Time flies. It has a way of passing that, in hindsight, makes things that happened a while ago seem like they happened just yesterday. That thought entered my head because I made some large drawings this week for the first time in a while. After I did them I checked my calendar and “A while” was longer ago than I thought. As I write this it’s August of 2018. I thought it had been about two years since I made my last large 20×28 inch ink drawing but then I looked it up and it turns out that the last one I drew was in January of 2015. That’s three and a half years ago. How did that happen?

I like making large ink drawings. I made a bunch of them from September 2012 until January of 2015 but then I stopped. One of the things about making large drawing is that I have to be in a large mood to do it. I have to believe that it’s important to make them. That’s true of making most art but the larger the piece the more I have to believe in it. That’s because they take up more time and space so they better have an importance to me or I’ll stick to smaller and easier to manage stuff. I don’t think that’s an unusual thought process either. It’s tough to be ambitious when there is no reward for the ambition.

When I first started making these large ink drawings I bought a new drawing board to put on my easel. It’s a 24×36 inch white pressboard that fits the large paper nicely. For the last six years it’s been sitting on my easel if I don’t have a painting on there. Since I haven’t had the ambition to make a lot of big paintings in that time it’s been on there a lot. I also put my 11×17 inch finished drawings on the drawing board so that I can look at them. Since it’s a white board I find the glare coming off it makes the drawings hard to see. So I keep one of my large ink drawings on the board at all times. That means for the last three and a half years I’ve been looking at whatever 20×28 inch drawing that is on the board and thinking to myself that I should draw another. Then time passed.

I think it was my annual birthday BBQ that got me motivated. I guess the aftermath of my BBQ might be more accurate. Y’see there is always a post-party letdown. Leading up to the BBQ there is lots to be done. The day of the BBQ there is lots to be done and a lot of fun to be had. Then the day after it’s all over and here comes the realization that every day can’t be a party. That’s the post party letdown. With me it can linger well into the week. Somehow in that funk the thought came to me to make a large drawing. I think I decided that some ambition would be good for me.

I looked through my pile of unused drawings for something appropriate. I remember thinking over the years that this one or that would make a good large ink drawing so I had a few to choose from. I picked one, printed it out in pieces on four 11×17 inch pieces of paper, taped the four sheets of paper together, and then transferred the drawing to the large sheet of paper using graphite paper. After that I started the drawing using markers, French curves, a brush, and ink.

Oddly, about fifteen minutes after I started I hated the drawing. Making a 20×28 inch drawing is a process and I seemed to have forgotten how to draw using that process. It was frustrating. I wanted to tear up the paper and start over. Or give up all together. But being that is was fairly late in the evening I decided to give it a rest and tackle it the next day. That was a good decision.

The next day I dove right in. I remembered how it was done and even added a few new things. One of the first things I came to grips with was that I should have completed my smaller drawing. It was a 6×9 inch drawing and really wasn’t ready to be blown up to 20×28 inches. I skipped making a finished 9×12 inch drawing so now I would have to do some finishing on the large drawing instead. This wasn’t the end of the world but was a step I usually didn’t have to do.

This particular drawing is called “Dance Through” and the 6×9 drawing was made on July 28, 2015. It’s been sitting around for a while. I worked on the large drawing for about 20 hours. That about usual for one of these. It’s not quite the same ambition as a 50 hour painting but it’s a lot more than a four hour drawing. I think one of the problems I had with it at first was that it has more small elements, like the woman at the top left, that in my other big drawings. It took a while to sync them all up and get the shapes and spaces right. It also took a lot of textures. I think I have about ten different textures in there as well as the black line. That took plenty of organization.

Working on this did it’s job. Sometimes it takes making a work of greater ambition than normal to really get into it. It pulled me out of my post-party funk and into the act of making art. It took a lot of thought and a lot of doing. By the end of making it I decided to jump right into another one. I spent my weekend making a second 20×28 inch drawing. This time of a large face. It was easier than the first one since the drawing was finished but by the end of drawing that second one I was finished. I had forgotten how much work they take and two in a row was tough by the end.

Still I’m happy with them. Happy enough that with some rest I even started a third. This one I’ll take slow.