A little Frank Lloyd Wright

November 8, 2021 | 6 Comments

Last week during my Buildings livestream, I sketched a view of Taliesin by Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW) as my Building of the Week demo.

The week before I had chosen Cologne Cathedral (see here) and I think that I surprised a number in the group by saying that I find many of FLW buildings generally are harder to sketch than a grand Gothic cathedral. The main reason is that although a cathedral has lots of details the underlying volumes are simple. FLW buildings (particularly those of the Prairie style) are challenging because:

  • the volumes are more complex, corners are cut away and volumes interlock
  • the shallow overlapping roofs have little margin for error (in terms of the angle) and also create non-standard relationships with the walls beneath
  • there is little to no surface decoration so there is nowhere to hide a wrong line.

It was a really fun demo to do (my definition of fun often implies that it was very challenging) and so I decided to do a few more FLW building sketches during the week. It was also a good excuse to get out a well-loved book – The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion by William Allin Storrer – which contains plans of all FLW’s buildings. This book sat on my desk when I worked full-time as an architect and I was constantly flipping its pages for inspiration.

Here are the four small sketches that I did during a 30-minute sketching session (sketching from photos) – with a little tone added using Pitt Warm Grey brush markers.

And then this morning I did a few more. I have left these sketches un-coloured and with my pencil setup lines still visible – but I might add colour to them later. These were sketched from a few photos I took during a morning in Oak Park the week before the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Chicago in 2017. It seems that I never scanned the sketches from that outing and shared them here on the blog.

These quick little sketches are so much fun and great for developing core architecture sketching skills (seeing volumes and angles). Hmm, I’m now wanting to do similar sketches for a few Le Corbusier houses and a few Louis Kahn houses. 🙂

Note: For those of you who have enrolled in Buildings – you can see my Taliesin demo in Livestream 3 in section B2.17 inside the classroom.


  • Jamie C says:

    These are such great sketches! I’ve always been a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright!

  • Kate Powell says:

    Love his work and thankfully have been in so many of his buildings over the years (as an architect with groups.) I sketched some of his homes long before we had urban sketchers and so forth — 30 years ago… LOVE to go back now!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Kate. Oh wow that’s so cool to visit lots of his buildings and know that feeling of wanting to go back in order to sketch!

  • Elsie Hickey Wilson says:

    We live near Madison, Wisconsin, USA and near many FLW buildings as well as many other buildings influenced by FLW . We have friends that owned- lived in FLW houses. One was a beautiful house known as the “Rudin House” for the owners. The other, one of the Pre-fabricated houses that were not well-built and had all sorts of problems! I love FLW and admit they are a challenge to draw! Thanks for this blog post.

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