Influenced by the first-generation Abstract Expressionist artists, who shared the methodology of discovering a picture in the means of its making, Diebenkorn nurtured the practice of developing each mark that he made as an emotional response to the previous one, thus creating a picture that was a chain of such responses. Indeed, one senses an adaptive accumulation of semi-automatic incident in his drawings from the 1950s. With their linear mode and scattered drips, they recall Joan Miro and Jackson Pollock.
Diebenkorn's first mature abstract pictures were made in Sausalito (prior to 1950), when he was teaching in San Francisco; in Albuquerque, New Mexico (1950-1952), where he was enrolled as a graduate student on the G.I. Bill; in Urbana, Illinois (1952-53), where he taught for an academic year and in Berkeley, California (1953-55). These abstract drawings refer to observed and remembered motifs, usually landscapes, and differ in palette, line and compositional structure according to where they were conceived.
The Berkeley drawings seem to increase in density and darkness; however some return to a lighter and more playful mode. Untitled (Berkeley), 1954, reveals a thinner and denser web of meandering lines and curving arcs that span the surface of the paper. Ink drips are more pervasively distributed over the surface. The chaos is tempered by thicker vertical and horizontal "scaffolds" that appear to anchor the work. For all its levity, the work bears a strong sense of internal composition, a defining characteristic of Diebenkorn's work.