Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Still Standing

I couldn't resist this old building, located near one of the "Painted Churches" of Fayette County, Texas.  The Czech settled in this area of Texas and their place names are everywhere.  I often wonder when I see an abandoned house like this one what sort of life went on before it was left to crumble into ruin and what prompted the people to leave behind only their footprints and old wood.  Old houses and old trees are somewhat alike in that they both bear witness to earlier times and the lives that surround and inhabit them and they both also are fated to gain a beautiful texture with age.  I enjoy recording the crust of patina that comes only with a long and useful life, a patina that can be applied to people as well as to buildings. 


Pastel and Colored Pencil on paper

16 x 20

Who knows how much longer this old house will still be standing.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Detour on Route 66

Pastel and Colored Pencil on paper
16 x 20

Joe & Aggie's Cafe in Holbrook, AZ is located directly on old Route 66 and what could be better than that?  We got into Holbrook late in the afternoon and asked someone where was a good place to eat. 
"You can't go wrong by going to Joe & Aggie's", said the guy in the Historical Museum, "and I know the owner". 
They have good pie and lots of Route 66 memorabilia on the walls.  I love that sort of corny kitch.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Openings in Heaven

When I was a graduate student in Architecture School I took a course in Byzantine Architectural history.  I remember the professor talking about how the dome of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul seems visually suspended on a ring of light that floods in through numerous windows, an effect that the designers of the buildings must have intended because the Emperor Justinian’s vision to recreate Heaven on Earth was realized through the effect of light within the form of that vast space. The architects merged the technological achievements of the Romans with the magical experience the building evokes, so much so that in the tenth century a group of Russian envoys, after having visited the Hagia Sophia, reported to Tsar Vladimir I “We no longer knew whether we were in heaven or on earth…and we know not how to tell of it.” (Hagia Sophia, n.d.)

Robert Grosseteste incorporated the works of classical and Arabic scholars into his own scientific treatises, and his most innovative treatise is De Luce, in which he describes a highly original cosmogony that identifies light as the first form of the universe.  Light became more than an analogy; it became the original form of creation, and through it all of creation, including humanity can partake in the divine light, which is constant and does not change at the lunar sphere.  The renewed interest in optics and light reinforced during the late Romanesque period a desire that sacred architecture evolve to become more transparent and light-filled, allowing the divine illumination to enter unimpeded and draw those within the church into closer communion with God. 
By the 12th century, light had become synonymous to the Essence of God.  When it became necessary to repair and expand the Basilica of St. Denis in Paris, the Abbot Suger oversaw the transformation into a new building form.  Suger’s description of the rebuilding of St.-Denis echoes language from Eriugena’s translation of the Celestial Hierarchy and as this new architecture developed and spread through Europe, there emerged many variations, each region imposing its own aesthetic and functional preferences.  Several features remain constant, among these the goal to increase the interior height, illumination and visual barriers between the differing segments of the structure.  Suger intended that there be as few obstacles to the path of light throughout the building as possible, in essence, his intention was to flood the interior with light, and thereby separating the building from the earthly realm and elevating it to the Heavenly plane.  Light provided the link between the physical and the non-physical world, between the visible and invisible and between Man and his Creator.  An inscription on the door at St. Denis reads
 The dull mind rises to truth through that which is material
 And, in seeing this light, is resurrected from its former submersion. (htt)
This colored pencil drawing entitled "Madison Dome" was done from a picture I took while visiting the Wisconsin State Capitol Building.  I was there to attend a Convention of the American Society of Architectural Illustrators and before I was scheduled to go to several seminars a friend and I had the opportunity to see some of the sights of the city as well as travel around Wisconsin for about a week.   
It’s no different trying to capture the fleeting light within a building than it is to wait for the perfect moment in which the sunset is at its most sublime.  The rays of the declining sun find an opening and come streaming in, illuminating the space and changing and charging the atmosphere.  The light of the day is the sun and the lights of the night are the stars.
“Love rides a beam of light” states an Eskimo proverb, “Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.[1]  I like that imagery, that people I have at some time loved and lost sometimes come back to us, riding on a captured beam of light.

Works Cited

(n.d.). Retrieved from

Hagia Sophia. (n.d.). Retrieved from Europe Up Close:

[1] Eskimo Proverb quotes

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Casa Enrique


Pastel and Colored Pencil on paper
16 x 20
This doorway is located in Granada, Spain and the group I was traveling with stopped there because a lookout offered a beautiful view of the Alhambra, situated high up on a hillside directly opposite where we were.  There was a sign nearby that advertised traditional Flamenco.  You don't have to be born gypsy to dance Flamenco, but it sure does help because it is a dance that evolved from oppression, poverty and passion.  I love to watch it and listen to Spanish guitar provided both are done properly.  The only thing in Spain that is equal to it is eating tapas.  If I could watch Flamenco while eating tapas, I'd be one happy lady.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Destination is less important than the Journey

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”?  Lao Tzu

The destination is always less important than the journey.  In 1492 Columbus set sail in the direction of a new Continent and took with him a trunk load of assumptions.  He was ambitious and taught himself Latin, Portuguese, and Castilian, and read widely about astronomy, geography, and history, including the works of Claudius Ptolemy, Cardinal Pierre d'Ailly's Imago Mundi, the travels of Marco Polo and Sir John Mandeville, Pliny's Natural History, and Pope Pius II's Historia Rerum Ubique Gestarum. The historian Edmund Morgan once said of him,
“Columbus was not a scholarly man. Yet he studied these books, made hundreds of marginal notations in them and came out with ideas about the world that were characteristically simple and strong and sometimes wrong..” (Christopher Columbus, n.d.)

He knew he was sailing in a westerly direction but he never gave up the false ideas of where he thought he was heading.  He was living within a plan but it took him in a less interesting and certainly less accurate direction than if he had truly allowed himself the freedom of discovery.

Replicas of Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria sailed from Spain to the Chicago Columbian Exposition
E. Benjamin Andrews - Andrews, E. Benjamin. History of the United States, volume V. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. 1912.
Replicas of the Caravels Pinta, Niña and the carrack Santa Maria. Lying in the North River, New York. The two caravels and the carrack which crossed from Spain to be present at the World's Fair at Chicago.

(Nina, Pita and Santa Maria Replicas, n.d.)
In spite of his ambitions Columbus lived his life never knowing where he had been.  He believed to the end of his days that the lands he had visited were part of the Asian continent and that Marco Polo and Ptolemy had been right in a description of the world.  His refusal to believe evidence that was contrary to his beliefs led him in a direction opposite to the one that he had probably intended and that is why the America is named after the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci and not after Christopher Columbus.  (Christopher Columbus, n.d.)

Tomb in Seville Cathedral. The remains are borne by kings of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarre. (Christopher Columbus, n.d.)
Where was Christopher Columbus buried?
As an interesting sidenote, until quite recently the issue of exactly where the remains of Christopher Columbus were buried was still an issue for debate.  Five hundred years after his death it was generally accepted that his bones were interred in Seville Cathedral, but the route that his body took to get to that place became somewhat convoluted over time.  The remains were first buried in Valladolid and then at the monastery of La Cartuja in Seville but in 1542, at the insistence of Columbus' son Diego, his body was transferred to Santo Domingo in eastern Hispaniola. When the French took over Hispaniola in 1795 the body was moved again, this time to Havana.  Cuba became independent from Spain following the Spanish-American War in 1898, and Columbus was moved for the fourth time back to Seville and laid to rest in the Cathedral.  The remains were put into an elaborate catafalque, and the sarcophagus is carried by the statues of four king each representing the Kingdoms of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarre.  Christopher Columbus, it seems, traveled almost as far after he was dead as he did during his three famous voyages to the New World.  After his final internment, a lead box bearing an inscription identifying "Don Christopher Columbus" and containing fragments of bone and a bullet was discovered at Santo Domingo in 1877 thereby issuing the question "How many bodies of Christopher Columbus are they and where are they buried?"  DNA evidence finally answered that question; the remains that are in the sarcophagus in Seville are the remains of the Adventurer and Explorer. 
It wasn't the Tomb of Columbus that first impressed me when I entered the Cathedral; it was the unearthly golden glow that fills the entire interior of the vast space, an illumination that comes from light reflected off of the vast Gothic retablo of 45 carved scenes from the life of Christ.  This work of Art was the lifetime labor of a single craftsman, Pierre Dancart, and it is the masterpiece of the cathedral.  Not only is it the largest and finest example of Gothic woodcarving in the world, the entire height and breadth of it is covered in sheets of solid gold; Aztec gold, brought to Spain from the Americas. 
I walked behind the statues and took the picture that became this colored pencil drawing, and the intention was to try and capture some impression of that golden glow, like a heavenly radiance but tinged with blood.
TOMB OF COLUMBUS by Catherine L. Gauldin
Pastel and Colored Pencil
16 x 20
Collection of the artist

The image shows the nave of the Cathedral illuminated in contrast to the dark silhouette of the Tomb of Columbus, held aloft for eternity by the four kings of Spain. 
For an interesting perspective on the world as seen through the eyes of the great explorer, view the image of the Columbus Map

Works Cited
Christopher Columbus. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia:
Christopher Columbus. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia:
Nina, Pita and Santa Maria Replicas. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia:

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Spreading Oaks

Pastel and Colored Pencil on paper
16 x 20

This white house embraced by old, spreading oak trees is located near Brenham, Texas in a little place called Independence.  How cool it must be to sit on that wide porch and watch the birds with a nice glass of iced sweet tea in hand.  There's no place like Texas.
The Live Oak is the state tree of Texas and the species can live up to 200 years.  According to the Texas Forest Service the largest Live Oak in the State of Texas is in Brazoria County and has a circumference measurement of 384 inches.                                        

Friday, July 31, 2015

Fruit Stand in Paris

This small grocery was illuminated and open for business at 11 PM one night in Paris.  I happened to look down on it by accident from my hotel room in the St Germaine district and was delighted by the sight of all of the produce, backlit by the lights inside the little store.  The colors seemed brighter as contrasted by the dark side street. 

FRUIT STAND IN PARIS by Catherine L. Gauldin

Pastel and Colored Pencil on paper

16 x 20 


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Texaco sign

Pastel and Colored Pencil on paper
16 x 20

This abandoned building is located near Round Top, Texas.  What function it once served is hard to determine but as it stands now it serves someone as a storage building.  The windows are boarded up and in the midst of the dull grays and greens and peeling white of the small wooden structure is the bright green and red of this old Texaco sign. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

In Harness

Pastel and Colored Pencil on paper
16 x 20

I saw and photographed this beautiful horse in harness at a Fourth of July Rodeo Parade in Vale, Oregon in 2009.  He was part of a team of two matched bays and the pair of them were coming down main street and I was able to capture the image that became this Pastel and Colored Pencil drawing. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Tarrant County Courthouse in Black Prismacolor

Black Primacolor pencil on paper
16 x 20

The Renaissance Revival Tarrant County Courthouse in Dallas, Texas has a lot of nooks and crannies and the illustration took a long time to render as a consequence.  The only unfortunate aspect of drawing this building without color is that it wasn't possible to capture the lovely pink hue of the Texas granite.

I like to work in black pencil and Prismacolor gives an ultra black that's matte and isn't oily and slimy like graphite.  I also like the fact that it's relatively clean and doesn't come off on your hands.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Chicken Ranch is no more

Pastel and Colored Pencil on paper
16 x 20

Anyone who has lived in Texas for any period of time knows the story of the Chicken Ranch, an illegal but tolerated brothel that existed just outside the city limits of La Grange, Texas from 1907 until Marvin Zindler  shut it down in 1973.  Some references record it as the longest running continually operating house of prostitution in the history of the World's Oldest Profession.  Who knows and who keeps track of such information?  Local ranchers and Freshman in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M University were sorry to see it go at any rate.  Artifacts from the Chicken Ranch can still be found on ebay, and the place was the inspiration for the Broadway musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, as well as a song by ZZ Top.  You don't want to know how the place got its name.

I have no idea what the Chicken Ranch General Store has to do with the now extinct brothel, but the sign got my attention.  The store is located on Washington in La Grange and is near the Railroad tracks but the last time I was in La Grange, the owners had painted over the mural with white paint. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

La Serinisima

St Mark's Venice by Catherine L. Gauldin

Pastel and Colored Pencil on paper

1 6 x 20 

Venice has an aura of fragility about it, as if the Adriatic might overwhelm it and dissolve the buildings that look so much like lace cast into stone.  In spite of its crumbling appearance, Venice has stood since the 13th century as La Serinisima, the Serene One and the jewel in her crown is the Cathedral of St Mark's, the vast Byzantine edifice that stands in the center of the plaza and supposedly houses the relics of its namesake and the bones of the Apostle, or are they the bones of Alexander the Great? 
This image shows part of the facade replicas of the famous horses.  The original horses can still be seen but they are now in a more protected location, accessible at the top of a very steep staircase.  People always say it’s easy to get lost in Venice but that is not at all true.  No matter how far you wander through the maze of streets, generally you can find your way back to the Grand Canal and from there to San Marco.  I was traveling with a group to Italy but generally I take off by myself after the overall City Tour in order to savor the atmosphere of the place without interruption.  Sometimes I want company and sometimes I don’t want anyone else around but before we were to leave I knew I couldn’t continue in our journey without climbing to the top to gaze out across the great Plaza of San Marco and beyond over the rooftops of one of the most beautiful cities in the world. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

If it's not Baroque, don't fix it

MELK ABBEY by Catherine L. Gauldin
Pastel and Colored Pencil on paper
16 x 20
Collection of the artist 
Whereas the cavernous interior of the Basilica of St Peter in Rome is dimly lit and monumental Renaissance in scale, the interior of the chapel of Melk Abbey in Austria is a symphony of flowing Baroque exhuberance.  Particularly noteworthy is the abbey church with frescos by Johann Michael Rottmayr and the impressive library with countless medieval manuscripts.   

Melk Abbey rises on a promontory high above the Danube River and is located in Melk, between Salzburg and Vienna, Austria.  It is a Benedictine Abbey and when I was there in 2003 I was traveling with a lady who for years taught World History to High School students.  "The Baroque," she said, "was the Church's answer in Architecture to the heresy called the Reformation."  I think she may have been right; the style was the Catholic Church's own version of 'shock and awe', intended to inspire an overpowering ecclesiastical authority and presence.  

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Art of Architecture

The world is full of beautiful buildings,

and Architecture can stand alone as the subject of an interesting image. 

"Noble life demands a noble architecture" wrote Frank Lloyd Wright, "for noble uses of noble men. Lack of culture means what it has always meant: ignoble civilization and therefore imminent downfall."

Interior St. Peter's by Catherine L. Gauldin
18 x 24 Colored Pencil
Collection of the artist

Architectural Art is something other than Architectural Illustration, though both strive towards an accurate representation of buildings and the built environment.  When the structure already exists, the artistic image explores the rhelm of designed human emotion, and that is the drama of great Architecture. 

It has been said that Architectural design is as 'like' music as music is similar to any of the Arts  As an Artist whose background and training is in Architectural Design, I do not recognize a definite line of separation between any of the avenues of the inborn creative impulse but instead find my real inspiration in the process of creativity and am of the opinion that the product is always secondary to the procedure itself. 

My name is Catherine Gauldin and I have been an Architectural Illustrator since 1983.  I graduated with a degree in Architecture from Texas A&M University and with the exception of a couple of years when I worked for several Architectural firms, was engaged full time in that eye-straining yet rewarding occupation.  I have had in my life the opportunity to travel extensively in both the United States and in Europe, and I cherish both the privilege of being able to experience the great Architecture of the world and the ability to translate images that I have seen and photographed into Architectural and Fine Art. 

Sir Winston Churchill once wrote, "We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us."