I've been busy of late with commercial work alongside teaching - here's a recent project. This is very much "bread and butter" to me but I still enjoy visualising new developments of this vernacular type. My commissions vary in interest but the process of drawing an architect's design in perspective still holds its magic for me. Knowing I am following in the footsteps of the likes of Cyril Farey and Charles Cockerell validates my enthusiasm. My topographical watercolour paintings on the other hand, present different challenges in representing the natural and built environment. For me the two activities go hand-in-hand and are complimentary.
Just completed this proposed design for a Georgian style property to be built in Dunmow, Essex. The designer is Stephen Mattick who specialises in traditional and vernacular houses. The house and outbuilding will replace an existing house which sits on land of nearly two acres in a rural setting. The illustration is designed to show how the property will look from the road and improve on the existing building. I have worked on many commissions with Stephen: one of the most interesting was a series of perspective views for a house in the New Forest for Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits)
...and here's the final approved version with minor details amended - spot the differences - there are 3!
Finished watercolour drawing for planning application
Here's a thoughtful design with some existing and new build. The farm house and outbuildings to the left are not part of the development and so I left them faded to knock them back. Aerial views like this help to communicate an architect's vision as part of the planning process and go a long way in avoiding misunderstandings. Perfect subject matter for the medium of watercolour - I don't thnk this would have been as successful as a CGI (discuss!).
Here is the finished drawing in watercolour on 90lb Canson NOT paper.
Pencil draft for approval
I'm wearing my commercial hat at the moment and working on a range of projects for planning applications. Here's the process I use for an aerial view showing a lovely barn conversion for two dwellings in Northants. The first drawing was prepared using SketchUp to establish a basic view from plans supplied and approval from the client (1); the final pencil draft drawn traditionally (2) and the finished watercolour drawing (3).
J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851): Pulteney Bridge Bath, lecture diagram 59, c1810
J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851): Pulteney Bridge Bath, lecture diagram 58, c1810
In October 1992 the Tate Gallery hosted an exhibition entitled, Turner as Professor: The Artist and Linear Perspective. This had a great influence on my attitude towards the structure of pictures as well as a fascinating insight into Turner's academic contribution to the Royal Academy lectures. Turner was elected professor of perspective in 1807 and remained in post for the next thirty years. As a young pupil of Thomas Malton Junior, an architectural draughtsman, Turner produced perspectives for architectural projects and was therefore well qualified for the position. However he received mixed criticisms of his lectures due, in the main to his lack of experience in delivery. Nevertheless his diagrams were works of art in their own right and here we see two such examples. The first, a perspective construction and secondly the finished coloured version. Both were large in size to enable the audience to see the detail and held up by assistants: many were drawn on the largest hand made paper available at around 31 by 52 inches.
Charles Robert Cockerell (1788-1863): Pen and sepia wash of the Royal Exchange London 1840 (Unexecuted design)
Cockerell's drawing has to be one of the finest perspectives ever produced. I was fortunate enough to come across the original whilst researching in the RIBA print collection during the mid 90s. Done on thick tracing paper in pen and sepia wash this piece is worthy of close inspection to appreciate the fine detail and delicate drawing. It conveys the context of its setting with superb handling of entourage elements such as carriages and people. A pity it didn't win the competition coming second to the design by William Tite. To the right of the picture can be seen Cornhill and to the left is Soane's Bank of England on Threadneedle Street.
Joseph Gandy (1771-1843): Watercolour of Sir John Soane's Bank of England 1830
Joseph Michael Gandy was an architectural visionary who joined Sir John Soane's office in 1798 and worked mainly for Soane thereafter. During the Romantic period architectural design was represented in such a way as to show a building in the distant future as a ruin similar to those classical ruins found in Greece and Rome. The sublime nature of classical ruins deeply inluenced architects of the day and Gandy's ability to express this quality was highly prized by Soane. Here we see how Gandy has represented Soane's design for the Bank of England as a futuristic ruin by removing much of the roofing to expose the interior room by room. Gandy was strongly influenced by the architectural visions of Piranesi and as a contemporary of JMW Turner, looked towards artists and writers in order to express architectural ideas.
Cyril Farey (1888 - 1954): Watercolour of the New Exchange scheme Nottingham 1924.
Cyril Farey was in direct competition with Walcot during the 20s and 30s and was in great demand as an architectural artist and draughtsman. Although Farey ran his own successful architectural practice he spent much of his time working for other architects and produced many splendid watercolours which were exhibited at the Royal Academy. In fact he was so popular at one stage that the term "Fareyland" was coined for the Architecture Rooms at the RA due to the fact that so many architects used him. Farey had several assistants who created initial drawings to which he completed in watercolour. His trademark was to represent the foreground with reflections as if it had just stopped raining which can just be seen on the right side in this impressive example.
William Walcot (1874-1943): Watercolour drawing of Whitehead Mills London.
As an architectural illustrator my career began in earnest after a commission by the architect, author and broadcaster John Prizeman (d.1992) in 1984. Good Housekeeping magazine featured an article by Prizeman in which he gave advice on restoring old properties to their original design. This led to numerous commissions for ‘artist’s impressions’ of future housing developments for use in planning, advertising and publishing. My work and interest culminated in a Masters research degree into architectural illustration at the Royal College of Art in 1997. During this period of study I discovered many artists and illustrators who have had a significant influence on my work. Here are some examples of those most noteworthy: William Walcot
Walcot was the most celebrated architectural draughtsman during the 1920s and 30s after practicing as an architect in Moscow for five years. His drawings were light and impressionistic as well as economic in style and technique. Here we see his fleeting line and brushwork in this topographical work from the 1930s. Walcot demonstrates his mastery of perspective in creating a sense drama in this piece which offers an insight into the activity within an industrial workplace.