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The blog serves as a collection space for a variety of musings and observations of the world around us...through the use of sketches, drawings, photos, images and videos...intended to be shared and to stimulate thoughts, ideas and inspirations...douglas wittnebel

Thursday, December 11, 2014

...the calm before the storm...

A big Pacific storm coming into the Bay Area today,  lots of news reporting how big and strong this storm will be... is a view of a container crane in the calm before the storm...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

...for the love of a Flatiron building in Oakland, a greytone version...First National Bank of Oakland...1907

...all for the love of a Flatiron building in Oakland, a greytone version has been created and tested for a possible larger scale print version or maybe a wall version installation in downtown Oakland...
Above San Pablo and Broadway stands the premier flatiron building of the West Coast, a younger sibling of the more famous Manhattan one. Most of the stories in this building are woven into the exchange of money and finance, Wells Fargo being the most recent bank tenant. The original tenant was the First National Bank of Oakland, in this building complete with safe deposit boxes and a full basement for secure storage of valuables, furs, jewelry and paintings.
Built in 1907 after the great San Francisco earthquake, the building was designed by architect Llewellyn B. Dutton, who chose white granite for the lower floors and warm terra cotta tiles for the upper story enclosure, which wraps smoothly around the acute corner next to Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Back to the canvas again

Some extra off time on this Thanksgiving weekend, some time to spend on an older canvas piece, a reworking, a revisit to a former view of a landscape, the kind and the mind of an Airscape...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The November issue of The Oaktown magazine is out on the digital newstands...Family issue!

The November issue of The Oaktown magazine is out on the digital newstands...Family issue!

The extended  families of the cool container cranes of West Oakland have finally had the chance to meet the extended and mulitple families of Turkeys in the hills of East Oakland...


Friday, November 21, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Perspective sketching for Interiors class at U.C. Berkeley Extension, and a bit on Masaccio and Brunelleschi...


A progress stage photo from the Sketching for Interiors class at U.C. Berkeley Extension,  this time a focus on the rectangular volume, sitting and standing...and thinking a bit about Masaccio and Brunelleschi...
and a short bit on the art of perspective from:
First Perspective – Fillipo Brunelleschi & Masaccio

Masaccio – The Tribute Money c.1426-27 Fresco, The Brancacci Chapel, Florence
The first known picture to make use of linear perspective was created by the Florentine architect Fillipo Brunelleshi (1377-1446). Painted in 1415, it depicted the Baptistery in Florence from the front gate of the unfinished cathedral. The linear perspective system projected the illusion of depth onto a two dimensional plane by use of ‘vanishing points’ to which all lines converged, at eye level, on the horizon. Soon after Brunelleshi’s painting, the concept caught on and many Italian artists started to use linear perspective in their paintings.
Masaccio (1401 – 1428) the first great painter of the early Renaissance period, was the first artist who demonstrated full command of the new rules of perspective; the figures in his paintings have volume and the buildings and landscapes realistically recede into the distance. Masaccio is seen now as being the initiator of the new style of Florentine Realism.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Boston banner illustration installation

...and now I have received a photo from Jeanne Nutt in our Gensler Boston office, where we can see the installation of the Boston illustration.  Super! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

From crayons to ink on paper

There is something still so magical about crayons...

It is fun to go back and try them again and again.  Now where is that box with the built-in sharpener?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Boston banner progress and detail

...detail of left side of banner for Boston meetings, including the Museum of Fine Arts and the wonderfully proportioned Boston Public Library by McKim Mead and White...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

Boston meetings illustration

 *second stage of the drawing, U.S.S.Constitution masts and rigging, Trinity Church
*first stage of the drawing, using the Charles River as the background image

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Muji and Uniqlo, design and experience blog link


"...Memories. That is what design experience is really all about. That is what design retail experience is all about. Embracing personal memories and creating new ones. 

I remember my first visit to Mujirushi (now Muji Global) Tokyo in 1992. The shop was located in Aoyama, across from the Meiji dori and the multi-leveled and formative shaped building Spiral dreamed by Fumihiko Maki in the late 1980s of Bubble Japan..."

beckoning kitty welcome 

the business card case holder

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tokyo Sky Tree, the tower and the features illustrated...

Tokyo Skytree 東京スカイツリー is a broadcasting, restaurant, and observation tower located in Sumida, Tokyo.   It  reached its full height of 634.0 metres (2,080 ft) in March 2011, making it the tallest tower in the world, and the second tallest structure in the world after Burj (829.8 m/2,722 ft).
You can ascend the tower by high speed elevators and reach two observation levels shown in the illustration.  The wait in line can be quite long, so reservations online are highly recommended.   Once you do reach the upper branches of the tree, the views are spectacular, and Mount Fuji looks larger than ever before!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tokyo Sky Tree, single frame view

The story about the Tokyo Sky Tree is very interesting, especially in view of the recent articles about architects and towers reaching higher and higher each year...

Here is a view of my illustration right after the organic growth of solar leaves sprout...

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ginkakuji temple in Kyoto, sand garden setting..."sea of silver sand"

The Silver pavilion's two stories are constructed in two different architecture styles and within there stands a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy.  The interior of the pavilion is not open to the public.

The Silver Pavilion was never really covered in silver like the Golden Pavilion.  More likely the thought is that the name arose as a nickname more than a century after the building's construction to contrast it with the Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion in western Kyoto, or it might have been that moon light reflecting on the structure's dark exterior (which used to be covered in a type black lacquer in the past, love to have seen that) gave it a kind of silvery like appearance.  A setting in front of the pavilion is an expansive, meticulously maintained dry sand/gravel garden feature known as the "Sea of Silver Sand", with a massive and perfectly formed truncated sand cone named "Moon Viewing Platform". 

On the day of my visit, it was hot, very hot.  95 degrees and the sun was intense.  Around the base of the truncated cylinder and around the base of the whole sea of sand, there were small holes created by digger wasps, creating harbors in the sand for their future offspring.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ninna-ji, Kyoto, Shoro belfry, Japan

The temple of Ninna-ji was built at the end of the 9th century. At first it was Monseki-jiin, which also served as the residence of a member of the Imperial family who had entered the priesthood. Presently, this temple is the center of the Omuro sect of Shingon Buddhism.  

To the west of the Kondo temple building there is a beautifully large and imposing vermilion tower with a bell Shoro Belfry tower, a fine example of the bell towers built in the Edo Period. It is said to have been built in the Kanei Period and it has been designated as an important cultural property. The watercolor sketch shows the vivid vermilion and black colors of the bell tower structure, a favorite combination of colors of mine. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Daimonji Gozan Okuribi, Daimonji Bonfires, August / 2014

I never imagined I would be able to witness or document this once in a year or lifetime event.  As a part of the events of Obon,  the recognition and awareness of the return of the ancestor souls, this memorable evening was framed by rainstorms before and after and heavy mists that lifted before the lighting of the fires at 8:00 P.M. lasting for over thirty minutes.  
I painted the upper view and my daughter painted the middle and lower Kanji characters in yellow for "Dai" or BIG! 
"... The Daimonji Gozan Okuribi (Daimonji Bonfire) is an event held every year, rain or shine, on the evening of August 16th, when gigantic Chinese characters and other motifs are depicted by fires lit to illuminate the surroundings for patrolling on the slopes of the mountains surrounding the Kyoto Basin. It is a famous for evoking the image of a Kyoto summer.
Although there are several interpretations as to the origins of this event, it is generally regarded as a fire set alight at the gate for seeing off the souls of ancestors after commemorating the welcoming of their souls.
The character of "dai" (meaning "large") on Mt. Daimonji, and those of "myo" and "ho"which make up the word "Myo-ho" (wondrous teaching of Buddha) on Matsugasaki Nishiyama and Higashiyama mountains are famous..."

From the gallery level of the Tokyo Sky Tree in Oshiage, Tokyo, looking down on the shadow cast to the eastern edge of Tokyo

An amazing experience looking down from the sky tree to the urban fabric of Edo below...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Summer sights and sounds in Tokyo

Two of the many sights and sounds in Tokyo, the brrrrrrrrrringgggg of the cicada, Semi, sounding through the city and the trees.  And the bright green leaves of fresh Shiso growing in the gardens and pathway edges. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Bound and Tied Palms

Notes about the bound and tied palm trees that can now be seen at the Bay Bridge approach from the Oakland side.  I could not resist trying to capture the unique image of those towering trees. 

Palms have a relatively shallow root system for a tree their size. The leaves or fronds are tied up after transplant with biodegradable material to prevent the wind from knocking them over (the overall surface area is larger for untied palms than tied palms).  Once the roots become more established, the ties can be removed and the fronds/leaves can be free.

In addition, the tied up fronds/leaves lose less moisture than freed ones. Water is very critical right after a palm is transplanted, and leaving the leaves tied up helps to conserve the palm's moisture levels.

The ties rot after several months, by which time the tree has established enough roots to fully supply its water needs.

Grand Canyon Sketches 2009

Grand Canyon Sketches 2009
a selection of sketches from the Grand Canyon