I recently spent a few days at The Sea Ranch on the Sonoma Coast. This is a place to recharge your batteries, write, sketch, hike, and do report cards. The Sea Ranch is about two and a half hours (100 miles) north of San Francisco and runs ten miles south from the Mendocino County border at the Gualala River in a narrow strip in between the rocky-coved coastline and the San Andreas Fault.
It was developed in the 1960’s and it is renowned around the world for its innovative and influential architecture. The original concept was to create buildings that worked with and not against the rugged Sonoma coast landscape. The design and style was influenced from it’s setting and the existing farm buildings on the former sheep ranch. As founding landscape architect Lawerence Halprin expressed it:
I was convinced that Sea Ranch could become a place where nature and human habitation could intersect in a kind of intense symbiosis that would allow people to become part of the ecosystem
I stayed in the iconic Sea Ranch Lodge ( featured sketch) which was among the first four buildings erected on the site to be a place where the community meets, picks up their mail and has a cocktail and a meal. This building is bookended by the iconic stylized rams heads that is Sea Ranch’s logo, designed by Barabara Stauffacher.
I stayed in room number 2. The room had the feeling of being in an elegant coastal barn but with an expansive view out to the west of Big Blue and the lines of pelican and cormorant that passed over Bihler Point.
I headed north on Highway One to sketch one of the touchstones of my sketching universe, the Sea Ranch Chapel. I sat on a stone bench in front of the chapel, which was created without a blueprint. I started to sketch, using a Micron “Brown” pen. A visitor wandered out of her way to see what I was doing. She asked knowingly, ‘Doing a sketch?” Then she looked toward the uneven, shingled lines of this odd aquatic sea slug and offered, “Good luck.” But I thought, finally I get to sketch a building, without using a single straight line.
My father once paid me a compliment as he looked over the architectural sketches in one of my journals. He said, “You draw really good straight lines.” This coming from my father who was an engineer and always thought in straight lines. This has always been the best compliment I have every had about my sketching.
So I went into the chapel and said a few words to close and holy golden light, a message to my departed dad.