September 20, 2011

Sketch by Pencil (part 1)

Why would people want to have pen and ink drawings of their house or place of residence? Well, there are numerous reasons for this. One can imagine that these sorts of illustrations probably originated, historically, with the advent of architecture; before a building was constructed, the future occupants would have needed some sort of idea as to how their future residence should look (as well as giving the artisans an indication of what goal they were working towards!)

On a more personal level, however, if where we live has some character or charm, then what better way of displaying those characteristics than in the form of a drawing.

Pen and ink drawings, watercolours, oil paintings etc. are all mediums in which to display these qualities with the added advantage of a little artistic licence, if needed.

Whether your place of residence happens to be a rambling old farmhouse, a quaint stone cottage or a modern town-house, an artist can provide you with a unique and original illustration of your house that will surely bring you much pleasure and satisfaction.

The same could be said of, say, a portrait of a member of your family or even a much-loved pet. It shows that you are proud of something that is personal to you and want to display that feeling to people who see it.

I am reminded of my late mother who suddenly decided in her mid-seventies that she wanted to be an artist and at the time, had never previously considered that she had an artistic bone in her body. She diligently took a course at her nearest college and surprised not only friends and family but most of all, herself!

Within a very short space of time she was producing some fine pieces of work and in several mediums but her best painting, in my opinion, was a large watercolor of the Edwardian house in which she lived.

Why was this her pièce de résistance? Because she loved this beautiful old building and it showed in her work. It was hung above the fireplace in her living room and provided an attractive and much admired focal point.

Clearly not everyone has these latent talents and the majority of the population will have to rely on the trained eye of the professional artist but it goes to prove a point. Pen and ink drawings of your house can enhance your life and be an interesting conversation piece.

An artist's perception of a subject can differ greatly from other people. He will see detail that is not obvious to the normal eye. The artist has a sense of composition, proportion or depth or, just as important, perspective. This is why a person with these qualities is necessary, as pen and ink drawings need to have certain ingredients to bring life to a building. One's place of residence does not even have to be particularly attractive. We're all familiar with the infamous Artist's Impression, where a proposed rather hideous construction can be made to seem acceptable.

Such then is the power of illustration over reality. I've seen rather modern houses made to look quaint in a drawing just by clever use of a curved line when it should be straight or a slight tilt of the roofline in order to give some additional character.

Maybe a good photograph could suffice but a piece of artwork is a unique object and something to be treasured and admired. It doesn't matter whether it is watercolors, oil paintings or just a simple pen and ink drawings, the fact that you have gone to the trouble of having a drawing of your house specially commissioned, shows that sense of pride.

Kim van Hoorn started out as a graphic designer back in the seventies designing, among other things, record sleeves for the music industry in London before setting up on his own in the provinces. At this time he also produced work for a company of chartered surveyors which is how he became more interested in drawing buildings. He now lives in SW France where he continues to do his pen and ink drawings. For more info about his work visit:

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