By Sheldon Richard Kostelecky
Boston’s own nationally-known and award-winning architectural illustrator Frank Costantino conducted a well-attended two-day Beaux Arts-style watercolor workshop held at the Boston Architectural College on March 12-13th. It was hosted by the New England chapter of the ICA & CA and generously sponsored by chapter member Jan Gleysteen, AIA of Jan Gleysteen Architects. The eight participants included New England architects, landscape architects and others interested in developing basic traditional wash techniques in the academic style. Methods for rendering shade and shadow, materials, trees and skies in detail, section and elevation were demonstrated by Mr. Costantino and applied by the students in a series of progressively more complex rendering exercises.
Other topics reviewed and demonstrated included setting up the French-style Beaux Arts color palette by pre-mixing the watercolor pigments (generally muted and “grayed” colors), applying the transparent washes via a maximum of three or four layers, and running gradiant washes to emphasize the effect of ambient and bounced light and shading on architectural elements, as well as illustrating the curvature of rounded surfaces, such as columns.
Hue (and how different adjacent similar and complementary hues play off each other), and value (determining its range within the rendering) were discussed, along with techniques utilizing both shade (lighter) and shadow (darker) to achieve a three-dimensional depth to the drawing. Mr. Costantino shared his breadth of extensive professional rendering experience with the students, and all of the participants seemed enthusiastic in learning from a master.
The final exercise was to render the elevation of Thomas Jefferson’s iconic Monticello, applying the lessons learned from the various exercises over the two days. The improvement in the watercolor wash techniques among the participants (coming with various levels of skills) over the two days was quite palpable. The New England chapter of the ICA & CA would like to hold this most successful seminar annually to offer other interested people in the Boston area the opportunity to either develop or brush up their Beaux Arts wash rendering skills.