Once upon a time the only way to create a portrait of one’s home was to craft an original drawing in pen or pencil and use paint to capture the color and personality of the home.
While I appreciate the modern amenities we all enjoy today, I believe that those handmade arts and drawing skills should not be lost and forgotten in this age of digital expediency. I believe that the human hand, mind and spirit adds life and vibrance to any artistic creation.
In my travels across the USA, I have spent thousands of miles getting to know its wonderful homes and architecture in unique neighborhoods, towns and cities. Architecture is about people and their expression of artistic style and practicality. That’s why I find it so fascinating.
When I travel to cities and select homes to include in house portrait series depicting those areas, in addition to taking photos, I love to pull out my house portrait art journal. Nothing is more fun than drawing and making architectural color studies of homes that catch my eye, as well as taking notes and making on-site observations. Some of you will have seen me outside your home and I have met other homeowners by knocking on their door to let them know what I am up to.
Getting to know homes in the Southwest . . .
Last year I decided that I should take a closer look at the state of Texas and find more subjects for my coffee table book. After all it is one of the largest in the country, both in size and population. I started in Dallas. My expectations were not high. I had the idea that besides the more impressive homes (like the family home on “Dallas”), all I would find in the city would be dusty low-lying ranch homes in long boring rows.
I couldn’t have been more wrong! Dallas proved to be full of beautiful homes of every architectural style imaginable. That eclectic mix is clear from just this one page of the Dallas section of my art journal.
Here are the portraits I then created from each of these sketches and with the help of photos of course.
Sadly, this lovely Tudor style historic cottage in University Park will unlikely still be standing today. The previous owner told me that it was doomed for demolition. While I do not have all the details, one always expects such tear-downs to be literally falling apart and a general eyesore. As you can see, this is not the case.
This grand structure is more what I expected to see on a sprawling 100 acre country ranch. With its tall Grecian pillars and ornate entrance, this beautifully maintained home and garden makes an elegant statement on Swiss Ave, Dallas.
I was immediately drawn to this century old home with its unique Tudor details. I had to use some artistic license however and trimmed the trees that covered it.
I found that Dallas was not alone in its architecture style and elegance. San Antonio is another city I spent some time in.
San Antonio Texas
I always do my research before arriving in the cities I visit so I can head for the most interesting areas. One such area at the top of my list was the city of Alamo Heights. As the sign says below, “City of Beauty and Charm”. Too true. One of my favorite streets in Alamo Heights is Wildrose Ave. The homes are historically protected and they include Craftsmen, Tudors, Spanish bungalows and Italianate. I feature a couple of them in this journal page.
And here are the final paintings of these two Wildrose Ave subjects.
I really loved our visit to Portland where I discovered a feast of architectural styles and well preserved and maintained homes. Beautiful tree-lined streets and colorful gardens added to the vibrance of some of Portland’s historic residential areas, such as Laurelhurst, Sellwood and Eastmoreland. Here are a couple of homes I focused on in my Portland journal pages.
On the left is a classic American Foursquare home. Renowned for their simplicity, these were popular from the mid-1890s to the late 1930s, and were a reaction to the ornate and mass-produced elements of the Victorian area. I discovered Portland abounds in these homes and other Craftsman styles. The Foursquare was also a popular mail-order era style. It came in a boxcar with a book of directions and all the parts pre-cut and numbered for self-assembly. Here is the final painting.
I selected this second home due to its charm and the playful color choices of its owner. I can only describe it as a cross between a Hobbit house and a Tudor cottage with cool red accents,
Here are some more Portland watercolor portraits for your enjoyment.
Let’s not forget for that centuries, long before this ever-expanding digital age we live in today, one recorded their impressions of the world around one, of nature, events and people along with ones thoughts, dreams and creative ideas in journals or dairies. Regular folks, not just artists, would draw their special memories, often imbue them with color, include their thoughts, ideas, musings, poems and special messages. It was something they could then reflect on later. Often they would pass these journals onto their children who would in turn pass them on further.
It’s considered to be a ‘new craze”. In fact it’s something I have been doing for years on my travels around the world as well as within my local environment. For me it’s faster – and a lot more enjoyable – to create art journal pages than to flip through hundreds of digital pics on my phone trying to find “the one” or downloading and then indulging in a complex photo filing system in the hope of ever finding anything again.
Not not sure if I’m dating myself or just ahead of my time, but I hope you have enjoyed this post and you know how to reach me if you would like a hand-crafted original architectural portrait.
Artfully yours, Leisa