An ongoing collection of 5x7 Pen and Ink Drawings of houses in my hometown.
Why did you start this project?
“100 Houses of Phoenixville” came about on a whim. It was never a goal of mine to produce more than a few drawings, but once I started I just couldn’t stop. In fact, it all started as an exercise to speed up my eye-to-hand coordination. One way an artist achieves this is by doing timed drawings. In my case, the goal was to draw an entire house in thirty minutes. I figured that if I trained my brain to recognize the spatial relationships between shapes more quickly (windows, doors, rooflines, etc.), the greater gains of improvement I would see over a shorter period of time. Luckily, I was right!
Why did you keep going with the project?
I’ve always been a meticulous draftsman and it has allowed me to create some pretty detailed works of art, but over the past few years I’ve noticed only minor increments of improvement in my drawing ability. Larger, more detailed works of art tend to challenge patience and dedication, but they sometimes hinder risk-taking in regards to experimental mark-making. In my own experience, larger projects have typically been successful because planning for them is more thought-out and predictable. On one hand, I’ve gotten used to being successful. On the other hand, it means I’ve been playing it safe.
The “100 Houses of Phoenixville” Project is just one gigantic exercise. By spending one or two hours on every drawing, I am able to gain a healthier balance of success and failure, which has proven to be vital in propelling my drawing ability to the next level. Starting and finishing drawings at a high rate has allowed me to experiment with different effects when drawing things such as bricks, shrubbery, and cloud formations. The more risk I take, the better off I am at separating successful vs. unsuccessful techniques for future drawings. In an ironic sort of way, failure has been the key to my success throughout this project.
Do you ever get sick of drawing the same thing again and again?
To put it quite simply…Yes, I do get sick of drawing the same thing again and again, which is why I have created some ancillary routines to keep from getting burned out. For instance, I took time to write a portion of this blog for my website instead of drawing houses. Another thing I like to do to break up drawing the same subject matter is to work on drawings that I do only for myself. I almost always have a personal artwork going just to keep myself sane on days where business is kicking my butt.
To contradict my previous statement, I feel it is necessary to say I never actually get sick of drawing houses, just like a professional baseball player never gets sick of playing the same game for half of his life. There’s always variation and new challenges in what I do, and drawing 100 of the same subject matter has forced me to find ways to keep it interesting.