Art vs Illustration – an opinion – Ink with (God forbid) the use of a ruler

I read Boofredlay’s thread
and have had this on my drawing board ever since, putting a few lines in each day. It is not a proper “plan/blueprint” as its copied from a photograph which has some horizontal perspective showing. I’ve added a comment to the above thread which is intended to augment what I’m trying to say here.

This is an observation of Bute House, Charlotte Square, Edinburgh – the residence of Scotland’s First Minister. It was designed by Robert Adam and, in my opinion, speaks volumes about his design process.

It can be fascinating to actually observe what was in his mind as he designed works such as this. There seems, in my opinion, to be two main considerations.

The first is the proportions of the actual building which starts with the blocks which face the main entrance. Their dimensions are almost perfect with their length about 1.4 times their height. The gaps between them measure 0.1 of the length. I know this as I’ve actually measured them but cannot remember the actual sizes. The sizes dictate the shaped blocks which face the lintels over the doors but, in order to keep things in proportion, a set amount of these are used. All blocks, whether shaped or rectangular are laid in a perfect horizontal symmetry about a vertical centre line. This would have dictated the width of the main entrance and therefore the proportions of the fan light, side windows and door itself. I suspect that the door would be custom made to fit the remaining gap. This would have been quite expensive so all this work is only done at street level. The first and second floors are faced with large, plain blocks but some attempt has been made to make them aesthetically pleasing hence the stucco carving above the window on the first floor. The windows themselves are the traditional “sash and casement” type which are still used today. The “lights” (panes of glass) have the same proportions – 1:1.4 as the outside gap and this leads to the normal 12 light double sash. The upper floors are plainer still as is the basement, which is not really shown here. All attempts are therefore concentrated at street level but the whole building is beautiful when viewed from a distance. All of this, and lots more – no room to expand here, are an attempt to consider the aesthetic qualities, to make it look good.

The second consideration is the function of the building. The grander parts, at street level, are the most eye-catching. As you go upwards to the first floor it remains the same size but is plainer. The upper floor is smaller in height while the basement is cramped. The Ground floor, at street level, and the first floor were used by the house owners and were the grandest. The second floor and attic would be used by the servants and would be accessed by stairs at the back of the house. The basement contained the kitchen and would have also been used to take delivery of all goods including coal. This building functioned as a well-oiled machine of which Corbusier would have approved

The whole point of all of this is it pays to really look at details in our surroundings to work out why things are as they are. The artist or illustrator will get this across in the way he or she knows best.