Friday, March 13, 2015

Historic Brucemore Mansion Card Project

Has this happened to you? I grew up not far from Brucemore in Cedar Rapids, Iowa but it was just last Fall that I took a trip from Minneapolis down to visit it for the first time. I appreciate it now more than I did growing up when history and architecture weren't as interesting to me.

It started as an inquiry from the Gift Shop Manager, Kaycie, asking if I'd be interested in illustrating the mansion for a card for them. I take into account if I like the subject matter, if it's of interest to customers, a worthy historic and supported site and if I can take my own pictures for reference.  Yes, on all fronts and I went over with my Mom for a tour of the estate and house last October.

Brucemore is a 26 acre estate containing a 19th century mansion that 3 different families called home.  You can learn more about these families and the history of Brucemore on their site here.

Kaycie met us and gave us a walking tour of the grounds past the carriage house, which is where the Visitor Center and Gift Shop are located, as well as the gardens, green house, outdoor theatre, pond, book bindery, servant homes and around the front of the home that has a massive yard facing one of the main streets in Cedar Rapids. Here are a few of my pictures from that day:

My focus was on the front of the house where I photographed sections and details I needed for my illustration.

I worked on my drawing over the winter and sent Kaycie a pencil of Brucemore done to a card scale back in January.  It was challenging to simplify detail but leave enough to make it look right. Plus, there's always distortion with cameras, so it took many glances back over pictures to piece it all together.
After getting approval, I scanned my pencil drawing and added color in layers on my computer, starting with the background sky and moving forward to the house, front of house, and front lawn until it all came together like this:

The art has been approved and will soon be available in their gift shop. It was a fun and challenging project that has great meaning to me now. Thank you, Kaycie!

The inside of the house is wonderful, too! There's a plaster mural by a young Grant Wood in the sleeping porch. Go take a tour if you are in the Eastern Iowa area. Check out the list of other fun events happening there on their website.