2H or Not 2H

Conversation about digital vs. manual drawing, between me, Laura Kraft (L) and fellow Seattle artist/architect Anita Lehman (A).

L: I have seen on Facebook that you are using the iPad Pro, and are awaiting delivery of the Apple Pencil.

As you may know, I do my architectural drafting by hand, which I prefer hugely over staring into a computer doing CAD. Yet, a few years ago, I was bitten by a bug to create art using Photoshop Elements, a “junior” version of Photoshop, (now no longer available). So I ended up spending hours staring into a computer screen despite myself. The irony of my hand-drafting stance, expressed in my blog 2H Pencil, contrasting with my computer-aided art activity, has not escaped me.

But I have almost 60 years of history with the mess and delight of wet paints and inks. Few things thrill me like a new sketchbook. I think you understand these feelings better than almost anyone else.

It’s time for me to upgrade my very old and slow iPad 2. I feel the siren song of the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil. Yet I wonder if it is a temporary seduction that will wear off, in which case, I can just get the latest and greatest regular sized iPad. I’m somewhat torn.

So I have a few questions for you. Do you think that when the novelty of creating images on the iPad wears off, you will end up preferring “manual art?”

A: Manual art is the only way. The iPad is a great tool for teaching and to layout concepts for ‘studio’. One affects the other, however.

L: Do you think that the computer-aided art is of equal value to you?
I have so much to learn in the apps for drawing; hard to answer. The aspect of discovering color will be huge for me.
What about to potential art buyers?

A: I am not sure about this; not sure how they would sell.

L: Since you clearly have the skills to do anything manually that the Apple Pencil can do digitally, except to immediately create portable files of your work, is it really an improvement?

A: Portability is good; I wonder where the tool will take me.go to:http://painterskeys.com/pick-up-your-tool/

L: Or is it so exciting and fun that it is just a desirable and great additional tool for your work?

A: Yes, an additional tool.

L: Do you feel any need to defend/support/protect manual art from the digital tidal wave?

A: As long as folks are ‘doing’; I see the tool as a positive force.

L: Just not sure if the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil represent a colossal impulse buy, or something I will never regret buying.

A: Have you tried the pencil? Like any technology product; there is always an even better tool around the corner. I went for it; design in color is my next hurdle; the iPad will be a great aid for me.

L: Part of me feels a bit ashamed of my susceptibility to the gorgeous marketing campaign. Part of me feels I NEED these new toys.

A: All good. Pencil on Paper is still my mode; thinking and creating and falling into the zone. That is yet to happen on the iPad; soon, I hope.

L: I would appreciate your thoughts on these matters.

A: Great questions Laura. Hope this helps.


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I invite your comments.

New Toy

A while back, when I taught art in a high school, I conducted an experiment in moving lines from the paper into the air. In the library, we researched and made line drawings of insects and other small creatures. The next day, using wire and pliers, we manipulated the lines in space. It was fun! The unclaimed 3D line drawings ended up on my mantle at home.

bug 4

I appreciate their embodied energy, and their economical structural integrity .

Bug 1

bug 2

Recently, I obtained a 3Doodler 2.0, a device which enables one to create lines in the air using molten ABS plastic, the stuff of Legos.


In theory, this new toy presents a vast array of opportunities. In reality, first, there is a learning curve. I will have to internalize:

  • the rate of the material’s cooling.
  • the variable speed and thickness of the material’s flow from the instrument tip.
  • the strength and plasticity of the material.


My first efforts: pyramids. I’ve got a long way to go.

A recent review notes the following:

“Honestly, you’re not going to make many practical, functional, or truly useful objects with 3Doodler … it’s really just a fun artistic tool. If you’re looking for a legit 3D printer that you can make useful objects with, you should definitely look elsewhere…

That said, if you like the idea of drawing objects in three dimensions, without having to jump over all the hurdles that lie between ideation and creation (like software, computer models, and properly calibrated machinery) then the newest 3Doodler should definitely be in your artist’s toolkit.”

I look forward to making some objects. Perhaps they will be models of conceptual products. As likely, they will be one-offs. Or is that ones-off?

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I invite your comments.

The Death of Drawing?

I applaud Sophia A. Gruzdys, the author of this review, for taking a stand against this book’s argument that drawing is no longer a viable tool for architects.

1503-The-Death-of-Drawing_coverRead the review: The Death of Drawing: Architecture in the Age of Simulation | Book Review | Architectural Record.

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Color Options

My client chose a particular rich dark green siding and black window trim for their Craftsman bungalow. I presented them with options for the remaining  trim and door colors. Then I made this quick GIF animation for fun.


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This post is an answer to question posed in the previous blog post:

Q.  “Who are we?”

A.  We are grotesques, inlaid into the terra cotta floor of the Reading Room in the Laurentian Library, in Florence, Italy.

libreriaThe Library’s Entry Vestibule and Reading Room were designed by Michelangelo. They are notable because of the radical ways in which architectural elements are used without strict adherence to their traditional/ expected/functional roles. The tall vestibule, an interior room, is made to feel like an outdoor courtyard, literally outside-in.  There are large corbels (brackets) that don’t physically hold anything up, and window-frames surrounding planes of opaque stone rather than glass.

It is a prime example of the style called Mannerism. From Wikipedia, “Mannerism is notable for its intellectual sophistication as well as its artificial (as opposed to naturalistic) qualities. Mannerism favors compositional tension and instability rather than the balance and clarity of earlier Renaissance (work).”

I had been taught that the Laurentian Library was both conceived of and fleshed out by Michelangelo. Because of this, I thought that the faces inlaid in the floor were made from sketches by Michelangelo. However, in a correspondence with Leonard Barkan, a scholar, currently at Princeton University, with many deep interests including Literature, History, Art History, Classics, and Meaning, I learned that this was not the case. He wrote:

The faces on the floor of the Laurentian Library are indeed interesting, in the fashion of grotteschi, which were a widely diffused style of decoration throughout the sixteenth century and beyond.  They probably don’t have much to do with Michelangelo himself.  The Library was realized from what appear to have been his very generalized architectural designs, but he seems to have had very little input as regards the details, since it was all done after he had definitively left Florence.  And the letters we possess on the subject suggest that he wasn’t very closely connected with what was going on in the construction.  The drawings for the floor were (we’re told) by Niccolò Tribolo.  For a brief account in English, see: http://www.bml.firenze.sbn.it/ing/tour_of_the_complex.htm

The inclusion of this assortment of cartoon-like heads in this stately space may have been done in order to include the wild, sensuous, and willful side of human nature along with the sublime, intellectual and religious side.

Grotesques are found in architecture throughout the world. The following Gothic examples are from the Bayeux Cathedral, in Bayeux France.



Bayeux images courtesy of  George P. Landow

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I invite your comments.