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Architecture students embrace “plein air” painting

As part of the architecture curriculum, all second year architecture students take a representation course. Typically, this course has been focused on digital representation, using software to render images and ideas. As our program has been putting in an increased emphasis on “making” and the physical nature of the creative process, we have begun to introduce more analog  approaches. This spring, one section of Advanced Architectural Communication is fully focused on painting, using watercolors and working on site, in “plein air.”
The course is being co-taught by Robert Miklos, founding principal of DesignLab and Tom Wales, architect at DesignLab.  Teaching a painting course remotely has its challenges and to date, all classes have taught online. Miklos and Wales set up a “film studio” at designLAB where they present step by step demos each week as well as conduct pin-up reviews. Students send images of their work to the instructors who print and post on the studio wall.  Students produce weekly sketchbook assignments and have been introduced to field drawing, manual perspective drawings, and value drawings using charcoal.
   
They have begun working in watercolor through various exercises and now that the weather is improving, the class will meet outdoors for on-site painting exercises. Guest speakers have been brought as well to demonstrate materials and techinques.  With some external funding, the School of Architecture was able to outfit each student with supplies, including pain and  brushes as well as with a portable easel and stool designed specifically for working out of doors.
   
Students will ultimately utilize this exploration into manual representations with collage and Photoshop in combination with perspective illustration. Despite the distance learning, students have still be able to “get their hands dirty” so to speak and engage in visual representation using traditional forms that will further enhance their digital renderings and understanding of space, color, light and perspective.