What do we see when we look out upon a scene we are about to draw? This has often been a question on my mind during workshops that I have taught. I suspect that when two of us stand side-by-side and gaze outward in the same direction, we might not see the same things. And even it we did, we might not be seeing those things in the same way.
This is not an argument for getting everyone to see the same things in the same way, and therefore, producing identical drawings of a scene. Seeing is subjective, influenced by our individual interests, experiences, and what each of us expect or believe to be “out there.” And in some sense, what you actually see is always going to seem to be unknowable to me, except through your drawings.
I am reposting something from six years ago: To begin a drawing done on location, we must first select an advantageous viewpoint that conveys a sense of place and frame the composition to fit on the page. Then, a crucial step is establishing the “bones” of the drawing—its basic structure—with the first lines we draw. For some views only a few lines may be necessary while for others, more might be required.
It is essential to understand that once this structure is established, changes can still be made to calibrate scale, improve proportional relationships, and adjust the positioning of elements. Drawing these first few lines is simply a way to block out the essential relationships on a page quickly, before expending too much time on a drawing only to find out that a portion might be misplaced or is out of proportion to the rest of the composition.
Here is an example—a very quick outline of a view of the Campo in Siena. With more time and better weather, I might have finished it but I think it is possible to see and visualize the space even in this incomplete state.
Here are several examples of animals, either stuffed or sculpted, that have snuck into my drawings of spatial environments but cropped to focus on the animal forms themselves. What I try to do with animal forms is infuse the imagery with a three-dimensional feel, remembering that almost everything we draw are three-dimensional in nature.
This is the intersection of South Cloverdale Street and 14th Avenue South, at the heart of South Park, a working class neighborhood on the western shore of the Duwamish River. Even though South Park is surrounded by an industrial landscape, it has a pleasant small town feel. There is nothing spectacular here and that’s not a bad thing.
In 1910, William E. Boeing bought a failing wooden boat shipyard situated on the Duwamish River for $10. The purchase included this building, the Red Barn, which first housed the operations of Pacific Aero Products and later the Boeing Aircraft Company. The Red Barn subsequently served as Boeing’s world headquarters from 1917 to 1929.
In 1975, the Red Barn was barged up river two miles and trucked to its present location, around which the current Museum of Flight was constructed.
Here is a view of another Seattle skyline, this time from Pier 70 looking back at and across the Olympic Sculpture Park, with the Space Needle in the background, Alexander Calder’s The Eagle (1971) and Mark di Suvero’s Schubert Sonata (1992) in the middle left, and Jaume Plensa’s Echo (2011) in the foreground to the right.
Below is a panoramic view from the Olympic Sculpture Park, looking out toward Puget Sound, drawn in 2014.
Roger Bialous and Manny Chao began brewing test batches of pale ales in 2002 and their Georgetown Brewing Company delivered the first kegs of their namesake Manny’s Pale Ale in 2003. Their brewery was first housed in the old Seattle Brewing and Malting building in, of course, the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle. In 2012, they moved to new headquarters, brewery, and warehouse on nearby Denver Avenue South (shown above). A taproom offering 24 taps opened recently but is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. While Georgetown Brewing first produced draft-only beers, they now can a few select brews – Manny’s Pale Ale, Lucille IPA, Roger’s Pilsner, and my personal favorite, Bodhizafa IPA.
It is relatively easy to maintain social distancing when standing on the little-traveled Colorado Street overpass, looking north toward the heart of downtown Seattle. I like this view because of the way Alaskan Way South and State Route 99 weave together in the foreground and the latter enters and exits the new SR 99 Tunnel at different elevations. In the distance on the left, you can see the Space Needle, and on the right, CenturyLink field. In the middle right, the Smith Tower, the tallest building west of the Mississippi when it was built in 1914, is now silhouetted and dwarfed by the Columbia Center tower.
During this stay-at-home time, I am continuing to post drawings from when I was a student a long time ago. Above are views of two Notre Dame cathedrals. I posted the first, Notre Dame on the Île de la Cité in Paris, a couple of months ago. The second is of the cathedral on the University of Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Indiana, drawn a few months before graduation in the spring of 1966.