Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Sense of Scale

(Lyric here) What happens when you take the sketch of something you've drawn... something nice and small and detailed... and you blow it up REALLY BIG!?

Burr Oak sketch by Nancy Cook
Scale is a basic principle of design and composition. It always relates to the size of the work of art in comparison to the size of us as human beings. Taking something tiny and often overlooked and spending the time necessary to draw it in great detail gives an artist a deep appreciation for the beauty of the form. I'm constantly telling my students that sketching is more about seeing than anything else. 

Maple Seed Design by Nancy Cook
How do you convey that sense of beauty to your viewer - the wonder and awe of the complexity of nature? One way is to create your work of art on a scale much, much larger than the object you are rendering. Nancy Cook takes a seed, a leaf, a branch - and blows it up larger than life with beautiful details in her textile work. She gives us an easy window into the understanding of nature's beauty.

Burr Oak by Nancy Cook
I was very fortunate to see an exhibit of Nancy Cook's work at the North Carolina Botanical Gardens in Chapel Hill this week. (Unfortunately it comes down next Tuesday the 28th.) It's worth seeing - and then wandering the beautiful landscape - sketchbook in hand.

Echos of Tulip's Summer by Nancy Cook
So as you sketch, as you observe, keep in mind a sense of scale. Might your sketch be a study for a final work of art? What scale would you like to work with? What will your final product be?

(By the way - Nancy blogged about a wonderful class she took with our own Jane LaFazio here.)


  1. What beautiful work, stunning. There is so much beauty all around, just taking the time to closely look. Thanks for sharing her work, very inspiring.

  2. Oh were reading my mind! That's exactly what I am working on...a little sketch of a Gumball seedpod! Of course mine doesn't look as good as yours!:)


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