Things don’t always scale up. In engineering that’s a truism. Just because your small scale model of a bridge works perfectly doesn’t mean that a full sized bridge built from that model will hold anything up. I hear the same thing all the time with giant monster movies. They say that a fifty foot tall ant, or any other insect, isn’t feasible. They’ll collapse under their own weight. The engineering of an insect works because of it’s small scale. An eight hundred foot building can’t be built the same as an eight foot building. What does any of this have to do with my week? Well in art things don’t always scale up either. A good small drawing doesn’t always look good after being blown up into a big drawing. It’s not as cut and dried as in bridges and buildings but it’s there.

Last March I ordered some 22×30 inch cold press 140 lb water color paper to do some large drawing on. That paper has been sitting there ever since. This week I finally decided to make some of those big drawings I had been thinking about. Previous to that paper purchase I made a single large drawing on similar sized paper and wanted to make some more. That single drawing was done in India ink and and brush with some marker used for the straight lines. I mostly did it to try and see if I could make an ink drawing that large. I think it came out well and I wanted to make some more. Except I never did. Until now.

This time out I didn’t want to use brush and ink but instead I wanted to use black markers. Since I was working on an easel I found it difficult to use a brush and ink with the paper in a vertical rather than my usual horizontal position. Plus it was time consuming since I had to be very careful with the ink and make sure nothing ever dripped or splashed. Since the ink was further away from the drawing than if I were drawing on my desk splashing and dripping were real dangers.

Since I’ve worked with a lot of markers over the last couple of years I knew my best bet was to use black Copic markers. Strangely I only had one black Copic marker. I have lots of different color Copics but I never used the black one much. There are other black markers that I generally prefer for most of my drawings but in this case I needed all the different tips that Copic has for its markers and the consistency of their black ink. I knew Copic’s black ink color wouldn’t vary from marker to marker. I already had one of their original type markers so I ordered a brush tipped sketch marker and an extra wide marker too.

You’ll hear that Copic markers are expensive and at six to eight dollars a pop I’m not going to argue that. But the thing about them is that they’re refillable. A bottle of Copic marker ink is about the same price as the marker and it refills a marker from six to eight times depending on the style of marker. In the end that make a marker about the same price as a regular bottle of ink which can be anywhere from four to ten dollars a bottle. I got two extra bottle of inks because I didn’t want to run out in the middle of a big drawing. I wasn’t sure how much ink a large drawing would use up. Turns out that to be about a marker full of ink per drawing so I had plenty.

For the first drawing I picked a sketch that I already had done. I thought it would look good big and in black and white so I went for it. At first I wasn’t sure how I was going to transfer the sketch to the big paper. When working on canvas I usually grid a drawing up and I almost did that here but I didn’t want to have to erase the grid after I was done. That would be a pain. With a painting the grid would be covered up by the paint but with a drawing it would have to be erased. Not a road I wanted to travel down. Instead I ended up going with graphite paper. I scanned in the small drawing, blew it up to the correct size, printed it out on four sheets of 11×17 inch paper, taped the sheets together, placed the printout on top of my watercolor paper, and then put the graphite paper between the two sheets. Now when I used a hard pencil to draw on the printout it transfers the line in graphite to the watercolor paper. That’s how graphite paper works. Handy stuff.

I used the same method for making my second large drawing except I didn’t have a sketch prepared for it. I started from scratch. I looked through one of my books of small drawings until I found a drawing I liked. One of the things I liked about it was the negative space. The drawing was of a figure off to the right side standing in front of a fence with a vast expanse of open white space/sky/negative space to the figure’s left. I liked it and started to make a finished sketch of it. Except the small drawing didn’t survive the embiginning process. What I liked about it, the negative space, lost all it’s power when in was made bigger. It became empty space. Nothing. What was a strength became a weakness. I hate it when that happens.

I still liked the drawing though. But now I was on a search to find something to fill that space. Instead of going to my stash of books of small drawings I went to my scans of finished drawings. I scan in all the drawings I make because it’s easy to go through them that way. I finish a lot of drawings that never really become anything so I cam use them, or pieces of them, in other projects. I tried out some drawings of buildings and people but none of them worked until I found these drawings of weird black clouds. With a little redrawing they worked well.

Those weird black clouds saved my drawing. At least they saved the bigger drawing. The small little sketch still looked good with its empty sky serving as a nice piece of negative space. But things don’t always scale up like you want then to now do they?