My latest Big Ink Drawing has been four years in the making. Or it was made up of four years worth of drawings. Or drawings from four years. 2018, 2019, 2020, and now 2021. It starts with the fact that I make more working drawings than I turn into finished work. Sometimes I feel like drawing with a pencil and so I make small 6×9 inch drawings. Usually I start with one of my small Inkbook drawings and then draw over that but not always.

No matter how I start my working drawing I either end up making something further out of them or they go into my unfinished drawer of drawings. Well, the drawings are finished but the pieces made from them aren’t. When I’m stuck for ideas or don’t want to draw anything new I’ll dip into the drawer and see what I can find to work with. That’s what I did this week. But I didn’t find just one drawing to work with. I found three.

My last two Big Ink Drawings were my portrait type ones. No that they were portraits of anyone specific but they had the basic formula of a head and shoulders plus an abstract background. For this one I wanted an image that had a few things in it. Images other than a portrait. I do these type of Big Ink Drawings all the time but haven’t made one in a few weeks. I was due.

The first drawing I found was the big woman on the right. The drawing is named “Somber Story” and was drawn on 11/13/2019. I liked the drawing but it was a single figure with an abstract background. I knew that I wanted more than that for the image. I made a scan of the drawing and cut the woman out of the background. When cobbling together a few drawings I always do it digitally.

The second drawing I grabbed was called “Meeting Kid.” It’s the big face in the bottom left and was drawn on 5/12/2021. It was a face embedded behind a geometric abstract design. It’s a face but the face is almost abstract itself. It has visible eyes but the rest of the face is a design. There is no nose but there is a triangle where the nose should be. There is no mouth but there are two rectangular shapes where the lips should be. Plus there are lips on the creature’s shirt. It’s a very weird face. I also used the geometric background from this drawing.

After I digitally put those two drawings together I could see that I still wasn’t finished. I needed something else. I found a drawing from 9/13/2018 called “Bank Frog.” It’s the drawing you see in the upper left of a face that’s mostly a decorated eye and a thin smile. In the original drawing there is much more of a sweeping shoulder plus there is another piece of a face whispering in it’s ear. It’s also a little amusing that if you put all three 6×9 inch drawings side by side the biggest face is this one but it’s the smallest face on the Big Ink Drawing.

After digitally cutting out the faces and figures from all three drawings I digitally composed them into what you see in the finished Big Ink Drawing. It’s really easy to compose that way because I have control over everything’s size and shape. It’s so much better than the pre-digital days when I’d have to redraw stuff over and over at different sizes. When the final composition was done I printed it out on eight pieces of 8.5×11 inch paper, taped them together, and transferred the drawing to my big 22×30 inch paper. Then I was ready to go.

The initial part pf the ink drawing was pretty easy. It was all outline. I used a straight edge and marker for all the geometric lines and a brush and ink for all the face and figure lines. I used a brand new Simply Simmons #6 Round synthetic hair brush for most of the brush work.

For some of the curved lines I’ll use both marker and brush. First I’ll use a French curve and marker but then I’ll redraw them with a brush and ink. Those are usually the big thick curved ink lines. For some reason I find it easier to follow the curve with a brush over a dark black marker line rather than a pencil line. The answer is probably obvious in that the marker line is easier to see being thicker and darker but I don’t always do this. Just sometimes on a case by case basis. But I did it a lot here.

I often work from background to foreground and that’s what I did with this piece. By that I mean that I figured out and drew all the background textures and patterns before I figured out the same for the big face and the foreground figure. I mostly used a marker and straight edge to make the background patterns and a brush and ink to make the ones on the big bottom face. This helps to separate them but it’s not written in stone.

For the big figure I worked from top to bottom as I often do. I figured out her hair first. I put some lines in the longest swooping piece that make it blend into the background but then only some little half circles on the lines of the rest of her hair so they don’t blend into the background and have a different texture than all the other lines I the piece.

The rest of the main figure was remarkably hard to figure out. In the end I went with the old saying “When in doubt black it out.” I put large areas of black onto her shirt. These are the largest areas of black in the whole piece so they stand out nicely. They pull her out of the world of the rest of the drawing and into her own world.

The very last thing I did on this drawing are the lines in the woman’s shirt. I already had the line on her neck drawn but the ones on her sleeve and stomach came last. I needed just a little bit of pattern on her. Not so much that she’d blend into the background but just enough to push those areas back in space a bit. I think it worked okay.

Usually I name a drawing a random name and if I make a Big Ink Drawing out of it the name remains the same. But since this one was made from three drawings I combined them and named this one “Somber Frog Meeting.” I imagine there are a lot of sad frogs in that boardroom.