I started to draw professionally in the spring of 1982. As a self-taught artist, I developed my skills by reading books about drawing and studying pen and ink drawings through books and magazines. In my youth, I worked with my father during the summers building houses, so I was naturally attracted to architecture. Because of my knowledge of home construction, I am amazed by the skill and craftsmanship of early carpenters.
All of my brothers entered in the trades. I was the lone brother who took more interest in the visual element of home construction over the physical labor of building. I used to watch my father, with pencil in hand, lay out his plans for his spring projects. That is when my love of drawing began. I remember designing my own "future home" and showing it to my father. He would look it over carefully, point out what was good and what would not work. He would even laugh at a strangely designed roof or room and inform me of its impracticality. My father died when I was seventeen. He never knew that I was laying the groundwork for a career in drawing. A career that would have me, at this point in time, create over 7,000 drawings of Illinois architecture. He will never know that I have published over 40 books of community architecture throughout Illinois. He will never know that for 12 years I published a magazine, The Illinois Review.
One day I learned that Frank Lloyd Wright had penned over 20,000 original drawings. I set that as my goal. I have followed the work of a Southern Illinois artist, Roscoe Misselhorn. Early in my career, his work inspired me to move forward. He was drawing well into his 90s when he died. So, if I live as long, I have a chance to reach the 20,000 plateau.
I love the act of discovery while driving through a community to see what it has to offer. I rarely ever leave without finding interesting architecture. I look at neighborhoods as my museum. I am never disappointed and always find something somewhere to compare to other communities. I seek the unusual. Since 2005, I have combined my love of cooking with my work. I have produced numerous recipe books with my drawings of local historical sites. This combination brings forward the architecture, local history, and the food the people of that region enjoy. It is yet another step in working towards my goal of 20,000 drawings of Illinois architecture.
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