Capturing the constantly changing road and landscape in front of me has become a calming, meditative obsession. I started drawing the ever-changing road sometime during college, while I was driving alone to a friend’s home. As I crossed three states over several hours, I began to feel increasingly connected to the landscapes in front of me, framed by the windshield.
The glass framing the landscape beyond sparked a memory of a junior high art lesson when we were asked to draw the perspective view through a large sheet of plexiglass. It was more instructive to stop thinking about HOW to construct a perspective and simply see it. There it is. Draw what you see. Since I had my sketchbook with me, I began to draw what I saw. While driving.
I am attracted to the one-point perspectives; they draw me in. They are compelling and make me want to stay awhile and explore what I see. Drawing a one-point perspective on the road may seem seductively simple: Draw the horizon line, then draw the lines that define each side of the road. While the exercise of drawing the view at regular intervals can be disciplined, challenging, cathartic, and even fun, it is never simple.
“Feeling” a perspective as you are moving through it while attempting to capture it is a beautiful exercise. The four-minute interval drawings become a peaceful game. You notice when a perfectly sublime view appears, but it may exist for only a fleeting second as opposed to a luxurious four minutes. The challenge is in trying to draw a view that is changing by the frustrating second. I have to make fast decisions, attempting to capture what I am seeing as it is changing into another view entirely.
I have filled well over a hundred sketchbooks, each of which includes between 50 and 150 views of the road. Over the years, I have translated these sketchbooks into both large- and small-format art, employing watercolors, printmaking processes, and even etching the journey onto maps. I am now transferring some of the more compelling drawings into even larger formats to see if what I viewed as transcendent on the road is just as captivating when it is removed from the context of the sketchbook and the actual journey.
When Texas Architect first published “Driving on the Right Side,” I was driving WHILE drawing. The article focused on the battle between the right and left sides of my brain. I have since stopped drawing when in the driver’s seat, but I will never stop wanting to capture the one-point perspectives of the journey while I am moving through it — on the right side.
Kimberly R. Kohlhaas, AIA, is an architect, REALTOR, and artist based in Austin. The Backpage of the March/April 1990 issue featured a series of sketches she drew while driving. To see a gallery of her drawings, visit txamagazine.org.