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Sketching the Built Environment

seattle cityscape sketch1

Even at my age, I am still enamored with the big cities and the experience of them.  Back when I had more free time I would walk around Seattle when I lived there and enjoy the sights and sounds, but most importantly the architecture.  To me, there isn’t much more inspiring than a hi-rise building, even though I have worked on them and know the construction document phase isn’t more enjoyable than most other projects, but perhaps it is more rewarding.

seattle cityscape sketch2

As an artist, it is good to try and determine what gives a sense of wonder or makes something aesthetically appealing. I like to break things down into their parts and try to figure out what makes something or a view interesting or appealing. One way is to study compositions in monotone grayscales or even silhouettes so that the colors aren’t affecting your impression.

seattle cityscape sketch3

Early in life I started drawing and found I liked to sketch. For me, organic forms were easier than formal geometry to capture pleasingly, so I focused more on what I was better at. But whenever the opportunity arose, I tried my hand at sketching the built environment. This allowed me to look at things like controlled pathways and forced viewports. I learned to study what made a composition interesting even if the subject matter wasn’t very attractive. I discovered that the sum of the ugly parts could make a pleasing “whole”.

seattle cityscape sketch4

These images are from a past day in Seattle back when the viaduct was intact. They are intended to show massing and light, not detail, they show the urban texture of the city from the backside and not the main streets. They are learning tools not art, but I learned things in creating them.

seattle cityscape sketch5

So step away from your computer and get outside and sketch the buildings around you and look at things from a new perspective, I bet you will learn something to!

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