My Watercolor Painting of Bidwell Mansion, Chico, California

Watercolor Painting of Bidwell Mansion in Chico, CaliforniaI just recently finished this watercolor painting of the Bidwell Mansion in my hometown of Chico, California….I chose to paint it in backlight–in other words with the sun behind the building, shining through the cupola at the third story….a challenge, but glad I did it….there’s a certain abstraction that happens under these lighting conditions….which allows the artist to emphasize certain elements and characteristics of the structure, while ignoring others–not something the artist can do with most commissioned renderings because the architect or builder usually wants you (the artist) to show all the details possible….But in this case, it’s strictly my painting–so I can do what I want….liberating !  More on the building from website of Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park:  “Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park is a beautiful, three-story, 26 room Victorian House Museum that stands as a memorial to John and Annie Bidwell. John Bidwell was known throughout California and across the nation as an important pioneer, farmer, soldier, statesman, politician and philanthropist. Annie Ellicott Kennedy Bidwell, the daughter of a socially prominent, high ranking Washington official, was deeply religious, and committed to a number of moral and social causes. The Bidwell’s were married April 16, 1868 in Washington, D.C. with then President Andrew Johnson and future President Ulysses S. Grant among the guests. Upon arrival in Chico, the Bidwell’s used the Mansion extensively for entertainment of friends. Some of the guests that visited Bidwell Mansion were President Rutherford B. Hayes, General William T. Sherman, Susan B. Anthony, Frances Willard, Governor Stanford, John Muir, and Asa Gray.  When constructed, Bidwell Mansion featured the most modern plumbing, gas lighting and water systems. The overall style of the three-story brick structure is that of an Italian Villa, an informal, warmly romantic style. The building’s exterior is finished with a pink tinted plaster.”  Hmmm….Pink tinted plaster–another reason I chose to treat the building with backlighting…..  This illustration is hand-drawn and painted in the watercolor technique by Jeffrey Michael George, Architectural Illustration.  Jeffrey creates many architectural illustrations for projects located in the San Francisco area, including San Mateo, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Woodside, Portola Valley,  Atherton, & Los Altos Hills as well as his hometown of Chico, California.

Watercolor Painting of Dana Adobe, Nipomo, California

Watercolor Painting of Dana Adobe, Nipomo, CaliforniaThis is a watercolor painting I did recently for my sweetheart….So what better time to post it on the internet than Valentine’s Day !  It’s a historic structure in Central California which has a lot of personal significance….My wife, Susan Lynn Dana, is a direct descendent of William Goodwin Dana, who constructed this home in 1837….The following is a description borrowed from “”:  “The Dana Adobe or “Casa de Dana” is a historic
landmark in Nipomo, California, lying about 25
miles south of San Luis Obispo. It was one of the
earliest adobe dwellings built in San Luis Obispo
County and became the celebrated home
of William Goodwin Dana, his wife Maria Josefa
Carrillo Dana and their very large family. William
Dana was a wealthy Boston sea captain who
settled first in Santa Barbara, where he courted
and married Maria Josefa in 1828. In 1837,
Mexican California Governor Juan Alvarado
granted Rancho Nipomo to Captain Dana, over
50,000 acres, as a reward for his loyalty. Dana
employed many native Chumash laborers and
others to build the adobe between 1837 and his
death in 1858, a tumultuous time in Alta California.  The Dana
adobe and Rancho Nipomo also served as an
important exchange point on the first official U.S.
mail route between Monterey and Los Angeles.”  Regarding the watercolor painting, I really enjoyed working on it….Some of the challenges were capturing the hills in the background which are soft and gorgeous in the distance, and concentrating more on the landscape than the building itself–something that I don’t usually attempt because frankly, my job is typically focused on the architecture….It’s actually liberating to shift the balance away from buildings, and focus one’s attention on the natural beauty that surrounds….I wanted to keep the background and the house itself light and bright on the value scale, then frame those elements with darker richer tones in the foreground trees, landscape, and historic El Camino Real monument….This artwork is hand-drawn and painted in the watercolor technique by Jeffrey Michael George, Architectural Illustrator.  Jeffrey lives in Chico, California and creates many architectural illustrations for projects located in all parts of the great state of California including the San Francisco bay area.

Color Renderings of Florida Urban Infill Projects

Color Renderings of Urban Infill Projects As an architectural illustrator, I work on many different types of projects….some are residential, some small, some all-encompassing….there’s a tremendous variation in the subject matter I am asked to draw….Recently I created these two illustrations shown here as finished pieces…These renderings were part of an effort to show what could be done to revitalize two existing retail centers located in Fort Myers, Florida….Both sites were situated along major traffic corridors so as time has passed, more people, more cars, more transit–this has created greater demand for retail and commercial on these corridors….I was commissioned by Johnson Engineering of Fort Myers, Florida to help imagine what these sites could look like with new structures added, something called “urban infill”….I worked with Laura DeJohn and Christine Fisher of Johnson Engineering in developing the ideas….Starting in Google Earth, they built a simple “block massing” of the proposed structures–then they handed that off to me….Working in SketchUp, I gave the building blocks more form and relief, as architects do, trying for a “Coastal Contemporary” style of architecture….Then I proposed a couple of perspective angles with which to view the new buildings in context, and shared those with Johnson Engineering….Once we agreed on the best view angles, I developed more detail by hand in the buildings, the roof shapes, the cars and people and landscaping….I traced the layouts with pen, then added color using pastel and color pencils, trying to capture the character of the beautiful Florida skies after a light tropical rain….With these renderings, if I have done my work successfully, when someone looks at them, their eye will immediately go to the subject–the new buildings–hopefully with a feeling of revitalization and excitement, lots of people grabbing their coffee, talking on their way to work, maybe running for the bus….real life stuff….These illustrations were created by Jeffrey Michael George in the color pencil technique….Jeffrey Michael George works with many California architects (and some in Florida) as a freelance illustrator, creating architectural renderings in color pencil and watercolor which bring their design ideas to life !Color Renderings of Urban Infill Projects

Watercolor Painting of Monkey Face Rock, Chico, California

I’ve been painting a series of watercolors recently of places of interest in my hometown of Chico, California…..Watercolor Painting of Monkey Face Rock, Chico, CaliforniaOne of the latest is the painting shown here of Monkey Face Rock (named for obvious reasons) located in Upper Bidwell Park….It’s a well-known spot to the active people of Chico–a hiking destination along the North Rim Trail, reachable by most day hikers with a gradual climb of about 300 feet….from the top, you have a great view of the Central Valley, from Mount Lassen to the Sutter Buttes….As most of you know I am almost always drawing buildings–it’s my thing, but it was fun and refreshing to paint something non-architectural for a change….No straight lines, no reflecting glass, no tile roofs–just green grass, oak trees, and rock….Wow–this thing was done in no time!  I’m kidding a little, but it was a bit less complicated than my usual architectural subject….The challenges were to get the effect of distance to the background hills, to get the rock to have the right shape and texture, and to set it apart from the surrounding trees and rock with the right amount of contrast….Most of the painting was done in what watercolorists call “wet in wet”, but there is some “dry brush” here and there….a limited palette–a few complementary colors used over and over, but reserving the Rock’s colors strictly for the Rock itself, so it is differentiated from everything else in the painting….Compositionally, one of the things I liked about this painting is that the lower half has very little detail or interest to it–and that’s intentional–just let the Rock shine and take center stage….This artwork is hand-drawn and painted in the watercolor technique by Jeffrey Michael George, Architectural Illustrator.  Jeffrey lives in Chico, and creates many architectural illustrations for projects located in northern California and the San Francisco bay area.

Architectural Renderings of Atherton Residence Under Construction

Architectural Renderings of Atherton Residence Under ConstructionThis article will feature a couple of architectural illustrations I did recently for a home under construction.  I was commissioned by the real estate agent, Mary Gullixson, representing the property to show the project as it will appear  when completed, which is anticipated to be in March of this year.  I developed these two views–a front and rear–loosely based on construction photos of the half-completed structure.  Some elements you see here in these views, such as landscaping, pool, outdoor furniture, paving stones, were totally invented by me in order to get the “finished look” the client wanted from me.  Kind of fun, really….as an artist I find it more enjoyable to create these elements myself, as opposed to simply following a set of plans, calling out every detail with exactitude.  Frankly, it’s more engaging for me as the artist–although sometimes this method brings challenges.  It works out if the client and the artist are thinking along the same lines as to whether the landscape design is formal or informal, symmetrical or asymmetrical, etc.  After some phone conversations with the client, I proceeded with adding landscape that was pretty formal, but not hedged or rigid, balanced but not equally symmetrical.  The house design particularly in the front is fairly symmetrical, so I thought the planting should diverge from a strict formality.  Basically this approach was well-received and worked well to complement the house design.  Although, in the rear view, my first attempt showed paving and low ground cover between the pool and the house.  Subsequently the client wanted to change the ground cover to lawn, and to remove the small tree shown in front of the house to the left.  Using Photoshop, I was able to draw the alternative lawn idea, scan it and superimpose it onto the rendering digitally in that area of the overall illustration.  If you look at the two Rear View illustrations below, you will see the two versions of rear landscape I just mentioned.  These illustrations are hand-drawn and colored in the color pencil technique by Jeffrey Michael George, Architectural Illustration.  Jeffrey creates many architectural illustrations for projects located in the San Francisco area, including San Mateo, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Woodside, Portola Valley,  Atherton, & Los Altos Hills.Architectural Renderings of Atherton Residence Under ConstructionArchitectural Renderings of Atherton Residence Under Construction

Watercolor Painting of Senator Theater in Chico, California

Watercolor Painting of Senator Theater in Chico, CaliforniaHave you ever noticed that ray of sunlight as it catches the side of a building in the late afternoon?  I tried to capture that phenomenon in this watercolor painting I just finished….that all-too-fleeting moment when the sun is low in the sky, and shines in such a way that it showcases the subtle sculptural elements of a building’s facade….This is the Senator Theater in downtown Chico, California….a building that I have admired from an architectural standpoint for years….it turns out that the structure was designed by Timothy Pfleuger, a prominent San Francisco architect of his time….the Roaring 20’s for the most part….the design is Art Deco which was very popular in that era, combined with some more romantic Spanish California tendencies….red clay tile roof, white stucco, ornate corbels, fluted columns, and bas-relief sculptural decoration at the tower….I think the segmented arches are a unique touch which links the Romantic with the Deco….Getting back to my painting of this landmark, I chose to focus on the tower corner element….Large trees frame the view which provide that focus, and block out the rest of the building’s facade in the distance….and having limited the viewpoint to just the tower, I can accentuate the tower even further by treating all the foreground elements so that they are largely obscured by shade….as an artist, I just want the viewer to enjoy the play of sunlight and feel the warmth of a summer day….take in the magnificence of the Art Deco tower that graces the downtown–supported by the human elements like the bicyclists and the Civic Center Park seat wall in the foreground, and the massive Sycamore trees, which are such a part of the Chico experience….Big trees, bikes, and lots of summer sunshine are the essence of downtown Chico….This artwork is hand-drawn and painted in the watercolor technique by Jeffrey Michael George, Architectural Illustration.  Jeffrey lives in Chico, and creates many architectural illustrations for projects located in northern California and the San Francisco bay area.

Architectural Renderings of Veterans Housing for Menlo Park, California

Architectural Renderings of Veterans Housing for Menlo Park, CaliforniaFeatured here are two renderings I did recently of a proposed housing project for Menlo Park, California.  When built, this housing facility will occupy a portion of the Department of Veterans Affairs campus on Willow Road.  The architect is VMWP, or Van Meter Williams Pollack of San Francisco, California–and my client.  Due to my involvement with VMWP over some 30 years, I was asked to lend my hand in illustrating this building’s design–and most importantly, the landscaping surrounding the building that was envisioned.  Two perspective views were requested, both looking at the new structure from Willow Road–one view from the East and one from the West.  These are pedestrian eye-level views–viewpoints one would experience while walking, riding, or driving along Willow Road.  The Menlo Park community was keenly interested in what they would see from the roadway, especially since the site has been vacant for many years.  So change is coming–and they want to be assured that the proper attention is being given to softening the impact of that change.  Hopefully not a stark change, but instead, a welcome addition to their neighborhood.  As the consultant charged with illustrating the project, I was given the landscape design created by Jett Landscape + Design of Orinda, California.  Referring to these drawings, I incorporated the landscape design into the renderings, faithfully showing the plants and trees selected by the landscape architect in their correct locations near the building.  Part of the landscape in Menlo Park is the entourage of massive, old growth trees–oaks, pines and redwoods that exist on most building sites.  In these illustrations, I actually showed some transparency to these large trees–not realistic, but citing artistic license, I felt this was appropriate–if anything, these renderings diminish the softening effect of the massive grove of existing trees which will remain.  These illustrations are hand-drawn and colored in the color pencil technique by Jeffrey Michael George, Architectural Illustration.  Jeffrey creates many architectural illustrations for projects located in the San Francisco area, including San Mateo, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Woodside, Portola Valley,  Atherton, & Los Altos Hills.Architectural Renderings of Veterans Housing for Menlo Park, California

Watercolor Painting of Gamble House in Pasadena By Greene & Greene

Completed a few days ago, my watercolor painting of the Entry Foyer of the Gamble House, built in 1908 in Pasadena, California….It’s a personal favorite of mine because I first saw it as a young man, and it made a great impression on me….This would have been in the late 1960’s, when I was a young teen, and very much interested in architecture….At that time, it was “an old house” already–dark and stodgy, old-fashioned–certainly out of step with the wild 1960’s scene outside….But there was no denying its originality both in terms of design and unique craftsmanship….What struck me was not only the aesthetics and beauty, but the novel ways the pieces of this architecture were put together….without nails basically–instead the builders used finely-crafted cuts and joints like dovetail and mortise and tenon….custom steel straps and fittings each made with care by artisans….leaded glass and custom light fixtures….hand-built furniture….clinker bricks were used extensively–which were the brick factory’s mistakes–something the architects saw as beautiful…. Built by the architects Greene & Greene, the house was designed as a winter residence for the Gamble family of Cincinnati–of Proctor & Gamble notoriety….Watercolor Painting of Gamble House in Pasadena By Greene & GreeneThe following information is borrowed from the Gamble House website:  “Charles Sumner Greene (1868-1957) and Henry Mather Greene (1870-1954) were brothers born in Brighton, Ohio, now part of Cincinnati. The boys spent part of their childhood living on their mother’s family farm in West Virginia while their father, Thomas, attended medical school in St. Louis, Missouri. The brothers developed a love of nature during those West Virginia years that would be ever-reflected in their art.  Their father decided for them that the two should become architects, and at his urging, enrolled at the School of Architecture of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Then in 1893, their parents, who had moved to the “little country town” of Pasadena, requested that their sons move out to California and join them. The brothers did so, and the cross-country trip proved fortuitous: while passing through Chicago, they stopped at the World’s Columbian Exhibition and for the first time saw examples of Japanese architecture. Their immediate admiration of the style would become a strong influence on their later designs.”  Charles was particularly infatuated with Japanese architecture–and it proved to motivate and influence him throughout his career….I enjoyed painting this view as a kind of tribute to the profound impression it made so many years ago….# 6 on my Top Ten List !

Architectural Rendering of Renovated Building Converted to Housing the Homeless

This episode will feature an architectural illustration I created a few weeks ago for a good client of mine, an architect in San Francisco, California….Van Meter Williams Pollack, LLP….But the project–the building shown here–is in San Rafael, California….It’s an existing building which will be repurposed as housing for the recently homeless population in the area….Architectural Rendering of Renovated Existing Building in San Rafael, CaliforniaFor this episode, I’d like to concentrate on the rendering from an artist’s standpoint….in other words, the challenges and goals that I faced as the illustrator, charged with creating an engaging image which would be utilized to show the developer what the finished project would look like when completed….For example the ribbon windows were located under a shade canopy, a situation which called for showing the glass in this area as reflective to give life and lightness to the rendering….it also helps to vary the colors and reflectivity to create visual interest….The solid parts of the building were a neutral gray, so it was especially important to show visual interest in the glass areas….I also chose to show the cars as fairly colorful in this view–as a counterpoint to the neutral grays of the building….As the artist, cars are one of those things of which you have ultimate control….if they need to be colorful to give the artwork balance, then that’s what you do….The human figures fall into that category as well….I generally place the most colorful folks place near a focus of the drawing–maybe an entrance to the building, or an outdoor water feature–something that I want the viewer to see first and foremost….Another challenge for me was the large evergreen trees in front of the building to the left in this view….In reality these redwoods are so dense with foliage, they would preclude any view of the building behind them….I took artistic license to show these trees in a semi-transparent fashion to show both the extent of the tree coverage and some semblance of the building behind since this is not a portrait of this building–but rather a visualization of a renovation project….I hope you enjoyed this episode–Jeffrey Michael George works with many California architects as a freelance illustrator, creating architectural renderings in color pencil and watercolor which bring their design ideas to life !

Watercolor Painting of Derby House Designed by Lloyd Wright

Watercolor Painting by Jeffrey Michael George of Lloyd Wright's Derby House


This is my watercolor painting of a home in L. A. designed by Lloyd Wright, architect….that’s right, I said Lloyd Wright–not Frank Lloyd Wright….I used to see this house while riding home from high school on my ten-speed bicycle….I was fascinated by it–and had no idea it was designed by a famous architect….In fact the house is the best-known work of Frank Lloyd Wright’s eldest son, known alternatively as Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr., or Lloyd Wright….I always wondered what it must have been like to be Frank Lloyd Wright’s son–no pressure, right ?  Built in 1926, this residence showcases his genius of integrating nature and building; the garage gates, fireplace grates, French door grills, and closets are abstract renderings of the yucca plants growing on the surrounding hills and the pre-cast concrete ornamentation adorning this home is of Mayan inspiration–the preceding statement was quoted from the real estate agent which recently listed the property at $ 3.3 Million….The Derby House is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Mayan Revival–style residence is clad in ornamental concrete textile blocks cast in sand from the nearby Chevy Chase Canyon….The 3,281-square-foot home was commissioned by businessman James Derby for his family, but he and his wife separated before the home was completed, so only she and their children ever lived there…. I would have been riding by from about 1966 to 1973, since I started driving back and forth to Glendale High School in my senior year (1974)….It was always a great mystery, and a great source of inspiration for a blossoming architectural student….It’s been a pleasure to paint my “portrait” of this home so many years later….This painting is my fifth in a series of watercolor paintings to explore any talent I may have with this medium….All the subjects of these paintings are works of architecture that were meaningful to me as a young architect–kind of a Top Ten for me personally, if you will.,…Thank You, –Jeffrey Michael George, Architectural Illustrator

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