Sunday, July 29, 2018

There’s No Place Like Home

7/2/18 Maple Leaf neighborhood

Familiarity breeds contempt.

Maybe contempt isn’t the right term – it’s certainly not how I feel about this house – but ever since I started my series on Maple Leaf neighborhood architecture, I knew that I would eventually get around to sketching my own house, yet I procrastinated quite a while. I’m too familiar with all of its details – flaws as well as favorable features – so the thrill of exploration and discovery wasn’t there as it is with other subject matter. Still, it was always in the back of my mind.

One day the week before we left for Portugal, I came home from an errand and looked up at our house as I pulled into the garage. Although the sun was darting in and out of clouds, making capturing shadows tricky, I liked the light in front. The sketching temperature was comfortable. Before I could make excuses, I grabbed my bag and marched across the street.

I had decided that I would try to be as objective as possible and approach it the same way I approach any house. Although I expected it to be challenging – it has the kind of dormer and column-flanked porch that I avoid – drawing it was more difficult than I thought. When I got to the siding’s color, I started obsessing about getting the shade of blue right (and suddenly I recalled all the many paint chips we shuffled before settling on this particular blue), and in doing so, it got too dark. I would normally apply water to the colored pencil to give siding a smoother look, but I knew that would make it look even darker, so I left it mottled like stucco.

And then there’s the landscaping in front. It’s nothing special, but if it had been any other house in the ‘hood, I probably would have scribbled some green and been done with it. Somehow, though, I felt compelled to include details like our lavender (which I had just sketched a few days prior) and our little red Japanese maple (which the landscape gardener we had hired to design our plantings incorrectly spec’d, and I’m still annoyed that we didn’t get the type of maple we really wanted). None of these details is important to the sketch, but I found myself obsessively including them.

I ended up spending maybe 50 percent longer on this sketch than on an average house sketch; including all that baggage takes time.

In any case, I’m glad it’s done and no longer hanging over my head. I thought it was an appropriate sketch for today, now that I’m back from Portugal – filled with rich memories but happy to be home.

(See that roof window on the left? I’m sitting right there as I type this.)


  1. Good sketch! Welcome home!! I've never sketched my house as I think it's kinda boring.

    1. Thank you! I love traveling, but I always love coming home even more!

      - Tina

  2. You habha lovely house, Tina! The blue is beautiful.

  3. Nice job on your house! I can see how being too familiar with it made it more difficult to sketch it the way you usually do because certain "things" are part of what you think of when you picture your house.


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