Friday, August 15, 2014

Sunshine, Wine and Yo-Yo Ma

Roughly 130 miles west of Boston in Massachusetts is a place called Tanglewood - best known as the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra ever since 1937.
We purchased lawn Tickets and while the place was packed with people, we still found a nice area to sit on the grass, had some wine and listened to great Symphony. The highlights of the day was a performance by Yo-Yo Ma.

 I thought it was funny how everyone sat facing the building structure where the musicians were playing but you could not see a thing since it was so dark inside.

Jam packed Lawn seating.

Inside the building structure was jam packed too.

Wine, Cheese and Olives

Yo-Yo Ma

Monday, August 11, 2014

Half day Fridays: Walking around MIT and Harvard Square

The company I work for has summer hours - which means we work longer hours from Monday to Thursday but on Fridays we get to leave at lunch time. This is great since it makes the weekend feel really long! Last Friday an old friend from California was visiting town so we arranged to meet up for dinner. Heading into the city around noon, I had the whole afternoon to walk around and sketch.

This first one was of the MIT Stata center - The famous Frank Gehry building that I also sketched a month ago with a few Boston Urban Sketchers. I needed to sketch this again since I struggled with it the first time. Personally the building made a little more sense sketching it for the 2nd time.

Walking towards Harvard, I ran into a Baptist church building which I was intrigued in drawing for some reason. Sometimes I'm not even sure myself why I'm attracted to something - so rather than thinking too much about it, I would just capture it. Now looking back at this sketch, I'm still not sure why I sketched it but I still had fun though.

I found out later that this building shown below is called the Harvard Lampoon Building built on a very small plot of land with streets surrounding all four sides. You can't miss this unusual building.

You can always find a bunch of people playing chess near the Harvard Square train station. The players (and the spectators) are so focused on the game that they make great subjects to sketch. I should come here more often to do more people sketches.

After having a pleasant dinner and few drinks with my old friend, I headed back home on the train.
This one's a little exaggerated but there was a big guy watching a video on his phone.

So this was my fun and relaxing Friday afternoon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Japanese tea cermony inside a 100 year old house from Kyoto @ Boston Children's Museum !?

A while back our friend Nao had mentioned she was taking a Japanese tea ceremony class and had asked my wife and I if we wanted to visit. I've always wanted to sketch a tea ceremony and she mentioned that her teacher (Sensei) did not have any issues - great!

She mentioned that the class took place inside the Boston Children's museum. This felt odd since in my mind I could not find a link between Japanese tea and the Children's museum.
Once inside, another thing that amazed me was that there was an actual 100+ year old Machiya house brought over from Kyoto Japan! To commemorate the 20th year anniversary of sister city relationship, Kyoto had sent Boston this traditional urban house which once belonged to a silk merchant family in Kyoto’s Nishijin neighborhood. So the tea ceremony class took place inside the 2nd floor of this Machiya house!

The first tea ceremony lesson we watched was an advanced class taught by Glenn Sensei.
He's been studying tea ceremony since 1981 and it was quite inspirational watching him teach and explain through many stories and detailed reasons on the why of every movement/procedure in the act of making/serving tea.
My image of a tea ceremony was this very quiet atmosphere where one was not allowed to talk but both Glenn Sensei and Miho Sensei made it a very friendly environment encouraging people to ask questions and saying it was ok to talk.

Next we moved to the smaller room next door to watch Nao take her class taught by Miho Sensei.
She even encouraged me to squeeze in the corner so I could get a better view to be able to sketch!

Here's me quietly sketching in the corner.
Note the white 'Tabi' socks that I'm wearing. Wearing a pair of clean white socks was a requirement for coming to the tea ceremony so I wore my brand new pair of traditional Japanese socks.

Lastly I had Tea made by Nao and a 'Wagashi' (Japanese confectionery) made by Miho Sensei which was just amazing! The tea was really good too and Nao mentioned that Glenn Sensei only selects the best.

We were about to leave and my wife showed Miho Sensei my sketches then everyone gathered around to take a look. Glenn Sensei and the class in the next room even postponed to come take a look! Everyone seemed to have liked it and I was thrilled!

If you're ever in town or is interested in Japanese Tea, I would encourage you come visit (Urasenke Boston). They were very welcoming people and I sincerely felt they just wanted to share good tea and a nice moment with people.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Visiting the Statue of Liberty from New Jersey

Did you know that you could take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty island from New Jersey?
I didn't know this until visiting my father last weekend.

This 1st sketch was done from my fathers apartment balcony looking across the Hudson river to the upper west side of Manhattan. The storm had just cleared and the blue sky was just starting to appear. 

The next day we headed to go see the Statue of liberty since we found out there was a ferry from the New Jersey side going to the Liberty islands. This made it much more convenient than having to go into Manhattan with lots of traffic and people. The last time I remember going to the Liberty island was for a school trip over 35 years ago! - so this was quite exciting to be able to see it again and it was also my wife's first time to the islands too.

Going through security, we hopped on the ferry that consisted of 2 stops. The first stop was Ellis Island - a gateway for millions of immigrants that came into the United States and was considered to be the nation's busiest immigrant inspection station from 1892 until 1954. 
The building shown is now the museum of immigration. The displays inside looked amazing but unfortunately could not see any of it due to the limited time we had. We however ended up on the island for an hour waiting on line for the ferry to go to the Statue of Liberty Island. Standing in line under scorching sun and in between large amounts of people was unpleasant but I was able to keep my self entertained working on the sketch shown below.

Once on the Liberty Island we needed to go through another security checkpoint to go up to the observation deck area and not even a small bag was allowed through. These are the times when I feel good that all of my sketching equipment fits inside my cargo shorts pockets including my newly purchased mini folding stool a size of a small water bottle!
The problem with sketching anything this iconic such as the Statue of Liberty is the difficulty in finding a fun view that I haven't already seen before. I finally settled on this view, sitting quite close to the statue base and also fitting in the Manhattan skyscrapers on the right hand side. The tall blue building is One World Trade center, also used to be called the Freedom Tower.
It was a tough view and I wish I had time to do another one but we needed to head back home.


Well, once again we were in line a long time for the Ferry back to NJ.  I at least was able to once again sketch while standing in a tight queue keeping myself entertained. I personally love how the back view of the Statue of Liberty came out!
It was a gorgeous 4th of July weekend and we headed back home to Boston.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Sketching animals is so therapeutic

It's been a few years since I last visited a Zoo.
One weekend my wife, my photographer friend Tony and I headed out to the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Rhode Island. For a small state, this zoo is quite large and it's quite nice too.

We casually walked around the park, my friend took photos and I captured the animals one at a time.
It was so much fun and very soothing - almost therapeutic when sketching animals.

I left the zoo completely relaxed!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Sketch Crawl at Falmouth Cape Cod

Last week Erica Szuplat contacted me via Flickr letting me know that she was running a Sketch Crawl in Falmouth, MA - a town at the base of beautiful Cape Cod. I was excited to finally meet some local sketchers and to visit this town for the first time so I drove down about an hour to join the group.
There was an Art Festival taking place here on this day, making it perfect to find a variety of subjects to sketch.

1st warm up sketch of a on old Triumph in great conditions. The driver unfortunately had to drive away just as I was about to add color. He asked me to remove the plate information since he didn't want people contacting him to sell the car.

2nd sketch was of a popcorn vendor selling from a vintage machine made in the 40's. 

While I sketched sitting on the ground, a 2 year old boy came over to watch me pretty much for the entire duration of the drawing and I had some really fun dialogue with him. Here's one that I liked:

boy: "I could draw squiggly lines like you. Are you an Artist?"
me: "Yes I am. Are you an Artist too"
boy: "Yes, and I'm better than you"

His dad near by looked somewhat embarrassed by his child mentioning this but this actually made me really happy. I remembered a quote from Picasso mentioning that "All children are artists" and thought this was so true - so much confidence and no hesitation on

Here's a church sketch a la "Lapin Style"to get everything to fit on 1 page. I've been doing this quite a lot recently and it's quite addictive.

The group of about 12 sketchers met at a nearby coffee shop for a talk, sharing sketches and for me a cold Iced coffee. Photos below are from Erica's Facebook page.

Many came and left quickly but I was able to chat (and get a quick sketch) of the few that stuck around.

It was a fun day, and thanks for the invite Erica!

Before heading back home, I was able to get 1 quick capture of this light house that was in this are too. Light houses are so calming to draw.