Preserving Eichler Homes in Pencil Point

Eichler Drawing
Jeffrey Crussell catches the complex, compelling geometry of an Eichler in this detailed sketch. Copyright 2010-2014 Jeffrey Crussell

He’s an architectural designer, developer, abstract artist, and professional illustrator – but Jeffrey Crussell is also an Eichler homeowner and he celebrated that fact by creating 50 portraits of nearby Eichlers.

“I really love them and I’m a champion for what they are,” Crussell says. “Also, I’m interested in their preservation. I see a lot of changes that are unwarranted among the 340 homes in Orange.”

Crussell says he drew the illustrations “somewhat generically so anyone who had that [model] would enjoy the drawing, and it wouldn’t be so site-specific that they’d say, ‘that’s not my house.’ ”

Crussell and his wife, artist Pamela Grau, live in a Claude Oakland model in Fairhills, one of three Eichler tracts in the city of Orange.

The drawings, done as a year-long project in 2010, have been shown many times, recently at the San Mateo Highlands Eichler house tour. Limited-edition prints remain for sale through his website and he also sells a book that collects all 50 of the pictures.

Cat House
Jeffrey Crussell in his Eichler home in the city of Orange. Courtesy of Jeffrey Crussell

Crussell, who trained as an architect in the 1970s, turned mainly to architectural illustration when illustrations he did for one client attracted his colleagues. “Other architects would ask, ‘Oh would you do a drawing for a project I’m designing?’ And it just exploded.”

Among the architects for whom he produced illustrations was Frank Gehry. Portfolios of many of his illustrations are available online.

Some of his drawings are more sketch-like. Copyright 2010-2014 Jeffrey Crussell

A recent set of abstract paintings, derived from how a new subdivision would appear as seen from overhead, “deals with the overall philosophy of society, how we react with each other, with poverty and wealth,” he says.

Torn sections of canvas suggest poverty, and pearlescent sections suggest wealth. The message? “We’re all here. The painting looks beautiful and balanced, it comes together as a unity, just as we all do at the end of the day.”

When not creating art, Crussell works in development, creating master plans for new neighborhoods developed by the Irvine Co. in Irvine, and does some developing on his own, including restoring then reselling homes.

And if that’s not enough, he sells real estate – focusing on Eichler homes in Orange County. Busy man indeed.

“I’d get bored if I were on a production line,” he says, “and I had to fit one bolt into one hole all day.”

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