House Study

For some time now, I’ve wanted to draw the house I grew up in. It didn’t make much sense to do it before I started using color, considering the signature red roof. But I never ended up approaching it with colored pencils, either. I think that I must have been waiting until I could do a livelier interpretation. So in come the watercolors! I started the drawings in pencil but wanted the more vibrant appearance of the ink, and some of the final details were done in pen (wavy lines, anyone?)

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What was fun about this project was drawing the same thing multiple times—but from different angles and points of view. I’ve never really done anything like that before; I always draw things just once, and they either turn out looking good, or not. By the end, I didn’t even need to look at my references to complete some of the details, because I already had an idea of where everything went. Yes, the drawings are somewhat sloppy and certainly imperfect, but to me, that’s kind of what the whole “study” thing is about: getting the feel for a subject, without necessarily getting it 100% “right.”

For the watercolor, I used a size 2/0 rigger brush, a number 8 round brush, and a 3/8” oval wash brush. As far as colors, it was primarily Medium Cadmium Red/ Alizarin Crimson and Cerulean Blue. I also incorporated a bit of Lemon Yellow as well as Lamp Black and Chinese White when I was mixing colors.

Now that I think about it, I focused more on getting everything “colored in” than on the intricacies of light hitting the roof, for example, but the reference pictures weren’t great for that anyway. So I don’t think I really advanced my watercolor skills all that much here, but it doesn’t hurt to keep working with the medium, and I did achieve the overall effect I set out for. When I look at this page I don’t think “This isn’t my best work” (although it surely isn’t). Instead, I think about how the final product is cool and fun, if a bit sloppy.

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The worst part of these drawings/paintings to me is the borders of the dormer windows, which I misremembered as stained rather than painted wood (because that’s what they are on the inside) when I wasn’t looking at the reference. So you can see a lot of messiness there where I tried to do a cover-up with white paint and then dig in felt tip-pen over the top…Also the poor afterthought that is the chimney. And, now that I look closer, this window that appears to magically wrap around the side of the house.

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Oh well, I’m not exactly planning for this one to go in a museum (maybe next time). Although this does make me want to be a little more careful and pay better attention to detail next time.

To balance that out, let me try to articulate what the good parts are! I like the overall look of how everything turned out. I’m happy with the color of the roof and porch; they may not be exactly accurate, but they’re basically what I imagine when I picture the house in my mind. I’m glad that I added some shading (though I wasn’t all that precise or consistent with it) to give a little bit of depth. In terms of personal achievements, letting myself go outside the lines sometimes and letting go of mistakes and just moving on was a big part of this project. I did concentrate and I aimed for some level of precision, but didn’t let the lack of it upset me. I wouldn’t say that I necessarily even “finished” these, but I did enough to portray what I was going for. This is just the kind of playful work I want to be doing, working toward an eventual goal of being able to look at a piece in this style and say “This is my best work.”

It’s funny, despite the whole “drawing through” concept (explained in my very first post), I didn’t even think for a second about capturing the back of the house! Granted, I don’t always remember to take my own advice. And who generally looks at the back of a house? I think this part of the study came out the best:

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Some day I might revisit the house with colored pencil, where I can give in to my obsessive need for tidiness and precision. But that wasn’t what this particular project was about. I hope to do more House Studies in the future, observing various places around town. Perhaps I will eventually be able to draw a study like this based on brief on-location sketches (rather than reference photos, which I’m trying to get away from).

 

4 Comments

  1. I love how the finalized pieces looks with all the colors, it really pulls it all together and makes it feel like a cozy, welcoming place to live in

    Like

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