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Friday, December 27, 2013

Marrakech and the Random Buildings of Washington, DC

This is the Marrakech restaurant, located in the trendy DuPont Circle neighborhood here in Washington, DC. It's a unique building, and looks nothing like the buildings next to it, which look nothing like the buildings surrounding them. Outside of the granite-columned federal government buildings such as the Capital or the White House, Washington's architecture is best described as a truly wonderful assortment of random aesthetics.

This sketch was done with Sakura Pigma Micron pens and an assortment of Pantone Tria and Prismacolor Design markers into a 4" x 6" hardcover sketchbook. It was fully pre-sketched in pencil and inked onsite, as was 95% of the coloring. Thankfully, the whole process was pretty much undisturbed; no surrounding police activity, no delivery people dropping and spilling a keg of beer in front of me, no being questioned by a federal agent, and no being surrounded by homeless people looking to collect change because they're sitting next to an artist (yes; all of this has happened to me while sketching in Washington, DC!)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Galata Morente

I'll add my Gaul too...

Ricardo pointed out to our sketchcrawl FB group that The Dying Gaul was on temporary loan to the NGA, and gathered a bunch of us to go sketch it.  While the crowd around the sculpture was deep, everyone found a decent unobstructed view or two to draw from. My only regret is that I didn't truly represent his wicked mustache and mullet.
The Dying Gaul at NGADC
It is pretty interesting how unaware people can be of themselves as the step directly in front of another person looking at the same artwork.  I don't mean just those of us sketching (though I will admit it didn't help) but people who will stand so close to the sculpture itself that the 30 visitors behind them can't see a thing. Whatever. At least no one knocked him over...
The Dying Gaul at NGADC

Sunday, December 15, 2013


The Dying Gaul, Roman sculpture 1st or 2nd C.E. This masterpiece from the Capitoline Museum in Rome is here in Washington DC National Gallery of Art from Oct 15, 2013 - Jan 26,2014. The Dying Gaul was found in Rome during excavations of the Villa Ludovisi in 1621. This sculpture depicts a warrior in his final moments, his face contorted in pain just before he collapses from the mortal wound to his chest. As an image of a vanquished enemy, the sculpture embodies courage in defeat, self-possession in the face of death, and the recognition of nobility in an alien race. The Dying Gaul is a deeply moving celebration of the human spirit. It took me 3 hrs and I used black ink on white paper.

Friday, December 6, 2013

2014 Urban Sketchers Symposium

You can now find more information about the Symposium and subscribe to the mailing list at I'm jealous of anyone who makes it to Paraty, Aug. 27-30, 2014!

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Elizabeth Taylor Mural
As far as pop culture figures who make good mural subject, DC has a pretty good knack for picking them.  Marilyn Monroe, Duke Ellington, Chuck Brown, and Frederick Douglas among others.  Well, earlier this season the Dacha Beer Garden opened up with a pretty spectacular mural of Elizabeth Taylor keeping watch over their beer drinkers down below.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dupont Circle and Georgetown

I went in to D.C. to see the Van Gogh exhibit at the Phillips Collection, which I very much enjoyed (though there is nothing quite like the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam).

On my way back I stopped in Dupont Circle and did some sketching. There is always something going on in Dupont Circle, and Saturday was no exception - there was a wedding, in addition to the usual gathering of musicians, chess players, dog walkers, and people reading and socializing (and sketching). I've sketched here many times before, but this time the fall colors were out. Somehow I don't get tired of sketching this spot.

I also decided to walk through Georgetown, which is also a pretty neighborhood in the fall.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Washington, DC Food Trucks

Washington, DC isn't all about politics, politics,; it's also quite the food town as well. While some neighborhoods feature eateries of all sorts, others are somewhat devoid of plentiful lunchtime options. For the latter, the void has been filled with an eclectic selection of increasingly popular food trucks. Such is the case with the West End neighborhood, which features plenty of luxury hotels, high-end condo buildings, and non-profit headquarters, but not much when it comes to quick lunchtime spots, hence making West End a food truck destination. Here are two of them, which I sketched during lunchtime strolls:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Maine Avenue Fish Market

For the 41st World Wide Sketchcrawl, the D.C. group met at the Maine Avenue Fish Market. Between the buildings, the fish, the customers, and the boats, it made for a pretty good place to sketch, and not too crowded.

After lunch, we headed over towards the docks. The owners of this sailboat, the Chardonnay, stopped by to see what we were doing, and told us some stories about some of the places they'd been with the boat - and apologized for the mess on the deck (which I thought just made the scene more interesting).

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

H St Festival

H Street sketch strip

Inspired by Joel's sketches from last year, I checked out this year's H Street Festival. Food, weird cars, rollergirls, art and lots of people.  Sadly I missed an opportunity to try a faux-cronut, but otherwise a lot of fun.

I'm starting to enjoy putting sketches together in strip form.  It's taking me a little longer to plan out, put together, and sketch, but I'm diggin' it.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

U.S. Military Culinary Competition

The 10th Annual Military Culinary Competition was held this weekend on 8th Street SE, in front of the Marine Barracks. Teams of chefs from various branches of the armed forces, as well as a team from the White House Kitchen, competed to prepare a four-course meal from ingredients provided in a basket. The street was closed off to traffic for the Barracks Row Fall Festival, and the chefs worked in tents along the sidewalk, so I was able to get a pretty close view. Off to one side, a sculptor used a chain saw to carve an eagle out of a block of ice.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Small Press Expo

Small Press Expo SPX 2013

So Baltimore Comic-Con was fun, but the real action came a week later in DC (well, North Bethesda...) with the Small Press Expo. If you are into comics, or just art in general this was the place to find every indie or underground comic creator you wish you've heard of. This expo is one of my favorite times of the year- made apparent by how I spent way too much money on said art and comics. So as with Baltimore, I thought I would put together a page of SPX sketches in a way that seemed appropriate.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


LOCK 6. This lock is located at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (C & O Canal) near Georgetown in Washington DC. The canal is 184 miles long and it goes parallel to the Potomac from Cumberland MD to Washington D.C. This lock and the canal was used from 1831 until 1924 where many goods came in and out. The main principal cargo in the latter years was coal which it came from the Allegheny Mountains. This is a beautiful place very near to South west Washington DC area where engineering meets nature. This fantastic place is well used by the locals for physical activities like running, fishing, or kayaking. The 1st look at the lock give you the impression of ancient ruins that just were recently discovered. The height of the lock is about 12 to 15 feet. I was bless to have the opportunity to sketch inside the canal because the water level at this time of the year is very low. During rainy season I will not have the same opportunity. I strongly recommend people to visit this little known part of the U.S. Capital history. I spend the entire day at this park and it took me 3.5 hrs of sketching with breaks in between. I used black ink on white paper.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Baltimore Comic Con

Baltimore Comic Con 2013

I've been living in DC for some time now, but only in recent years have I started braving the Baltimore Comic Con.  Unlike a lot of pop culture conventions, Baltimore is straight up about Comic. Books. A lot of comic vendors, spandex, writers, artists & illustrators, spandex, kids, toy, t shirts, did I mention spandex? A whole lot of fun.  So I thought attempting a bunch of sketches on a single page might be appropriate considering the subject.

Friday, September 13, 2013


The Athenaeum is a very old historic fine art gallery located in old town Alexandria, VA, U.S.A. couple blocks west from the waterfront and a block south from King Street. It's a beautiful building that follows the traditions of ancient Greek temples architecture. What I love about the place is the wonderful vegetation around the building as well the very pedestrian friendly streets around the area. It's a very busy gallery as well it's a place for parties or celebrations like weddings. I walk almost everyday in front of this "temple of fine art" and every time I go by I pause to see/enjoy the architecture plus the beautiful harmony with nature. It took me 3 days before or after going to work and I sketched for 1 hr per day for a total of 3 hrs. I used black ink on white paper.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Urban Elements of Washington, DC

Washington, DC has big stately government buildings. We have imposing office buildings housing lawyers and lobbyists with international influence. There are grand marble statues and memorials. And in the middle of it all there's a big, gleaming white marble spire. Of course, Washington, DC is also a day-to-day functioning city, so we also have newspaper boxes, stop signs, fire hydrants, parking meters, and street lights. When I go out for my lunchtime strolls, I sometimes like to sketch them, and here are some (OK, not to exciting; your nation's capital may not look like ours, but I think our street lights, stop signs, and fire hydrants may actually look quite similar!)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

50th Anniversary March on Washington DC

During Wednesday 08.28.2013 was the amazing celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the march on Washington DC by the Civil Rights Movement and Dr Martin Luther King Jr. It was a very rainy summer day here in the mall however it was full of positive energy and diversity. There were so many people from different places around the U.S.A. and the world that came together in order to celebrate this important event in human history. I began the sketch around 1pm and I finished by 3:30pm. It took me a long time because I had to run under the big umbrella of a Ice cream street vendor car in order to continue sketching when they rain started. The owner of the Ice Cream street vendor car was very generous and she let me sketch until I finished. It took me 2.5 hrs and I used black ink and white paper.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

March on Washington 2013

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Tens of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate the occasion, and to call for justice, as there is still more work to be done. Civil rights and labor groups from around the country marched along the original 1963 route to the Lincoln Memorial, and gathered to listen to speeches from civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King III. There was also music and chanting in the streets. It was a powerful experience, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to march with them.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Bikes of Washington, DC

Washington, DC has a very active - and at times - very strange cycling scene. Amongst one of the strangest sights you'll see is an interesting array of commuter bikes, which are found locked-up all over the sidewalks of the city. If you know your bikes, you'll see everything from standard-fare commuters to vintage race bikes such as Eddy Merckx, Bottechia, and even a rare Puch with Columbus SLX tubing. Indeed, the classic race bikes of the 80s don't die; they just get reincarnated as commuter bikes here in the nation's capital, and as a cycling aficionado/junkie, I like to sketch all sorts of these velo wonderments during my lunchtime strolls.

Here's a Raleigh Technium from the late-80s, featuring a bonded aluminum frame and first-generation Shimano 105 gruppo. It's in fairly good condition, though the standard platform pedals denote that this race bike rarely sees speed anymore.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Worked together with Katherine Tucker on these drawings last week. Two is better than one they say. Check out her blog here:

Showtime Bar- Bloomingdale
(non-dominant hand)

Showtime Bar II- Bloomingdale

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Washington National Cathedral

The Washington National Cathedral is one of my favorite places to sketch. There is a lot of scaffolding on it right now as they repair the damage from the 2011 earthquake. If you look closely, you can see that the top of one of the spires is truncated, just above the flying buttress.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Friendship Firehouse

This Firehouse was built in 1855 and it was remodeled in 1871, later during 1992 was restored to the current look. This building was created for The Friendship Fire Company that was established in 1774, as the 1st volunteer fire company for the Old town in the city of Alexandria, VA, U.S.A. Today the building is a museum that stores the preserved equipment of that era like the old fire engine. I live very few blocks away from this beautiful building so it took me 3 days visiting it and sketching for about 1 hour each day to a total of 3.5 hrs. I used black ink on white paper. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Woodrow Wilson Bridge

The bridge starts on the state of Virginia coming from the south west, at the middle passes the boundary on the south corner of Washington DC, and it lands at the state of Maryland on the south east. Under the bridge the Jones Point park is located which is full of beautiful wild life. The sun was starting to set and all these birds were flying around in a crazy fashion. Some of the birds were fishing others were doing some crazy acrobatics moves. There is a lot of aquatic activities going on from kayaking, fishing boats, to sailing boats. The weather was perfect and the sky was clear. This sketch took me 3 hours in a very relaxing environment and it was done with black ink on white paper.

Light House Jones Point and the Southern Stone Marking Point of Washington DC

During the 40th Sketchcrawl I went to Jones Point to sketched the Light House and the Southern stone marking point of Washington DC. This stone was the first Federal Monument of the new created U.S.A. when it was put in place back in 1791. This stone marks the beginning of Washington DC and it is in the South most point of the City at the tip of Jones Point. This is a fantastic park located right under the Eisenhower bridge in Alexandria, VA. The park is full of vegetation as well it has Native America, Colonial, WWI, and today's history. I did this sketch right in the water sitting in a chair and it took me 3 hours and a little extra in between running for cover to the light house because of thunderstorms and as well for the visit of 2 beavers that were inspecting what I was doing close to their territory (that's when I got out of the water for good). 3.5 Hours and I used black ink on white paper.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Ugly Buildings of Washington, DC.

Washington, DC has many internationally-known landmarks, which draw visitors from all over the world, and are the subjects of countless photos, sketches, paintings, and gaudy tourist souvenirs. A quick mental flash of our city brings to mind grand Presidential monuments, gleaming government buildings, and a big spire in the middle towering over all of it. However, being a day-to-day local, the touristy structures of DC are common place for me, as opposed to their complete opposites; the ugly buildings of Washington, DC.

Here is one of them, located in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood. You'll never see it on a postcard, but walk past it every day, and you'll notice the bright red pipe running up the side of this building, matched by the big red sign at the bottom, all set against an otherwise white building with a subtle windowed-grid of dark browns and dusty blues. I was hoping to color this all in, but I sketched it with a cheap gel pen, and coloring over the lines with markers on a humid summer day here in DC would have turned this all into one big smear-fest!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

USk Barcelona

I just returned from the 4th International Urban Sketching Symposium in Barcelona. I had a really wonderful time there: I got to meet (and learn from) many artists whose work I'd been following online for years, and got to sketch in a beautiful city. I filled several sketchbooks, and this is only just a small sample: the curious can find the rest on Flickr.
While the city has some amazing architecture, and I learned a lot from the workshops, I think my favorite sketches were the informal ones where we sketched each other between (and during) sessions.

And now that I'm back home, I'm looking forward to going out and practicing what I learned here in my own city.