Urban Sketcher

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Sauna day for me while G. tours Berlin

Posted on Jan 31, 2013 in Berlin | 0 comments

G. finds a souvenir

G. found a souvenir today, a placemat: “Is this art or can it be tossed?”

I went to the Meridian Spa in Spandau again and had another massage there. A nice strong young man worked me over pretty good. I really, really needed that. My back and shoulders are messed up.

I then met G. at home and we went to her cousin’s place for dinner. He lives in my neighbourhood and used to be a German Bundesliga soccer player. I forgot to get his autograph. We had a great time over a wonderful meal prepared by him and his wife/partner.

If any of my clients read this blog, they will start to figure out why I am not getting much of their work done.

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An actual work day, and a play by Tucholsky

Posted on Jan 30, 2013 in Berlin | 0 comments

On January 29, I had to put in a work day while G. went shopping and sightseeing, or in the opposite order. Then we saw a play “Wir Negativen” by Kurt Tucholsky and went out for a cake and, you guessed it, Prosecco afterwards near the Hackesche Höfe in one of the neat bars under the U-Bahn tracks.

Kurt Tucholsky play

G. and I went to see a Kurt Tucholsky play performed by the Berliner Ensemble. It was excellent, but I got a bit annoyed at some giggly 20-year olds behind us and exchanged some words with them. Maybe I am not a 100% chilled-out Berliner yet.

Hackesche Höfe, Berlin

In the Hackesche Höfe, Berlin — a series of about 8 connected courtyards with shops and restaurants and offices.

Rocco bar, Berlin

The Rocco bar where we had our night cap is under the U-Bahn tracks at Hackescher Markt. You can hear the trains rolling over your head every few minutes. This is a 360-degree capture that I’ve flattened out.

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Brücke Museum and Bauhaus Archive

Posted on Jan 29, 2013 in Berlin | 0 comments

On January 28, G. and I had a busy but very fun day. It was icy and sunny with crusty snow as we did our best to get lost on public transit. We went to Berlin Dahlem to visit the Brücke Museum, then zipped over to the Bauhaus Museum to learn how the various men who ran the show at the Bauhaus disagreed on its mission and teaching philosophy. But it was very interesting and definitely a highlight for us graphic designers to visit this cradle of modern design.

In the evening I got to try a Turkish restaurant in Kreuzberg I had wanted to check out called Defne (it was great!), and afterwards we had apple tea and a sweet dessert at another Turkish restaurant. No Prosecco!

Painting by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Painting “Female Artist”, 1910, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner at the Brücke Museum in Dahlem, Berlin.

Berlin U-Bahn station signage

More of the cool Berlin U-Bahn station signage.

Bauhaus Archive

The entry sign at the Bauhaus Archive.

Bauhaus Archive

A weird decorative-looking pole at the Bauhaus Archive. I don’t know if this has any function other than to be phallic, but it better not just be form, or this would not be the Bauhaus.

Bauhaus Archive

Various posters relating to the Bauhaus Archive.

Bauhaus Archive

The Bauhaus Archive at dusk as we are leaving.

Bauhaus Archive

The Bauhaus Archive sign glows as we are leaving at dusk.

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Paying a visit to Dr. Sketchy

Posted on Jan 28, 2013 in Berlin | 0 comments

January 27 was a good day because a Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin event was held at the co-working space ESDIP Berlin in the Grünberger Höfe in Berlin Friedrichshain. I had not expected to catch another Dr. Sketchy’s during my stay here, but this was an extra event.

Two hours of drawing four models turned into three hours. DJ UFO Hawaii, aka Künstler Treu, and Lala Vox hosted again. I met two of the Berlin urban sketchers, Katrin and Peter there, as well as some new people.

In the evening, G. and I went to see a German movie and then spent a couple of pleasant hours in a bar next door, over Prosecco and nachos. What happens in Prosecco, stays in Prosecco.

Dr. Sketchy's Berlin drawing

Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin drawing. I don’t know about you, but I can hear the tune “Life is a cabaret” by Liza Minnelli when I look at this woman.

Dr. Sketchy's Berlin drawing

Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin drawing.

Dr. Sketchy's Berlin drawing

Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin drawing.

Grünberger Höfe, Berlin Friedrichshain

The Grünberger Höfe in Berlin Friedrichshain where the Dr. Sketchy’s was held.

Der Schlussmacher

Der Schlussmacher (“The Breakup Professional”), a German comedy that G. and I saw and drank Prosecco during and after.

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More touring Berlin with G.

Posted on Jan 27, 2013 in Berlin | 0 comments

We finished the bus tour prematurely because after getting off at Checkpoint Charlie, we started walking along Friedrichstrasse and meandering through shops and boutiques which seemed to make time pass very quickly. We bought a few things.

In the evening we made it to the Berlinische Galerie to see an exhibit on photography in the GDR until they closed at 10 p.m. Around 11 p.m. I dragged G. into Weinstein, a wine bar in my neighbourhood, and we had Prosecco and olives there.

We went to bed around 2:00 a.m. Sooner or later, I usually manage to drag people into my late-night lifestyle when they hang out with me.

At Checkpoint Charlie

At Checkpoint Charlie

Chocolate Berlin TV Tower

Chocolate Berlin TV Tower in the Fassbender & Rausch chocolate shop at Gendarmen Markt.

Inside the German Dome on Gendarmenmarkt

Looking up inside the German Dome at Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin. There is a parliamentary museum in this dome now.

Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin

The Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin is probably the most spectacular square in Berlin, full of classicist architecture. And therefore not that interesting to me. I get much more excited about either modern architecture, or decrepit industrial buildings.

U-Bahn signage, Berlin

More Berlin U-Bahn signage.

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Reichstag visit and bus tour with my friend G.

Posted on Jan 26, 2013 in Berlin | 0 comments

On January 24, my German-Canadian friend and former business partner G. arrived from Vancouver. She gets a week off from parenting and a fun time in Berlin, I hope!

When we woke up on January 25, we witnessed a rare sunny day here in Berlin. I have been told by Berliners that this winter has been exceptionally dreary — not that I would have noticed. We hopped on the bus tour and stopped at Brandenburg Gate and to tour the Reichstag Cuppola. To some degree, this was a repeat of my sightseeing with Jeff. But instead of going through the Reichstag audio tour again, I did a sketch of it while G. followed the audio guide tour. The sketch is not worth showing here. I have a quality threshold below which I won’t show my drawings, even though it is very low.

We hopped back on the bus and got off on Kurfürstendamm where we visited the KaDeWe and may have gotten a bit side-tracked on shopping. I can’t remember what else we did except that we started the day with a large glass of Prosecco at breakfast, and there may have been more Prosecco consumed in the evening.

Berlin Reichstag

G. and I are touring the famous cupola of the Berlin Reichstag, designed by Sir Norman Foster.

Berlin Reichstag

G. and I are touring the famous cupola of the Berlin Reichstag, designed by Sir Norman Foster.

Berlin Reichstag

G. and I are touring the famous cupola of the Berlin Reichstag, designed by Sir Norman Foster.

Berlin Reichstag

G. and I are touring the famous cupola of the Berlin Reichstag, designed by Sir Norman Foster.

Sculpture about German Reunification on Kurfürstendamm, Berlin

Sculpture about German Reunification on Kurfürstendamm, Berlin.

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Me Collectors Room, a friend flies in, and a concert

Posted on Jan 25, 2013 in Berlin | 4 comments

Me Collection

A ceramic sculpture at the Me Collection: half hare, half human, all creepy.

Me Collection

Two more sculptures at the Me Collection. I forgot to jot down the artists’ names.

January 24 was a big day because I picked up my friend G. at the airport in the evening.

But first I had another full Berlin day.

I am so lucky to meet locals here and get the inside scoop on interesting places to visit and to draw. Katrin and Manuela met me at the Me Collectors Room on Auguststraße 68 to sketch, and of course have a coffee or tea in the excellent cafe that is in the same space. The Me Collectors Room is one of those wild and wonderful Berlin things that I did not know existed in the world.

The Me Collectors Room continues the tradition of the “Wunderkammer”, which was a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ in the Renaissance and Baroque. As explained on the website: “Such cabinets were collectors’ rooms in which precious artworks (artificialia), rare phenomena of nature (naturalia), scientific instruments (scientifica), objects from strange worlds (exotica), and inexplicable items (mirabilia) were preserved. They reflected the standard of knowledge and view of the world at that time. Our Wunderkammer reanimates this tradition in Berlin once more.”

Another important thing to note about the Me Collectors Room is that it focusses on vanitas — objects that illustrate the vanity and shortness of life. This means the collection has a morbid tinge, which may not be pleasing to all people who view it.

Taxidermied Giraffe head at the Me Collection

Taxidermied giraffe head at the Me Collection, contrasted nicely by the ordinary Berlin street scene outside. Note the snow. It’s gotten cold and icy again.

Puffer fish at the Me Collection

Puffer fish at the Me Collection.

Sculpture at the Me Collection

A life size sculpture at the Me Collection.

Sculpture at the Me Collection

Sculpture at the Me Collection.

At the Me Collection coffee shop

Looking out onto Auguststrasse from inside the wonderful Me Collection coffee shop.

The outside of the Berlin Philharmonic concert hall.

After I picked up my friend at the airport and got her settled in the apartment along with her jetlag, I had to jet off myself to a Mozart concert by the Berlin Philharmonic. I had made a scheduling error in booking this concert on the same night that my friend arrived, but I was able to get to the concert, even though I was a bit late and had to wait for a break in the music to be allowed to my seat. What you see here, is the outside of the Berlin Philharmonic concert hall, designed by Hans Scharoun.

Berlin Philharmonic hall

This is the view from my seat at the Berlin Philharmonic hall. When you book a ticket on their website, you get a 3-D interactive view so you can preview exactly what you will be able to see from the seat you are about to buy. If you don’t like the view at that point, you can still change the seat.

Berlin philharmonic sketch

I spent much of the concert quietly sketching the amazing concert hall of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

Berlin Philharmonic singer

This soloist at the Berlin Philharmonic concert seemed to melt into one shape with her seat.

At the Berlin Philharmonic

Interior window detail at the Berlin Philharmonic.

At the Berlin Philharmonic

Interior window details at the Berlin Philharmonic.

Glowing benches near Potsdamer Platz, Berlin

As I am walking back from the concert to the subway, I see these glowing benches near Potsdamer Platz, Berlin.

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The soundtrack to my Berlin movie

Posted on Jan 24, 2013 in Berlin | 0 comments

Jan 23 was a domestic day. I worked, cleaned the apartment, got some groceries, took out garbage to get ready for my friend G.’s arrival. I was motoring. G. is coming to visit me in Berlin, all the way from Vancouver for one week.

It seems that I was busy all day, but all I have to write is this one paragraph. There must have been more to that day. I may have inadvertently forgotten an outing to a Burlesque club, or a train ride to Madrid.

But I now remember that I started receiving the first of a batch of CDs that I ordered from Amazon Germany a few days ago. I am collecting the soundtrack of my Berlin stay: music I’ve heard on the radio or at concerts, music other people introduced me too, music by artists I liked in the past, music I’ve discovered online. I was especially thrilled to find some classical music CDs based on a saxophone recital that Nina took me to at the Akademie der Künste Berlin.

I would create a playlist on Spotify, IF Spotify was available to us Canadians, but it is not. So here are the titles and artists of some of the CDs I bought:

German Music:

Guten Tag — Paul Kalkbrenner (famous German DJ in Berlin)

Berlin Calling — Soundtrack to a movie with Paul Kalkbrenner

I walk — Herbert Grönemeyer

Ballast der Republik — Die Toten Hosen

Sorry We’re Open — Bonaparte

MTV Unplugged II — Die Fantastischen Vier (German rap)

# Beste — Sido (German rap)

Seeed — with Peter Fox (Berlin singer)

Various artists:

about:berlin — a compilation of popular Berlin hits in 2012

Beirut — Gulag Orkestar

Semantic Spaces — Delerium (a Vancouver band!)

Karma — Delerium


Bozza, Lopatnikoff, Gauarnieri, Milhaud, Martinu, Beal — DePaul University Wind Ensemble

Carter, Puccini, Desenclos, Donatoni, Singelée, Bryars, Gershwin — New Art Saxophone Quartet

Schulhoff, von Borck, Martin, Milhaud (Saxophone Concertos) — Detlef Bensmann (the saxophone instructor at the Berlin Academy)

Schulhoff, Jacobi, von Knorr, Dressel (Berlin saxophone music) — Frank Lunte, alto saxophone, and Tatjana Blome, piano

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Sauna at Meridian Spa

Posted on Jan 23, 2013 in Berlin | 1 comment

On January 22, I went to one of my favourite saunas in Berlin, the Meridian Spa in Spandau. I worked during the day, then I took the train to Spandau where I had a massage booked at 4 p.m. It was the first and probably the only massage I will have in Berlin, and did I ever need it! Then I used the saunas from 5 until 11 p.m. which was closing time. I was the last person in the sauna, they had to come look for me in the changing room at 10:59 p.m.

I got in four rounds of sauna, three of which were with “Aufguss“, did some resting and reading in between, and had a light dinner and a glass of wine in the sauna restaurant. Ahhhhhhhh, bliss-out.

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Jan 16 – 21: travel to Worms to visit my friend E.

Posted on Jan 22, 2013 in Frankfurt, Worms | 0 comments

CD cover design for a client

I had some time to work in Worms. This is an initial design for a music CD cover for a client. The client requested something more realistic, so the final cover will look quite different from this and I don’t mind showing this rejected approach. I was having fun with multiple suns in Illustrator.

Jan 16 – 21: I am running low on blogging steam, but want to remember what I did, so I will summarize these 5 days. I visited another old school friend, E., who lives in Worms in an old house and runs her own business from home, just like me. I brought my laptop along and worked a bit on Thursday and Friday, while she had to work as well. In the evenings we went out; Thursday night to a cosy bar with another friend of hers, and on Friday night we went to see a comedy show at a live theatre, about multi-tasking in the digital age.

Worms is the city of Martin Luther who revolutionized Christianity and supposedly said at the Diet of Worms “Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God.” I know how he felt because the same applies to my passion for art, and to all artists’ passion for art and indeed, to everyone who was ever passionate about anything. I do not believe that one can lay claim to superior motivation by assigning it a divine origin.

On the weekend, we went to the sauna on Saturday morning for 6 hours, had a big breakfast there, then walked downtown to see an art gallery, had tea and a sandwich in a cafe for dinner, and walked home to crash on the sofa, tired from the sauna.

On Sunday, we drove to Frankfurt, had breakfast in the Kunstverein Cafe at the Römerplatz, went to the Schirn Kunsthalle to see a Caillecotte exhibit, saw an opera singer on Römer Platz, saw an old steam engine train by the Main River, went to visit a friend of E.’s, I., for coffee and later dinner, drove home through freezing rain and ice, watched “Troy” just to see Brad Pitt’s butt which appeared twice, otherwise I did not follow the plot, and then went to bed.

My room at my friend's place in Worms

My funky room with leopard print bedding at my friend’s place in Worms.

Reflection in a public sculpture in Worms

Reflection in a public sculpture in Worms.

Train tracks in Worms

Train tracks in Worms

Door in Worms

Art nouveau building door in Worms.

Water tower in Worms

An old water tower in Worms. It has been converted to apartments.

Der Dom zu Worms

The “Dom zu Worms” (Dome at Worms) where Martin did his famous Luther thing.


We are driving into downtown Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Now I know why they call it “Mainhattan”.


Only a tiny part of medieval Frankfurt remained after WWII, and even this was most certainly reconstructed.

Frankfurt, Cafe am Kunstverein

This is a really nice cafe next door to the Kunstverein in Frankfurt. I was loving the architectural mix of modern and medieval.

Frankfurt, Guglhupf

This picture is for my mother. This is a real Guglhupf, a pretty solid Austrian cake that my mother bakes as well. It’s pronounced “google-huh-pf”.

SCHIRN Kunsthalle in Frankfurt

SCHIRN Kunsthalle in Frankfurt. We saw an exhibit on the work of the French impressionist Gustave Caillebotte but his work did not do much for me, it was very cool-toned and realistic. Also the gallery was packed (it was Sunday) and as Eva pointed out, there were a lot of smells from people’s perfumes, deodorants and shampoos. But I have great respect for Caillebotte’s work even though it doesn’t touch me. His famous painting “The Floor Scrapers” was there, and that was great to see in real life.

Steam engine train in Frankfurt

As we were about to leave Frankfurt, we encountered this steam engine train on the riverfront. Well, it was Sunday after all — that is usually when Germans take their steam trains out for a ride.

Salsa dancers

Practicing drawing salsa dancers on the iPad on the 5-hour train ride back to Berlin.

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