July 13, 2016

Pride, Work, and Necessity of Side Projects: Architect Laura Thomas’ Watercolors



What are you working on—on the side?

My watercolors, the physical expression of my keen eye, are an integral part of who I am and what I do. To be an architect is to be an observer. My work is constantly informed by the art and architecture that I see during my travels abroad and in my wanderings in my hometown. Without a sense of observation and exploration, my creativity becomes stagnant; that staleness would inevitably carry over to my professional designs. Travel and critical observation are an important part of my growth as an architect. (1)

How do you manage to work
on your side project(s)?

When I travel, I do so with my favorite pen, a small, old Windsor-Newton travel watercolors box, a collapsible camp-stool and folding table. I take time to stop, set up my seat and my watercolors (or climb on a wall!), and take in the scene. In those moments of stillness, I can see details like proportion, color, patina and light that would be lost to the harried tourist with a camera.

I settle in and LOOK. This can sometimes take a while. Sometimes I move slightly to get the angle I want. I look at the light and the colors. I study the shadows. Frequently my sketches are peeked at by fellow travelers and local children. I don’t mind the curiosity. The little kids are the best—they seem truly amazed at what I am doing and can just watch patiently and silently for minutes at a time. (2)



Why have a side project?

I LOVE to draw. I believe in the value of connecting the architect with the design on the page in a way that can’t be replicated solely through a computer. Drawing by hand is a part of who I am. I sketch daily in the office for my projects, and practice my observation and drawing skills while traveling through my watercolors. (3)

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Diptych courtesy of Laura Thomas.

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Read more about the joy of side projects.


From Laura Thomas’ blog:
(1) “Starting something new, again”
(2) “Where I sketch”
(3) “The importance of drawing”


This series, devoted to side projects, is delivered in association with Chicago creative agency 50,000feet—dedicated to helping brands and businesses soar.


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