Watercolor Rendering of Art Museum Designed by Jeffrey Michael George

Watercolor of Art MuseumThis is a watercolor rendering I painted in 2019.  It’s a conceptual illustration of an art museum that I designed for a hilltop site.  The forms were conceived originally with much inspiration from a Chevy Big Block engine.  Subsequently, a great deal of architectural thought was devoted to making the building work as a functioning art museum with all the requirements therein.  Basically, it’s a two-story structure with generous volumes and a great deal of interior light.  A post and beam building structure was integrated with the original massing to account for the structural means of support.  There is an internal spiral staircase that drops down below as an additional element of ingress and egress.  The three-story exterior staircase on the right is the main circulation element.  By going outside when you travel from one level to another, the art observer has a built-in opportunity to cleanse their palette on the way to looking at more artwork.  While the visitor is faced with a considerable trek to arrive at the museum via a rocky hillside, they are rewarded with  spectacular views once they do arrive at their destination.  Inspiration from two sources:  the artwork within, and the beautiful vistas of the surroundings.

As a rendering exercise, most of the bright and white areas of the painting were reserved for the subject–the building.  The surrounding sky and foreground landscape have mostly dark tones so that the building stands out.  I wanted to keep the interior of the museum looking light and warm, so there are no cool colors shown here throughout the interior space as you look through the glass.  Although this is a large painting for me, it was accomplished in a fairly short period of time, due to the many other illustrations I was working on at the same time.  About 8 to 10 hours from start to finish, for this 24 x 36 inch original.  As my college art instructor used to say “Use a big brush and work quickly”.

Diary of a Rendering for Florida Community

In this installment of my blog I’d like to follow a rendering job from beginning to end, highlighting the process.  The subject for this rendering is an urban redevelopment district located in Florida.  I was given two things to start, the photo of the existing conditions, and a massing or block diagram of certain areas of the district that were proposed new construction, shown in purple.

As you can see there is nothing in the way of detail in the building blocks, so that is something I am asked to create.  The existing buildings we see in the aerial photo will need to be shown as they are, and the new buildings will need lots of help.  The architectural theme is kind of a mix of Spanish and Caribbean influences–and it’s pretty much up to me to develop a plausible representation.  This something you get better at with more experience, and I have done many projects where the architecture needs to be invented, so I’m comfortable with that.

So I drew a quick sketch overlay on white tracing paper of what the new buildings might look like.  I included lots of notes and questions for the planners (my client) so they could respond with what they wanted to see in the final version.  A phone conversation with the planners using this sketch overlay got me going onto the next step in the process–the final black and white tracing in freehand felt pen.  This black and white drawing is scanned and sent via email to the planners for approval and/or comments.  Using white-out or sometimes a small patch to the drawing, any changes can be done to the line drawing.  Then a clean copy of the black and white line drawing is made onto a heavy-duty copy paper, and it’s ready for color–in this case, watercolor.  After masking off the edges of the drawing, I begin applying watercolor–generally going from light values to darker as I go.  In this case, the colors of the buildings were left up to me, trying to stay with the Caribbean/Spanish theme for color and architecture.  Once I decide the watercolor is finished, I scan the original and send via email to my client.  There are usually no changes requested at this stage, but sometimes minor adjustments can be made, and then a new scan sent.


Three Color Renderings for a Conceptual Sacramento Architectural Project

In this article I would like to feature a very conceptual project envisioned for Sacramento, California.  I was commissioned by Mogavero Architects of Sacramento to illustrate their vision for the redevelopment of a prime urban block in their city.  The architect had some basic massing in mind for the buildings, with the site being adjacent to the midtown freeway crossing known as Business 80, which is elevated and cuts across the city.  I met in person with the architect at their office, and we talked about three perspective views to adequately describe the main points of the design.  The uses were mixed–residential, commercial, and institutional.  In the first rendering, we wanted to show the commercial element, which would be located on the less busy intersection away from the freeway overpass.  A sidewalk cafe with outdoor seating under a large corner canopy at street level.  We wanted to keep the canopy light overhead and simple, and we wanted to show a realistic entourage of people walking and enjoying this coffee spot along the way.  Trees were shown transparently so we could also indicate the scale and character of the building above.  In the second view, we wanted to tell the story of the institutional facet of the project.  Since the housing would have a large pool area and recreation room, we focused on that for the second rendering.  Taken at twilight, this view would be able to show the pool, common gathering space, and housing units in the multi-story tower above without going into too much detail, since it wasn’t really designed in detail at this early stage.  Twilight views are good for this purpose–they give you the general idea of scale and character–without a preponderance of detail.  For the third and final rendering, we wanted to show the entire development as it would be seen from the elevated freeway.  We chose a night view–again for similar reasons.  Much of the detail is obscured–and only the desired features are emphasized by using the lighting judiciously to highlight certain elements, and downplay others.  We chose to feature the large metal screens along the front of the block facing the freeway that filtered the windows from the traffic.  These architectural screens would be uplit at night, and the light that comes through them would be filtered and a little fuzzy.  As an artist, the idea is to show just enough, without getting into details that have not been thought out.  If the project becomes more of a reality, there will be plenty of time to make all of those decisions.  

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