I worked on another large 20×28 inch ink drawing this week. That seems to be my habit lately. It’s what gets me by. It can be tough figuring out what I want to do in terms of making art and when I find something I stick with it as long as I can. It’s hard to make art. It’s hard to do most everything which is why people get paid to do work. But imagine if you weren’t getting paid. Would you still do your job? Of course not. And that’s why so many artists stop making art as they get older. Unless they can find a way to make a living doing their art it fades away. Finding motivation to make art is a task. Often the answer to the question “What should I do?” has no answer and so nothing gets done. When I have an answer to that question I try to make the most of it. That’s why I’ve been making these large ink drawings.

“How long is this going to take?” is one of the first questions a person has to ask themselves before undertaking any task. The longer it’s going to take the harder it will be to motivate yourself. Answering that question isn’t always easy with these large ink drawings. The first couple I did took two days each which is what I estimated. That’s not bad but they took less time than they could have because I already had working drawings done for them.

How long does it take to make a working drawing? That’s another tough question. It takes either an hour or two days. That’s quite a spread. I recently made a working drawing for one of these large pieces and it took me nearly an entire day. It took a lot longer than I expected. Normally I work up a few drawings at once. I spend some time looking though one of my sketchbooks, pick out a four or five drawings, print them out in blue line on 6×9 inch paper, work on redrawing them until I have a group of working drawings. But it doesn’t finish there. Some of them need to be blown up to 9×12 or 10×15 inches and have finished drawings made out of them. Sometimes a 6×9 inch working drawing is good enough to blow up and make a finished work out of and sometimes I need a finished drawing. It’s a case by case thing.

The reason the 6×9 inch drawing for the ink drawing took so much time is that I knew it was going to be blown up big. I added a lot more detail into it than I normally would. I should have decided early on to blow it up to 9×12 and work on the detail but I kept thinking to myself that with just a little more time I wouldn’t have to do that. Time caught up with me though.

That brings me to the large ink drawing I just finished. It only took me one day to do and that was my goal with it. I wanted to finish a large ink drawing in one day. That what I had the motivation for. Of course the only way I could accomplish this task is if I already had the working drawing finished. My mind thought back to a small drawing I made that I always wanted to make something bigger out of.

The original drawing was from 2003 and was from a series of drawings that I made of faces. That was back when I was first working with spontaneous drawing and I drew a hundred faces in marker on 5×7 inch paper with no pencil underdrawing. I’ve used some of those faces over the years for different things and here was another opportunity to. They aren’t finished drawings though. That could have been a problem but I remembered attempting to use this face before for something else and having made a finished drawing out of it. I just had to find it. I scan almost every one of my drawings in so I looked through my folder of scans. It took twenty minutes but I found it. I made a finished drawing of the face I wanted back in 2012.

The rest of the drawing was done by my usual method. I blew the drawing up to 20×28, printed it out on pieces of paper, taped the paper together, used graphite paper to trace the drawing onto the big paper, and then went to work making an ink drawing. I use brushes, ink, markers, straight edges, French curves, a ship’s curve, an adjustable curve, circle templates, and eclipse templates to make these large drawings.

This drawing is of what can only be described as a scary clown. I generally have no problem with clowns. I don’t find them scary at all. But this clown face is definitely weird and unsettling. He’s peering out at us from some place unknown. He might be looking in a window or he might be looking into a camera. The face is on a diagonal and is cropped oddly. It’s cropped in such a way that emphasizes his glaring at us. Its a real strange face that has stuck with me over the years. I’m glad I finally found something fun to do with it.

It turns out the small drawing wasn’t quite finished. Scale is important when it comes to making art and enlarging something small to something big can change things. In this case it was the markings on his face. When I finished drawing what was on the small drawing there was too much negative space on the face. I had put in all the same black shapes that were in the small drawing but I needed more. Small areas of white became large glaring areas of white when the drawing was blown up. So I added more stuff.

One line on the bridge of the nose became two lines. The eyes had bent black triangles drawn around them. The eyebrows on the forehead became an entire forehead design. Under the mouth and chin got some new stripes. The cheeks got some new stripes too. Plus a few more circles were added. Overall the face just got more stuff added to it.

I like this one. I thought since it was a single face I could get it done in a day and I did. It was a close thing though. At the end I kept looking at it and one more thing would suggest itself to me. That’s a process where I never know when it’s going to end. But eventually it did and here we are.