Drawing to Understand

I love taking photos, but I’ve also been doing a lot of sketching the past couple of years. When you choose to draw something, you pick and choose what you want to remember and understand. Unlike a picture, which takes an instant and holds a ton of information, a sketch can take longer and only commit to the details you want. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a sketch is a very deliberate sentence.

Drawing to understand 1
Drawing to understand 1

For example, this is a recent sketch I did at Gasworks Park in Seattle. It’s a public park on an old gasification plant. There are a lot of things in this picture—colors, light, shadow, and people—but I just wanted to study the shape of the old plant in the background and how it was put together.

Drawing to understand 2
Drawing to understand 2

This is another architectural study I did a couple years ago at a church in Scandinavia. It was a way for me to understand and remember the space. I have a picture that shows the entire space in perfect detail, which looks way better than anything my skills could render. However, this sketch shows my study of the space. I wanted to remember the heavy bronze doors and the way the light came in through the ceiling.

So, next time you see something interesting, try sketching it! If you’re not sure where to begin drawing, one of my favorite resources is Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards, which is perfect for any beginner.

Happy sketching!