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inc2ink...drawn to draw

Skip Sturtz - Plymouth Magazine

Moving from 32 years in the corporate world (inc) to follow my passion for art and drawing, I create portraits of homes, cabins, and landscapes using pen and ink on watercolor paper (ink). Ink allows me to achieve technically realistic results, but my goal is to capture the emotional and sentimental attachment that my clients have to their homes or cabins. I create lasting heirlooms and keepsakes for families, visually preserving a home and its memories for generations to come. My principal influence to draw homes is a love of all types of architecture and the older craft of hand-drawn architectural renderings.

The creative process is collaborative, beginning with a client's home photos and a discussion around any personalized additions. Next I lay out a rough pencil sketch to ensure basic composition, accurate perspective, and balance. Then begins the complex layering of detail, working from front to back carefully focusing on detail, depth, and value. Using a variety of technical pen sizes to stipple and draw, I add touches of brushed pure ink, or an ink wash, while utilizing the white paper to accurately achieve contrast between light and shadow. Ink as an art medium comes with a high risk for error, but the reward is in the visual results. I try to draw your gaze into the portrait and keep it there as long as I can.

Thank you for looking!

Skip Sturtz - Plymouth, MN

Ink Pen Graphic

my artistic process

When I begin the journey for each piece, I initiate the process by carefully selecting the source material. For my commissioned homes, I typically begin by capturing reference photographs. However, for my original pieces, I often draw inspiration from a medley of images sourced from the internet, including captivating visuals of the Moon, the towering grandeur of Mount Everest, the iconic skyline of Manhattan, or the intricate architecture of the Brooklyn Bridge.


For commissioned works, I engage in a collaborative dialogue with my clients, determining the dimensions they desire for their piece. Crafting a 7 x 9" drawing, for instance, typically demands a substantial investment of my time, ranging from 25 to 30 hours. In fact, some of my more intricate creations have demanded well over 100 hours of meticulous effort.


The canvas for each of my creations is a pristine sheet of 120lb. cold press bright white watercolor paper. Using my photos, I sketch out in pencil the general outline of a home. Armed with my collection of photos, I commence by sketching out the core structure, whether it be a residence, with its intricate details like doors, windows, and the lushness of its landscaping, or a breathtaking landscape dotted with trees. When my technical pens first touch the paper, I'm working on the foreground and moving backwards as I go. I have 1000's of in-progress photos of every piece I've done and have even recorded videos that offer insights into my techniques, such as how I let the paper itself do the work.


My work remains firmly rooted in traditional methods, there are no digital drawing applications, AI enhancements, or filters. It's all old-school measuring, straight edges, a compass, French curves, or freehand for every feature. Depending on the mistake, I've had to start over, or creatively find a way to fix it by carefully removing *scraping" ink with a razor blade. I've even had to physically cut out errors and splice in a blank paper space (rare, but it's happened). Adds character and I believe it highlights the dedication and artistry that infuse each of my creations.

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