Drawing Buildings
Artists & Illustrators|October 2019
Drawing Buildings
Whether exploring new cities on holiday or capturing local architecture, KEVIN SCULLY has top advice for creating quick, insightful sketches

Not all buildings are blessed with architectural merit, but even within the humblest construction, one can usually find something of interest.

I often find that a building not normally deserving a second glance can provide enough material for a successful drawing. The addition of colour can also add a touch of drama and a sense of place.

You will find a far greater variety of shapes and styles in buildings that exist in reality, particularly in the vast array of ornament, brickwork, windows, doors, portals, columns, and so on. Add to this the shop signs, television aerials, fences, street furniture and other paraphernalia, and the possibilities are endless.

It’s always worth spending some time stalking your subject matter before deciding on a viewpoint, and the most interesting one is rarely the one seen from a nearby bench.

A very tall building is probably best viewed from fairly close, so that its height can be exaggerated as it rises into the sky in a portrait format, whereas a row of terraced houses naturally cries out for an elongated, landscape layout.

A drawing produced on the spot will often have an immediacy that is difficult to replicate in the studio and, due to time limitations, it may contain only the minimal amount of detail.

I approach these drawings in a variety of ways. If it’s intended for reproduction, publication or framing, I may begin the drawing on the spot and then either add colour back in the studio – or even use this as the basis for a larger, more ambitious work. This allows for a greater degree of consideration when making choices regarding composition, scale and colour.

I often make drawings simply for the pleasure of doing so, and these are nearly always produced in a sketchbook. I find an A4 book to be the most useful size, being neither too large nor too small. I use sturdy, hardback books containing quality cartridge or watercolour paper.

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October 2019