Once the story of a new project begins to crystallize, my focus is on vision generation—the “big idea,” usually represented by a diagram that posits a sculptural resolution. This particular big-idea sketch of an expansive, parklike enclave—a sort of sculpture for living in the heart of Los Angeles—depicts an interweaving of indoors and out, casual living and composed gardens. The integration of architecture, landscape, and interior was inspired by the clients’ extensive modern art collection as well as the paintings of Richard Diebenkorn, one my favorite artists. I’m especially fond of his Ocean Park series, created from 1967 to 1988, a probing of historic modernism and the Southern California landscape—the two primary influences in my own work.
Since college, I’ve done all my sketching on trace paper with a Pentel Sign Pen. It has the perfect thin tip and fat sides for different line weights and a smooth, feltlike delivery. I go through about a box a week. I also use a selection of the Chartpak Landscape AD markers, which give a suggestive wash to indicate volumes, planes, water, and greenery.
To get in the sketching groove, which can take three-plus hours, I sometimes schedule a “meeting” with myself to avoid workday interruptions. Because I tend to get excited about the idea flow, I often bring drawings home and lose myself in the process until the wee hours... unless my daughter needs homework help. One day many years ago, she pointed to ink smudges on the side of my hand and worriedly asked what it was. I said, “That’s just from my sketch pen. Having lots of smudges means it was a good day.” Since then, every night when I get home she grabs my hand to see what kind of day it was.