Friday, December 30, 2011

Armory Square Sketches

One of the central places to visit in Syracuse is Armory Square. In such a small area there is a broad range of food, activity, shops and social mixers that each visit makes the area seem a little larger. While looking for a certain sketch to post for a new subscriber to this blog, I discovered that, over the last few years, I had amassed quite a series of armory square inages and it's surrounds that it might be interesting to post an abbreviated collection.
This post will be followed by "restaurants" of Syracuse...of which field research is still being done! Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Every Year it remains a challenge to make my own Christmas cards. Last year I had an idea to do a series centered on the warmth of a mug of coffee or hot cocoa and depict in the back ground a snap-shot of our little home. Below is this year's card. Merry Christmas everybody!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chelsea Market Sketch

A few weeks ago Amy and I were in NYC and were able to visit Chelsea Market. We took in the interior street with an assortment of sweets from Amy's Bread and coffee from 9th st Espresso. While we didn't run into Bobby Flay or any other iron chef, it was pretty cool to be in the hallowed halls of the Food Network!

Cafe Kubal Opening Downtown Syracuse

Cafe Kubal had their first day in Downtown Syracuse on December 12th. It was a quiet opening as they were fixing all the kinks. But It just happened I was downtown that day and was surprised to see them brewing the espresso. So I popped in and documented the opening in a brief sketch.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Three Thank you's

Thank you notes are a special form of communication and one that retains a great and simple joy for the author and the recipient. Here are three "thank you's" that brought joy in the making and equally, if not exceedingly more, in the friends that received them.

Lunch and Coffee at Pastis in the Meat Packing district in NYC.
A Thank you to Jackie! I can only think more to come.

Syracuse Office Interiors open house at Pioneer Companies, Syracuse, NY
A Thank you to Marb and Rebeccah for the invitation! An amazing space!

George Washington's compass. A special Thank you to Glenn for the privilege.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

8 Scenes in NYC

Awhile ago when traveling to NYC I put together a series of 8 sketches that have served as several lessons with students about documentation, page layout and efficiency of lines and construcutions.Reading left to right top, the series provides 8 snapshots of several moments as described below.

ready for take off from Syracuse

E train from Jamaica Station

Looking North towards Times Square

Lunch and esspresso at Pastis.

Taking a cab from meat packing to 47th st

Green Room in Beck's studio

jetBlue concourse

Waiting for lift off at JFK back to Syracuse

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Return of the coffee sketches

Coffee sketching is practically therapeutic for me. There is a calming pattern of sighting a compositon out of basic forms at breakfast that begins a day with fresh eyes to design and appreciate the greater, broader and conversly more subtle compositions of the everyday.

As I discuss with my students, drawing is as much about recording as it is about editing. This series here, from over the last month or so is a typical gathering, documenting and editing of these caffeine vesels, their friends and morning habitat. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Surreal trip to NYC-Oct 4 2011

Amy and I  had, what could best be described as, a surreal experience when we were flown down to NYC as guests of Glenn Beck.(See the post below of July 5th showing one of the two sketches given to Beck). With his new set constructed, we were invited down to document the set of his new network on GBTV

We had an amazing tour of his office and the studio. During which we had the pleasure of meeting him and thanking him for the opportunity to come down. Here are a few skectches during our visit.

The set panoramic

The crew

Artifacts from his office.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

601 Tully Sketch

A quick visit to 601 Tully in Syarcause, NY provided the opportunity to do a coffee sketch...something that was long over-due. This fact is somewhat obvious in the limited clarity of the over all composition. Usually these drawings compose themselves by rules of proportion and geometry based on the cup, but in this case the geometry of the cup competes with the perspective/elevation of the front counter (where you can see Matt the purveyor of Cafe Kubal, exploring his iphone).

Somewhat more frantic then other coffee sketches, the complexity is somewhatintriguing, the tone of the coffee is nice and there are some relatively strong aspects, but overall it reveals how without the daily exercise of drawing, how quickly we can loose our discipline.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Going bananas

So this is inspired by my students. In a recent assignment they had to draw an apple being eaten. I had happened to draw a banana during the same time they were completing their work. What I realized is about a year ago I had done another banana and from 13 years ago I had done another Banana. So here they are collected as a Banana series.

They are presented here from the oldest to the most recent. Note: On the last one, the yellow was put down first as a figure ground exercise and then the lines were applied.

James and State + Coffee and Fair

At the intersection of James St. and State St. in Syracuse, just past 81 overhead is a small lot with a building about 3 feet from the edge of the the raised highway, in the background is the tower of a local closed church (turned Stained glass studio). This sketch is awaiting a watercolour (I will post it when complete) The square is clearly seen in the background and a few sketches are awaiting the church from different vantage points.

For fun I thought it would be neat to do a whole series of the state fair. So my goal was to do at least one sketch per visit. We went six times. This is the only sketch I completed. go figure.

The other sketch is a compound drawing of a coffee cup. On the left the perspective can be seen, on the bottom right is the elevation with a small hint of a section of the saucer. On the top right is the plan of the cup which then extends into the other views, unifying the composition as a whole.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Two cups and Lecture Notes

School Started last week and with it comes a series of meetings and lectures. Talking to Daniel Lim in Singapore, he shared on his site sketches of his meetings. This one is for him. The subject is obvious. What is not so obvious is the "signature stance" that many people take. Consider watching people around you and see that the way they stand is a part of their persona/identity. Here are four people in the upper admin of Syracuse University...despite their names being present...can you recognize them by the positioning of their feet?
The Next two postcards return to my joy of Coffee sketching. The first one is a recent sketch from a local cafe: "Stronghearts Cafe" on E. Genessee St. Very college culture interior, all vegan...which adds to the "complexity" of the cappucino illustrated. The second sketch is for Kiersten at Cafe Kubal on James st. I have owed her one for some time now. Neither really show a strong experimentation with composition...nor development in illustration...but they serve more of keeping in practice of reading lines, form and light on surfaces. There is even a small sketch on the kiersten's card that just focuses on the negative space of the containers. It's the in between that can often go unrecognized.

Kiersten's Sketch

Friday, August 5, 2011

Border Crossing

My wife and i went up to Toronto, Ontario last weekend to celebrate our 5th anniversary. We stayed with my Uncle and his wife and had a great time. While on the move, we didn't get much down time to sketch, but I was able to get the following views out:

La Societe Bistro
There is a new restaurant on Bloor street where my uncle and I collaborated on the 20'x30' glass ceiling. It opened in April 2011 to much acclaim and I thought it would be a perfect place to celebrate our anniversary. This is the sketch from dessert and an image of the ceiling.

And if you are interested in seeing the scope of my uncle's work here is his site:
The next morning we woke to a wonderful breakfast with fruit in a glass container and a bowl-o-latte

after running about town we finally left for home. What a dream! the QEW was accident and backup free. We zoomed all the way into Lewistown to cross back over the border when...all came to a halt. For 2.5 hours we sat at the border crawling the final 1/4 mile to the States. This sketch (done in our final minutes in que) was executed more out of frustration then inspiration...and when I was finally getting into it...of course we get up to the border gate. ugh. Has anyone experienced this?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Albany, NY Sketching

I attended a conference in Albany, NY this week. The city is amazing. The collection of architecture in downtown is a living museum of styles and scales: from monumental government buildings to pedestrian brownstones and storefronts - all within comfortable walking distance. Taking little excursions between conference talks, I explored bits of the city.

The first one documents the collage of signage projecting, clinging and hanging outside of Lodge's, Albany's oldest store. The seam of the book plays as corner/edge to the building.

The second sketch is the view from my hotel room window. In the foreground is the (relatively) recently renovated St. Peter's Church. Directly behind it is the NY state Capitol building undergoing a facade restoration. To the right of the crane is H.H. Richardson's City hall. To the left the tall linear tower is Corning tower. At it's base in the distance is the Cathedral.

The final pages of this little sojourn is an analysis of the "Million Dollar Stair" in the state capitol Building. Designed by H.H. Richardson, this stair connects four floors with 139 steps through some of the most Piranessian style arches and columns. The scale is monumental in size, but personal in detail. AmAzing!

The sketch on the left is a partial section attempting to figure out the spatial interchanges between the levels. Partial plans parrallel the section on the right of the page (and the steps are counted in between)

The sketch on the right attempts to be an experiential perspective through the diagonal of the space...but seriously, nothing can capture that experience! Worth a visit and climb if ever in Albany! Cheers!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

NYC post #3 06-29-2011 : subway back to Times Square

To end the day, we hopped on the Q line express back to Times square to pick up the car. We started from Syracuse at 10:30 am and were about to face a 6 hour drive back (unknowingly due to one missed off ramp). To end the sketching of the day...a quick sketch to capture the view of the transit car...not the strongest result...Its flattness and obvious struggle with line selection...shows how out of practice I am with the immediate sketch...but what a day, and what a time...captured here...captured in Line.

NYC post #2 06-29-2011 : MESA Grill for Dinner

After the show we took the subway down to Union Square to take in Mesa Grill (the famous restaraunt by that well know Iron Chef Bobby Flay) It was AMAZING!!! These are a little rough again...because the colors and obviously, the tastes, could not be reproduced. But for kicks its fun to attemt it!

Here is the Dinner card:

Have you ever had fried Zuchinni Blossoms? unbelievable (bottom left hand corner), spinach, Tuna, Pork loins, jalapeno bread, and a tamale. Phenomenal!

For Dessert: Cappucino and a blueberry/key lime tart.

NYC post #1 06-29-2011 : URBAN SKETCHER ON NATIONAL TV!!

My wife and I were fortunate enough to get tickets to the final studio audience of Glenn Beck (thanks Mollie). While some readers of this may not agree with his political perspective, it shouldn't take away from the challenge and joy of the urban experience...the experience of being in a TV studio and one with the exposure of Beck's broadcast! It was really something to behold. We are big fans and it was a unique opportunity to be a part of something as significant as this...and get filmed sketching!! Go Urban Sketchers!

Here I am next to my wife (bottom left hand corner) sketching on a pad of Strathmore 6x4 watercolor postcards:

Here is the sketch completed (Oscar is the Camera Man):

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fathers Day Scene ... twice

So for Mothers Day, I attempt a water colour of the flowers my boy and I gathered for my wife (see earlier post).

For Fathers day, I worked on a composition that has intrigued me for awhile. Waking up each morning, especially now that the sun is at this summer angle, the morning light strikes our new swing set in the back yard casting this displaced shadow while the greens of our view are magnified. The structure of the swing set acts as a framing device against two datums, a vertical in the ash tree, and a horizontal of the old barn wall. They are the same tone which is a very nice offset to the lush greens around.

For me what makes the composition are the punctuations of primary colors. The slide and swing set the yellow. The baby swing is a striking blue (offset by the broad sky beyond) and in the lower back ground, bold pink piannese (sp?) pattern the wall. Each morning it calls for a sketch. This weekend I had the chance. Here is the literal version:

To understand how the composition is organized...or better yet how I was actually "deliniating" the scene I also sketched analytical view...editing out textures and descriptors, leaving the page to the basic organizing linear arrangments and color fields.

It was a great Fathers day. These were done in the morning...leaving the rest of the day to play with the kids and utilize the view for its true intention: running, swinging and sliding.

Kubal Coffee Sketch

This is the latest in a series of sketches celebrating my friend, Matt's coffee shop. Cafe Kubal here in Syracuse NY. It is a common habit of mine (see earlier posts) but it is one I truly enjoy and I can share with Matt as sketches of his coffee or shop usually end up at his shop on James St. He has a new stand at the Farmers Market on Tuesday and will be opening up a few counters around town. I am really excited for him, so this one is for him.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Recent sketches

It has been noted to me, nore then once, that nothing new has been posted since Mothers Day. We are now in June and something has to go up. A small glass, a milkshake with my boy and view of Westcot street for Mike Ma.

The small glass contained an iced espresso from Cafe Express in Syracuse. SO GOOD.
The little combination of containers is just a record of a day with my 3 yr. old boy and sharing our first Milkshake. Chocolate. It was served to us at the Solvay Diner in Syracuse where the space is craving to be drawn some more.

This one is for Mike Ma, checkout his blog "booksketchin". This is a view down Westcott st. near the Syracuse Campus. I'm sitting in fromt of an amazing Latin restaurant, alto Cinqo. The sun was sharp the air hot but the shade provided just enough cover to enjoy the fare.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Flowers

Our Mother's day tradition is for my son and I to wake up early, walk to our neighborhood park and pick flowers, branches, leaves, etc...and have them on the table before my wife wakes up. She gave me the stipulation 3 years ago that she did not want me buying flowers for Mothers day...BUT as all sons know, flowers must be present on Mothers day. So the resolution to the dilemma is to "discover" flowers. So our morning quest begins and this is what we found. I really don't know what they are. Four pointed yellow petals from a thin branched bush; tiny white petaled clusters from a blooming shrub; oval leafed sprigs, and what I think are the arching collection of 5 petaled bradford pear bundels. Not sure on the last one...all I know is I recommend not picking these for your other. They smell terrible. Other then that my boy was so excited to bring these in the house and shout "SURPRISE MOM!" and no matter the olfactory offense of the flowers, she loved them anyhow and gave him a huge hug! and he beamed.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Some Recent and Some Past

I want to thank Urban Sketchers for promotoing this Blog on their Facebook page. I am excited to be a part of their on-line forum and I look forward to contributing more. As we are wrapping up school it has been difficult to get the pen to the page, but these entries offer some interesting views into my obsession with dining, coffee and containers.

This weekend I was on a review at Carnegie Mellon University and the critics Dinner was held at E2 in the Highpark neighborhood. Amazing little space with a giant chalkboard and wonderful food. This sketch was taken at the end of the meal when the small dining room was bustling with activity.

One of the traditions my wife and I have is to have sketches on postcards of cafes and diners that we frequent (a habit we picked up while teaching in Florence). I sketch, she usually writes what happened, and then we post it from the town we ate in. This is a wonderful restaurant I took her to on Valentines day in Skaneateles NY. It was a little rushed but I did enjoy the quick textures and swift reflections that in very easy strokes provide a suitable sense of surface.

Following this theme of eating...weekend mornings are always a bit slower and relaxed. This Sunday morning the small cup of cocoa for my son and a fork and a glass of Orange Juice make the composition. small reflections of color and minimal construction lines provide a logic for the composition and a qualitative sense of the material. The rectangle, implying a table surface, unifies the composition. I really enjoy the fork which is the linear element among the bulkish forms.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cafe Express in Little Italy

By far one of the best little caffinated treasures in Syracuse, Paolo serves an amazing espresso and cappuccino. His mother makes the canolli and cream puffs and the conversation some how always turns to Futbol. This sketch was a "thank you" sketch to Paolo for treating me and my family so well last Sunday.

By now, if you are following this blog, these drawings are probably getting redundant. I understand completely. but the practice in this repetition of form and identifying place has as much to do with establishing a record, a memory, as it does in the exercise of the pen and wash. These postcards are akin to graphic or compositional push-ups or jumping jacks.
They are quick, repeptive, pretty easy in the beginning, but more difficult near the end. It allows the hand and eye to remain in dialogue over one of my most enjoyable distractions.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Three lunch sketches

While waiting, dining, or just getting my mind off the days work, these sketches explore some of the spaces I inhabit during lunch on any given day. The line, the field, and the use of the square or centering to balance each piece are involved in the lay-out and composition.

Komachi's is a departure from the usual perspective. It is a planar play of edges and surfaces. This little Japanese restaurant off of Marshall street by Syaracuse U. has a great atmosphere and the interior design has several more sketches to capture.
Stopping by The italian Chef for a slice of Pizza and then to Cafe Moca for some of the best espresso in the city, I go from the mss produced image of Italy, to the most authentic Italian atmosphere I have experienced in the states.

These two were done when I was breaking in the new sketchbook. So they remain on the literal side. It seems after I attempt the literal lines of sight, the analytical come much easier. And there is always that quiet intimidation of the new book of blank pages.

In this case it is a 6 1/2" x 7 1/2"Kunst and papier No. 1004 16. The German paper is fantastic and the binding lays flat. The only awkward thing is the not quite square proportion. Otherwise I am looking forward to filling it up!

A very quick sketch on St. Patricks day at Ilario's Tattoria in Little Italy. Notice how the square saves this bit. oh And I got scolded for composing the view with the pepepr mill...wasn't mine to touch I found out. ha!