This is the main entrance to Powell’s City of Books, the venerable bookstore in Portland, Oregon, founded in 1971 by Walter Powell. Billing itself as the world’s largest independent bookstore, it occupies an entire city block and contains over a million volumes of new and used books over 68,000 square feet of floor area.
Category Archives: Urban Sketchers
10 Years Ago
Looking back at sketches done ten years ago, during visits to Naples, Delft, and Mexico City. Unlike the first two experiential views, the last is conceptual in its attempt to imagine how the architect Luis Barragán fit the program for the Capilla de las Capuchinas into a tight midblock site in the historic area of Tlalpan in Mexico City.
Urban Sketchers is Live Again
After 14 months of individuals drawing and painting in isolation during the pandemic, the Seattle Urban Sketchers group was able to meet—finally—for a Sunday sketching session at Gas Works Park. The site on the north shore of Lake Union is a reclaimed gasification plant that operated from 1906 to 1956. Landscape architect Richard Haag designed the park, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The first sketch, from within the play barn structure, looks out toward Lake Union and downtown Seattle beyond. Drawing from a dark space toward the light creates silhouettes that conceals details, which can be challenging. The second sketch was a quick study of remnants of the old plant. The geometric, primarily cylindrical forms, were drawn transparently to emphasize their volume, even though the sketch consists only of lines.
15 Years Ago
Continuing a look back over the years, these two spreads contain sketches drawn during a trip to Sicily in 2006 with my wife Deb. The first contains views of Palermo the day after our arrival; the second is of Cefalú Cathedral and a map documenting a day-trip drive with our friends Margie and Jim to the hilltowns above Cefalú.
20 Years Ago
Not quite 20 years ago, but close enough. These two pages contain the first sketches I did soon after arriving in the Eternal City in the fall of 2000 to teach in the UW’s Architecture in Rome program. Truly, a transformative experience. Wandering the area around Campo de Fiori, I sketched three churches—S. Barbara de Librari, the dome of S. Andrea della Valle, and S. Maria della Pace—as well as an ill-proportioned fragment of Bernini’s fountain in the Piazza Navona. I chose to include small plans showing the context of each in the urban fabric.
25 Years Ago
The practice of keeping a journal gives us the ability to go back in time to revisit places and experiences. Here, from 25 years ago, is a map I drew of Hong Kong and its environs, showing the ferry route I took from Central to Sok Kwu Wan on Lamma Island. From there I walked an hour and a half to Yung Shue Wan, where I sketched the scene below.
With the warming weather of early spring and a pleasant sunny day, it was a treat to venture outside to do some on-location drawing at Fishermen’s Terminal, located off Salmon Bay in north Seattle. It was here almost 12 years ago—in July 2009—that Gabi Campanario organized the very first meeting of the Seattle Urban Sketchers group.
Early Morning Light
Early morning light on a narrow street leading to Campo de Fiori in Rome.
A roadway in Bhalil, Morocco, leading up to the historic cave houses that date back to the 4th century.
A familiar sight whenever one looks out from an upper story in Rome—a collage of church domes, tile roofs, and tv antennae.