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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A narrow street in Old Dhaka, densely lined with decorated brick buildings and artisan shops specializing in the crafting of jewelry from conch shells. The following images show the evolution of the sketch, from a stream of consciousness approach to the overall composition, followed by the application of darker values that begin to define major shapes, and finishing with a few inked lines to suggest certain details. I definitely prefer laying ink lines over a watercolor rather than laying down watercolors over inked lines. The former technique fosters a freer approach to the laying down of color and value.
A view of Istanbul inspired by Ara Güler’s photographs that document the multilayered life of Istanbul from the 1940s to the 1980s, as well as my own memories of visits to that historic city that bridges east and west.
A brief word on process: First, a watercolor splash of Istanbul’s memorable skyline punctuated by her mosques and minarets. Then, a scan imported into Procreate on the iPad. Next, several attempts at foregrounding a hint of the steamers and smaller fishing boars that ply the Bosphorus.