Artist Digitally Draws the Seven Sisters of Montauk - 27 East


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Artist Digitally Draws the Seven Sisters of Montauk

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Benson House by Anthony Desiato.

Benson House by Anthony Desiato.

Andrew House by Anthony Desiato.

Andrew House by Anthony Desiato.

DeForest House by Anthony Desiato.

DeForest House by Anthony Desiato.

Hoyt House by Anthony Desiato

Hoyt House by Anthony Desiato

Megan Naftali on Mar 23, 2023

A 55-year-old artist from Rochester stopped drawing at 20 years old. He didn’t realize at the time that 20 years later he would lose a lot more. First, he started losing feeling in his feet, then he lost feeling in his hands and soon he was in a wheelchair.

Anthony Desiato loved his wife, Sue. She was with him through it all, took care of his wounds and did work around the house. One Super Bowl Sunday, she walked to the drugstore to pick up his medication. That night, Desiato lost a lot more, when a car came out of nowhere, hit Sue, and she died.

Heartbroken, Desiato turned to his passion for drawing and found a way to push through the lack of mobility in his hands from the neuropathy caused by diabetes. While on hold during a phone call, he noticed Microsoft Paint was open on his computer so he started doodling a house using the computer mouse.

“I was a wreck. I pulled through it with the drawings. Some people have a God, a religion. They get through it like that,” Desiato said. “There are other tools. Mine was drawing. It seemed like when I started drawing, I forgot about everything else. It’s like a form of meditation for me.”

From that moment, Desiato continued drawing houses and improved. He searched online for houses to draw, using the keywords “old house” and “wraparound porch.” He stumbled upon “Tick Hall,” one of the Seven Sisters houses in Montauk.

The house by architect Stanford White of the legendary firm McKim, Mead & White was built in the early 1880s when Arthur Benson, the developer who founded the Bensonhurst neighborhood in Brooklyn, bought 10,000 acres in Montauk for himself and his six friends, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In the 1960s, Dick Cavett, a talk show host, bought the house with his wife, Carrie. In 1997, the house burned down. Even though there was immense damage, the couple decided to rebuild the house just as it was.

In the face of adversity, the house found its way back, similar to how Desiato found his way back to drawing.

Over the course of six years, Desiato drew all seven of the Seven Sisters, including Tick Hall, the Agnew House, Hoyt House, Deforest House, Sanger House, Andrew House and Benson House.

To draw the houses, Desiato uses a software called LunaPic because, he said, the lines are smoother than in Microsoft Paint. He doesn’t draw the backgrounds. Instead, he uses photos and inserts his drawings of the houses over them.

“I can draw trees and a front yard, but I can’t draw a background mountain. It’s just not my forte, it’s not my realm,” Desiato said. “I would need a different program to do that, so I basically just Google a background and choose one.”

Sometimes Desiato spent five to seven hours a day drawing a house, and in total some houses took him a week to draw. He would also go back and redraw or fix them throughout the years as he honed in on his skills.

“I spent two days on the frame. I made sure it’s perfect, and then I started drawing the detailing like the siding, the roofing, and then the windows,” Desiato said.

Desiato has not reached out to any of the homeowners, but hopes that they will be able to see his renderings of their homes.

“I don’t know why I got so attracted to Montauk and the history of those houses,” Desiato said. “I’m not usually like that. I watch something that’s cool and that’s that, but to read about it and search for it on the internet, I wasn’t much of a person that did that. Something led me to that.”

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