I reflect on the idea that good design, like good technique, is invisible. The roads are challenging here. We navigate impossibly narrow streets, devilish switchbacks, and cavalier pedestrians but the driving is so instinctive, the Mazda CX-30’s performance so seamless it frees my mind to wander in the clouds as we drive. We orbit the lake through sun and shadow-striped tunnels. Ice cream-coloured villas line the elegant streets in lemon and pistachio tones, framed by grand cypress trees and vivid magenta geraniums.
As the light shifts we make brief stops for Sonia to sketch. The clouds scan past at pace and the quicksilver sky transforms itself by the second. I ask Sonia how she can possibly work fast enough to capture the scene. She quotes one of her heroes, Mark Rothko “A painting is not the picture of an experience but is the experience.” When she is out in the landscape she captures fragments, but she is not trying to literally depict the scene, rather she is gathering impressions. Later, back in her studio she will interpret these references to make the final work.