Once again, a week of confidential images. Three detailed sketches of a pretty cool series of gates and bridges, almost folly-like, which are inspired by the work in Central Park. Can’t show them yet, of course. That’s becoming my theme song here I guess. The week before it was 6 images for two different jobs, also hush-hush. Again, I’m very lucky that the work is still there, with the economy as it is. It’s just interesting that everything is being held so closely. A year ago the clients would have wanted the work trumpeted far and wide.
Since I can’t show this week’s work, I dug some older sketches out, from May I think. Did a series (maybe five), of conceptual sketches to help an architect illustrate their proposed scheme for adding three, four, as many as five buildings to a difficult spot on an existing campus. The college has some iconic, traditionally styled buildings, whose collegiate gothic style casts a long shadow and is much-beloved by the students, staff, and alumni.
I’m withholding the name of the institution and architect at this point. The scheme doesn’t really telegraph exactly which institution we are talking about.The above image has been cropped to remove some existing context, to avoid showing it. As a result, the composition feels a little static. In the full image, it’s a balanced composition with the proposed building a little more left of center.
You can see in the sketch above the numerous semi-stylized freehand trees and foreground shrubbery, which has become something I’ve needed to develop. It used to be that I’d scour photographs and magazines for trees and landscape elements. You build a reference file. I frankly have no time any more to go thru the file and build the supporting elements (the “entourage”) of an image, creating the trees in pencil from reference photos. The schedules are too tight. I’ve had to develop a freehand language of positive and negative pencil work to roughly indicate trees and shrubs and other landscape elements. When time permits, and the work is more formal, I will take the time to drop in more resolved elements, but that wasn’t the need here. These were “what if” drawings. No one’s looking at the trees just yet.
The wireframe (or model shots) came to me with a good bit of detail, and I worked over them fairly quickly. There can be a diminishing return with sketches. I remember doing three one time, in an architect’s office. We were simply “playing around”, and had no deadline that day, just were testing things in advance with an eye to going back to the studio and doing more finished versions based on the quick tests. Word came, though, that the principal in charge was going to be in town, un planned (it was a Sunday), and so I did a bit of a hurry-up to crank out some slightly more-finished tests. The first had taken three hours. The second, an hour and a half. When we found out that he was delayed and there might be time for another, I started one more, which I executed in a half an hour. It was as good as, or frankly better than, the first two. Sometimes looseness and speed can really inject a bit more life into an image.
Not much I can share about these… Here’s a second sketch, with details following. These two were from a suite of four images in all.
And some details of same…
That tree at left and the shrubbery at the base of the wall are the kinds of things that can be troublesome. I don’t care what anyone says, drawing buildings is easy. It’s trees and people that are hard. What I like about that tree at left is that I basically avoided drawing the trunk, and simply drew the shadow on the trunk and the walkway disappearing and reappearing behind it. It allows me to get away with establishing the tree, but not having to draw the whole thing. And because the idea of the image is a vignette, where the edges are soft and fade away, the fact that the tree isn’t actually there to begin with helps the image soften at that side. The tree is a supporting element. If anyone lingered on it, and I had drawn so much of it that it began to compete with the building, it wouldn’t be a good thing. And that’s the difficulty of trees and people. They need to be there, look believable, make for some visual interest, but they can never dominate or overtake the composition. When I do a formal image, I will set aside an entire day, 8 to 10 hours, to establish the entourage (trees, cars, people). All in the hopes that they will simultaneously enliven the image, but not compete. Ideally, they support things, but aren’t what people remember when they turn away from the image. The building is what is important.
Last, a detail from the third of four sketches. Can’t show much more than this, and can’t show the fourth at all without giving away the show.
Come back in a bit if you are interested and I’ll edit this at such time as it is ok to relate the details.