Anyone following me for any length of time will notice I have a thing for miniatures. Be they watercolours, pencil sketches or pen and ink illustrations, I just love making tiny pieces of art! But how did it begin? Have I always drawn things small? Well…
My little obsession first began back in April 2017 when I decided to join with The 100 Day Project. This is a global art project that starts in April every year and anyone who wants to take part has to pick a theme (from thin air!) and then create something on that theme every day for (you guessed it) one hundred days, posting the results on social media. I decided that whatever my theme was, if I was going to do it every day it needed to not be too ‘big’ a thing… and so the idea of drawing miniatures came to me.
I named my project #100DaysOfDrawingBigThingsSmall with the original idea being to play with scale and only draw the largest of things. I did indeed draw some huge things – the planet Jupiter probably being the biggest of all – but over time the project evolved to include many average sized things too.
A lot of my drawings were pencil sketches (I used the same pencil throughout the challenge and wore it down to a stub with the constant sharpening that the details required!) and some were in pen, some were greyscale and some full colour. I also drew a whole range of subject matter – buildings, people, vehicles, animals… some as single items and others in little scenes. Each little illustration ranged between 1.5cm and 4.5cm (roughly) square and took between fifteen minutes and two hours to draw.
The project as a whole felt like a real labour of love. Some days I really felt I didn’t have time to draw and other days I just didn’t feel like it but I wouldn’t let myself off the hook. Once, I came back late from a night out, realised I’d yet to do a tiny picture and ended up drawing a badger that looked even more wonky than I felt!
But despite that and the eye-strain and neck ache from all the close work, I made it through the whole thing and by the end of July I had a hundred tiny drawings! Inevitably they varied in quality – some I was proud of and others… less so (although my drunken badger will always have a special place in my heart) but, as per the project rules, they all went on Instagram so do check out the hashtag above if you’re interested.
I continued to draw tiny pictures after the project finished, adding to my #maddysminiatures collection from time to time. Then last month a friend drew my attention to a competition being run by The House of Illustration. It was based on the work of John Vernon Lord, an artist who created an inch square illustration every day throughout 2016, with the competition involving doing the same throughout September 2018. Another daily miniature project – I couldn’t resist!
Having to stick to the prescribed measurements this time was an additional challenge – an inch square really is small especially if you’re trying to create a little scene with buildings and figures etc! But thirty days was much less daunting than one hundred and after an initial scramble to catch up (I didn’t hear about the competition until September 5th) I soon settled into a rhythm. My style was, if anything, more eclectic than before as I’ve developed a love of watercolours since The 100 Day Project so they played a role alongside the pencil and pen of old. I also included some pattern design and abstract art in alongside my usual representational style. Here are my final thirty:
Despite the differences in style, I tried to keep the collection coherent via the use of colour, fading from the strongest and deepest colours in the bottom left to the monochrome top right of the compilation. The one third from the left on the top row was featured by The House of Illustration as one of their favourites while my most popular (in terms of instagram likes) was the dandelion pair. Personally, I rather liked the Tyne Bridge. Overall, there were well over four hundred entries to to the competition and I can recommend taking a look at The House of Illustration’s online gallery of them all - it’s amazing what people have done with the teeny tiny spaces!
I’ve decided I’m going to continue drawing miniatures on a regular basis – they’re great practice because they force you to look really closely at what you’re doing and realise what an enormous difference a tiny mark can make to the feel of a piece. As someone with an impatient streak, I also find miniatures satisfying because you can complete a whole piece of work in a comparatively short time!
Overall, I’m just a fan of small!