Time sure can slip by can’t it? I ask this because this week I decide to make one of my Big Ink Drawings. They are done on 22×30 inch paper and are made with brushes, India ink, markers, straight edges, French curves, and my Haff hatching machine. All the stuff that helps me get black ink on paper. Sometimes I use color ink but most often its black ink.

I can’t even tell you how many of these Big Ink Drawings I’ve made of the last ten years. I could tell you if I dragged them all out and counted them but I’m not going to do that. I’d guess that I’ve made fifty of them though.

My habit with these drawings is to keep them on my easel when it’s not in use. I usually take photos of the drawings while they are in progress but, like all my other drawings, I like to scan them when I finish them. Unlike all my other drawings I don’t have a scanner big enough to accommodate a 22×30 inch drawing. My scanner is 11×17 inches so I have to scan the Big Ink Drawings in six pieces.

Scanning a large drawing in pieces is actually pretty easy except in order for me to do it I have to move my scanner onto a portable table that has the room around it to fit the drawing. My usual scanner spot can’t fit a 22×30 inch drawing in it. I don’t like to move the scanner and set it up to scan just one drawing so I don’t scan until I have a bunch of them ready to go. I have a bout eight of them stacked on my easel.

Since I have drawing table, computer, easel, and iPad and use all of them for drawing I don’t use my easel every day. Often I won’t use it for weeks. In that case the Big Ink Drawings just sit there on the easel. Otherwise I take the drawings off the easel in the morning and lay them down on my bed. That way I can work on the easel.

I sign and date all my drawings. It’s a good habit for young artists to get into because otherwise, over the years, you’ll forget exactly when a certain piece of art was from. I didn’t learn that lesson until my late 20s so there are some pieces I have that I know are from between 1991-1994 but I’m not sure exactly when. Sign the work too because that’ll help you get over imposter syndrome.

I mention all this as a long way to get around to the fact that it has been nearly a year since I’ve made a Big Ink Drawing. It’s May, 23, 2022 as I write this and the date on my last Big Ink Drawing is June 6, 2021. That’s a long time ago. How did it happen that I haven’t made one in over a year?

The first answer to that question is painting. Last summer I decided I wanted to do some painting. Before that I hadn’t painted in a while. I bought five new 24×36 inch pre-stretched canvases and worked on them all summer and into the fall. They take considerably longer to make than a Big Ink Drawing and so took up all my art time for about four months. The paintings are what I got done.

I’m not sure why I didn’t get any done after that except that I get on rolls with things. I got on a roll with paintings last summer and got all five canvases done. I’ve been on rolls with the Big Ink Drawing and there have been periods where I’ve done one or even two a week for weeks in a row. This winter I was on a roll making my Paste-Up Mash-Up Magic the Gathering cards. I guess I never got on a Big Ink roll for a year.

In making these Big Ink Drawings I sometimes make a whole new drawing and sometimes I look through my archive of drawings and find one that I want to make into a Big Ink Drawing. This time I wanted to make a new drawings so I pulled out my Ink Book and looked through my thumbnail drawings until one caught my eye.

Actually a few caught my eye beyond the first one so I set up four thumbnails so that I could make a 6×9 inch pencil drawing from them. I figured I’d give myself some choices in case the first one didn’t work out.

Over the years my Big Ink Drawings have ranged from fairly simple to incredibly complex. Simple often takes more preparation than complex but the eventual execution can be quicker. I would spend more time preparing the drawing but less time making the finished drawing. I’m not exactly sure why but simple appealed more to me than complex for this first Big Ink Drawing in a year. So I put the prep time in and made the drawing.

This Big Ink Drawing is called “Sleep Dream.” In an unusual moved I used the title of the drawing in the drawing itself as I wrote those words over the eyebrows of the face in the drawing. It’s a simple drawing in that it’s only one face. Water for the foreground, and a background full of simple shapes. Lots of texture in the background though.

It went about as I expected it to. It took around three days to complete and was painless to execute as I worked most of the piece out before hand. I like the way it came out. The face has a pensive look that I have empathy for. The hair could be on fire so there is a little bit of alarm in the piece but the hair could also be some sort of artichoke. That’s some weird hair. I like the two thickness of lined clouds in the back too.

I discovered a new technique with this drawing. The three black areas on top were going to be spirals but I didn’t like them and so blacked them in. Then I somehow got it in my head to draw black on black spirals. I used a marker that has a matte black in it and drew over the glossier black ink. It’s almost like a really dark grey over the black. I’m not sure if it’ll be visible in all light but I like the way it looks. I’ll have to try to do something in another piece with that. Maybe I’ll even get on a roll. We’ll have to see.