November 27, 2015

Sunlight and shadow across adobe

Guest post by Dennis Pendleton in Taos, New Mexico

These three sketches are from Taos, New Mexico. This was painted on LeDoux Street which is a little one-way street with excellent examples of old adobe architecture. The blue door opens onto a private garden and a traditional adobe home. It was a beautiful sunny day and the cast shadows were full of color. Taos has been an art colony for over 100 years and some of the first artists in residence built their homes and studios on LeDoux Street.

I did this sketch in an older Taos neighborhood and the setting is typical of the town with the adobe wall and building, coyote fence, and cottonwood trees. This traditional architecture has a charm all its own with its warm colors and gently curving lines. The sunlight in Taos is legendary and it is one of the things that attracted the first artists to the area. 

In the same neighborhood, about 10 steps from the previous sketch, is this charming old home. It is behind an old mission where the local people still worship on Sunday. Just up the dirt road are some newer buildings, but old adobes still dominate. This kind of traditional architecture requires annual maintenance and it is common to see homeowners plastering away on warm summer afternoons.

Dennis Pendleton is an artist and art teacher who lives in Denver, Colorado. These sketches were painted during a workshop he teaches in Taos. See more of his work on his website.

sketches at Korea University, Seoul

By Lee Yong-hwan in Seoul, Korea

Main Hall, landmark of the campus square

Central Library of Korea University

Hae-song Law Library

Media Hall

KU-Lyceum (Institute for Continuing Education)

Main Gate of Korea University Campus

Main entrance of Anam Hospital

Hana Square and Science Library
( pen and watercolor, 21 x 29.6cm sketchbook )
Last week for two days, I dropped in Korea University Anam Campus that is my alma mater. Korea University, established in 1905, is widely known as one of the oldest, largest and top-ranked universities in Korea. The campus is located in Anam-dong near the downtown Seoul, and is well arranged in a colorful and natural setting of old and new buildings harmonized with the surrounding environment. On entering the campus, I was impressed with its stately stone architecture, new intelligent buildings, sprawling lawns, seasonal trees and natural flora, and so on.
I sketched colorful sceneries here and there around the broad campus, enjoying beautiful fall leaves pleasantly. While sketching some familiar buildings existed from my college days, I was lost in old memories for some time.

Our old newspaper shop.

A few months ago, Suhita wrote a story about my neighborhood near Ghent, and I illustrated it with this serie of sketches. As I told in my previous post, when taking the old road from Brussels to Ghent, one could be deceived by the ugly dreary ugliness of Ledeberg, which you have to cross before arriving in the splendid old town of Ghent.

Is it a coincidence that the other end of this road is situated exactly in Molenbeek (Brussels)? Didn't you ever hear about Molenbeek? Wake up!
BTW: there has no war broken out in Belgium and this is one of the nicest countries to live in. So, potential tourists, don't change your plans. You're always welcome.

But soon, it will be finished with the ugliness. That's what some real estate developers have decided. Not only there will be a new road and a new tramway (I hope it will be a lane with four rows of trees, large cycling paths, and a few cars, but maybe I'm a dreamer.

The owner of the newspaper shop has already closed his doors some months ago. In the morning I like to get my newspaper delivered to the doormat, by the postman. To read it near the stove before my coffee gets cold, without having to put on my shoes, my hat and my coat. So I have never been a good customer for the the poor newspaperman. But when I needed another newspaper or magazine I always managed to find his shop. From now I have to go to the supermarket. Big deal? No, big problem for me whenever I need a foreign magazine or newspaper such as Libération, XXI, or the Wall Street Journal. Even to get a Dutch newspaper as NRC Handelsblad or a French-language papers of my own country, as Le Soir, I have to start an expedition with my bike hoping to find it somewhere else in town.

Yesterday they started to break down the newspaper shop (the building in yellow brick on the left).
For many decennia I have been dazzled by the dreary ugliness and the stinking traffic jam on this road from Brussels to Ghent. But now the road is closed for all through traffic. For almost a year now we have to walk in the mud with the bike in the hand, slowly. And I see things I never saw before. The nice art deco architecture of the old newspaper shop. What was the ambition of the man who constructed this building many years ago? I guess he wanted to create a nice place to live and an attractive building to do his business in Ledeberg. What's the motive of the real estate developers who will build a skyscraper here? (I don't know them but I guess it has to do only with money.)
But I have to end this post now, put on my shoes and my coat and return to that place. What will I see today? Maybe only some rubble.

November 25, 2015

Italian Explorations

By Fred Lynch, Boston, Massachusetts

It's that time of year again when I share a bit of the work created last July by my college students in Italy. The group was amazing - pushing the possibilities of "urban sketching". My co-teacher this year, Kelly Murphy and I couldn't have been more pleased with the results - only a little which I share with you today.

What we see here, are selections from a few Final Projects - explorations of singular, narrow topics. 

The class also focuses on “voice, ” that is, by pushing students to celebrate how each artist has a different style of drawing - a different aesthetic - different interests.  In other words, we aim to make our point as well as make our mark through our drawings.

Ok, with all that in mind, here are some examples from last summer - series' that address particular themes. Creating works as a series promotes deeper investigations and artistic advancements. I hope you like them as much as I do.



Ashley Caswell, a Maryland Institute College of Art student from Needham, Massachusetts, made lists comparing characteristic features of the city.


Chrissy Dreyer, a Dual Degree student of both Brown University and RISD, from Maryland, explored the passages of light, space, and color, through the city's narrow roads using acrylics.


Angela Hsieh, a student at RISD from Pennsylvania, explored the feeling of being lost in a foreign city.



Taylor Pendelton, from RISD and Massachusetts, explored bright colors and texture, creating an incredible collection of images in a short period of time.



Edward Yang, a RISD student from California, using each drawing as part of a cafe review, incorporating a great deal of writing.

Many more great works from other students can be found on the course's blog: Drawing Viterbo.

Slim pickings

I’ve been following the progress of the pop-up saffron farm in the centre of Croydon over the last couple of months.  This is the scene recently when the volunteer pickers were harvesting the crop.  

November 24, 2015

Traveler in Tindouf. Local terminology

By Javier de Blas in Tindouf, Algeria
Between February and March 2015 I spent a month living with a Sahrawi family in their "haima" in the refugee camps of Tindouf. Every Tuesday, I'm posting here the notes and sketches I made about daily life in the camps.

Daira: City hall, municipality. Each wilaya consists of several daira that mark their boundaries, preserving spaces between each of them with a less density of construction.

Haima: home. In the nomadic Sahara, the tents are made with camel's hair and are covered
with cloth inside. In the camps today the "haimas" include daar and gaitun.

Darr: Adobe buildings intended for living rooms-bedrooms and kitchen. In a small annexed
building the bathroom and toilet are situated.

Gaitun/gaitoon: In English, reads "guytoon". A fabric tent, usually in front of the main gate of the daar. They replaced the traditional "haimas" used in the dessert. The gaitoon are made of canvas and they are accompanied by auxiliary adobe buildings, giving the whole group a new "haima"concept.

Melhfaa: Traditional female dress composed of a very long cloth that wraps around the body ending at the head, veil and headscarf. They come in many colors and combinations delighting the sight.

Daraa: Male attire like a cape with a bluish colour almost white with ochre ornaments. Sleeves covering the hands, but usually they roll them up, decorating the shoulders with graceful folds.

Taxi: Taxis here are private cars. They charge you 400DA  to take you to another wilaya. If the taxi is full, you pay 100DA. They are a source of income in a population where jobs are scarce and unstable.

Tzagait: A shrill sound that the women make moving the tongue.

Tindouf: An Algerian city that has grown with the development of refugee camps. At first it
was a military base without access to civilians. The increasing demand for goods within the
camps, has made it the capital of the region. The airport receives aid workers and visitors to the camps.

Wilaya: In Arabic, means city. The Sahrawi refugees have been putting names to their camps of the cities they had left when Morocco occupied Western Sahara.
The six wilaya of Tindouf camps are: L'Aaiun, Aussert, Rabouni, Budjour, Smara and Dakhla.
The wilayas have the appearance of immense villages, the houses are made of  adobe with one floor and generally with a patio and gaitun.

November 23, 2015

Baffled then Inspired at Tulca Contemporary Art Festival, Galway

by Róisín Curé in Galway

The Tulca Festival of Visual Arts takes place in Galway every November. it consists of two weeks of contemporary art exhibited in lots of venues throughout the city, from galleries to public buildings. You can find exhibits in University College Hospital and in the James Mitchell Geology Museum, as well as in more well-known gallery spaces around town like the Galway Arts Centre, Nuns' Island Theatre and more. The old Connacht Tribune print works on Market Street is the main gallery of the festival and was where the opening was held. On opening night I braved the cold, wind and and rain to attend, with the intention of sketching what I saw and soaking up the atmosphere.

The exhibition is called Seachange and aims to draw attention to climate change - and the concomitant disappearance of islands - using the mythology of Hy-Brasil as a motif. The exhibits all referred in some way to the fragility of our existence here on Earth. It's a sort of make-believe sunken island off the south-west coast of Ireland...but any more than that and I'm in unknown territory.

At first the crowd was quiet and well-behaved but the volume rose as the wine and beer began to flow. The dress code was Arty: floor-length black leather coats on some of the gentlemen, opaque black tights for the ladies, black trousers and jackets for nearly everyone. Scarves were worn with aplomb. A man lay down and did some impromptu yoga - you can just about make him out behind the group on the left. Another man struck a funny pose and asked me to draw him, which I did. I recruited a very pretty young lady with huge blue eyes and blonde curls to Urban Sketchers Galway: all she did, poor creature, was admire my sketching bag (plus she had had one or two by then) and I wasted no time in telling her how she should join us. 
Over the course of two days and in two of the venues I drew some of the exhibits. I must ask for tolerance in my interpretation: I was inclined to cynicism, and I'm on the opposite end of the art spectrum (I interpret nothing, they interpret everything), but I did try to get help with interpretation, from no less a personage than the curator. Nonetheless, I wasn't always the wiser.

First I drew something that looked like an umbrella covered in symbols of the euro, by a duo called Culturstruction. This the curator's explanation:
"It's a sort of superhero cape," she said. "A place of shelter and protection. The euro symbols refer to the collective assumption that that currency would save us."
Further reading on the web suggested that the piece was supposed to appear to levitate, a bit like a distant island, and indeed the suspension lines were so fine as to be invisible.

The next piece was about a nuclear holocaust, or more accurately, about a government leaflet that was circulated in the 1960s. This was part of a series of pieces called How Will I Know When To Go Indoors? and it was by Dennis McNulty and Ros Kavanagh. I didn't find out exactly what it meant, although I did try. To give you an idea of scale, it's about head-height at the top.

The next day I called into the Galway Arts Centre on Domick Street to see what was on offer there. I was very taken by the piece I drew, for no reason other than I liked the way the microphone hung over the rock. I liked the vintage, shiny look of the microphone. Naturally, the rock was silent - now. There was a recording of just such a rock type being the bottom of the sea at the Mid-Ocean Ridge in the Atlantic Ocean. The rumbling noise it made was very soothing. The piece (and its companion, a short piece of film) referred to the demise of another imaginary island called Nuuk Island. I looked it up and Nuuk is still part of Greenland, so I'm confused. The artist was called Anaïs Tondeur and the soundtrack to her film had some lovely, very French piano music. I was there two days after the Paris atrocity and I welled up for all things French...I lived in Paris many years ago and was in love with the place from the moment I arrived until the moment I left a year later. 

The woman you can see reading in the background was manning the desk. I asked her if she could help me interpret the exhibition. She did her best, and then recommended a piece back in Market Street. 
"It's called The Water Glossary," she said. "It's a collection of archaic words for weather, and water, and the sea and that kind of thing. The idea is that language is intimately connected with climate and psyche."
She was speaking my language, so to speak, as I am a dilettante linguist and have strongly-held but ill-informed opinions on that sort of thing. It got better.
"It takes the form of a booklet. It's displayed in the gallery and there's abench next to it - you can sit and read it," she said, "at least I think you can, and you can buy a copy too."
I went back to Market Street to the main gallery space and bought a copy of The Water Glossary, by Carol-Anne Connolly. In the absence of a drawing of the booklet (which wouldn't tell you much), here are some of the terms I read:
fiachaire: raven-watcher, weather forecaster
lá idir dá shíon: a day of unseasonably dry, warm and bright weather. In the middle of the wet harsh days of Irish winter, meaning day in between two weathers.
salachar báistí: drizzling mist or rain
síor-uisce: constant rain
maidhm báistí: cliudburst
scim: veil of haze or mist
criathróir: animal surefooted on boggy ground
slograch: sink hole, or a wet boggy corner of a field

These descriptive words about weather and rain and clouds conjure up so many snippets of my life, from early childhood onwards. Our climate stamps us with an indelible mark and it's one of the things we long for when we're far from home - at least, I do. Once, I leaned out of the window in the Wicklow hills, on a September night, having returned from a few weeks in the desert of Los Angeles. I wonder is there a word for the gentle hiss of rain accompanied by the distant bleating of sheep, with honeysuckle on the air?

I had no idea what to expect from Tulca 2015. I think some of my prejudices about contemporary art have fallen away. All it took was one or two pieces to make me think afresh about art - and to remind myself that there's room for all of us. 

Tulca Festival of Visual Arts is on until 29th November. Details from