Tag Archives: pencil

Lucius Beebe Memorial Library, Wakefield MA

Back almost twenty years ago, I worked as the designer on a renovation of The Lucius Beebe Memorial Library, in Wakefield Massachusetts.  At the time, I was working for CBT Architects of Boston.

The Library had a fund raiser the other night, and I donated a sketch of the original entrance, on Main Street, for the silent auction.  thankfully, it sold.  …nothing worse than donating something and seeing a blank clipboard at the end of the evening.  Come on people, the FRAME is worth something, isn’t it?!?!

The sketch is in warm grey pencil, on vellum, with white highlights, about 8×10 in size.

Lucius Beebe Library Sketch

The Lucius Beebe Memorial Library, Main Street Entry  -(click for full size)-  © Jeff Stikeman 2014

Been busy here, and per usual, neglecting updates. Had a week off in March, but other than that, it’s been straight through since Christmas and New Year’s.

Typically slows in July and August (which is fine with me!), so I’m looking forward to getting out of the studio and into some sun.






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2013 Year End Review

This year I executed just under a hundred images, in levels of detail varying from sketchy to formal.  There were a large number of pencil images, split about evenly with fully digital pieces, and one simple watercolor sketch done as a gift for an architect’s client.  …a pretty busy year, in all.

Following are some details from a little fewer than half the images.  There’s no real text here, as I’ll just let the work speak for itself.  I cannot thank my clients enough, and thank you too for your interest in my work.













































Happy New Year.  See you in 2014…

– Jeff Stikeman


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Recent Work: Summer 2013

Been a while….  The year has been ridiculously busy, thankfully.  Haven’t really had much downtime, and believe it or not, other than a semi-slow July/August (three or four projects each month), I have been working straight through on a variety of projects large and small.

Development work (retail and residential) is coming back in force as the rising tide of the economy continues.  Although there was always some level of private residential work being done through the recession, it seems to really be taking off again. In short, things have been busier than ever.  Still no excuse for nearly a ten month delay in updating the blog.

I’ve been privileged to work on some fantastic projects, including about 18 or so renderings for the U.S. State department, on a couple different jobs.  Sadly, most of it is confidential, as is much of the institutional and development work which has kept me busy over the year.

Best I can offer at this point is some cropped enlarged details from some of the work, uncredited and with some details obscured.  The drawings range from sketchy concept work, to more formal, finished renderings.

Apologies for withholding project information.

These are details (about 2 inches x 6 inches) of some 11×17 sketches I did for a study of a landscaping master plan for a large property.





Some sketches done in a looser style, for a private academy, as part of a masterplan study.  These are loose enough to turn around in just a few days, even a half dozen of them. These types of softer sketchier preliminary images connect with trustees, staff, students, and lay people (and donors!) far more than a screen-shot of a sketch-up model can, and can be pretty cost-effective.





Lifestyle and hospitality work is back in force as well.  I did a small series of very atmospheric, highly considered images for a proposal at an historic property.  Again, I can’t really provide any details, or show most of the work, but here’s a non-architectural detail, one that’s all about the entourage (the people and supporting elements in the image).


Here are some greatly enlarged details from loose studies done as part of a retail project.  They were done on warm buff paper, with pencil and white highlights, digital color added.



Residential work lately has focused on preliminary studies, early concepts… Architects are finding that in a competitive environment, it’s always good to be expressive as early in the process as possible.  Loose flexible sketches can be done the day before (or even day-of) a meeting, and again, clients respond more positively to them than they do to screenshots of an antiseptic sketch-up model…  Sketches like these can help make decisions, move projects forward,  and provide something for the client to become excited about, invested in emotionally. These are cropped details.




Although much of the work has some amount of color, there are times when monochromatic studies can be effective.  The intent here was for atmospheric, painterly, loose-yet-detailed images.  From a series of about eight semi-formals, these are digital, and were done from a roughly built model.




Here’s a small detail from a large aerial I did of a proposed University expansion.  It was 22 inches wide, at about 400 dpi. …fairly large by today’s standards.



March saw about a month’s worth of time given over to executing 12 formal images depicting a modern building proposed for a semi-tropical location.  Much attention was given to the highly developed landscape and exterior lighting plan, and in hewing closely to the existing context and local environment. These details are about an inch or two wide in the originals, which were 12×16, 300dpi.






Thanks for taking a look.  I hope that the wide range of images here, from sketchy to atmospherically formal, will give an indication of the rendering options available at any point in a project’s life.  There’s always a cost-effective solution, and one that almost always works with the schedule.


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New Work: March-June 2012

Well, I thought February was busy….

Haven’t really had any time to update, which is the very thing that will end up killing a blog.  Literally haven’t had a day off since February began.  That’s both good and bad, obviously.  Nature of the business is that you take work as it comes.  I’m looking for a little break during the typical summer slow-down. And I do have a week of planned vacation coming up.  …can’t believe the year is almost half over. But I could use a break.

Again, most of the work has been confidential.  Most projects coming out of a recession are of course start-up.  Not doing many marketing renderings (for finished/built work), instead, it’s mostly concept work, or schematic design level work.

I did execute a couple more formal images for Powers/Schram of Fort Lauderdale, of a mid-century modernist waterfront home.  I worked with Rick Powers a couple times when he was here in Boston as an architect at Tsoi Kobus, and it was nice to reconnect and work with him again.

Street View of “Sunrise Key”, Fort Lauderdale; digital paint with pencil, 11×17

View from the Water of of “Sunrise Key”, Fort Lauderdale; digital paint with pencil, 11×17

Before executing the two images above, we studied a few black and white camera tests.  These two are my favorites from among those we discarded.

Camera Test, for Sunrise Key, Water Side

Camera test, Street Side

I was partial to the lower camera station of the camera test from the water-side, but the intricate and rich landscaping plan begged for a higher camera angle, and it was decided to raise the camera to a point where the pool and landscape could be more clearly seen.

Some details of the final version of the Water Side view, at near-full resolution:

And details of the Street View:

As has become a recurring refrain here, most of the work I’ve done the past few months is confidential.  Following, though, are some details from work which I’m allowed to share, though many are necessarily cropped to remove any telling information.

11×17 Pencil Rendering

Detail of same

…a portion from a very quick, chalky/gouachy little sketch, about 11×17

A detail from the same sketch

A detail from a 9×14 pencil sketch, flicked with digital hi-lites and paint, on brown kraft-paper.

…another chunk from the same sketch, a private home, in Newport Rhode Island

A tightly cropped detail from a very quick, very loose digital sketch, for a proposed roof deck bar. This detail only about 2×2 from an 11×19 sketch

A detail from the second sketch in this pair of fairly loose, sketchy digital pieces.

In looking back at these, it strikes me that each image is entirely different than the next.  Rather than all pencil, or all digital, there is (I think) a healthy mix of differing approaches to the issue at hand.  Rather than reflecting what works for me, I think it better illustrates that my work is about answering the client’s need.  What do you need, when do you need it, and what do you have for me to work from?  And most important; who is your audience?  These are the questions which, for me anyway, determine what kind of image we end up with, how long it takes, what the final piece feels like…

I’ll try to be a bit better about timely updates.  With the economy the way it has been, there’s a tendency to keep working, never sure when the shoe might drop.  If the work keeps coming in though, that can make for a long run of heads-down work. All work and no-play, and all that.  We shall see what summer holds.  Since it seems to be when my clients, and their clients, take their vacations, that means it’s generally my vacation too.  Have a good summer yourself.

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Busy? …or vanished?


Haven’t updated the blog very much, but not for lack of trying.  Been busy.  Have four formal interiors due next week, did a couple pencils over the weekend, and am playing hooky right now in the middle of a quick pencil I need to do as a favor.

But I really need to try to keep up the blog.

....lost balloon. A detail from a semi-formal digital piece done recently. About half size

Part of the issue is the confidentiality.  I did take most of December off, but pretty much everything between then and now has been somewhat confidential.  All I can show here are some details which are obscure enough to keep the particulars from being clear.

It’s been pretty varied.  Watercolor sketches (a pair), some pencils, and a little ‘sloppy’ digi-paint.

Some cropped details…

2x4 inch Detail from a watercolor sketch. One from a pair.

Study for a stone carving. About half-size.

Part of a digital study done for the restoration of an historic home

Cropped chunk of sky and trees, from a simple pencil sketch. February 2012

Here's a crop from the same image as the balloon (from the top of this post). The brothers are low-left in the image, with the little girl's lost balloon floating away at the top-right.


From the same digital piece. A sax player appears opposite, in the lower right corner of the rendering.

I hope to be able to share more of these, in their totality.  But for now the little clipped details will have to suffice.

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Proposed Liberty Mutual Tower, for CBT Architects, Boston

Pencil rendering of the Proposed LIberty Mutual tower for Boston, the view is taken from Berkeley and Cortes Street, eyelevel

Pencil Sketch of the Proposed new Liberty Mutual Headquarters Building, in Boston; 11x13, 300dpi © Jeff Stikeman 2010

Liberty Mutual has filed a Project Notification Report with the Boston Redevelopment Authority for a proposed 22-story headquarters building at 157 Berkeley St.

Just about a year ago,  I did three or four loose pencil sketch renderings for CBT Childs Bertman Tseckares as a part of their initial interview presentation, when Liberty Mutual was interviewing architects who were being considered for the commission.  CBT was selected, and since then have been refining the design and developing the work.

Although I did a couple more concept sketches for the architect over the past year, as part of their design process, generally CBT’s presentation illustrations were being done in-house.  That’s often how work is developed.  Things are changing rapidly, and many times the designers themselves do the renderings and sketches required to communicate the direction of the design to their client.  In fact, that’s pretty much how I learned to render, under the gun, as part of the design effort.

Last week though the Project Manager for CBT,  Ken Lewandowski, asked if I could prepare a quick image to be included in the document which initiates the review process, and which describes the proposed project to the public. There is typically a substantial amount of information generated in order to describe the project for the purpose of public review, including plans, elevations, shadow studies, etc.  My illustration was a very small part of it all, but in the end, helps provide a clear and graphic statement about  the overall design intent.

The sketch is something between a loose concept sketch and a formal rendering.  It’s essentially a semi-formal pencil.  Working from a sketch-up model and various site photos, Google “Street View” screen shots, and reference photographs of entourage, I produced the image in a day or so.

A tighter view, just under full-size, with a sliver of the ‘old’ John Hancock at left.

Liberty Mutual Boston

Detail, Liberty Mutual, Boston; © Jeff Stikeman 2010

Enlarging a bit more, at about full-size;

Enlarged detail of the corner of the New Liberty Mutual headquarters Tower, Bosotn, taken from street level

Enlarged detail of the street-level corner, about 3x4 inches © Jeff Stikeman 2010

Comments to online press regarding the project have suggested that the perspective is exaggerated for effect.  It isn’t.  Of course the top of the tower is quite angular, but the building is triangular after all.  …and it’s really not possible to develop a view of a 22-story tower from eye-level without some distortion at the top (even from a block away), unless you introduce vertical vanishing.  Nothing was done for effect.

Detail of an existing ivy-covered brick Context Building at the intersection of Cortes and Berkeley Streets; © Jeff Stikeman 2010

The 10 St. James building is beyond, between the proposed tower and the context building at right.

Detail of the Prow, about full size; © Jeff Stikeman 2010

As a follow-up, it was decided to reproduce this image as an evening view.  The question is invariably asked whether I can simply re-color the linework again, but as an evening image.  The answer is generally no.  For one thing, sun shadows in the day image are usually done not only in color, but also as pencil texture, which would need to be removed.  But additionally, entourage elements (such as people, cars, the fluttering flag, clouds, etc.) look incredibly lame when reused for an evening version.  Imagine looking at the two images projected during a public meeting, and the slides are advanced from ‘day’ to ‘night’, and nothing changes but the coloring.  The traffic is the same, the flag appears frozen, the people haven’t moved, the clouds are still hanging in the same spot…

So some amount of rework is necessary to make a convincing version, although a lot of the linework can be reused to save time.

I spent perhaps half a day redoing the traffic and assorted other elements, and then adapted the color in photoshop to an evening palette.

12x12 Pencil Image Liberty Mutual CBT Architects Boston Night View

Evening Exterior View of a Proposed Tower for Liberty Mutual, for CBT Architects, Boston; all images © Jeff Stikeman 2010

Some Details….

Detail of the Upper Tower, © Jeff Stikeman

Detail at the Building's Corner on the Intersection of Berkely and Cortes Streets; © Jeff Stikeman 2010

...zooming way in here, perhaps four times actual size, where you can really see evidence of the human hand; © Jeff Stikeman 2010

Detail, full size; © Jeff Stikeman 2010



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Robert A. M. Stern: On Campus

“Robert A. M. Stern: On Campus” (The Monacelli Press), the latest monograph from Robert A.M. Stern Architects, was released December 21st. As the publisher describes, it “collects more than fifty projects by the firm for the most prestigious institutions in America—Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Stanford, University of Virginia—and focuses on the importance of the historic character of the place in charting the future. “

Robert A. M. Stern "On Camous" Cover

I have been privileged to work with Robert A.M. Stern Architects on many of these projects, and am honored to have a large number of my sketches and renderings included in the volume: as illustrations for the projects themselves; among the reference illustrations in Stern’s survey of the American campus context; and as greatly enlarged details on the facing pages of many Chapter Titles.

copyright Jeff Stikeman 2010

Detail of a Conceptual Sketch done in 2006, for The Farmer School of Business, Miami of Ohio; Jeff Stikeman, for Robert A. M. Stern Architects, NY

Norman Weinstein of ArchNewsNow Amazon.com review specifically cites “the spectacular photographs and drawings in this weighty tome. “ At nearly 600 pages, the profusely illustrated and substantial volume is in keeping with Stern’s previously published iconic monographs. The extensive project descriptions, photographs, and illustrations, together with Stern’s survey of the American Campus, make the volume not only an attractive record of his firm’s college and university work, but a valuable reference for architects involved in college and university work themselves.

For ordering, see Robert A. M. Stern: “On Campus”

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