In Appreciation of Tunney Lee

Nine years ago, I posted on FB my appreciation of my mentor Forrest Wilson, who offered me my first teaching position at Ohio University and was instrumental in facilitating the publication of my first book, Architectural Graphics.

Today, I want to express my appreciation of Tunney Lee, Professor Emeritus at MIT, who passed away last week in Cambridge, MA. After serving as head of MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Tunney founded the Department of Architecture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1991. In 1993, Tunney offered me the opportunity to visit CUHK and work with his students and faculty. During my brief stay, I became impressed with the enthusiasm of the students and faculty as they worked hard at developing their creative and critical thinking skills as well as building the foundation for a new program. It was also an exciting and rewarding time for me personally when Dr. Ho Puay Peng was kind enough to accompany me to my ancestral village of Nam Bin in Guangzhou prefecture.

I will always remember Tunney as being a wise, inspirational leader as well as a caring friend and colleague.

La Parroquia San Miguel Arcángel

San Miguel Arcángel was built in the late 17th century in the colonial Baroque style, but in the 19th century, a local builder Zeferino Gutiérrez Muñoz was asked to rebuild the towers and facade that had suffered substantial cracking over the years. He was a bricklayer by profession and so he relied on a postcard of Cologne Cathedral in Germany for inspiration. The result is a massive pseudo-Gothic structure that has become the iconic emblem of San Miguel de Allende, 50 miles west of Querétaro.

This sketch, done quickly as a demo, is an example of how it is possible not to complete every detail or part of a scene, especially when drawing symmetrical compositions. It is often enough to merely suggest one part and then let the imagination of the viewer complete the view.

The Lumberyard in Laguna Beach

After Mission San Juan Capistrano, last month’s Line-to-Color workshop moved to Laguna Beach, where we drew along the promenade in the morning and later, within the confines of the Lumberyard courtyard. The weekend reminded me yet again of something I had mentioned previously on this blog. Books and videos that discuss sketching and drawing cannot match the immediacy of hands-on teaching and learning. It is difficult to replicate in print or film media the experience of standing or sitting side-by-side, looking out at the same scene, and discussing the ways of seeing that are crucial to on-location drawing.

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano was first founded on October 30, 1775, by the Franciscan Fermin Lasuen, but was soon abandoned because of attacks by the Kumeyaay, Native American people who had settled the area and occupied the land for thousands of years. The mission was reestablished a year later by Father Junipero Serra, the seventh of nine missions he founded. These two views of a courtyard beside the Great Stone Church at the mission show first the rough outline of the drawing composition and then another, more developed 15-minute sketch.

The Old Stone Church

This is a very quick 10-minute sketch I did during the Line to Color workshop Gail Wong and I conducted recently. I was trying to demonstrate how to begin a scene that does not have a clear geometric structure.. The view is of the ruins of the “Great Stone Church” at Mission San Juan Capistrano. Work on the limestone structure began in 1797 but was interrupted three years later by the 6.5-magnitude San Diego earthquake. And in 1812, six years after the church was completed, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake collapsed the nave and toppled the belltower. It was never rebuilt.

Santa Catalina Island

Before the Line to Color workshop in Laguna Beach, Deb and I took the ferry to Santa Catalina Island. As we made the crossing, I recalled the song by the Four Preps from 1958: “Twenty-six miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a-waitin’ for me…” Originally settled by the Tongva tribe ca. 7000 BCE, the island was discovered in the 16th century by the Spanish. Control transferred from Spain to Mexico and eventually to the U.S. In the early 20th century, William Wrigley, Jr. of chewing gum fame gained a majority interest and began developing the island. Now most of the island is controlled by the Catalina Island Conservancy. Here is a view of the beachfront in Avalon, the only incorporated town on the island.

Line to Color Workshop

Gail Wong and I will be returning to Orange County, California, for another Line to Color workshop the weekend of June 14–16. We will be sketching and learning at the San Juan Capistrano mission and Laguna Beach.

Learning Goals: LINE 1. Selecting a subject and establishing a point of view; 2. Composing the page: Where to start & how to proceed; 3. Establishing spatial depth: Near & far.

Moving to COLOR: 4. Watercolor and brush techniques; 5. Values: Seeing and using tonal values to create depth and capture the quality of light; 6. Strategies for applying color and limiting your palette.

For information about the schedule of events, registration forms, pricing, and method of payment, please contact Gail at glwarc at gmail dot com.

Trinity Church

Being in Boston for a drawing workshop—sponsored by Suffolk University and hosted by Sandro Carella—gave me the opportunity to take another look at Trinity Church. A National Historic Landmark, the H. H. Richardson design is recognized as a masterpiece of American architecture. Although the parish was founded in 1733, it was more than 150 years before the current church was built on land-filled marshes in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood.

Richardson replaced his initial idea of a Gothic Revival church with a Greek-cross auditorium plan that expresses the emerging, inclusive nature of American congregational practice, as inspired by the preaching of Phillips Brooks, Trinity’s Rector at the time of the building’s design and construction.

Despite its landmark status, Trinity Church is not a museum but rather it remains a place of worship and service where Christians and visitors gather on a daily basis.

Here is a video clip of the drawing process.