Over 500+ article essays by Maria Lorena Lehman

The Process of Painting to Explore Design Research Questions

from the studio

Sketches by Maria Lorena Lehman: © All rights reserved.

“For me, to research the complexity of adaptive architectural interaction and perception, painting is key.” 
— Maria Lorena Lehman 


Prior to painting I usually create a few preliminary sketches that further explore my current research questions. For example, the sketches shown above were done in preparation for my painting entitled, “Space-Time Causality In Motion”, and in this case, they help me explore how architectural design can be orchestrated to emit stimuli as an adaptive narrative.


As environments gain greater ability to flex, respond, and adapt beyond the kinetic movement of elements, architecture will embody entirely new forms of function, aesthetics, and meaning. And it is here where I see a profound leverage point. When strategically created, these new ways of interpreting and designing for motion can inject new adaptive behaviors into architecture – and these behavioral languages can be honed to nurture the actualization of human potential. For me, to research such complexity of adaptive architectural interaction and perception, painting is key.

Thus, I use sketches to explore and experiment with paint – before I lay down the first brushstroke. You see, I think as a painter as I draw with an ink pen, to explore the design research direction I seek to deepen, and with which I seek to create an experimental composition. In doing this, I am able to branch into even deeper research questions so when I do begin to paint, my mind is already flowing adventurously and deeply inside the research exploration underway. The “final” painting then unlocks answers, and even better research questions, that inform my next studioworks. This is a process that is always evolving, but I find it to be a very fulfilling to practice.

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