Paul Stevenson Oles, FAIA is an architect, an architectural illustrator, co-founder of American Society of Architectural Illustrators, a legend in the field of visualization and a good friend. He illustrated many of I.M.Pei’s famous buildings in his iconic style of pencil drawing which has even been reproduced in Google SketchUp as four different PSO assorted styles!
I featured one of Steve’s recent drawings for I.M.Pei, the Doha Museum of Islamic Art in my new book Drawing Shortcuts and wanted to revisit the project and ask steve to tell the story about the evolution of his illustration. The photo above shows Steve and I.M. at Fleur de Sel in NYC on August 12, 2003.
Below is a timeline of the development of this incredible architectural rendering is Steve's own words:
(l.) I.M.Pei showing me the Helmut Jacoby drawing that he decided I should supersede. He saw 'the quality of light' in Jacoby's drawing as 'too German'...he'd also had a Chinese rendering factory do an illustration - for $700, as I recall - which he discarded. (Mine, incidentally, finally came to $18,000.)
(r.) The quality of light, as mentioned, was of paramount concern in the case of this drawing. Although not precisely the 'Gulf light' with which we were dealing in Doha - this image of the Taj Mahal struck a value and chromatic balance between sunlit and shade side (and sky color) which I.M. found appealing. We used it therefore, at his urging, as something of a model for our drawing.
That Chinese rendering I mentioned...like the Jacoby, it was taken from an elevated height, something I believe I.M. did not find persuasive. You can show these geometries convincingly by model, whereas eye levels are more 'democratic', and the thing that drawings often do best.
August 12, 2003. This was my first value sketch, done at the restaurant (over a small wireframe print, the angle of which I had chosen), signed off by Pei.
August 25, 2003. This is the first 'office' value study after the 12 August 'napkin sketch'. This was obviously done over a wireframe print, generated in the Pei office. The intricate coursing lines unintentionally imparted too much darkness to the building surfaces. This required a 'dark building/light sky' configuration--opposite to our intention, and the Taj relationship.
August 28, 2003. This study eliminated the coursing, but still maintained the building/sky value relationship. It was impossible to show the material of the structure as 'light' in this context.
September 3, 2003. For this study I switched to a photoshop value/color study, finally showing the sky as sufficiently dark to foil the lighter building. The cyber programs make it easier and quicker to change large areas of tone than do the more laborious hand toning.
September 15, 2003. There was a great deal of attention paid by I.M., and me, to the proportion of the drawing. He almost always preferred a more horizontal, wider format that I did, but we came to agreement finally.
September 18, 2003. This 18 September progress image shows my preference for completing the surrounding context first, especially when it needs to be darker (as determined by the value studies.)
Late September, 2003. The black and white (first original) final drawing.
Early October, 2003. The final retrocolor print (second original). The original black and white image was photographed, printed (larger, and slightly lighter) on textured, toothy paper, mounted to board and hand colored with wax base (Prismacolor) pencils. This allows a certain amount of very fine, final tuning of values as well as the imparting of subtle color. Saturated, intense colors are difficult or impossible with this procedure, but none were required in this case.
As a postscript, it is interesting to compare my Museum of Islamic Art drawing (2003) with my 1978 drawing of an earlier Pei project in Doha. This was done on a tan toned board to suggest the unrelenting heat of the region. The more recent drawing might be accused of being suggestive of a somewhat more temperate climate, possibly more like the Taj...but everyone including the Emir of Qatar (I.M.'s client) seemed pleased with the final image.
Here is a side-by-side comparison of the original 2003 drawing with a recent photograph of the completed museum.