This blog is devoted to my architectural sketching adventures and musings about the integration of architecture and sketching.
I hope not only to share my own on-location architectural sketches but provide tips and methodologies for sketching and understanding architecture.
Also, most importantly, I wish to explore ways in which, in a digital age, we can not only defend but
promote freehand sketching within the architectural profession.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A building I have to sketch again in Hobart

Before I sketched, I used to take a lot of photos and put together elaborate photo books from my travels.

 In 2005 I had a long weekend in Tasmania of 5 days. I put together a 160 page book which I printed myself of quality paper and got professional bound. Here are three pages from that book….and the important part of these pages is that it records my first ever attempt to seriously sketch a building on location.

I just love the comments that I wrote at the time

"actually attempted to do a sketch of the two buildings opposite me"
(comment: I always wanted to sketch but never found the time)
"the sketch was pathetic - but the experience of actually looking and then recording a building on location was so novel for me that I think it is one of the highlights of the trip!"
(comment: love the process of looking and record and not concerned by the result)
"it was also a bit of a break through in my ideas about how to look, learn, record and enjoy architecture"
(comment: this is also very interesting - I think the same things often! I am always having break throughs and new ideas as how to look, learn, record and enjoy)
"I realised after attempting this sketch that I would be better off sketching diagrams and details rather than try to draw the whole elevation accurately - this is just too hard for me to achieve on location - at the moment anyway, till my skills improve"
(comment: ironic thinking that sketching was too hard… but realisation that I need to work on my skills"
"Wow - I got a lot out of it"
(comment: exactly!)

Friday, May 9, 2014

A very quick sketch of complicated building

Those of you that follow my daily blog would have seen these images during the week (from last Saturday's USK SYD event at Rivendell Rhodes), but I want to write a little more about the step by step of this somewhat crazy sketch.

The whole thing was completed in just over 15minutes and has been done in a large A4 moleskine watercolour book (so the width of the sketch is 2 x A4) I think this is the fastest sketch I have ever done at this scale. I have been doing a lot of sketching lately so am 'in the groove' and therefore decided to risk attempting this sketch of a large complex building in a short time frame.

So… a few comments on my approach (which in many ways was unplanned)

First: I knew I didn't have much time  so I decided to go with watercolour pencil - I certainly find using pencil of any kind a lot freer than ink. I started with the main tower (I always seem to start from the top and this is the important feature of the building) and then worked left then right (running out of steam as I moved right… sometimes it is good to be impatient… my 'running out of steam' is a good way of not overworking secondary elements - I was not sure how much of the secondary building I would want to include)

Second stage: I haven't really decided what I was going to do (ie. I didn't necessarily intend to use ink) but as time was short so the paint had to get on as soon as possible. So I quickly splashed on some colour in the areas of shade/shadows. After doing this, I realised that it would take too long to try to build this sketch up with paint - it would be a lot quicker if I had ink lines to hold it together so pulled out my sailor pen (with an up-turned nib) and added the major edges. All of that scribbly pencil work provided guidelines and helped me be strong and confident with my ink.

Third stage: Running out of time… so quickly splashed on more colour … can't really explain in any detail… just going with the flow at a crazy exciting pace. As soon as I thought "should I do sky? - do I have time?" I paused and then realised it was time to go for the show and tell.

Finally: I decided to add the sky once I got home as there was so much white on the page… and having blue sky was a rather special part of that morning (had been raining when we woke up but turned out lovely for our sketching event)

Anyway - there are a lot of 'mistakes' in this sketch - things that don't align or are not evenly spaced… but do you think I will lose sleep over that? NO!

This sketch is another example of my approach to sketching architecture:  the most important thing is to understand the major components of the building form .. and not to stress about perspective
(hmm, was I supposed to use perspective on this sketch?? - oops didn't even enter my head!!!)

I hope that seeing the stages- and in particular the first stage is useful to see what I think is important…