—It's a one-stop shop," landscape architect Thomas Oslund says of the black-
bound blank books he has been carrying with him since he was an undergraduate. At first the books were more about replicating others' ideas. Now they reflect the cycle of his varied projects, which include corporate gardens, memorials, golf courses, and vineyards. Drawings for a specific site give way to meeting notes and questions jotted during phone calls. There are sketches from his travels and occasional drawings by his children. He jokes that they reflect his ADD tendencies: "I'm a huge multitasker."
Although it has become something of a lost art in architecture, superceded by computers and the rise of architectural software, Oslund is dedicated to drawing. One of his first bosses was an architect who believed that working drawings should be able to hold their own against any other art. When you work solely on the computer, Oslund says, you are missing a crucial physical connection to the creative process: "The computer screen removes you from the process. You're not physically touching something, your hand isn't moving across the paper. There's a tactileness that's absolutely essential to the laking of something." Oslund's inspirations are formidable. In college he loved going to Har vard's rare-book library to look at the sketchbooks of the masters, such as Le
Corbusier or Frederick Law Olmsted. Later, when he won the Rome Prize and spent a year in Italy, he had the opportunity to see several of da Vinci's codices. Each of these works provided windows into the creative process: "Look-.ng at journals is a lot different than looking at a finished drawing. You start ;o see and almost understand how the ideas evolved into a final product."
Oslund keeps his process transparent for clients and others involved on a project to see. He has a keen awareness of the allure of creativity and says that, probably because of our reliance on technology and most people's distance from their own artistic talents, drawing is a bit magical. "I sit down and draw in front of my clients," he says, "and they're often very curious about it. It's something of a mystical talent."
He feeds his creativity by traveling and returning to the original purpose of his journals: to record inspiration. In Glacier National Park, he did a watercol-or of a mountain landscape. His daughter Ingrid, now twelve, felt it was not complete and added a small skier to one of the slopes. On a trip to Norway he drew a carved mortise-and-tendon church whose style predates the Vikings. Fondly recalling the superb craftsmanship, he says, "I just needed to remember that one."
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