Artist Spotlight: Nancy Cook – A Sense of Scale

February 23, 2012

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
Maple Seed Design 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. 
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?


  • Reply
    Maura High
    February 28, 2012 at 3:25 am

    I'm so glad we went to the show together, Lyric. Nancy's work is indeed inspiring–it makes me want to look closer at nature as well as what goes into the artwork that renders it so effectively.

  • Reply
    Vivian Helena
    February 25, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    thank you for sharing.. amazing

  • Reply
    Jean M. Judd
    February 25, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Nancy's work is just absolutely wonderful and the stitching adds so much visual and physical texture to the work. When you see them in person, the automatic reflex is to reach out and touch them. Check out her blog too.

  • Reply
    Wen Redmond
    February 24, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    I love Nancy's work. The detail in the detail is stunning.

  • Reply
    Deborah Younglao, Silk Painter
    February 24, 2012 at 3:35 am

    I love how Nancy gives importance to such small things. Her work is lovely.

  • Reply
    Roxane Lessa
    February 23, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    love her work and yours too. Thanks for sharing.

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