A couple of weeks ago we switched off our computers and got out the pencils and sharpeners for a group sketching session in our studio lead by our director Max Rengifo. We invited our friends from mstep engineers and Singh Fudge architects to join this informative and fun Friday session.
During my architectural education in the early 1990’s, I was fortunate enough to be part of a drawing tradition that had started at my school of architecture in the 1960’s with an exceptional teacher: Charles Ventrillon. Although I was not lucky enough to be taught by him, I was the third generation of architects taught by his disciples. His key philosophy was: ‘learn to draw what you can see, in order to draw what we cannot’. His drawing philosophy was truly a classical formation, based on the fundamentals of analytical observation and understanding of what surrounds us; an understanding of proportions, of relationships between objects , forms and even weight.
Our artistic CPD session started by drawing something that our brains are not accustomed to on a day to day basis, something that we do not know, an object that we have no ‘pre-formed’ (or deformed) idea of in our heads; with the sole idea to force ourselves to undertake an accurate observation of the object. This was not about a pretty-detailed drawing, but an analytical one that represents and understands the subject. For our subject we used a slightly crumpled piece of paper. We gave ourselves 30 minutes drawing time, making sure our posture was right: straight back and extended arms; we learned how to take accurate measurements and directions using our pencils and translating those accurately on to our sketching boards. The process is physically and mentally exhausting, as it should be when any proper training is taking place. The objective is to draw exactly what you see, get the totality, avoiding finished drawings in lieu to get the right proportions, directions and forms.
After a short break we flipped our attention to known objects, as a counterbalance to the previous exercise. We also changed the time to a descending set of time limitations, linked to a drawing exercise: each being 5 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute, 30 seconds and 10 seconds of drawing. The idea here was to draw very quickly a known object but allowing each individual to choose what they wanted to represent: a detail, its parts, or the totality: all decisions entirely up to every single individual. Here the technique is focused on allowing the artist to discover what is important to each of them individually.
For the final exercise we demonstrate the importance of practice: “draw the same innate object - afire extinguisher, in 30, 20 and 10 second intervals” demonstrating that when we learn to observe and practice over and over again, we can represent accurately independently of the time given.
The session finished with us all sharing our experiences and comparing our drawings over drinks and nibbles. We discussed the different type of traces, construction techniques and size of drawings. We mentioned how each drawing, despite the efforts to be precise and accurate, has intrinsically a bit of each of us behind every line, somehow representing our own personality.
Thank you to our guests for making the effort to join us, I’m already looking forward to the next session!
This blog post has been written by Max, one of the directors here at WR-AP. Max grew up making and drawing things in his native city: Caracas, later discovering the power of well-designed buildings and public spaces. He values the opinions of the end user above all and believes that is the true sign of good architecture. You can read more about Max here.