If you want to be a gallery artist, bigger is better. You can get more money for your work. The galleries usually have high white walls, well-suited for large effects. But being a gallery artist is not everyone's goal. Some of the work we saw was large already. I've always worked small and done fairly well, so it was both irritating and amusing to hear those three words.
That said, this past December I began to draw on 18" x 24" (46 cm x 61 cm) paper and restrain myself from cutting the drawings up into books, which I am naturally inclined to do. My daily walk in the Berkeley hills led me to a woman collecting lichen and moss-covered sticks that had blown down in a recent storm. "I'm going to make a wreath with them," she said, when I inquired. After I passed her, I began picking up the little sticks and moss and lichen, too. I decided to draw them. Big.
I started with a box of 12 Faber-Castell pencils: 8B, 7B, 6B, 5B, 4B, 3B, 2B, B, HB, F, 2H, 4H. The Bs are dark and get softer and darker the higher they go. The Hs are light, hard, and get more silvery as they go up, recommended for technical drawing and drafting papers. Hs are also harder to erase. I had a white plastic eraser, but a kneaded eraser is really useful, as I found a month later in this tutorial on drawing an eye. I set up one little branchlet under a desk lamp so there would be an obvious light source. Used my arm with a 2B in a big motion to get the shapes down. I liked the swinging, sweeping arcs and how it felt to keep the line going. Then found the darkest darks (8B!) and worked from there. The drawing motions got tighter and smaller as I went along. I made sure to erase into the whites for the whitest whites. For the finish I used watercolor pencils to color it.
Meditative, satisfying, sometimes frustrating. Although I have made drawings all of my life, I only just realized I have words to describe what used to be intuitive. And I probably got them from listening to my fellow panelists on Junior Review. The hope is that the students are also able to take what they need from the process.
I don't envision these in a gallery, but I hate to stuff them away in a drawer, so here is what I drew. The photos are slightly cropped. The irony, of course, is that on the screen they are small again, about life size.