Ever a story... waiting to be told

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Not Just Another House....

They're all special, every one of these houses has a story that makes it special. A family was raised in this home, and when the children were grown, and the parents moved elsewhere, my client wanted to give them this drawing of the house to help preserve those precious memories.
This is probably the twentieth house portrait I've drawn for somebody... but it's only the third one drawn on smooth white paper, rather than an antique envelope. The size is twice as big, which is easier to draw in good detail... but takes twice as much time, too. I did some new things with this one, and they turned out pretty well.
The angle of the photo is looking upward at the house, making it seem a little bit ominous, so I changed the horizon line, and made us looking straight into the house. I also raised the roof a little bit higher and broadened the front entryway. Not so much as to be noticeable, but enough to really draw attention to the front door area. The client expressed concern about the placement of the two evergreens, so I transplanted those to more aesthetically pleasing spots. I've just now realized that I forgot the chimney, and I'm debating whether or not to draw attention to that fact, or wait and see if that seems important to the client.  I can draw it in pretty quickly, if I need to... (Rats!)

I made an 11 x 14 graphite drawing, with just enough detail to get me started. I transferred the drawing onto 11x14 smooth bristol, using the micron pen. From there, it was just a matter of measuring carefully for each row of bricks, always checking each new line against the vertical AND horizontal lines within the house. Measure twice... draw once. 
Oh, but before I got too detailed with the pen, I used frisket film to mask off the house and landscaping areas, then applied two layers of colored pencil to the sky (cloud blue and blue slate), and one thick layer to the grass (kelp green), and blended both with a cotton round dampened with solvent. Viola! Sky and grass areas finished! 

For the color tinting I only applied about three different colors to the bricks, and three or four different colors to the landscaping, lightly shading and keeping the color very transparent to allow the ink marks to show through.

When all was finished, I matted the piece to fit a standard 16 x 20 frame. It took about four solid days of work, totaling about 25 hours.
That was a nice little project to launch into right after finishing that big colored pencil piece a week ago. It gave me time to think about what I want to do next for a big project... I have two ideas jostling for top billing in my mind. I might start them both, and see which one consumes me! (Or I might sit outside in the sunshine and read a book. I just finished "She Who Remembers", which was the first in a series, and loved it!) OR I might paint the walls in my house, which I've put off for way too long...  I also really want to do some plein air drawing, studying the forms of trees and stones up close and in person. It's time to take advantage of these long summer days!

PS - I went back and added the chimney, AND darkened the bricks quite a bit. They liked it very much!


  1. Oh Katherine !! This is a spectacular drawing! Absolutely perfect. I think it would be SO amazing if you add in the chimney! Congratulations.....I love it!

  2. I love walking through your process because I wouldn't know where to start. It takes an incredible amount of work and thought. You make it look effortless and the final work is beautiful!
    I hope you enjoy your next project. I will check out the book, thanks for sharing!

  3. Lovely Katherine, your client is going to fall in love with it I am sure, gratifying for you too!

  4. Oh Katherine!! This looks magnificent!! My guess is that the chimney belongs to a fireplace in this beautiful old home so it may end up needing to be added. So glad it won't be too hard to do for you in case the client does want it added. This place is just stunning and reminds me again that I wish I could have had such a lifestyle (a permanent home) for my kids when they were growing up. Seems we were always moving (and I still like to move). Lucky kid to get this gem!

  5. Wow! I always marvel at your ability to get in all the detail. Nice work. How on earth though do you keep the micron pen from smearing or leaving little dots when you stop the line?

  6. Katherine, thank you so much for visiting my blog and leaving me a lovely comment yesterday, it completely made my day!
    This house portrait is wonderful, and I'm sure your client will totally love it. It's really great to read about your process, because as an artist I'm always so intrigued to find out how other artists do what they do. I like how you changed the horizon line to create a more 'welcoming' entrance to the painting, and taking liberties with moving those evergreens was also definately a great choice! I have done a few house portraits too, and it is wonderful while working on them to think about the clients and their lifestyle within that house as I painted. Have a great day!

  7. A great work , neat and perfect ! So many details, I would have got completely lost, but you seem to thrive in that kind of work !

  8. Beautifully done, I like all the little changes that make the difference!

  9. Hey K!

    This project was so perfect for you! Not only do you have the skills and eye for the detail, you have the heart and soul to understand what this home meant to the family. Putting all of those things together into the piece made it outstanding. Bravo! I'm sure the client will be blown away, chimney or not.

  10. Ciao Katherine,
    It is a good idea of this family to see and to have paints and drowings of their home because your work is done very well!
    It is dificult for me to find english words so...
    Ciao, ciao, Floriana
    p.s. thank you for your kind comment. I don't know particolari tecniche, but I paint, one time a week with a teacher that love contrasts so...I too learn this.

  11. Katherine - absolutely fabulous...such precise work and I know your client will love it. I liked how you took artistic license and moved those evergreens...they don't make the entrance to the house feel close...simply beautiful. I do hope you take some time to read a book in the summer sunshine and get a little plein aire work in as well. Summer is so fleeting. Have a wonderful week.

  12. This is so wonderful Katherine! I am certain this family will treasure this always! I once took a phone photo of a house that my husband's grandfather built. It's the only photo we have of it. I would love to commission you to draw it, but I'm not sure the photo would give you enough detail. Would it be okay for me to forward it to you so you could take a look at it?