Sketching Workshops for Architects begins

October 25, 2016 | 2 Comments

On Friday afternoon, I taught the first of 12 workshops that are scheduled over the next number of months for BVN Architecture, one of the top firms in Australia. You can read about my introductory talk to them here.

The plan is to take 4 different groups through a three workshop series based on the first half of my online SketchngNow Foundations course. The emphasis of my workshops is on general sketching, not specifically architectural drawing or rendering. The first workshop was conducted inside, drawing objects from around the office. I explained my Three ways of Seeing (visual thinking): Feeling Edges, Abstracting Shapes, and Constructing Volumes, with specific exercises for each. We used a random selection of objects on the table as our subject matter for a few of the exercises but for the shape based ones we all sketched from the same photo that had been carefully composed to demonstrate the important teaching points. This combination of learning from sketches of different objects and then comparing the results from the same object worked really well.
The group that I taught on Friday generally described themselves as people who had sketched at school but not much since then. So in a sense, all of them didn’t have much experience sketching from observation. However as they were architects, they all had a very strong sense of design and aesthetics, and were used to communicating ideas through drawings. They also not only knew each other well, but were used to working together and talking about their work. This led to a very rich experience for me as a teacher and some fun critiques.

We had lots of interesting discussions, including one during a break about how to use watercolour as part of the design process. I did this particular quick demonstration to explore some ideas on this subject.

In each exercise we learnt so much from each other and I was able to introduce a few advanced concepts, such as thinking about the best route around a subject when doing a contour drawing. I also expected them to be more comfortable with the constructing volumes exercise, and that proved to be the case! It was like teaching myself, as I was 10 years ago when I first started sketching from observation. Oh! so much fun. Here is a combination of the group’s sketches from the three line exercises (feeling edges, constructing volumes).

And here is a selection of the shape-based exercises (abstracting shapes). You can see from these photos that there were some exquisite pieces produced. In fact, everyone in the group produced an incredible “wow” sketch for at least one of the exercises and often a second attempt resulted in a massive transformation from the first. But as is always the case, everyone had a different favourite exercise.

What a wonderful way to spend a Friday afternoon. I can’t wait for the next workshop!

If you are interested in what I am teaching in these workshops – check out my SketchingNow Foundations course. A self-directed online course that you can start today.



  • Lydia Akers - October 25, 2016 reply

    Hi Liz, I really enjoyed reading your wonderful post, and all the inclusive linked material, about the richness of merging your two careers. Thank you so much for sharing this. The workshop sketches have a wonderful quality. I have grown a great deal from following you and participating in your classes. I first met you in Sketchbook Skool and began following your blog. I have participated in your online classes, although I am still working slowly through the SketchingNow Buildings course and found your book to be a wonderful complement. Great timing for its release! While reading this post, my interest was peaked by the idea of using watercolor as part of the design process. Should you decide to put together course material or blog post expanding on the concept, I am interested! I would love to learn more! Thank you so much. You are a very generous teacher. Best, Lydia Akers USA

  • Teaching architects to draw from observation : Liz Steel - December 15, 2016 reply

    […] They were very strong on constructing volumes, but not so much on feeling edges and abstracting shapes. As architect’s, their mind-hand coordination was strong (drawing designs of imaginary buildings and spaces) but not so much their eye-hand coordination (just as I was pre-sketching). You can read a little more about this in my report on the first workshop. […]

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