It’s a Sketchy Business

By December 12, 2012Practice

We recently headed north to Ogden for a tour of the historic Egyptian Theater and a morning of sketching. We welcomed the opportunity to brush up on sketching skills, an art that seems to be falling by the wayside as the computer becomes the tool of choice for most architects. While virtually all of our projects are rendered on the computer, the ability to communicate through sketches during client meetings remains an important tool for us. Below are some of our observations from the workshop.

From Anna:  “To the left is a sketch I drew of the Egyptian Theater. In this half-day sketching course, we learned that there are four key ingredients in a drawing: edges, form, value, and color. We didn’t get into the color portion during our short course, but my sketch shows a 20-minute attempt at defining edges, form and value.
The lecturer for this course, Dave Cassil of Architectural Nexus, discussed how drawing is being taught today and drew comparisons with the masters of the past such as Rembrandt, Degas and da Vinci. Cassil’s greatest concern is that young architects today rely too heavily on computer generated images, and are losing the craft of sketching. While I feel that computer renderings are necessary to keep pace with the demands on architecture in the modern world, I also feel that they will eventually become dated when a good hand sketch will never lose its charm. With the time constraints in today’s fast-paced world we may never develop drawing skills to rival the masters, but I truly hope that the hand sketch will always have a place in architectural design.”

From Rebecca:

“Those who never make mistakes lose a great many chances to learn something” (John Luther).

“The lecturer, Dave Cassil, critiqued several sketches done by Degas, da Vinci, and Rembrandt.  Some of the images displayed on the screen were simply uninspiring.  In showing us these sketches, he emphasized the importance of the process.  He pointed out that although some of the sketches may not have been impressive to look at, they were important to the artist and to their journey from beginning to end.  This left me thinking about mistakes, which can be a positive learning tool. . . . After the lecture we spent some time sketching. I had nearly finished the sketch I was working on when Cassil asked if he might take a look at my drawing.  The mistakes I had made led him to teach me.  I learned more that day from my mistakes than I could have ever learned by doing everything right. Below are 3 sketches, representing my first attempt, the instructor’s sketch, and my final sketch after his observations.”

From Tom:

“Our hands and entire bodies possess embodied skills and wisdom” (Juhani Pallasmaa, The Thinking Hand).

“It is good for the soul to hunker down with the purpose to sketch with graphite on paper.  Most of the time we are drafting and modeling with a mouse. Digital technology is a valuable tool but it is just one of our tools.  I benefited from an exercise in remembering that the eye is connected to the hand and whole body.”

From Warren:

“I ventured outside and after a few false starts came across this framed view of the Wasatch from 25th Street. Below is my 3-minute sketch.”