Tracing Paper at Arm’s Reach

You may never see the layer upon layer of tracing paper of discarded ideas, the layers of pen or pencil that press through from below and try and make it to the top. The stacks of lines and options explored that may need to return, which stops the immediate disposal and sometimes creates the sudden dash to the bin with the exclamation ‘I’ve already drawn this!’


The layers of trace and thought is where the rigour and joy takes place, it’s where the player hits a thousand tennis balls unseen, but nothing is wasted to try and achieve precision, but always trying to go to a new place which may inform the next pen stroke. The final cad drawing is the final result of the above and the laser printed line gives the air of the fixed immovable, as one tutor said ‘anyone can use cad.’


I can’t dispose of the sketches so readily, to have a cad drawing only to show for this process is to discard too much. I have learned a way to value the lines along the way, I know when the lines flow from a strain of focused design, when you are in the zone so to speak. This is when you lose yourself and my understanding of ‘God is in the detail’ when totally absorbed in resolving the design task in hand.


One colleague at a London practice questioned why I didn’t have a roll of trace always at my side and with the words of ‘just do it’ when he detected the whiff of paralysis in front of the computer screen. This necessity to have roll of tracing paper at arms reach that is not as precious as the heavy graded trace sheets becomes second nature, and can allow a softer exploration of ideas. This medium then rendered in other software allows the sketch can take on a new life and allow others to see and contribute to the design process, the cad line seems to say no and I have witnessed clients who feel stifled when confronted with such a solid line drawing that seems to say no, the sketch with its broken lines says yes and more please!


Sometimes I scramble for the trace roll to quickly pour out the flow of ideas that might lead somewhere, sometimes I need to warm up knowing that movement and thought will take me away at some point and maybe return me to where I started, then maybe it dares to be real, or it is simply time to empty the bin.