Wheat is a project architect and designer at Brown Reynolds Watford Architects in Dallas, as well as a full-blown lecturer in the School of Architecture at UT Arlington. Over the last 10 years, he has taught all levels of design, with an emphasis on graduate studio. In 2011, he became coordinator of first-year drawing, where he explores the speculative nature of sketching
in the digital age.
Drawing holds a formative place in architecture, in academia as well as in practice. Although the conventions in drawing are broad, it’s fundamentally a way of seeing. It’s a process that reflects how we internalize our environment, particularly through spatial and structural organization. My process begins with observation. When sketching in situ, I attempt to be still and internalize the moment, similar to meditation. I absorb the sun, the sounds, the wind, the stones — everything — from a phenomenological perspective. I try not to romanticize this reception, but maybe that’s the right word for it. For me, drawing is a curiosity, and I’m attracted to its uncertainty and speculative nature. Of course, I make use of such strategies as compositional hierarchy, juxtaposition, narrative, palimpsest, contrast, line weights, etc.; however, I let the composition reveal itself and rarely do I have a preconceived image in mind. Once I put down the first line, the next line is a reaction to the previous one. It’s an organic/intuitive process that allows the drawing to breathe and take on a life of its own. I don’t have a default drawing mode either; I let the narrative tell me what mode to think in — for example, perspective, axonometric, orthographic, or diagram. Once I have enough critical mass on the paper, my process oscillates between intuition and analysis until my curiosity is satisfied. I still find a pencil to be the most versatile medium. It’s hard to replace the feeling of graphite on my hands and the drag of a pencil across paper. Digital drawing, however, offers the ability to speculate in layers and in various opacities. I use a Wacom Cintiq drawing tablet with Painter X3 and Photoshop.