“Drawing is an instinct we were all born with. We have to be taught to read and write, but we are born with the ability to learn to draw. Drawing is so important that we learn it without a teacher. Drawing is so essential for our survival and success that toddlers learn to draw before they begin first grade.”

Drawing to Learn DRAWING – Marvin Bartel

“Learning to draw is really a matter of learning to see-to see correctly-and that means a good deal more than merely looking with the eye.”

The Natural Way to Draw – Kimon Nicolaides

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” – Albert Einstein

It is essential for architects to learn how to draw for two reasons. One is to produce construction drawings and the other is to design. I personally believe that drawing by hand is helpful in opening up the creative side of your brain which is essential in being able to design. Hand drawing is a learned skill and is vital for problem recognition and problem solving. Learning how to draw by hand opens up your mind and the right side of your intuitive brain to a new world. The most straightforward way to learn how to draw that I can find is taught by Betty Edwards and is available on video or by book. Anyone who does the exercises in her workbook will learn how to draw and see the world with creativity. Anyone can learn how to draw as an adult!

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain – Betty Edwards


The 5 perceptual skills that are taught in this course of Betty’s are:

  1. Edges
  2. Spaces
  3. Relationships
  4. Light and Shadow
  5. The Whole (The Gestalt)

Two types of drawings –  Right Brain (Subjective) and Left brain (Objective) 

“In its broadest division drawing can be classified as either subjective or objective. Subjective drawings emphasis the artist’s emotions. In objective drawing, on the other hand, the information conveyed is more important than the artist’s feelings.”

A Contemporary Approach DrawingClaudia Betti and Teel Sale

1. Right Brain – Subjective, Intuitive, Expressive

Notes (Micky Mouse) 1968 by Claes Oldenburg

2. Left Brain  – Objective, Informational

Mouse Museum Construction Plan

Both types of drawings were needed to design and build this sculpture.

Mouse Sculpture by Claes Oldenburg

3. Self Portrait Drawing

One of the first drawings my students do in school is a self portrait. This is the first step to understanding how to see in the lesson plans by Betty Edwards. This drawing by Chuck Close bridges the gap between subjective and objective drawing. In the photorealist self-portrait there is a strong element of subjectivity.

‘Big Self Portrait’, (1967-68) acrylic on canvas (107.5″x83.5″)

Chuck Close has grown to believe that his work is driven by his lifelong learning difficulties such as dyslexia and prosopagnosia (the inability to remember faces). He feels he was compelled to make portraits by his need to commit faces to memory. His learning difficulties also provide a key to his working methods. He uses a grid to break down every image that he paints into small incremental units so that he can comfortably focus on each part to avoid being overwhelmed by the whole. Consequently, no problem becomes too big to be solved. You no longer need worry about drawing the entire face as you can tackle it incrementally, one bit at a time until the whole image is complete.

Chuck Close working on a Self Portrait’ (2004-05) © Walker Art Center

“I discovered about 150 dots is the minimum number of dots to make a specific recognizable person,” Chuck Close pioneered Photorealism. “By putting little marks together,” he said his monumental portraits conveyed how, “a face is a road map of someone’s life.”

4. Right Brain Diagrams:

Diagramming – A very important type of drawing that architect use to help explain their concepts would be diagramming. Here are some examples of beautiful diagrams.

Steven Holl Watercolor

Steven Holl Watercolor

Steven Holl Watercolor

Zaha Hadid Painting

Zaha Hadid Drawing

5. Left Brain Diagrams:

Bubble Diagram example

Combination Right Brain/Left Brain Architectural Presentation Drawings:

Section Drawing by HWKN (HollwichKushner)

Perspective Drawing by HWKN (HollwichKushner)

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