CSA co-founder Kristy Bishop got together with spring artist, Alan Jackson, and learned so much about his drawing process and much more.  Read on to find out what tools Alan uses, how Aikido affects his work, and how he divides his time between his day job as an architect and being a full time artist (something many artists do).

KB: What is an average day like working in your studio?

AJ: I divide my time between working on architectural projects in my home office and working on drawings. I usually work on architectural projects during the day. However, if there is some busy work to do on a drawing project such as sanding downwood panels or cutting paper or laying out a drawing, I do that during the day. I usually do final drawings after supper when I am more relaxed and have the tasks of the day out of the way.

KB: Are there any special tools that you use when working that you cannot live without?

AJ: I layout the drawings on a drawing board with a parallel bar, an adjustable triangle, scale, lead holder. The pen I’m currently using is the Sakura Micron 005. Prior to that my favorite pen was the Rotring Artpen recommended by Hirona Matsuda at Artist and Craftsman.

KB: You’ve previously mentioned that you set boundaries or rules for each piece.  Can you give some examples of what these are and the challenges that you give yourself?

AJ: Well, such as “no marks touching” if they are small marks, or “no lines touching” if they are long wavy lines…and the spacing has to be “just right- not too close, not too far apart.”

KB: I know you are an architect and that is a huge influence on your work. When and how did you start making these intricate drawings? Is this something that you have always done?

AJ: Around 1979 or 1980, I started doing drawings in a sketchbook I got on a trip to DC. After work, I wanted to do something other than architectural drawings – something more spontaneous. The sketchbook has gridded paper and so I started just drawing lines in an automatic way, but the grid provided a structure to the spontaneous drawing exercise so they became bi-laterally symmetrical compositions which I composed as I went along.

KB: Besides being an artist and an architect, what do you like to do in your spare time?

AJ: Off the clock time is spent doing Aikido, walking, watching movies on Netflix, listening to music, or reading. I also take weekend trips to visit friends, family or going to Aikido seminars.

KB: How does Aikido affect your art?

AJ: The physical exercise is a good counterpoint to having to stand still and draw. It has taught me how to pursue relaxation which helps keep me focused and helps prevent my hand from shaking when I’m doing the meticulous line drawings.

When I began doing the large drawings that were in the Under the Radar show at the City Gallery in 2011, I thought about “whole-body connection” which is the emphasis of all martial arts training. I worked on drawing long straight and wavy lines by moving my whole body rather than simply my arm. All good, relaxed efficient movement employs whole-body movement – and originates from the “center.” It keeps me focused and thinking about precision.



Alan Jackson is one of the Spring Season artists.