Aim: The focus of this project is to explode notions of scale and experiment with an extreme change of scale to achieve a powerful drawing which suggests monumental landscape or architecture. Before you start work, spend some time thinking about the implications of manipulating scale in drawing composition, for example scaling up a particular feature of a landscape, still life, or even a portrait.

Method: Find a handful of small objects, e.g. pebbles, shells, buttons, toys. Cluster these objects together and focus in on a cropped area. Experiment with using a frame for this. Make a large drawing which gives the impression of a landscape view or architectural detail. By cropping your subject you’ll ensure that the whole composition has power and energy.

Reflection: This project further demonstrates the potential of composition and your own role in the process of constructing or working with a subject. Do you feel differently now about selecting subject matter and developing composition?

For this project of scaling up small objects to one with monumental impact I choose some sewing paraphernalia; reels of thread, needles, pins, buttons and scissors.

For the first couple of small test drawings I included an oyster shell with the buttons placed within its embrace.

For these first few drawings I used pen and ink.  Starting first with a standard dip pen I found the line too puny for the scale of the drawing. I then changed to a self-made bamboo dip pen.  This has a broader nib size and a greater variety of strokes and mark-making ability.




The arrangement of buttons, thread reels evolved slowly along with the viewpoint.  I used fewer objects and an ever closer viewpoint to scale up the objects; the cotton reel ended up more like a gallon drum, and the needles as meat skewers.

 A3 cartridge paper,  Bamboo dip pen and black ink
A3 cartridge paper,  Bamboo dip pen and sepia ink

I then changed my viewpoint to an overhead one, and drew in pastel for a full colour drawing making the buttons more like Frisbees than shirt fasteners.

 A3 cartridge paper, XL charcoal and white chalk

From the stark and basic bare line of a dip pen I moved onto the fully toned drawing of the sewing objects.

This then progressed to a full colour pastel drawing of buttons and cotton.

Full colour drawing of buttons and cotton reel, A3 cartridge paper, pastel



A5 Cartridge paper, graphite pencil

Evolving subject matter: depicting the sewing objects as a futuristic city with cotton reel skyscrapers and flying saucer buttons.  The sketch above was the up-scaled to an A3 sized paper and a pencil drawing of the futuristic city drawn.

A3 cartridge paper,  graphite pencil

Using small objects and drawing them large opens up a host of possibilities including using them as substitutes for other objects.  In the drawing above the futuristic landscape of a city is shown with cotton reel skyscrapers and flying buttons.

The selection of a subject in obviously important when planning a drawing but it does not need to decide the scale; just because it’s small does not mean it has to be depicted small.  Such drawings remind me (showing my age now) of the “Land of the Giants” and “The Borrowers”.

It is not so much what you decide to draw but the scale that you use that is the decisive factor in determining ‘what’ kind of drawing it is.  Using small objects but drawing to a much larger scale opens up much more opportunities to be playful in the composition and to show the objects as they are usually not envisaged.  Further possibilities in this series of drawings would be to zoom in and use the cotton thread as a helix or spiral as the basis of a composition.