Always look for a reason for making the sketch

[By Mark Alan Anderson, 2019 symposium correspondent, in Amsterdam]

It is our final morning and everyone seems to be moving much more deliberately, much more slowly than we were two days ago. Traipsing single file out of the church courtyard, I follow a workshop group that will be led by Australia based architect Richard Briggs. 


He talks with his participants about comparing the façades of Amsterdam architecture and the relationships they have with the waterways. “What do you hope to get from this workshop,“ Richard asks.


Several Sketchers are interested in learning to simplify. Another expresses a desire to use negative space, while one other speaks about capturing the character of a place using only a few lines. Richard smiles and says that all of those characteristics are part of this workshop. “This is not a style-based workshop. This is a process-based workshop.“ As if to illustrate that very point, the first thing he has his participants do is leave all their sketching tools on the ground to head out with a notepad. They are instructed not to draw at all, but simply to look, to observe, and to write down their observations in words.


This is the first step in a process he introduces to the group, a strategy intended to provide sketchers with focus. Richard’s comment is pointed: “Always look for a reason for why you are making this sketch.“

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