SKPLI-Surprised by an Arched Bridge

During my last family trip visiting famous spots on the Island I encountered a nice looking bridge. Although the bridge showed weathering it maintained its functioning state. The structure intrigued me in some way, and I had some time to spare so I did a fast sketch. Later that day I used watercolors to paint my drawing. When I got home I flipped through the pages of a book of historic bridges of Puerto Rico by Luis F. Pumarada O’Neill and to my surprise found the bridge documented. In the book O’neill  identified the arched structure as Bridge 503 “del Riachuelo”(creek) built on 1925. He stated the bridge was “distinguished by its peculiar moldings on its walls and key stone” also he writes of a painted puertorrican flag in one of the vertical supports but “badly affected by a clandestine dump created by ignorant people” . I couldn’t see any flag but i guess the town decided to paint over what was left of it

Sketch of the No. 503 Bridge
Sketch of the No. 503 Bridge
Sketching other Stuff in the trip
Sketching other Stuff in the trip

A Short Summer!

This summer working a full-time job, I haven’t had a lot of time to sketch. Still during weekends and breaks at work, I tried to do sketches to keep my hand from going rusty. Hope You like Them :)

My view waiting for the bus to get back home.
My view waiting for the bus to get back home.
 Sketch of Teshima Art Museum by japan architect Ryue Nishizawa

Sketch of Teshima Art Museum by japan architect Ryue Nishizawa

Sketch of a drawing by Japanese Architect Tadao Ando. Wise words by Architect L. Kahn
Sketch of a drawing by Japanese Architect Tadao Ando. Wise words by Architect L. Kahn

Sunflower field in Guánica, Puerto Rico.
Sunflower field in Guánica, Puerto Rico.

concept sketch of image found on the internet
concept sketch of image found on the internet

A date with giants: Los Angeles-part2 / La jolla-California

To continue where I left of in my past post, this is probably the conclusion of the trip that I took to California recently. In this trip I found some amazing buildings as well visited some, that I already knew and wanted to visit. In L.A. One can visit two modern houses by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. I had the chance to visit the Hollyhock house that sits on a hill and has a panoramic view of Los Angeles. This house was built in 1919-1921. Today it has become in a landmark museum. It is undergoing repairs and restorations by a foundation because the house was damaged after several earthquakes. The structure can’t be seen completely but by walking  around on the outside, one can see some clear ideas of spatial composition. Communication between the garden and the living spaces at the inner core and the search for view in the rooms located at the further parts of emplacement. I had the chance to sketch from the interior of the house and tried to draw the idea of the space i was in. Also, I did a wine/pencil perspective of one of the spaces that grabbed me the most.

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When I began preparing my trip, I knew that I wanted to visit one of my favorite buildings. Jewish/American architect Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute in La Jolla is a piece that has been studied and without a doubt is as inspiration for other architects. The building achieved what every architect in my opinion seeks for in a design. Incredibly good communication between function, form (design), and relation to its context. The story behind this building is that in 1959 the architect was granted an opportunity to recreate a diagram of functionality that he already used in a research facility. This time he had that experience that gave him focus on the necessities of the program as well had an incredible site with a view to the Pacific Ocean. He creates then a memorable building that uses its context to empower the idea of his design. To my surprise he was collaborating with an Mexican Architect named Luis Barragán. Barragan gave the building a plaza with a water feature that fused with kahn’s design. Kahn’s design meant to look to the pacific and Barragán designed a plaza that elevated that concept to it’s maximum potential.

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Our visit was not that long. We left Los Angeles and it took us 4 hours to get to the complex. Nevertheless, when we arrived the daylight was golden yellow and it bathed all the exposed concrete of the walls in the building. The view was amazing and the spirit of the place gave a sense of comfort and silence. As the sun was setting, I walked through the building, observing the numerous details that can be found. Colors, form work, masonry , ironwork, each corner had a thought to its role in the design. As we left, even though we weren’t able to see the sunset from there, I crossed a box on my bucket list. I had a chance to sketch some pages but we also took tons of pictures.

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Visiting Friends and architecture: Los Angeles-part1

I went to visit friends that live in L.A. recently and we visited various examples of extraordinary architecture. It was a short trip but we achieved to visit around 20 buildings during my visit. Normally in architecture tours I try to sketch at each stop,  but for various reasons I just drew in some of the building that captivated my inner designer. BE WARNED!! The weather in California helped to take beautiful pictures and also helped to feel comfortable drawings buildings from outside, so you are going to see a lot a perspective drawings. I also were trying new equipment. I recently bought a moleskine updated sketchbook and I decided to take a break from my fountain pen and sketch with .7mm pencil and a muji .38m pen.

In downtown we visited Spanish Archtect’s cathedral “Our Lady of Los Angeles” This piece was was inaugurated in 2002 but it the design was assigned to the architect at 1996 after an earthquake destroyed a past chapel. This building shows a monumental scale, yet suitable for its location. The complex joins a museum, a plaza,the church , public parking, and a mausoleum underground; all with public access. I have a friend whose drawing i saw before taking the trip and made me to decide that i had to try to do the same drawing of the building but with my style. Also, i drew a interior sketch but it does not make justice to the complex details of the interior construction.calif-sketch-catedral-moneo calif-sketch-catedral-moneo
Walking around downtown we also encountered with other projects that I sketched. One of them was the Philharmonic “Disney” Concert hall, designed by Frank Gehry. This building was designed in early 2000s and it’s a mature version of the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao. Although, this program is different from the museum, they share the architect’s strategy to attack at a program. In Bilbao, Wright’s Guggenheim in NY is used as a precedent for spatial organization. In this building the use of materials and the spatial composition, relates to Berlin’s Philharmonic building designed by the German architect, Hans Scharoun in 1963.

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We also had a chance to have a peek at a construction on The New Broad Museum designed by Renfo+Scofidio

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Stay tuned for more sketches coming in the next post!! :)

Sketching from the web #1

As I have mentioned, i studied architecture so I sometimes make time to just surf on the web (Pinterest of Google usually does the trick) to see and learn more about architecture history and present news.
Recently, I have encountered some buildings that caught my attention and decided to sketch some views of the web.

One of them was, The Boomerang Office building by the Dutch architect Hugh Maaskant. This building represents ideas that were popular in it’s time of construction, 1960’s or as they called it “the swinging sixties” . The building was constructed over a pond and it’s lifted by “Pilotis”, other great characteristic from the epoch. This building caught my attention for its contrast of the materials used for the construction of it and the way they are used in to complement the buildings shape. Hugh Maaskant was named “the dutch architect of progress”, to me this building assimilates to the present construction and reveals a great ambition of the architect to achieve such a building that today can be studied.

H. Maaskant- The boomerang building
H. Maaskant- The boomerang building

This other building was the Milwaukee War memorial by the Finnish architect Eero Sarinen. This architect life’s work was very influenced by the boom of aviation in the 50’s and also used raw concrete in many “plastic” ways that not all architects managed to achieve. This war memorial as it may appear, is a timid building for it’s rectangular form but with a careful look at it one can see a lot of thought in it’s construction. this building as well as Maaskant’s, is lifted by “Pilotis” over a office building volume recently remodeled. It has four ” flying” volumes, which three of them are small meeting rooms and one of them is a big conference room. Each volume opens up to the view in front and also share a interior corridor that goes around the inner circle of the building. This corridor faces a plaza that looks at the horizon and contain tow stairs that rise to the meeting rooms.

Eero Saarinen-Milwaukee war museum
Eero Saarinen-Milwaukee war museum

To me contrasting this two buildings is an exercise of discovering about my profession. I hope to see this buildings someday and study more rigorously this my draft conclusions

Tips on Coloring

As human beings we like to express our emotions and find ways of express life in our own ways. I always have found the expression of “add some color to your life” curious. In some way color is thought as life; maybe its the fact that all colors are found in the spectrum of light. Light and darkness resembled as life and death, light as the sum of all colors and darkness as the absence of light and color.

It is in fact a very complex subject, worthy of studying. A class can be dedicated only to theory of color. Nevertheless i will not go through discussing the theory but the practical and at the same time, simple tricks I learned to use.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I use water color as a medium to add color to my drawings. Water color, as well as ink I find to be easy to carry when sketching abroad and in a rush. As an art medium, it can be used in many ways and complexities. I carry a metal box with travel size watercolors but many use watercolor paste tubes and other varieties.
Recently I bought more colors but my usual number of colors are 12.

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When using watercolor, washes, layers and patience come in handy. Washes are like base colors that you use to define areas and environments. Layers as well, are continuos washes on a smaller scale and are used to emphasize areas in the drawings. Patience is needed for an appropriate watercolor painting but as you will definitely experience when in a travel, “time is of the essence” and tricks are needed to achieve what your looking for in your drawing.

When I was learning about watercolor and the true functions of the color wheel I made some exercises in a class that experimented on complementary color and overlapping layers to cause lighter spots and darker spot also. As an example of this exercise think for a moment on the color red. Its complementary color for a darker tone may be achieved by adding green and this works also viceversa.

In other occasions, I prefer to use color to give a drawing contrast. This may be achieved by making a composition that differentiates a hardline sketch from the watercolor wash. Other ways of using color exist, I invite you to try them all and find what your style.

The next drawings are examples of the exercises I had done in the past. Using coffee, wine, liquid paper, and watercolor mixed with drawing mediums.

See’ya on the next post!

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granada trip

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Thinking/Compositions

I find that one of the important parts about sketching is being happy with what ended on that page on your sketching. It really doesn’t matter if others like it. Hey, but it is enjoyable :)
The really important thing is that you see, understand, and learn from that experience.

As a part to be happy of what you did you have to start by visualizing kind of what it is going to look like at the end. If you don’t understand me yet, I’m talking about that first look at the white blank page. Creepy stuff right?
I enjoy to see compositions on drawings that I find at the web. I try to learn from them to prepare myself for the next sketching trip.

If you want a tip, it is to to go with your gut. If you fail, just start over, there are other pages to be used. Of course, there are rules to follow if you are interested in learning more.

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As you can see there are a lot of ways of experimenting with composition. Color, scale and focal points are just some that i like to use but there’s a whole encyclopedia of theory in composition.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this entry and see’ya next time!

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To use geometry or not, that is the question!

Architects study geometry. This is because mostly all things man made start its design from geometrical figures as squares, triangles and circles. LEGOs are in fact one good example to explain this theory. Think as a standard LEGO piece ( golden rectangular proportioned), then remember all the possibilities you have seen been created or all the forms that could achieve by mixing up pieces of it.

As a student I studied geometry in a class. I can remember that in high school, math was very interesting to me, but after taking the class that explained the concepts of figure sketching and intersecting figures, my way of seeing things changed completely. I felt like I was “Neo” on Matrix, able to read the world in codes. To me I saw figures, forms that combined made the environment that i was on. Later and further more in the class I tried to draw perspectives. All the details in buildings and complex forms appeared possible to draw. I understood it’s construction and then translated that what I knew to be, into the paper on my sketchbook at the time.

As you sketch around in the day by day, sometimes exact geometry sounds kind of time consuming. That I find true but then again, try not to focus so much on the geometry of the specific, but in the whole piece geometry. Then you can go with a sketch that is true to what you saw and later you can detail it if you want. Later when your hand is more trained your ability to understand geometry will come on its own.

Geometry helps me understand complex forms and help me draw them in perspectives as well other types of drawing. Some of my favorite sketchers around the world appear to just follow gut in drawing building or objects. You could say that they don’t use geometry as a technique but I’ll bet that they started in the same way and now follow what they already now. I sometimes don’t use it as well, but I truly think that geometry is very important when starting.

Hope you have enjoyed the posts so far and will see’ya on the next!

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REPEAT AND REPEAT AGAIN

I started to sketch on field because I grabbed a course one time that made us draw to maintain a good score. I already drew at school but didn’t really know what to draw really. This course was my first trip to europe and also my first trip in a long time. I was very exited to draw in this trip and when i came back I was surprised of the memories that brought going through my sketchbook. It came clear to me that I had to share what I did to my friends at college and other people interested. I founded a group that was called Sketching Por La Isla. We planned activities dedicated to visit places in our island and by sketching at this places we learned from our surroundings. Sketching this places we learned ideas of space planing and at the same time practice our techniques for others trips to come. To me one of the reasons I prefer field sketching to post visit sketch is that in each glance you use to make a line, there is probably memory recorded. It may sound romantic but is just simply that as visual people we use images to remember moments of our life.

As an example of the places we decided to draw, there is a plaza one colonial city on the island. This plaza is visited constantly each day and a lot of people enjoy it as a public space. Plaza de Armas is an example of a space redesigned for a contemporary use and deserves to be studied with a closer look. It is in fact when you walk through the space, looking to understand the ideas used, that you see in detail that each element on the plaza is carefully placed to emphasize the context that surrounds it.

Drawing this plaza is an exercise that i have done many times. Sometimes with a rush, other times with the patient needed to explore ways to draw the ideas of the space.

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Learning by sketching others…

One of my professors at school told us that during his master’s he took a class that assigned him to sketch other artists/architects. He studied the artist’s technique and continued to replicate their drawings trying to use his own materials. I find that repeating the exercise was a good opportunity to get out of my own comfort zone and find also inspiration for my own personal pieces. When I took a class with my professor he assigned this exercise to the class. The dynamic was a hit. We started to talk about different mediums,techniques,styles,etcetera. As I started to make my assignment I paid a lot of time understanding details of the original drawing and learned in way some tricks that later I applied to my own original drawings specially in adding color to sketches.

I chose to study drawings by an architect at CEBRA architects, also I drew some watercolors by others ass well. (all of the from the internet) I enjoyed replicating CEBRA compositions because the sort of tell a story about the design of a building. This technique is used by the architect after they designed the building. He explains in his blog that doing that helps him understand the design to it’s core and he sees it as a challenge.

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I continue to do drawings of things I’ve encountered on the web. I find that helps me practice for when I sketch on the field and keeps my sketchbook filled with various types of drawings

Hope to see’ya on the next post!

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