One of the exercises I like to do with my students is to ask them to draw something that is very small on a much larger scale.
This is often quite a challenge especially to students who haven't drawn for a long time. A large piece of paper is daunting and we feel quite exposed at the prospect of working so large. But if you continue to work really small you are not able to represent as much as you can see. Take an object such as the simple screw for example. If you draw that life-size, then there is no scope for any kind of mark making or using a rubber to help with establishing tones. One rub with the rubber and the whole thing will just disappear. Scale it up, however, and you can attempt to represent all the sheen, shine and grooves using not only a range of soft pencils such as your 4B, 6B, and 8B but your rubber as well.
So, encouraging my students to work large really pushes them to look very, very hard and carefully at what is in front of them. This is so important and is surprising how this practice gets overlooked and forgotten. So often we start to draw what we think we see, not what we actually see.
I am impressed that this is one of the issues the judges and mentors on BBC's big painting challenge frequently refer to in order to remind and encourage the contestants to do just that. In a recent episode Judge Daphne Todd was speaking to a contestant and she told him “the trouble you had has come about because you haven't seen shapes and tones...you're not analysing what is front of you and allowing yourself to be taken over by the subject.”
Drawing on a larger scale means you get the chance to examine and describe the surface of objects. Use your imagination and let yourself scale up anything small, such as, berries, insects or leaves and your drawing will enable you to celebrate and enjoy the practise of looking.
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