The weathered look of dilapidated houses

As much as I talk about calligraphy as my primary medium of interest, it’s really black and white illustration, pen & ink and technical drawing that interests me.  I’m drawn to housing, barns, buildings and storefronts that display the ravages of time, whether born from neglect, age, weather, calamity or some combination of these.  Inanimate objects not the individual, is the subject of interest. I am practicing line drawing so as to eventually one day be able to draw the weathered look of dilapidated houses.

Weathered is timeworn. But it also means accomplished, knowledgeable, aged, dated, hoary, mature, as well as qualified, worldly and victorious.  A domicile that looks lived in is of avid interest. Side roads in New England as well as dusty worn fire paths and outback roads sometimes lead to these buildings.  These are buildings which once were lived in but have been abandoned.

The 3 R’s

Dilapitated means a state of disrepair or ruin as a result of age or neglect or use.  It may be reduced to or fall into partial ruin or decay.  Rundown. Ramshackle and rickety.

It may be a chimney that’s lost a few bricks or its dark mortar, a door opening that has leaned in or caved in, it’s paint peeling on the side, bushes and grasses in need of a cut or shears, or steps in disrepair.  Objects like rakes, shovels or poles could be left outside or be leaning against the side of the establishment too.  The buildings are rundown in disrepair.

Joys of drawing

Texture, light and shade using just black and white pen with ink can be enormously gratifying. “Rendering in Pen and Ink” by Arthur Guptill is considered one of the classic books in the field. First published in 1930, the copy I have was published in 1976 and again in 1997, and was produced for artists, architects, teachers and students alike.

Like any medium, discipline of hand and eye is essential, as is perseverance and patience.  I very much enjoy imitative representation.   Individual inventiveness will follow only after I learn all about the basic principles of composition, and am able to use a pen to copy the objects  of interest.  This is only possible when I learn to draw objects in light and shade, handle groups of objects, learn perspective, learn kinds of outline, how to handle different kinds of pens and inks, and how to use other media as well.  Eventually I’d like to learn water colors to augment and enhance the effects drawn in pen and ink.  In pen and ink drawing there is no color.  It is either disregarded or expressed to some extent through values of light and dark, and textures and form.

Artists in other medium excel only after learning the fundamentals.  Bobby McFerrin’s parents were both classical musicians; Bobby only became a creative artist following his own muse after he had thoroughly learned the classics.  He practiced imitative representation first and then embarked on his own.  I expect to do the same.

Illustrators and architectural renderers featured in Guptill include Rockwell Kent, Willy Pogany, Russell Patterson, Chester B. Proce, Birch Burdette Long and others one has never heard of.  I certainly haven’t.

In Jamestown, RI, there’s a colonial house near one of the main routes that’s beaten down and perfectly captures the essence I’m talking about.  Photographs taken will be used for practice and will be magnified to allow me to practice drawing elements of interest.  Lots of practice will follow.  The kind of practice that a pianist follows repetitiously playing the scales over and over again.

Published by Richard Halpern

Retired (but busy) after a lengthy career in business marketing, communications and research. Worked at four start-ups and one turnaround. Now volunteer doing prospect research for a climate activity and social advocacy non profit, amongst other things.

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