Saturday, May 30, 2009

Piata Haralambie Botescu, Bucharest, Romania

Piata Haralambie Botescu, Bucuresti (Piata Matache)

There's an interesting antique abandoned building at the large intersection near Piata Haralambie Botescu. Abandoned and crumbling for decades, there's a law here that forbids the demolition of buildings. So, buildings like this sit with plants growing up through their empty interior through the arch windows.

Piata Haralambie Botescu, Bucureti (Piata Matache)

The market building at Haralambie Botescu is an interesting building by itself. Despite the name on the map, the building says "Piata Matache".

Monday, May 25, 2009

Piata Sergiu Celibidache, Bucharest, Romania

The rose garden in the median strip

Rose garden in the median, Drumul Taberei, Bucuresti

Went over to Piata Moghioros (Piata Sergiu Celibidache on the map) yesterday to go get a few things, and saw that now there are a bunch of flowers planted in the median, but not just flowers... roses. All along Drumul Taberei in that area, are roses after roses. Couldnt stay too long, but thought it would make a nice sketch.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bucharest, Romania

The bridge to nowhere

Pasajul Pipera-Tunari, Bucuresti

Pasajul Pipera-Tunari, Bucuresti

Every place has it's own "bridge to nowhere." In the headlines this week, it came out that a new bridge, which doesn't yet connect anything, was suddenly put on hold when, upon reaching the train line that the bridge was to cross over, it was discovered that the high voltage overhead lines for the train coincide exactly with the height of the bridge. So, we had to go over there in the morning today and check it out. From the ground, it's somewhat difficult to say exactly whether the lines cross or dont cross. A followup article indicates the bridge does clear the overhead cables, but that there are other problems with the supports for the cables, and other conflicts between planned work for train line and planned work for the bridge, neither of which were coordinated with each other, and that the project involves the other infamous phrase "EU funds." So, we had to check it out for the sketchblog.

Pipera is an area under construction; on the edge of the city, the area is full of small 1-1/2 lane roads. So, driving over to the famous intersection at the rail line via one of the 1-1/2 lane roads, you suddenly come across the giant concrete bridge springing out of a field in the middle of nowhere but not actually connecting to the street. As I was sketching there, a train actually came through the intersection, probably carrying some of the tourists from the city on their way to the seaside. The line is the main line that goes to the seaside, and right now is the start of the tourist high season, so it'll probably be a while before the various parties can agree on and implement a solution to the problem.... probably at least until the end of the tourist season.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bucharest, Romania

Strada Mihail Sebastian

Construction is underway for a new apartment building on Strada Mihail Sebastian, in front of some older blocks of flats. A number of old industrial manufacturing sites in the were flattened in the last year for upcoming construction, so it's nice to see one of the projects moving forward.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Watercolor practice - proposed Chevy Volt showroom

Proposal B

Proposal A

Watercolor practice for several options for a proposed showroom for the new Chevy Volt line of vehicles.

Proposal B is primarily a glass building to emphasize the connection between light and sky and earth, and the connection with green technologies and the Volt, and for a more techy and hard and transparent appearance, to follow with the direction in GM toward a leaner, techier, and more transparent company. The folded glass front is a play on the Chevy logo.

Proposal A is a reuse of an older manufacturing facility, with a brick showroom with natural daylighting, to emphasize the connection with the midwest roots and green design (recycling, clean energy, daylighting, and energy efficiency). This follows with the direction in GM to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, get leaner and more sophisticated, and to "let the light in" so to speak. The folded glass front plays on the Chevy logo, to add a transparent yet techy touch to a company proud of its roots.

Watercolor pencils (applied with brush) with grey pencil overlay, with some ink lines. My watercolors are still a bit awkward as compositions, and the colors with the watercolor pencils come out a bit light. But, this time I flipped over the paper to the "non-textured" side, and I think the result came out better. Also, this time I wetted the paper in the areas for each color, and then wetted the pencil before putting onto the brush, and was able to get a more vibrant color into the wet areas, compared to going over the paper with a dry pencil, and then wetting the colored paper with the brush. That seems to produce a much lighter and flatter distribution of color.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pompeii, Italy

Entrance to Pompeii

On the streets of Pompeii

A few sketches from photos from a trip to Pompeii the summer before last.
Going into Pompeii is an amazing experience. The city is so quiet, and so much of it is preserved or under preservation. With a little map, it's easy to walk around and experience the city. One of my professors, Malcolm Quantrill, always had slide carousels of photos of his trips to great architecture with his family. This is something I want to do with my kids, is take them to Pompeii, and all the great architecture sites.

I started the bottom sketch with lines, and filled in pencil shading. I started the top sketch with pencil shading, and then added lines.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bucharest, Romania

Strada Stirbei Voda, Bucuresti

Old man with swans. Parcul Cismigiu, Bucuresti

Was in the park today, and saw these two swans. One was giving itself a bath by hovering in the water and then diving under the water. Meanwhile, an old man was standing watching the whole affair.

Next to Izvor Eminescu, Parcul Cismigiu, Bucuresti

The gardeners were out today, working on the flowers. They had this interesting kind of wheelbarrow, a large half-drum, with large metal wheels. Meanwhile, the stroller brigade had arrived at the Eminescu "spring"..... the pipe coming out of the ground....... to let their kids drink from the pure natural spring waters of Bucharest municipal water supply. A random hiker was meandering through the park, on his way somewhere. He had a pretty good size backpack, but I dont believe there are any campgrounds in Bucharest, so I imagine he was staying at a youth hostel somewhere in the vicinity, or maybe at the Marriott.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Watercolor practice - Entering Pompeii

The entrance to Pompeii

Entering the city along a long sloping stone street, the walls of the city confront you and embrace you. The stone in the street are hard and cold in the sun, but worn to a smooth softness by thousands of summers. A cold dark archway tunnel appears ahead; we must walk through the blackness underneath a scaffold. Entering into the city, the sun blinds us as we adjust to the vast area of carved flat stone courts, and what used to be the administrative buildings, temples and public forums. We pass into shady small streets, and take refuge from the sun in the inner courts of urban houses, with small rectangular pools that naturally cool the courts, and feel a breeze pass through the house as we tiptoe back into the inner garden, hoping the owner of the house, an official or some important person, doesnt suddenly come home and find us there looking around his contemplative garden, or studying the family portraits. Walking alittle further, we walk past restaurants and cafes and bars, quiet right now, but probably will be pretty raucous later in the evening. You can still almost smell the food cooking in the stove open the the street. Maybe if we wait, we can just buy something from the sidewalk.

This is from a trip we made the summer before last to southern Italy. When we got there, we quickly decided to see Pompeii and a few other things. A train connects the coastal towns, so you can hop on a train and pass signs that say "Pompeii" and "Vesuvius" and "Napoli" and so on. Inside, are all of the things famous from the pictures, plus less famous things hard to describe, like the way walls were built, indoor and outdoor plumbing, how they bridged across streets so that carts could go in the streets and people could walk on the sidewalks, all kinds of gardens and courts, and the design in the city for solar and ventilation. Pompeii was a coastal town, with a port. So, the entrance ramp/street where the sketch is made seemed to me quite similar to the same kind of entrance street in the city of Amalfi, with a large sloping street leading down to the harbor. anyway, the whole place feels like someplace where people have walked for thousands of years, which they have. And now you've seen the entrance to the ancient city of Pompeii. We were there in August, so it was hot, sunny, and quiet.

Amazingly, there was an eyewitness account of the destruction of Pompeii..... and it still exists.......

There's a discovery channel episode about the eyewitness account.....

Sketch practice: 06.05.09

Blvd. Schitul Magureanu, Bucuresti.

This house sits across the street from Cismigiu Park... It's a lovely little villa overlooking the park.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bucharest, Romania

The race to the stoplight

Strada Stirbei Voda, Bucuresti

The traffic seemed to be heavy in Bucharest today; maybe it was the rain which seems to make people crazy, or maybe there was cleaning on several critical intersections, or maybe it was just Monday after a long weekend. Anyway, for some reason people needed to blow horns and hurry to get in line at the red light. One car in particular blew the horn all the way up the hill, only to find himself sitting in line for several minutes with all the neighbors he blew the horn at. Inadvertently, when this happens, people come to a halt and look around nonchalantly and pretend it wasnt them driving like a maniac to be the 4th car back at the redlight.

The containers on the side there look like recycling containers. Strangely enough, they're also red, yellow, and green (in order to match the stoplight), so they may be some form of wheeled semafore...... or maybe they're just some attractive recycling containers.


Some guys sitting in the park this morning. Two of them have hats. Some styles here are still popular with the older gentlemen, such as the nice hat with the brim, like from about 1950. Maybe it's just that they like the hat, or maybe it's that generation. When my dad was here about a year ago, he remarked "makes me think of my dad..... he always wore a hat."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bucharest, Romania

Shaorma for lunch

Every city has their own "the best chili in Texas", or "the best cheesesteaks in Philly", or "the best onion salads in Deluth" (made that up). Bucharest has "the best shaormas in Bucharest". A shaorma is a kind of flat bread filled with meat (either beef, veal, chicken, or lamb), with potatoes, peppers, cabbage, and maybe tomatoes. They usually have a sauce of mayonnaise and hot sauce, garlic sauce, and onions. Usually, when I order one, I usually get it "fara maionesa, cu picant".... without mayonnaise, with hot sauce. You can get it "aici sau la pachet" (here or to go). A shaorma is extremely similar to the doner kebabs in Turkey (I think it is a doner kabab, with maybe more garlic), or kind of similar to a burrito carne/chicken asada, but with a slightly sweet hot sauce,. and some garlic. Anyway, we had a hankerin' for shaorma, so we went to the best place in Bucharest for shaorma...... right across the street from the 5-star Marriot Grand Hotel...... Chicken Staff. When you're in Bucharest, after you've parked your Maibach or limited edition Maserati, then walk on across the street and get yerself a good ol' shaorma. I prefer beef over chicken.

Update on the Shaorma

One of the readers pointed out the arabic origin of the shaorma, and the effect on the street food and the culture in Bucharest. From what I can gather from the web, the food is from middle-eastern arabic origin, and the name "shaorma" appears to be from a turkish origin. For centuries, Romania was under Turkish Rule, followed by other rules, and all of these rules have had an effect in the culture. Likewise, in Romania, there are many internal subcultures and external neighbors , and this is one of the things that makes Romania so vibrant and diverse. But through it all....... subcultures, over-cultures, ruling cultures, living cultures, every day cultures, the Shaorma ties it all together like a big delicious tasteful mixture wrapped up in a simple flat bread. And that's the shaorma in our lives, connecting many many cultures. (Also, during communism, the State controlled all the businesses, so such things as a small business making Shaormas couldnt exist, so in addition to being a food of the people, the shaorma shop is an example of private enterprise at work, a huge change in the landscape over the last 50 years here.)
There are many links for "shaorma" (or other spelling versions). Here is one:

Drawing on napkin....... view of the shaorma guy.

The meats are on these vertical spits with radiant heaters behind them to roast them. They use these long knives that look like giant bread slicers to cut the meat. Anyway, lunch was good.

About a year ago, seemed like I was eating a shaorma every day almost for lunch... not too many other restaurants in the area where I was. After a while, the girls at the shaorma place could recognize us and knew our preferences. Anyway, you can only eat shaormas every day for so long, then one day you come home and your wife says, "no more shaormas for you.... you smell like a shaorma!" And then I had to start bringing lunch, and only 1 shaorma every week or two. mmmmm...... those were the days............... maybe we'll get one today.....we'll see.