Observe Your Environment Through Sketching
The award-winning Kids Draw Architecture (KDA) program was developed in 1990 to enrich our community’s awareness of the built environment. KDA Sketch Sessions teach about the art, complexity, & importance of architecture. Young people are encouraged to sketch architectural landmarks during this fun and free activity held twice each spring guided by local architects and artists.
Sketching is an important way to focus and see things unnoticed before. The result is a better understanding of the various aspects of architecture – functionality, artistry, and importance. The relaxing activity of sketching demonstrates to our youth that drawing is an honored important skill and that architecture is functional art.
At the Sketch Sessions, paper, drawing board, and pencil are provided along with handouts including “sketching perspective tips” and a description and history about the building and site in English and Spanish. Each year roughly 50 children come to draw the featured buildings that include Santa Barbara’s iconic “jewels” such as the Santa Barbara County Courthouse designed by William Mooser III, the Lobero Theatre, by George Washington Smith and Lutah Maria Riggs, and the Arlington Theatre by Edwards & Plunkett, to name a few. KDA is an activity that honors and highlights Santa Barbara’s unique personality and promotes understanding of the importance of architecture and design in the planning and development of our built environment. Many KDA participants return year after year and once they reach high school, some come to sketch or to help in other ways and can earn community service credits. Fantastically, some participants have gone on to study and work in architecture, engineering, planning, and other related fields.
Each year at the Sketch Sessions, the children can choose to submit their drawings to the KDA Committee. From the drawings collected that year, the committee selects a “cross sectional representation” of the work including examples from all the participating age groups. These drawings are featured in the annual calendar (designed to include as many drawings as possible), as well as in the annual KDA Gallery Exhibition. Sponsors help underwrite the cost of printing 350 or so calendars each year that are then sold at the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and several independent local bookstores. To inspire the community, AFSB gives calendars to Santa Barbara’s public officials, including the California Congressional Representative, State Senator, County Supervisors, City Council Members, and City and County Planning Commissioners, and others.
At the end of the year to recognize and celebrate the children’s work even further, roughly 50 drawings are framed and displayed in an exhibition. A Gallery Opening Reception & Party is held to showcase their work. The exhibition is on display at AFSB’s beautiful Acheson House Art Gallery from early December to mid-January. The KDA drawings are also featured along with the American Institute of Architects Santa Barbara Chapter’s Design Matters exhibition.