l’viv rooftops

Rynok Square | L’viv, Ukraine | 22 October 2008

I had the fortune of taking part in a design studio in which the building site was in the Ukrainian city of L’viv. As a added bonus, several of us in the studio took part in a nine-day trip to L’viv and its environs. Close to the Polish border, L’viv reminded me a lot of Vienna (Austria, that is. The Virginia version pales in comparison).

Typical building close to our hostel quarters.

Typical building close to our hostel quarters.

Our tour included visiting villages nearby, taking in the veritable multicultural heritage of the area. Polish Catholics, Jews, and Ukrainian Orthodox peoples lived together prior to World War II. It was pretty haunting to see architectural cultural remnants such as this masonry synagogue in the nearby town of Zhovkva:

Built entirely of brick, this bombed-out synagogue still had faint Hebrew writings on its walls.

Built entirely of brick, this bombed-out synagogue still had faint Hebrew writings on its walls.

When we weren’t visiting older historical sites, we had some free time to take in more pedestrian sites. We would often have time off between morning workshop sessions and the afternoon ones, so we’d head off to Rynok Square to kill a couple hours. It’s a main tourist destination with shops, restaurants, and bars surrounding a campanile of sorts.

Concerts, outdoor seating, food, and street performers are common in Rynok Square

Concerts, outdoor seating, food, and street performers are common in Rynok Square

This tower is a good climb up, but the views were spectacular. From there, one could have a 360 degree view of the entire city. You can easily see the older, centralized, medieval city, and the Soviet-era concrete bloc buildings as well.

L'viv from the Rynok Square tower.

L’viv from the Rynok Square tower.

I had started a sketch up here, but was unable to finish it until recently. I had outlined what I had wanted to capture and had taken a picture to eventually get back to it. Four years later, I did. I sketched a 11″ x 9″ rooftop view from the tower and then doubled its height to add in the friendly google-blue sky and hot air balloons. One day I’ll draw better hot air balloons like Ralph Erskine did here at his Newcastle office.

It’s a collage of sorts and a very simple one at that. The entire image is 11″ x 18″ and I’ve got it printed as a canvas. The intent with the colors was to use complimentary colors to create something balanced. This sounds nuanced, but really I’ve done it for awhile. I just wanted to make something pleasant.

L'viv Collage

L’viv Collage

Now to finally get my Etsy store up and running…


bolton hill synagogue

Eutaw Place Temple | Baltimore, MD | 12 September 2012

I’ve always admired the uniqueness of the “weird, random synagogue in Bolton Hill”, but at one point it really wasn’t out of place to have a synagogue here as it was a major hub for the Jewish community in Baltimore. There’s another beautiful synagogue on Auchentoroly Terrace near Druid Hill Park. I am unsure of the strength of the congregation there anymore, but the Eutaw Place Temple is now owned by the Freemasons, who seem to be known for their raucous parties. It’s now known as Prince Hall Masons Temple.

Prince Hall Masons Temple, or previously the Eutaw Place Temple of Oheb Shalom

Prince Hall Masons Temple, or previously the Eutaw Place Temple of Oheb Shalom

Joseph Evans Sperry designed this synagogue in 1892 for the Temple Oheb Shalom congregation, who have since moved up Park Heights Avenue, which isn’t particularly far from this location. He did a number of buildings in Baltimore, along with some at Johns Hopkins University and the Bromo-Seltzer Tower. The most distinctive feature of the Eutaw Place Temple is the bright green patinated copper dome drum and the orange tiles of the dome. The style of the building is “Moorish Revival“, which seems odd for a synagogue, but is common enough for a variety of buildings. Thanks, walkthetown, for the image above. Most of the time I just draw the image, not take photographs!

I wish I colored it as opposed to just shading it poorly.

I wish I colored it as opposed to just shading it poorly.

It took awhile because of the detail in the dome’s tiles, but ultimately I’m somewhat dissatisfied with the drawing. I got pretty heavy-handed with blackening the windows and the shading didn’t come off right. Nevertheless, I hope people go and visit this beautiful building, because it’s pretty special to look at and is a serious contributor to the Bolton Hill Historic District.

grace & st. peter’s

Grace & St. Peter’s Church | 13 June 2012

I used to live directly across Grace and St. Peter’s Church – a small, beautiful church and school. To be frank, I don’t know exactly when I completed this drawing, so I just gave it this date. I have a backlog of drawings, but I know I completed the drawing sometime this past summer when I was still living and working in Baltimore.


At the corner of Monument and Park in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore

The church itself is pretty well proportioned and I remember when I’d go to work in the morning the kindergarten teacher welcoming students into class at the very same time. I have had trouble finding out a lot of information about the building but clearly the building’s skin is a sandstone, more popularly known as “brownstone“. Typically, they’ve been used for terraced homes (think New York), but this church is covered in it.

What does not show up in the drawing are the vibrant colors used in the openings. There are bright reds and blues for the openings that contrast nicely with the uniform brown color. Hopefully the photo above, which I’ve gotten from Flickr gives you an idea of what the church looks like overall (thanks, flyinghoti, for the image and allowing use of it). I’ve been drawing on this great illustration paper from Canson. The paper is thick and accepts very willingly pen, color pencil, and pencil. It’s the whitest paper I’ve been able to find. I hope you like it!


The view of Grace & St Peter’s from 706 Park Avenue


The Grand Hotel: 29 August 2012

After a brief sojourn to visit my cousin in Edinburgh, Scotland, I took the short flight to Norway. I had a week in Europe, and I took four days in Oslo, Norway’s amazing capital. Late summer is a great time to be there with the air crisp but not biting. As far as the city itself, it’s got a great blend of traditional and contemporary architecture and I got a good dose of both, with wandering the old city, checking out the traditional wooden architecture at the Folk Museum, and also the opera house.

The Anker Hostel, where I stayed, was convenient to the neighborhoods of Oslo, such as Grünerløkka, Bygdøy, and the center of the city. The oldest building in Oslo is the Gamle Aker Kirke in Grünerløkka. It was built out of limestone in 1150, and has been pillaged a few times apparently. Across the Aker River is the heart of Grünerløkka, a pretty hip neighborhood.


entry to the Gamle Aker Kirke

The Norsk Folkemuseum, or the Norwegian Folk Museum, is an open-air museum describing life in Norway – from traditional peoples like the Sami, to more-recent Pakistani immigrants. A key part of the museum are the old wooden buildings taken from all parts of Norway.Image

Many of the buildings have sod roofs, a traditional form of a green roof designed to keep heat in, but newer ones have slate roofs too. The interior of the houses typically have a large table, with a long, three-sided bench allowing people to sit at the table without furniture. I missed the stave church though, and caught the bus back so I could draw the Grand Hotel.

Nobel prizewinners stay at the Grand Hotel, which is a stately building sitting in central Oslo’s main drag, the Karl Johans Gate. A small street, where it begins at the central train station, it becomes a wide boulevard with a large park in the middle. At its head is the Norwegian Parliament, and at its end, the Royal Palace. Much of the street itself is fashionable. I had to draw the Grand Hotel over the course of two days due to intermittent rain:


The Grand Hotel, drawn pretty quickly for Vivek

Mostly tourists hang out on this street, and also Pakistani-Norwegian hipsters. A more refined crowd ends up at the Opera House, designed by Norwegian firm Snøhetta. Bad intel told me tours were only on the weekend, but it turns out they’re every day. Still, the building is pretty stunning as it sits on Oslo’s harbor and you can walk all over it!


skateboarder’s paradise, or at least those who like parkour

I highly recommend getting over to Oslo. I’ve left out hiking up fjords, smoked salmon, and the excellent train system. It was really a joy to visit!

cycles perfecta forgery

While I was traveling in Prague last year, I became acquainted with the art nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha’s work. He has a fantastic museum not far from Václavské náměstí (or Wenceslas Square). The museum itself has small gift shop, video viewing area, and exhibit space. Basically, it is just a white box filled with his illustrations, lithographs, prints, and advertisements from Alphonse Mucha’s oeuvre. One such lithograph was “Cycles Perfecta”, done in 1902 and now a part of a private collection. Process sketches of the lithograph were on display, but I don’t remember the original in the musuem. Typically, you’ll find postcards of this image all over Prague, and I sent one of these said postcards to a friend.

color pencil cycles perfecta

What attracts me to the image is its tremendous balance, despite the asymmetry. The blues in the background behind the woman’s image complement the orange-red hair of the woman, while the red lettering above is balanced by the exact same color on the bow (on the folds of her dress). The white of her skin and part of her dress become a focal point in the center of the image. while her skin color and the bicycle color tire match. There’s just a lot of overlapping color-themes happening it subsequnetly creates the image’s dynamism.

The color pencil drawing is a combination of Koh-i-Noor color pencils, Berol 314 Draughting pencil, Pentel Sign Pen, and Microns left over from architecture school. Most of the drawing starts with a base color layer of green, which helped “flesh” the woman out more, providing a more realistic rendering. The image itself is only 7 1/2″ x 10 1/2″ and I had given it as a gift. Again, the intent was to recreate a lithograph in color pencil as a study in the media. I’m in architecture – we like to copy things! Take a look for yourself on how it compares with the original.

Alphonse Mucha’s Lily (A Color Pencil Forgery)

I’ve been attempting to recreate major works, but in different media, for some time now. This is probably my most ambitious one yet and frankly, with mixed results. Consistently for some months, I admired Alphonse Mucha‘s graphic work. I had first seen his work in Prague at the Alphonse Mucha museum. His collection of graphic advertisements in the Art Nouveau style is amazing. Here I attempted to recreate “Lily” – an 1898 lithograph of his from his flowers series. A lot of his work (and Art Nouveau in general) is characterized by flowing, fluid themes like long, wavy, hair, and sinewy plants and flowers. Lily is my favorite lithograph.Image

Mucha’s lines are highly architectural to me. He’s selective about what gets a thicker border around it than other regions, and he uses much like architecture students do in school to emphasize what’s important. He also seems to use it to suggest hierarchy, but I’m not sure if that’s just architecture gobbledygook or actual insight. The drawing above is on trace with color pencil, a Berol draughting 314 pencil, Micron’s, and Pentel sign pen. The intent of doing these forgeries is not only to understand perhaps what the artists were  doing, but also technically develop skills in media I’m deficient in. I hope my rudimentary knowledge of color theory expands as I continue to make these color drawings.


6 August 2009

Jaipur, in Rajasthan, is a pretty awesome city. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh moved his kingdom’s capitol from Amber to it due to a serious scarcity of water. It’s a rigorously planned city (based on the Shilpa Shastra), with large boulevards and arcades lining the street. Based on these large boulevards and the arcades, Jaipur is in someways more similar to Paris or Bologna than it is other Indian cities. However, the bright pink-colored stone definitely helps place it in India. It was painted pink for the Prince of Wales visit in 1876.



Buildings like the Hawa Mahal, the Jai Mahal, and the Jantar Mantar, are all major landmarks in Jaipour, however, I wanted to capture a street since that’s the structure in which all these awesome landmarks reside in (well, the Jai Mahal is surrounded by water, but I digress).  Again, I really should’ve colored this to really show you how pink it is, but the pictures should give you a good idea of Jaipur (and taken by a buddy of mine, who’s much better at photography than I am. I’ll stick to drawing.)