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insight, that’s all.

Scan 9 copyWhy I am so dedicated in teaching architects and designers the power of drawing?


Importantly,  designers require the power of insight.

All the definitions below in being ‘insightful’, offer a great direction for designers to strive toward. And, yes, drawing may offer these powerful attributes. Drawing creates commitment, finding appropriate solutions to the many questions presented to a designer in the sometimes complicated design process. Computer images come out of the printer, I find with more questions than answers. I overlay these with trace and with a pencil, create a process that simplifies and begins to define organizing aesthetic/design ideas.

Question, answer, question, answer; a visual dialogue of space, through drawing is a way finding process towards being insightful.


inˈsītfəl,ˈinsītfəl/ adjective  adjective: insightful

patterns/home, good to know


A great reference text as part of your new home or remodel the Patterns of Home, is a well defined synopsis of house design patterns that enhance the notions of the essence of home. These patterns are key in the process of working with homeowners; understanding that good homes do many things; combining these patterns together gain great design.

Here is the List:

  • Pattern One — Inhabiting the Site
  • Pattern Two — Creating Rooms, Outside and In
  • Pattern Three — Sheltering Roof
  • Pattern Four — Capturing Light
  • Pattern Five — Parts in Proportion
  • Pattern Six — The Flow through Rooms
  • Pattern Seven — Private Edges, Common Core
  • Pattern Eight — Refuge and Outlook
  • Pattern Nine — Places in Between
  • Pattern Ten — Composing with Materials

Each and every pattern listed is essential and key. These patterns, I reference each time in my architectural design work; design tools that respond appropriately and resonate with the life of the homeowners.

finding place/meaning

In my work, I am lucky to collaborate with talented designers;  those that talk about space, place and meaning.

As a design/illustrator, this becomes a reciprocal process. Formulating ideas and working back and forth and scheming in the 3rd dimension is magical. There are many ways to describe space, but the one on one with a pencil in my hand is where the key communication and collaboration unfold.


Who is the audience? What is the story? What will bring people on this space and why?

Shapes and planes, and values, colors, textures, beauty and scale are just a few players in this iterative process.

The design is unique and the drawings become a great starting point in the architectural design process.

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comparative works, about media

watercolor/color pencil/pencil: speaks about content, concept and emotional feel.

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You are what you draw.

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This is an Andy Goldsworthy art installation, I recently experienced in the Presidio on San Francisco,

It’s a , ‘Are you kidding me?’ space; one to come back to, time and time again.

This space surely defines the notions of ‘involvement.’

I borrow this concept from the text of Ed Bacon in his book, ‘Design of Cities.’

He references a Francesco Guardi sketch and speaks to the notions that create

involvement: ‘space that creates an all-encompassing experience.’

Here are the ingredients:

Meeting the sky: dynamic spatial forms, sensory spatial qualities.

Meeting the ground: how a building arises from the earth, defining the base.

Points in Space: tension/closure; relationships/context.

Recession of Planes: processional, sensory space.

Design in Depth: penetration/movement, excitement of entry.

Ascent and Descent: joy of anticipation of up and down.

Convexity and Concavity: positive and negative spatial involvement.

Relationship to people: scale and proportion, reachable and understandable.

(photo: Heidi Hansen)

one’s line, one’s self

Tomorrow, I head to an architect’s office to talk to a group of architects and designers about the key role of the power of mark-making in their design process; specifically in their practice. One’s own authentic line provides the designer the essential, evocative direction, so necessary in today’s world of architectural design.


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lecture: Glenn Murcutt

An announcement from a student on Monday night, ‘lecture at noon at the U. Tuesday, Glenn Murkutt is in town’.

(thanks Will)

I head over and I anticipate beautiful work and great conversation.

I run into a few old friends; I see many fresh, younger faces.

Glenn is introduced.


I felt smart. I agreed. I understood. I was refreshed.

An amazing ‘kick in the pants’; filters firing.

A great storyteller, talented architect and what I could tell a great friend for those lucky to know him well.

Here are my notes from the lecture. Lasting.

Do not miss these moments. I was inspired. Get out there.

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Did I mention?

He draws everything by hand!

Here are some examples below of his fine investigative work; and he draws everyday.

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on paper.

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I have thoughts about drawing and the practice of architecture and I would love to share them with you.

I am an artist, an architect, an illustrator, and a teacher.

I draw by hand. With pencil, charcoal, and pen. On paper.


My other skills include architectural design, teaching painting and drawing, graphic design, and community planning. Working with other architects or with community leaders, I have produced outstanding design illustrations that communicate the essential nature of a project.

The drawn line responds to the “changes of rhythm and feelings of surface and space” that are created by the work of architecture. A hand drawing can thus become part of the narrative of a building project, and it can be the starting point for the conversation on a project, or help that discussion to move forward.

Lately, working within various architects’ offices, I have been placed in a new role (besides that of illustrator), that of the architect as a design illustrator. Advances in computer-aided drafting have been a great time saver for many offices—a rendering can now be done with the flick of the wrist and a few clicks—but my clients are also learning, or re-learning, the power of hand drawing.

The process is iterative. As I work alongside the design team, we discuss the nature of the project. I ask questions. I begin to draw by hand. The day flows. My sketches and drawings produce depth, tone, and texture, distinguish hard from soft, and imbue the rough project with a spirit or soul. These sketches inform the team as we continue working through issues, and focusing on the project’s goals. At the end of the day, our team, working through my hand, has created beautiful, solid illustrations, conveying solutions and options to present to the project’s key players.

I sketch up plans, elevations, 3-d views; those appropriate concepts are then implemented in the computer; 3- d views come back to me; refinement overlays, tighter lines and with color; ready for scanning, and importantly, ready for tomorrow’s meeting!

In architecture, creativity begins at the eye, travels to the mind, and is executed by hand. The creative act is thus part of a process, coursing across the synapses of the creator, gradually taking and changing form through exploration and a back-and-forth process that layers and contributes to the narrative of the final work.

Let’s talk soon.

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clear communication is key

Illustration requires a keen sense; specifically, collating strong design concepts; collaborating with creative team members and utilizing every tool available to represent appropriately information for a specific audience.

As I gather clues and sketch out rough diagrams, I ask my clients “Is this what you have in mind?” The team gets inspired to see their ideas in 3 dimensions and even more flow of ideas are evaluated and discussed, strengthening concept. Soon, I am ready to get to work; combining and reinforcing the views with a dynamic viewpoint, typically eye-level; how one would truly experience the space.

Below are a few examples of ‘final’ though appropriately conceptual perspectives for an interior project recently created.

Collaboration is everything!

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