To Timaree et al


An online artist friend, who has visited my blog for many years and has been a huge encourager, asked a question in one of her recent comments on this beach post. I thought I’d take a bit of time to answer her questions, which may be of interest to others as well. Here is what she asked:

“…Love your drawings. I look at the complexity of them and wonder if you

start in pencil but it really looks like you dive in with pen –

do you just start with the nearest objects and work back?

I don’t see lines crossing through objects as if added after something else…”


So I’ll try to walk you through a moment in time I wanted to draw. This photo is of my favorite portable drawing chair. I love the arm that hinges up to hold your drawing supplies.


These are the drawing goodies I’m using for this type of sketching: 08 Prismacolor Fineliner Pen, Oil Pastels, 6″ x 6″ Flexisketch book.


Here is the view I had while sitting in our driveway. Randy was smoking my favorite barbecue for the Fourth of July. Please note that I was not intent on drawing or painting the light!! This is important, because you have to choose what you’re after in a drawing. If I was here to draw the light, this would be completely different. I am only after the lines…the lovely lines that meander in and through my life, the present moment, this here and now.

I often enjoy drawing something that is up close to me with some of the things in the background. Sometimes I stick very close to what I actually see. Sometimes I move objects around in order to compose them in the square space the way I want them. Degas was a master at composing paintings and drawings that were off-kilter, or partly out of the picture plane, as if he was viewing them through a camera lens. I love this way of drawing.

I do NOT use a pencil first or at any point in the drawing. I just go right into it with the pen. This is VERY important!! Working with a pen frees you from having to erase “mistakes”. You MUST leave your lines the way they are! No need to go and redraw what seems a bit “off”, or even a lot “off”. Of course, redrawn lines CAN be really fun! But I just let lines fall the way they will and keep on going!


So I start with the biggest shape, which is typically the one closest to me. In my  mind’s eye I have zoomed in on the Weber grill, so I start with the fun shape of the grill, not worrying that some of it goes off the page (in fact that is my intent!!) Once I have the basic shape of the grill, I can add a few details, like handles, the vent at the top, etc.


Then I begin to work in the “background”, once again choosing the shape I want to be sure is included in my drawing. In this case, I really wanted our red door to be in the picture, so I had to “scrunch” the background over a bit for this to happen. Once I have the door where I want it, I can fill in the bushes, the garage door lines, the begonia ivy, the steps, etc. I forgot to take more pics along the way here ’cause I get so caught up in drawing. Time just falls away…I love that!


Here’s another view of the same thing, but after the meat has been removed to go cook for a few hours. We’ll be having friends over for our barbecue feast, so I’m grabbing some time here to draw before they come! I moved my chair to give me the view I wanted.


Once again, I draw the big shapes of the grill first. I don’t worry about being terribly precise. I like wonky. Wonky drawings are better in my opinion! And I don’t worry about how much of the grill doesn’t even get drawn! No need to! I love the off-the-page look! It suggests that these things in my life are bursting off the page, have a life of their own outside of my little drawing.


Then I decide that the background shape I want to be sure to include is the flag. So I once again, move the background over a bit to accommodate the flag in my drawing. (Does this make any sense?)


I work my way from the flag down to the bushes and then over above the grill, eyeballing distances between things, but not measuring or making everything perspectively perfect. I’m just after an impression of the moment.

And then comes the  color…


I pull out my oil pastels (sometimes I use Neocolor II watercolor crayons) and decide which objects will get color. It really has more to do with my preference, or what I want to highlight. But I don’t want to overdo it. Just a few bits of color here or there. And voila!



I hope this helps, Timaree, and anyone else who might benefit from it! Thank you so much for your faithful presence here on my blog and for taking the time to comment!! I truly appreciate it!!

**And as an aside…this is one of the ways I live artfully. Taking a few moments to trace the lines of my world around me, helps me to see the beauty that lies therein. The pen and the page become a new set of glasses enabling me to see what I really have. Drawing my life silences the clamor in my head for something other than what I have. If you want to draw your life too, check out my Drawing Your Life Mini Lessons. 

0 thoughts on “To Timaree et al

  1. Phyllis Alden says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This is so freeing…and validating. My husband always wants me to do portraits. I enjoy the landscape of the face, but hate the stress I feel while doing the detailed measuring. I’ve decided to have fun doing quasi-portraits which gives me portrait-time while making it fun to practice. I’m making art, not a photo and not a formal portrait. YAYE! Art is fun again!

    • jenpedwards says:

      You go girl!! It makes me so happy to know you are freely exploring all the creative ways you can do a portrait!! I’d love to see one of your quasi-portraits, should you ever wish to share!:) Thanks for visiting today Phyllis!

  2. Linda B. says:

    Thank you so much! I had all the same questions – I have followed you for a while but never had the nerve to try what you do. You explain it so well. I also love your pictures that look like they are all made with colored pens, so creative! I have gel pens in multi colors – is that what you use?
    Thanks again.

    • jenpedwards says:

      Hi Linda! The colored pens I use are not gel pens, but just regular ball point pens. They are fun to pair with neocolor 2 watercolor crayons. Thank you for visiting!

  3. Suzanne O. says:

    Thank you for taking the time to explain so well to us and for letting us look over your shoulder while sketching! I particularly like that you don’t draw exactly what you see but make your own personal composition with the elements that attract you most! That was really an inspiration to me who always struggle and measure to represent 1:1 what I see. Moreover it looks much better! I must try your approach too! Thanks again for being so inspiring!

    • jenpedwards says:

      You are so welcome Suzanne! There are certainly drawings where I measure, such as realistic charcoal portraits. But for other types of drawings I typically range from “eyeballing” distances to ignoring the “correct” measurement in order to make the drawing how I want it. You as the artist should feel free to compose how you want and even to take things out of the picture if you want! Art is wonderful that way! Thank you for visiting and commenting!

  4. Diane says:

    Thanks for this. So helpful to see how you put your drawings together and how willing you are to move things around. I’m afraid I still cannot do what you do. I seem to be stuck drawing almost exactly what is in front of me. This is something I will have to consciously work on. Rearranging things, exaggerating color, there are so many things you do that I love.

    • jenpedwards says:

      Just go for it Diane! You might be surprised how well it turns out! Thank you for visiting and commenting!

  5. mse66 says:

    Thanks for sharing your life and art with us. I follow your blog(s) for many years now and find them inspiring.
    Greetings from France.

  6. freebirdsings says:

    🙂 ! Thanks so much Jennifer! This really did help. I liked how you explained and showed the “scrunching”. Your pictures never look scrunched so without that explanation we were missing I think, a key. Oh, maybe just one of many keys (which as you say, your mini lessons uncovered a whole key ring full) but a good one. But now this brings up a different, smaller question. Do you spray the oil pastel with a fixative and does it not bleed through an oily spot to the next page? That worry is why I’ve stayed away from the bright, fun pastels.

    Hope your barbecue turned out as well as it sounded. Is your appetite coming back for some of your favorite foods then? My son-in-law suddenly didn’t want turkey sandwiches and until I reminded my daughter of what she’d said about anesthesia, she couldn’t figure out why after 20 years he’d suddenly not want them. So he is another one whose taste changed because of it. I have a turkey in the freezer I was saving to cook for him but now…. Anyhow, I hope that smoked and barbecued meat was delicious and your company was fun.

    And thanks so much for counting me as an online friend. I am the one who is honored by your friendship you have shown towards everyone here on your blog. You know, they say ministry comes in many forms. Any way we spread the love God gives out in a constant manner is ministry as Jesus did it. For one, you tell us parables of loving the life we are given through drawing and enjoying what is right around us. Thank you!

    • jenpedwards says:

      Oh Timaree, what a lovely comment. I will treasure that! To answer your question about the oil pastels…I do not use any kind of spray and haven’t had a problem with bleed through. However I don’t draw on both sides of this paper because even the black lines show through. But the pastels don’t seem to leave oily spots either. If you’re concerned that it might , you could use a small piece of tracing paper over top of your drawing to keep it from coming through. And yes, I have my appetite back! Even my taste for coffee is back, though I’m drinking decaf now!! Thanks for asking!!

  7. Elaine Magliacane says:

    Wonderful… I too LOVE your delightful drawings and seeing the step by step and reading your thought process was so helpful. Thank you for taking the time to do this and share it with the world.

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