Participatory and Community Arts Group

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The Big Picture - large scale drawing project for artists.



Bernie Velvick from ArtFull consulted artists in Preston about what was needed to continue to develop our creative practice in competition with the everyday pressures that take over our time. From this consultation came a project supporting artists to spend time together participating in an ambitious creative activity. Bernie was successful in gaining funding from Preston City Council Cultural Development fund in 2014 to organise and facilitate the project and provide materials. It took a while to find the right spaces to draw in and get the project going. With the encouragement of Denise Swanson from Oxheys artists collective the Big Picture group joined the first Making a Mark artist-led event in Preston town centre, June 2017, and took over the Harris permanent collection galleries for the day.


The Big Picture funded project provided artists in Preston with the opportunity to take part in a series of three large scale drawing days. Sessions were based on a peer support model of reinvigorating professional practice, inviting new and established artists to experience the physicality of working in a different scale to their normal practice. Drawing is such a fundamental part of the development of innovative ideas and many graduate artists do not have the opportunity to work with scale once their degree is over. Artists who have not been through a degree may never have had the opportunity at all.


The drawing days provided large scale paper of different qualities, cheaper paper to experiment with and high quality paper for developing lasting drawings. We supplied chunky drawing materials for artists to experiment with and encouraged artists to learn from each other’s use of different media in extending their own practice. We used the drawing exercises from Glasgow Scool of Art as a starting point, which we all found really helpful in loosening up and getting in the zone. Networking gave us the opportunity to explore possibilities for a self-funded programme in future and exhibition possibilities.


The group has no leader and no rules, just draw in whatever way suits you. its all about encouraging each other  and enjoying the wide variety of drawing that happens.


We based the first day in June 2017 at the Harris in the permanent collection galleries on the second floor and offered the opportunity to 10 artists. You can see the drawings on the gallery page. Following sessions comprised a Life drawing session in August 2017 and a Still Life session in November 2017. Since then we have continued to meet bimonthly and in February 2019 we found a permanent home at the birley artists studios, Preston. We have an email list and for online members (and during the Covid19 pandemic) we have a What'sApp group. Join up here.


Happy Drawing!

bigpicweb3 bigpicweb13 bigpicweb25 bigpicweb6 See full picture gallery here Back to Portfolio Sign up to the Big Picture Email list and online What'sApp group



There have been 32 Big Picture drawing days and events so far. We are meeting online in the current situation, every month instead of  bi-monthly, and drawing in whatever scale is possible right now or sharing any other creative projects we are working on. This has opened the group out to include many far flung artists as well as Preston based. We'll continue the online element after we return to our home in The Birley so please sign up if you would like to join us. It's all about supporting each other to create and the term 'artist' refers to everyone who wants to join in.


Here's our FB page for a flavour of the days Our next drawing day is Saturday 2nd  October 2021 : 10am - 4pm with video chats for 30 mins at beginning (10am), lunch (1pm) and end (3:30pm) plus on going sharing and conversation on What'sApp. Many people find the drawing exercises very useful to get you started if you have no on-going drawing (or creative) project.


Hope you'll join us.



In September we will be joining in the Collective Weekender in Preston. Organised by The Brewtime Collective and funded by ACE, PCC and ALISON, it’s a four-day festival of Preston’s wealth of creative possibilities. The Big Picture (ie me,Bernie) will be hosting a drawing morning at DENW, Church St, Preston with all our big paper and materials available for anyone who wants to draw with us for three hours from  10 am –1 pm. There’s also a session from 10.15 –11.45 am which I’m facilitating using the drawing exercises, book on here as places for this are limited.Suitable for adults and young people over 12.


Want to know more?

Here you go:

The Collective Weekender ('


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'The Creative Weekenders ('


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All the best and stay safe, Bernie

Drawing exercises and other resources here