During the summer of 1973, between my first and second years teaching at Ohio University, I worked in Silver Springs, Maryland. Taking the opportunity to tour the D.C. metropolitan area, I visited Reston, Virginia, where I sketched this view of Lake Anne Plaza. I was using a No. 2 pencil at the time, being influenced by Ted Kautzky’s book, Pencil Broadsides.
Lake Anne Plaza was the first of several village centers that formed part of Reston’s town plan designed by James Rossant and William J. Conklin. This particular hub clustered a mix of shops, townhouses, and apartments around the end of an artificial lake. Inspired by the Garden City movement, the plan for Reston accommodated moderately dense development while preserving open space, natural landscapes, and wildlife habitats.
Lake Anne Village Center received quite a bit of national publicity and critical acclaim when it opened in 1964. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2017 and remains the historic “heart and soul” of Reston, Virginia.
Rummaging around some old stuff stored in the basement, I came across more drawings that I did while traveling around Europe after spending the summer as an intern with Wilson & Womersley, an architectural and town planning firm in London. Above is a drawing of Piazza San Marco in Venice, done with a stub nibbed pen in 1965. Below is a similar view done with a fine-tipped nib in 1995. Prior to this, I had believed the only drawing that survived was one done of the Spanish Steps in Rome.
I will be posting a few more over the next couple of weeks.
In my very first post on this site in February 2012, I showed a composite of two sketches I had done of the Spanish Steps in Rome. Here I am posting the full views of each drawing.
The first is from the summer of 1965, when I was fortunate to have had, through an ACSA exchange program, an internship with Wilson & Womersley, an architectural and town planning firm with offices on Bedford Square in London. At the end of the summer, armed with a Eurail Pass, I traveled around Europe for a couple of weeks. I did a few sketches on site, but not as many as I would have liked. The only one I still have in my possession is this view of the Spanish Steps in Rome, drawn with a fountain pen with a stub nib.
This is another drawing of the same site from 2000, the first time I had the privilege of teaching in the University of Washington’s Architecture in Rome program. Similar viewpoints but drawn 35 years apart with different nibs and separated by a lifetime of experiences.
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.
While I usually enjoy drawing with a fountain pen, there are times for a pencil to do its work. Here is an example of a drawing of an eagle, showing the range of values and nuanced strokes for which a graphite pencil is uniquely suited.
St. James Cathedral, situated in the First Hill neighborhood above downtown Seattle, is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Seattle. Designed by the New York-based architectural firm of Heins & LaFarge and completed in 1907, it was designated a city landmark in 1984. Here are two views. The first is similar to one drawn back in 2013, looking from the side courtyard toward one of the twin spires; the other is of the interior. Also included are two video clips of the process.
Here is another aspect of Wallingford Center, from the side opposite the view in my last post, showing the main entrance to the former Interlake Public School. Once I had completed the drawing, I noticed that the column-supported porch does not appear to be quite centered on the gabled projection. So if I were to draw this view again, I would make sure as I blocked the structure out to describe this alignment correctly—before filling in the details.
Finding things while rummaging around looking for other items from long ago always triggers memories. One example are these ballpoint-pen sketches from 1963, when an ND classmate invited me to spend Christmas break with his family on Long Island. During a day trip into the City, I was drawn to these individuals—creating “characters”—dining at a Horn & Hardart, an early version of a fast-food restaurant at the corner of 42nd Street and 6th Avenue. I still remember perusing the stacks of glass-doored dispensers containing a variety of hot and cold foods, putting nickels into the selected slot, and removing the plate of food.
When I entered the architecture program at the University of Notre Dame in the fall of 1961, my first freehand drawing course began with charcoal studies of plaster casts. Being young and naive, I didn’t fully appreciate the pedagogy behind these tasks, but in hindsight, I can see now that these studies helped promote looking closely at geometric forms, noticing how light illuminated and reflected off of their surfaces, and appreciating the resulting subtle gradations of value. And then the challenge was trying to capture these visual qualities with a charcoal stick, a paper stump for smoothing and blending, and a kneaded eraser for lightening and creating highlights.