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Sketchbook: Alan Dunlop


How are you filling your time in the lockdown? The AJ has launched Sketchbook, a showcase for architects’ sketches and concept drawings

Architects should draw; it’s our primary means of communicating. I’ve sketched my studio and my home, because that’s where I’m isolating, with my family. I look for compositions around the house – books on a table, furniture, logs, bags on chairs, that kind of thing – without setting anything up.

Away from my practice, I work on life drawings in a nearby art class but that has now stopped and my daughters won’t sit for me – I don’t blame them, frankly – so by sketching stuff around the house and studio I don’t have to hassle them. 

Alan dunlop

I do three a day, 15-20 minutes each, working fast,  and will continue to do so until the isolation ends and will do maybe 250 sketches. I don’t use an eraser, so I have to discipline myself to look. Once a line is down, it’s down, and that really concentrates the mind.

At the moment the sketches are of things in the interior, because, although the sun is shining, it’s still bloody cold outside. When it warms up in the next few days I’ll wander around the garden to see what I can find worth sketching.

There is no practice work being done at present at home – sites are closed in Scotland. My New York-based banking client particularly is having a tough time, much tougher than me.

Universities are shut down but I’m communicating with students and contacts in the US and UK by email and Skype.

Alan Dunlop is the founding director of Perthshire-based Alan Dunlop Architect

Share your working-from-home sketches with us on Instagram 
Tag @architectsjournal and use #sketchbook


Readers' comments (9)

  • Hello Alan, it was great running into your sketchbook, we are also in quarantine here in Utah, USA. Our firm of 122 in two offices here SLC, Utah and Sacramento, California. We are mostly (99%) working from home virtually and having a lot of success. About 3 weeks ago we started to do similar exercises, doing sketches and learning perspective techniques in short periods of time, 10 minutes daily. It has been fun and also a good way to keep us distracted from the pandemic. On Fridays, we have a teleconference for an hour and discuss and crit the sketches. We will continue to do so until we will all get to go back to work. I will suggest to our group of about 25ish, to do 3 sketches per day and maybe pin up the sketches, when we are back to the office. Again thank you, Oscar B.

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  • That's very kind of you to say so Oscar, I appreciate it. Thank you.

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  • middletonpaul@me.com

    This is a great thing to do!
    Been doing the same and now on Day 22... my intention is to do 40 around my home. Makes you look at and appreciate everything that is around us. Posted them all on LinkedIn and Facebook on a daily basis

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  • I've seen your drawings Paul and like them very much indeed and I know you're a gifted draughtsman. The difference in style and approach, in comparison to my own, is very appealing.

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  • Alan, what beautiful drawings, you are an inspiration to us all!

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  • I have had great fun going over old sketch books while on lockdown here in Estoril. Ideas and sketches of unbuildable things and other more reasonable proposals quite unhinged some of them. But the importance of these books is that they are a record of one´s journey in architecture. Architects today who don´t draw and are glued to their screens will never have the pleasure of going back 10, 20, 30 years and enjoy a personal record of that journey. Make sure to date every sketch Alan! Beautiful sketches!

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  • "..pleasure of going back 10, 20, 30 years and enjoy a personal record of that journey." That's it Mario, apart from the pleasure gained, a sketchbook is like a time machine, it takes you right back to the time when you made the drawing, instantly more than any photograph.

    David, thank you.

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  • Wonderful!

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  • Had to go through hoops to get here. I am now an owner of a company with 1-5 employees, no budget! So Alan, lovely to see your home and family in your drawings. You always were a lovely talented artist. Anne Marie McKinney

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