Celebrating the Freehand Renaissance--sketching as a vital way to see and value culture, and to envision a better world.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Ann Willougby Sketching at TED

I stumbled on this very cool little time-lapse video while preparing a workshop presentation for LSU later this week. It's the sketchbook of Ann Willoughby, an AIGA Fellow and principal of  Willoughby Design.  Towards the end, she's creating a sketch and capturing key ideas while watching a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love). The link is below...enjoy!

Ann Willoughby Sketching at TED

Monday, February 23, 2015

Come Sketch with us in CUBA!

Please join us for our upcoming SKETCH CUBA trip, May 31-June 6!

Cuba is an amazing sketching destination.  New developments in the normalizing of relations will take some time to negotiate, plan for, and implement on both the U.S. and Cuba sides.  In the meantime, Cuba is still, for now, “a lost world that’s always been so seductively near and simultaneously so far.” The trip is being done through the same company and individuals that we traveled to Cuba with last May.  It was a fantastic experience, and on leaving we said we’d return in a heartbeat.  So, one year later,  here we go.

This will be a cultural exchange trip, licensed by both the U.S. and Cuban governments.  Our trip will include 5 days in and around Havana—both the “new” and the very old parts, including all the Hemingway haunts—with a 2-day trip to the scenic western side of the island in the middle of the week to see the Vinales valley with its tobacco plantations, mountains, waterfalls etc.  7 days/6 nights total.  I will give 30-minute workshops to start every day, and we’ll be sketching on-location every morning and afternoon (with plenty of time to soak in the local culture).  

Here’s a link to the trip brochure:

We'd love to have you come along!

Fort Worth or Florence??

Most of the thousands of visitors to Fort Worth's Historic Stockyards District never realize that Marine Creek runs right under Exchange Street and its 19th century buildings...slide down the alley next to Riscky's Steakhouse, down a circular staircase, and it's another world.  I thoroughly enjoyed sketching this hidden scene with Herb Reed during our monthly Urban Sketchers Texas outing.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Hemingway as Creative Mentor

My friend and fellow student of writing and creative process Sebastien Wegeng forwarded me this article about Ernest Hemingway's interactions with a young, aspiring writer while living in Key West in 1934.  I found it fascinating and uplifting; I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  Thanks Sebastien.  Here's the link:


Friday, January 2, 2015

Freehand Drawing and Discovery in Iran

This week I've received correspondences from Maryam Mojtabavi, an enthusiastic lecturer in the Department of Architecture, Asrar Institute of Higher Education in Mashhad, Iran, who told me that she and her students were using my book, Freehand Drawing and Discovery, in their architecture  curriculum.  This morning I received several photos she sent of her students and their work, in which they were emulating and interpreting my drawings in the book.  I was truly moved, and grateful for the gesture.  This, above all, is the reason for all the hours and effort that go into writing a book like FDD--to pass the flame from one mind to another, across the world, across cultures, to new generations.  I thought you'd enjoy seeing them as well.  Thank you Maryam, and thanks  to your talented students.  Happy New Year.

Monday, December 29, 2014

"If You Don't Want to Change the World, Why Bother?"

A quick doodle of Peter Walker made in my pocket notebook during his session at the ASLA Annual Meeting in Denver.

At the recent Annual Meeting of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) in Denver, I was fortunate enough to snag a 2nd row seat in an educational session that featured renowned landscape architect Peter Walker. Walker's iconic works and towering influence in the world of environmental design over 50 years continues to fascinate and inspire me and countless others, but this session took me back to the first time I heard him.  It was 1976, and I was a green, 20-year-old design student traveling the East Coast of the U.S. with my landscape architecture classmates from LSU.  Our travels had brought us to the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where Walker was serving as Chair of Landscape Architecture.  In an early morning, informal discussion, Walker's thoughts turned to career advice for our cadre of aspiring designers.  He spoke of the massive positive changes landscape architecture could have on our cities, our country and beyond, but that making a difference would take a tremendous amount of energy, focus and dedication on our part. In speaking of the challenges ahead of us as students and professionals, he said, "There are lots easier ways to make a living.  If you don't want to change the world, why bother?"

Those words come back to me often, and I share them with my students every year.

Who are your influences?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Jim's Sketches Available as High Quality Prints

Hello everyone!  I hope you're enjoying the holiday season wherever you are in the world.  Over time, many people have asked me, "Do you ever sell your work?" The truth is that I never created sketches with the idea of selling them; they were a means to my own growth, to understanding the world I was living and traveling in, and occasionally to accompany stories or articles I'd written.  This week Patti and I set up an online storefront through Society6 to make prints available to those who've requested them.  It will allow anyone to purchase high-quality prints of many of my favorite sketches on paper or canvas.  Framed prints are available as well.  Please take a look around the site and tell me what you think.  If you don't see one of my sketches there that you'd like me to add, let me know.  I'd love to hear from you, on this site or at jim@townscape.com.  Thanks, and Happy New Year to all!  -Jim
Here's the link:  James Richards Prints

The Ruins of Kilchurn Castle in the Scottish Highlands is one of the images available as a high quality print.