“A Burst of Need” 22×30 inches.

I usually scan in my art as a matter of course. It’s part of my habit. A drawing, a painting, or a sketch in a sketch book, if it’s flat I can put it on my scanner and digitize it. It’s part of my working process. I make a thumbnail sketch, scan it in, blow it up, print it out, and then make a drawing right on top of the thumbnail, scan in that drawing, print it out, and ink over top of that one. Then I scan in the inks. If it’s one of my faux comic book covers I color over the inks with marker and then scan in the finished piece.

I tell you all this to let you know that scanning is no big deal to me. I do it all the time. I have a tabloid size (11×17 inches) scanner so that makes things easier since I often work on 11×17 inch paper. Back when I only had a 8.5×11 inch scanner I use to have to scan 11×17 inch stuff in two pieces and then stitch them together in Photoshop. I still have to do that when I make something 16×20 inches but it’s not very hard. I’ve been at this a long time.

But there is one scanning chore that I’ve been putting off for a long time. Scanning in my Big Ink Drawings. I first made some of these 22×30 inch drawings back in mid 2012 and kept making them until mid 2015. In the end I had made twenty six of them. Then from last September (2018) until January I made another twenty eight of them. That’s a lot of big drawings.

As I was making all those new big ink drawings at the end of 2018 I was thinking to myself that I would have to scan them all in. Turns out that just like with the first batch of those drawings that it’s easier to think about scanning them in then to actually scan them in. I think one of the problems was that I had no real reason to scan them in. I’ve photographed them all and have posted photos of them and it’s not like any of them have gone anywhere so why scan them? I have no real answer except for that I wanted to.

Photographs are okay for posting these big ink drawings on social media but not really for archiving them. If I ever want to make something printed from them I would need scans. I’m not even sure why I would need to make printouts of them but you never know. So over the weeks I got closer and closer to really scanning them until one afternoon I finally did.

I find it odd that I started the project in the afternoon. I’m a morning person. That’s my most creative time. Maybe that’s why when I contemplated scanning I didn’t want to start in the morning. It’s just too dull a job to be at my peak. So a few more days went by and I still couldn’t get it done. Then Saturday afternoon at about 3:30 I decided to just jump into it.

The first hurdle to scanning was that I had to move my scanner. It’s regular spot can’t accommodate a 22×30 inch piece of paper. If it could I would have scanned these in as I went along. I pulled out a spare table, set it up in front of my computer, and moved my scanner onto it. Of course I had to also unplug the power and USB cables before I moved the scanner adding to the chore.

The rest was as mundane as it gets. I’d place the top left quadrant of the drawing on the scanner, secure it in place with a piece of tape, name the file, scan, untape, move to the bottom left, tape (same piece), scan, untape, flip the drawing, top right, tape, set up the scanner to flip the image, scan, untape, bottom right, untape, and I’m done with that one. Repeat that 52 times.

The scanning itself didn’t take a long time. Being that I was scanning in greyscale (they’re black and white drawings) it took one third the time of a color scan. I’m not sure of the exact time but I bet it was about a minute a scan. That’s 208 scans and 208 minutes. The whole operation took me from about 3:30 until 8:30 with half an hour in there for dinner. That might have been less time than I imagined but it didn’t go quickly.

The most surprising thing about all that scanning to me was how physically taxing it was. I’ve spent days scanning in batches photos and negatives that took me more time but the photos were more mentally taxing than physically. Moving all the drawings took a lot out of me. The drawings are not heavy but they have to be handled carefully. Plus my hands are several feet apart as I move the drawings. Each one had to be picked up from the “To Do” pile, moved four times for four scans, and then be place on the “Done” pile. That adds up to more than I suspected.

After an hour of scanning I started to sit down between scans. I usually stand and work so it was odd to sit. Of course sitting didn’t always work because I has to get up so often to get the next scan going. I did have the TV to keep my company. I watched three episodes of “Friends”, one of “Broad City”, one of “FBI”, a one episode of “White Dragon.” At least that’s what I can remember. I think I watched some YouTube stuff in there too.

When I was done I was done. Wiped out. I was also a little bit afraid to put everything away. I would have hated to get the scanner back in its place only to find out I missed something. So I checked everything carefully and then finally put things back in their places.

The one thing that hasn’t happened with the scans yet is that they’re not stitched together. Each drawing is still in four separate scans. I have to put the pieces together. But that’s for another day. Who knows when that will be?