Pen and Ink Drawing of a Modern Home

I’ve been recently posting a series of architecturally historic buildings that I have drawn in pen and ink, but I’ve found modern homes to be great subjects as well. I was commissioned to draw this home in the Doylestown area for use on the family’s Christmas card a few years back.

I love the setting, with the rambling driveway from which you get a long lovely look at the home as you approach, the sleigh decoration on the front lawn, and the symmetry of the building.

I’m open for more commissions such as this, though I do get busy as the holidays approach; so if you are interested I’d appreciate a note sooner rather than later.

To see some of my other house portraits click here, here, here, here or here.

A Turn-of-the-20th-Century Home in Pen and Ink

Here is another of my pen-and-ink drawings of architecturally-notable houses of Doylestown, PA. This house may be termed vernacular Victorian – vernacular architecture is characterized by the use of local materials and knowledge, usually without the supervision of professional architects. It is a simple and practical style with none of the fancy gingerbread trim of high Victorian buildings.

(c) Pat Achilles

I’m working on drawing another house down the street from this one, and will post it soon. Illustrations like this look lovely when framed and can also be used for personalized stationery and holiday cards for homeowners. If you’d like to inquire on my fees for illustration please drop me a note on my Contact page.

More Pen and Ink Bucks County Houses

In addition to the house drawing I posted a few days ago, I also drew these two lovely homes a number of years back, for the St. Paul’s Church Christmas in Doylestown House Tour. I used pen and ink, which I think gives a timeless quality to a drawing.

The first is a two-story colonial with a charming wrought iron fence and gate and a bracket portico over the front door. It was designed by local builder Jay Maxwell.

The house below, behind a stately crenellated stone fence, was built by Asher Cox in 1828 and is the oldest brick house in Doylestown borough. It was sold in 1831 to cabinet maker Lester Rich for $600!

I’ll post some more ink drawings from my picturesque home town soon.

Animated video for a business

My friend Jake Toyberman is a realtor with extensive banking and investment knowledge – having come from a banking career into real estate – and he posts tips and trends for home buyers, sellers and investors on various social media platforms. I recently worked with Jake’s media advisor, Amy Berridge, to create a fun animated intro for Jake’s short but insightful posts.

To show Jake and Amy what I pictured for the intro, I roughed out pencil sketches of homes, condos and keywords and faded them into a scene using Windows MovieMaker. Click the triangle to play the rough animation.

I drew a caricature of Jake and dropped him into the scene, along with some of his business contact info.

After getting good feedback from Amy and Jake, I added more contact information, and then drew the finished artwork. Jake said he liked the look of the black & white artwork and I agreed, so we kept the intro black/white, and I found some fun music to overlay the video, (music by: http://www.bensound.com) completing the upbeat feel of the intro.

Music: http://www.bensound.com

And just recently Amy assembled the intro and Jake’s latest tips into a new post for his social media promotions.

It was a pleasure to work with Jake & Amy on this, and I recommend them both highly for their expertise!

Pen and Ink of a Grand House

I drew this elegant home in the heart of my hometown, Doylestown, PA, for a Christmas House Tour years ago. I used pen and ink, which I think brings out the textural detail in the bricks and stonework. It was built in 1910 for Doylestown merchant J. K. Musselman.

Artistacon Interview: I’ll talk about my art live Thursday morning

The fellows who run the terrific illustration conference Artistacon, Chris Kotsakis and Shaun Stipick, are creating a video archive of illustrator interviews to continue their mission of inspiring and mentoring illustrative art. These video interviews are tied to their ArtistaList project, an helpful online directory of working illustrators. They have asked me to participate and so I’m very happy to announce that the three of us will do a Facebook live stream about my artwork tomorrow, Thursday May 28 starting at 10 a.m.; and another live interview following just after that one, at around 10:45 a.m. on Twitch. I hope you’ll join us! And as soon as it’s ready I’ll post a link to the recorded interview. Here’s the info:

A Building that No Longer Exists

The Doylestown Historical Society helps to preserve many aspects of my hometown’s past, with speakers, tours and printed publications, and a very important part of that mission involves researching the historically significant buildings in this town and nearby communities. I was recently asked to develop a sketch of a building in the borough, which is no longer standing today – a shoemaker’s shop and home.

Adam Dick and his wife, originally from Germany, had six children born in Doylestown and by 1870 they were living in the borough, in a building whose left half housed their boot and shoe shop. Old maps show the house on the corner of E. State and Pine Street with a one story front porch on the shoe shop side. By 1891 the two-story wood frame house now had a one story back porch with a tin roof. The Historical Society’s researcher is Kurt Spence, who has restored many historic homes, and he sent me part of an old lithograph of the town with this tiny representation of the house from the rear –


I started with a rough sketch of the basic shape of the house, with questions for Kurt.

Happily Kurt has the building experience that I lack, and so with his corrections I replaced the front porch gable with a shed roof, and added a roof gable to the house side of the building, for the second sketch. But I still had some questions.

Finally with some finished suggestions from Kurt I was able to render the version below. It’s unfortunate that the present site is now a parking lot, but we can at least imagine a fairly close version of what our borough boot and shoe shop may have looked like in the late 19th century.

Timely Illustration for a Hotel Magazine

The topic of my monthly illustration for Lodging Magazine was updated to reflect the current health issue around the world, the corona virus.

While I did not get to read the latest article, I was briefed by the editor that the story would explain how a hotel can manage during a pandemic, including how to keep hotels clean, how to manage with a skeleton crew, what to do if a guest is sick, and what to do if the supply chain breaks down. She suggested a war room type of scene.

I started that with a rough pencil sketch –

and added tones to suggest the dramatic lighting of a war room –

The editor approved so I did a quick color sketch by printing out a copy of the sketch & using colored pencils.

After this I transferred the drawing to illustration board, redrew outlines in prisma pencil, and painted it in with acrylic washes. The finished art is below.

Sketch for the Doylestown Historical Society

The Doylestown Historical Society helps to preserve many aspects of my hometown’s past, with speakers, tours and printed publications, and a very important part of that mission involves researching the historically significant buildings in this town and nearby communities.

I was asked to develop a sketch of one building in the borough, which today houses a law firm and is a lovely two-and-a-half story Second Empire structure, pictured below.

However, this is not what it looked like in 1834 when it was first constructed. The original house, built for Dr. Hugh Meredith, was described as “a large two-story brick house on Court Street fronting the public square. A wood frame office was attached to the west side of the house” which was used for his medical office. The house had a stone foundation.

After the Civil War, the house was enlarged along with stucco over the brick and a new Mansard roof was installed by workmen for attorney George Lear. At the time it was described as the handsomest residence in the borough.

Kurt Spence, a contractor with a love of old buildings, gave me instructions on what the house probably looked like in its first iteration. He suggested three windows on the second floor instead of the current five; two windows on the ground floor, the doorway on the right, and brick walls. I started with this rough pencil sketch.

Once Kurt saw this he could recommend changes based on his knowledge of construction. He said the two dormers in the roof would have been located in the spaces between the three windows; a double doorway for the main entrance would have been more likely, and a stone foundation would have shown below the bricks, about level with the door stoop. The windows would have had working shutters, and the panes would have been six over six at that time, because large panes of glass were not readily available. He recommended a chimney at the gable end between the two structures, so fireplaces could have heated those central rooms. And he suggested a wrought iron fence enclosing the yard.

My finished sketch, says Kurt, is a pretty good representation of what the house would have looked like for Dr. Meredith in the early 19th century. And I’m pleased to know more about the history of my town!