Sunday, June 29, 2014

Drawing Western Avenue in Muskegon, Michigan


I thought I'd share the process of how I draw.  For the subject, I decided on drawing Western Avenue in my hometown of Muskegon, Michigan.  It's the main street of downtown which has been bulldozed and rebuilt about every other generation.  Somehow, both of these buildings, the Russell Block to the left and the Century Club to the right, have been able to survive since the 1890s.  Anyway, this is how I draw.

 I've measured out a piece of paper to fit an 8" x 10" frame.  I've also added a border.  I like to leave an edge to the paper just in case someone decides to change the frame in the future.  It allows more flexibility for using mats and different size frames.  Next, I tape the paper down to my drawing board and prepare to sketch.


So, I sketch out my general lines in pencil.  I place various points of reference.  For example, I've used the edge of the street and rooflines to keep everything in balance. 


Once I have my reference points, I move into framing the structures.  I really like bold, straight lines that border on architectural drafting.  


This is the nitty-gritty.  From the outside of the building, you can usually see where the support beams are located.  In mid-century Modernist building they tend to be completely exposed.  But, in Victorian-era structures they are more subtle and hidden.  Most of my pencil lines are used to find the underlying structure so I can apply the facade appropriately.


The outline of the Century Club is now complete. 


The restored Western Avenue now has a median.  I had to sketch this in before moving on to the Russell Block building because it is in the foreground.  Then to the van, sidewalk, and the first floor of the structure.  From there, I worked my way up the building using the initial support beams as my guides once again.   


The outline is complete. 


 Then, I add the ink wash.  I like to add an organic wash to counter-balance the rigid drafting technique.    It takes the drawing out of the realm of a photograph and places it into a memory or dream.


The landscaping was particularly fun on this project. 


A detail of the cars. 


And, we're done.  We have a drawing celebrating the crown jewel of Muskegon's downtown.

Add it to a frame and hang it on your wall. 


Or place it on your mantle.  

Have any questions?  Let me know.

Western Avenue In Muskegon, Michigan, 2014
Pen and ink on paper
8" x 10"
© copyright Mike Kraus

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