On Drawing – Thoughts, Theory

Pastre Kelly Pennington CDRedlining

IMG_2142Paper and organic pumpkins, 2017
Craft Credit: (L) Lynn Wg and (R) Tyler McKenzie

Hope y’all had a great Halloween and got to go Trick-or-Treating!  The weather has been colder the last few days, time to pull out the sweaters and jackets for the final arrival of fall in Charleston!


The last two weeks I have been focusing on construction documents, or making drawings that are commonly referred to blueprints.  It’s a casual word that many people have heard before, but it is a very specific type of drawing that can have legal weight and ramifications when used as instruments of service in the contracts for designing and constructing buildings.  The term, “blueprint,” came from the copying process of an original drawing to duplicates using ferro-gallate chemically coated paper that was exposed to light.


The term, “drawing,” brings up a whole range of emotions and feelings for me; I find it an interesting word because it is spelled the same for both the noun and the verb.  Drawing as a noun could include different types of drawings – representation and graphic communication tools such as: sketches, vignettes, diagrams, analytical drawings; designing tools such as: plans, sections, elevations, details, axonometrics; and storytelling tools such: perspective drawings, presentation drawings, and renderings.  There are a host of fields related to drawing and perception, drawing and memory, drawing and decision making.


A love for (noun) drawings – specifically freehand drawing and sketching – is what drew me into field of architecture, if you will excuse the pun.  I saw some drawings of Leonardo da Vinci’s sketchbooks and was amazed at what I like to call, “thinking drawings,” – a conglomerate of diagram, plan, section, elevation, detail, perspective that are done by hand of varying scale and techniques.  These are my favorite type of drawings, and the way that I like to think and make decisions.

Leonardo-da-Vinci-Drawing-of-churches.pngLeonardo da Vinci, Codex Drawings

Here are some of those sketchy “thinking drawings” that I have been involved with over the last few weeks – all of these relate to the storage shed that I have written about in my previous post:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Slideshow: Assortment of various sketches with multiple hands involved: David Pastre, Perry Hammond, and myself.

Construction drawings are one type of drawing – they contain the technical science of building and delineate space and form while specifying scale, materials, and relationships between materials.  They’re often made of a combination of plans, elevations, sections, details, and schedules that do a couple of functions: they allow code officials to check for issues of life, safety, and wellness for the general public – and they have information that a builder would need to construct the design in real life.  There is also an art and a craft of making good construction drawings that are easy to read and understandable.  There are also layers of design that are often not covered in construction documents that may be used in construction – decisions that are handled in the field or through shop drawings.


Today we are hoping to submit construction drawings to John Moore, our consulting engineer, for his review – where he will check our design against dead and live loads of the structure and verify sizes and calculations for the structural elements – making sure the building would be safe for the public.  These will be the same types of things that the County of Charleston Building Department will be checking – structural members, sizes of structural members, relationships of structure and materials.  We’ll need to submit our drawings to the building department in order to get our permit to start construction.


Design-build is a special type of architectural delivery system where the architect and the builder are the same entity, which generally means a higher level of collaboration between what are typically separate entities.  Since they are on the same team which allows for greater speed in the design and construction processes, they can often pass on financial savings or schedule/time savings to the client.


After the construction drawings are complete, reviewed, and approved – we’ll have a building permit in hand and can start construction of our pavilion.


Recommended reading : Drawing on the Right Hand Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
Glenn Murcutt: Thinking Drawing / Working Drawing by Glenn Murcutt


Feature image: David Pastre, Matthias Kelly, and J.T. Pennington drawing and thinking


  1. Fascinating JT, you are quite gifted.I am so glad you are getting to develop it. Happy Halloween 🎃.

Leave a Reply