This measured drawing of the facades of the Oratorio dei Filippini (Oratory of Saint Phillip Neri) and the Chiesa Nuova (Santa Maria in Vallicella) in Rome was beautifully crafted by hand by Professor Emanuela Chiavoni of the Università Sapienza di Roma, who I met at the UID conference in Matera last year. Designed by Francesco Borromini and erected between 1637 and 1650, the Oratorio achieves a measure of strength and elegance not through decorative features but rather by careful proportioning and the use of opposing geometries, particularly of the interplay between the convex and the concave.
Professor Chiavoni executed this drawing as part of her Ph.D thesis and graciously presented it to me as a gift. The drawing shows the use of orthographic projection to objectively describe the formal and proportional relationships between the parts and the whole of a design.
Below is my drawing of the same facades that I had done while Professor Chiavoni accompanied me for an afternoon of sketching in Rome. These two drawings show the difference between the objective and perceptual descriptions of the same subject.
Sometimes, there isn’t that spark that inspires me to draw. This is how I felt when the Seattle Urban Sketchers met last Sunday morning in Georgetown, supposedly the oldest neighborhood in Seattle. Founded on the Duwamish River in 1851, Georgetown incorporated in 1904 and was annexed by Seattle in 1910.
While there are a number of interesting buildings and settings in the Georgetown neighborhood, the trouble for me was in finding an appealing scene—a set of spatial relationships that could be composed in an interesting way. I finally settled on this particular view along Airport Way South. What caught my eye were the storefront signs above the sidewalk, the freeway signs beyond, and of course, the overhead tangle of wiring.
Another memorable setting for me in Fremont is Les Amis, self-described as “the Seattle home of up and coming fashion designers…rustically fashioned… with romantic country sensibilities…” I have always admired the “shabby chic” face it presents to the street, especially when the Wisteria overhanging the front awning of the shop is in bloom.
On a nice sunny day here in Seattle, I drew this view of the Terminal 86 Grain Facility. The Port of Seattle built this grain terminal in 1970 to replace the Hanford Street Terminal and satisfy the need for a larger facility as grain exports from the Northwest grew. It sits along and over Myrtle Edwards Park on Elliott Bay and frames a view of downtown Seattle beyond.
As part of Gabi Campanario’s Drawn to Seattle exhibit at the Museum of History and Industry, individual members of the Seattle Urban Sketchers have been spending Saturday afternoons as an “Urban Sketcher in Residence,” demonstrating and sharing their sketching techniques. Yesterday was my opportunity. After a few warm, sunny days, it turned cool and rainy again and so I had to draw from inside MOHAI. The first view is of the Duwamish, built in 1909 and the second oldest fireboat in the U.S., being retired in 1985 and now moored at the Historic Ships Wharf just north of the museum on Lake Union.
The second “drawing” consists of just three lines, but they represent for me the broad outline of the following sketch, drawn from the second floor Walker Gallery, where Gabi’s exhibit was located. With those three lines, I establish the overall composition of the view and the scale and position of the bridge, which is the focus of the drawing.