Posts tagged staff

As 2017 year comes to a close, the AHBE LAB contributors are taking time to look back at our year’s worth of posts. We are each identifying the most memorable post and sharing what we found interesting, informative, and inspiring. Enjoy the flashback, and let us know which post you thought was most memorable.

I believe the skill of an artist derives from the combination of their passions with a devotion to practice. It’s not something that’s visible every day (maybe following a writer who blogs daily), and it’s usually done behind the scenes, often gone unnoticed and even unappreciated.

Jenni’s interview with Chuan – complete with her “sketch calendars” shown behind her monitor – captured the development of her tremendous sketching/designing skill that is evident to the entire office. Her skill has been a constant inspiration to me in the development of my writing, sketching, and designing abilities – a practice I believe should be a daily practice within our profession: to create something every day.

The original post here: AHBE Lab Interviews: Chuan Ding – Sketching: Praxis & Pleasure

Chuan Ding is a landscape designer at AHBE Landscape Architects and has a playful way of sketching what she sees.

Chuan draws on anything she can find. All photos by Jenni Zell.

When did you start sketching?
I began sketching when I was really young. One of my earliest memories is of my dad; he was an oil painter and would leave his unfinished canvases on easels around the house. One time I took his brushes and painted on top of one of his paintings. He still has it.

Chuan works out design details for a project.

Were you always drawing on your notebooks in school?
I drew a lot in kindergarten and elementary school, but quit drawing in high school because I spent so much time studying that I did not have time to draw. When I went to college in China, I started drawing again because we were required to for school. I went to Nanjing Forestry University and we were trained to draw classic Chinese landscape scenes with lots of decorative patterns. The sketches were very formal and took many hours to make. We did not use computer programs for technical drafting or drawing through our third year. Our end of studio exams were about 4-6 hours long and all our plans, details, bird’s-eye-views, and perspectives were hand drawn.

I am sure the process was quite different when you went to USC for graduate school?
At USC I only sketched when I was thinking through an initial concept. Most of the time I used the computer for drawing.

Chuan’s June Post-it note calendar.

Do you sketch now during the design process?
I always like to start with a sketch and then put it into CAD. I have my own style – loose and fast – and it helps me to think through ideas and organize my thoughts. Sometimes I don’t have an idea and I start drawing. At the beginning, it may not have any meaning, but eventually a shape will emerge and I can develop that idea.

How do you find time to draw?
Drawing is a stress release for me and I began sketching in meetings. I started sketching more when I burned out my hard drive at work and the spinning wheel would come up on my computer after opening Illustrator or other drawing programs.  I made use of the time by sketching. I also sketch at home. If I am watching a movie and I see a nice composition, I will take a screen shot and then copy it by drawing the scene.

Chuan’s July Post-it not calendar.

I knew you were talented at computer drawing because we work on projects together, but I didn’t know you were also talented at hand drawing until I noticed your Post-it note calendar in your work space. Tell me about your calendar?
I try to find something special, or fun about every day and I spend 10 minutes making a sketch about what I discover. Drawing is a way to express myself and if I find something inspiring, or fun, I sketch it and put in my calendar.

Do you think you will keep producing your calendar every month?
That is the plan for now.

Interview conducted and condensed by Jenni Zell.



Photo: Jennifer Salazar

Yesterday marked the Autumnal Equinox, the seasonal transition when the sun rises directly in the east and sets directly in the west. Starting from today, the sun will rise and set further and further to the south. In the northern hemisphere, this means fewer hours of sunlight and less direct sunlight. Autumn marks the transition between the hot days of summer and the cooler days of winter.

Some of the AHBE staff shared what they are looking forward to during this autumn season in Los Angeles:

Creative Commons Photo: (Floss Silk Tree) 美人樹 | by Hildegard_Chen

Creative Commons Photo: (Floss Silk Tree) 美人樹 | by Hildegard_Chen

“Love seeing the orchid-like flowers blooming from Floss Silk Trees for fall; crisp fall mornings, pumpkin patches sprouting up randomly in the city.”
Wendy Chan

“Fall gardening: removing plants that are dead/don’t work, clipping plants, weeding, soil amending, and, of course, shopping and planting new plants.”
Linda Daley
Managing Principal

“I just love the eerie autumn sound of the Santa Ana Winds as it blows through the San Gabriel Valley canyons and through its valley floor. Not sure how the winds do it, but at night, the houselights, street lights and stop lights around the valley seem to sparkle as if they were reflection of the stars above. Cannot wait to brew some hot coffee late into the night just to sit back and enjoy the show.”
Katharine Rudnyk
Urban Horticulturalist

“I am looking forward to cooler weather and I keep praying for rain.”
Jenni Zell
Project Manager


Photo: Jennifer Salazar

“Picking pomegranates from our backyard shrub and making grenadine; cooler morning weekend hikes with my family in the hills with clearer views of the city and beach; and hopefully some more rain!”
Jennifer Salazar
Senior Associate