Get Inspired by Stephen H. Willard

Stephen H. Willard (American, 1894-1966), five-color printed postcard on linen finish, reproduced from hand-colored originals, c. 1940-1960. Gift of Dr. Beatrice Willard. © Palm Springs Art Museum


What city are you from, do you live in, or do you want to visit? Outline the letters of your chosen location and draw scenes of what makes your place iconic and the things you love about it.

Stephen Hallet Willard (1894-1966) was raised in Corona, CA where his interest in landscape photography began at an early age, and he developed an accomplished practice focused on the desert, the mountains, and the plant life. He established a photography gallery in downtown Palm Springs in 1921 where he sold photographs, photo-paintings, and a series of postcards he developed to market to tourists. Palm Springs became a popular winter playground in the early 20th century, and Willard’s postcards show the carefree lifestyle that attracted visitors from around the world.


  • Drawing paper or plain white paper
  • Ruler or straight edge (this can be a book or piece of thick paper)
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Colored pencils, markers, or crayons


Step 1 

Using a pencil, outline the letters of your chosen location on a sheet of paper. Make sure there will be enough space to draw within the shapes.

Tip: Use a ruler to measure the spacing and size of your letters. You can also use the ruler or another straight edge to make the lines.

Step 2

Think about what makes your city iconic and things you like about the location. Sketch your ideas within the letters. You might consider using each shape to create a different scene or the entire place-name to depict one continuous image.

Tip: After you have outlined your letters, make a copy by tracing it onto another piece of paper (or use a photocopier). Practice sketching your scenes on the copy before you draw your final ideas onto the original.

Step 3

Once you have finalized your sketch, add colors. With a dark pencil or pen, re-trace the letters to make the outlines bold. Erase any pencil marks from your sketching.

Optional: Add shadow boxes to each letter to create dimension on your letter scenes.

Step 4

Finalize your letter scenes with additional details. Think about blending and color mixing when shading in your scenes.