the northern side of Dubuque, is seen from Eagle Point Park. Across the River is the State of Wisconsin.

We overnighted at the City of Dubuque's Four Mounds Inn and Conference Center that used to be the early 20th century estate of a prominent local family. In the morning, I painted the view from our second floor room: the River and Wisconsin through the peak-of-autumn-color trees.

October 18, 2014

And The Pink Kept Coming In NYC

I think that I am pretty well known for saying "There is color in black and white." But somedays just call for some color and today was one of them. I was on my way to FIT to the MFA in Illustration Alumni Demo Day and Open House. Just one of about a bizillion happenings in New York today, not to mention the World Wide Sketch crawl. As is my habit, I planned to cross the street to take the bus downtown, waiting alongside Riverside Park- I do this every day. But today was different- I thought that I would see the annual Walk for Breast Cancer in full bloom heading down Riverside Drive.  I was leaving kind of early, and so, was not sure. I sat at the bus stop, when all of a sudden, I saw the roar- yes, I said saw- for all at once, in this gorgeous, powerful bloom of pink- and power- came the throngs of walkers, hand in hand, decked in pink work out gear, hats, scarves, tutus, tiaras, chatting, singing, surviving- or walking for the memory of brave loved ones. One had to be a rock not to feel choked up. I had a few minutes before the bus arrived and so, I went to work, barely capturing the crowd and the soaring sight of all of these sisters, united by a single cause for today. Oh, and they had their mens too!! 
It was a beautiful, emotional sight to behold- and the pink kept coming. 


 Let´s try this time to pick up some random drawing made in different occasions combined them with the theme nature/animals focus. The cactus is gouache and the others are watercolour with pen.