Sketch Nights at Houghton House – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Sketch Nights at Houghton House

Throughout the semester, architectural studies students remained hard at work in the evening at Houghton House, taking part in a special workshop on sketching techniques presented by the architectural studies teaching fellows.

The theme of one evening event was diagrammatic expression. “In the world of art and architecture, diagrams are an excellent way for an individual to express certain traits or concepts which they find interesting when looking at a particular structure, painting, or even a random household appliance,” said Teaching Fellow Andrew King ’14.

Students worked on exercises originally designed by Assistant Professor of Architectural Studies Kirin Makker for the semester in Rome program. “Students had to experiment with different ways of drawing foliage, for example,” explained Teaching Fellow Ana Garcia ’14, “Or they would have to work to understand the logic behind a certain sketch in order to duplicate it.”

For the many students who attended, it was an opportunity to learn from one another. Mike Kwilos ’16 attended a workshop in his first year, and was eager to return as a sophomore. “It turned out to be a great way to meet upper class students in the major, and get help from them,” he said. “I wanted to provide the same kind of help to anyone currently taking Introduction to Architecture.”

Garcia explained that this collaborative model is what drives the Teaching Fellow program in general, and these workshops in particular. “The more you get to see other people’s work, the more ideas you get,” she said.

As the students collaborated, they also built community, sharing advice and pizza. “It was nice to have older students there to help with sketching,” said Annie Langlois ’16, “I was able to ask general architecture questions after we had a meeting discussing courses for next semester. It was a good space to hang out with each other outside the stress of the studio, and discuss things other than our projects.”

Garcia agreed, “There was a real sense of community, and a lot of students had questions about the major that they were able to discuss with other students.”

The architectural studies teaching fellows work with students several nights a week at Houghton House and three times this semester they organized a special skills workshop. In September, students were invited to a “Sketch-In” to practice their drafting skills, and a few weeks later Teaching Fellows King and David Kloos ’15 led students on a “Sketch Crawl” around campus. For this workshop, they took advantage of the diminishing light from the sunset to focus on loose sketching rather than precise drafting. Garcia explains that low light reduces the amount of detail you can see, and helps students develop their loose sketching technique. “It is really interesting to see what you come up with when your field of vision is limited,” she said.

Next semester, plans for future workshops include a session on watercolor technique.

Colin Pomphrey ’16 visited the architectural studies teaching fellows regularly and noted, “It’s definitely a subject where it is helpful to receive advice from people who have been through the class processes. It’s very useful to have them look at your work and critique it, since they know what the professors expect and can prevent you from possible mistakes.”

Max Gorton ’16 agreed, “They really made the architecture department feel like a community-and the pizza doesn’t hurt!”

For more information, please contact Ruth Shields (

Written by Ingrid Keenan, program coordinator at CTL, for the CTL Faculty Enewsletter.