I stretched the tracing paper, and it was surprisingly absorbent, and VERY fragile. Then, when it had dried, I tried painting on it again. The same image, which is interesting to me, but might be getting a bit dull for anyone reading this – sorry!

I very gently used sticks of watercolour ink after re-wetting the paper for this image. You can’t smudge them like pastels, as the sticks are very hard, but they did crumble a little. The sticks also dragged the paper and it split. This looks stiffer than the pastel version. I’ll put it against the light.

It is far more translucent than I thought it would be, and than it is on a solid back. It is also looser and more abstract than the pastel. But because I couldn’t smudge the inks together, there is no subtlety to the colours. I’m not sure about the split paper though. I like the fact you can see through it, but it is looks too straight and deliberate.

I made one in watercolour. The wetness seemed to dissolve the paper! But I wanted to see how it would work once the paper dried, so I kept going. Here it is drying out on its board:

Once it dried, the breaks in the paper remained. I rather like these, as they echo the damaged celluloid in the original film frame. I didn’t make them by pulling the paper – the paper sprang the gaps because of the way its own fibres lay, I think. They make the paper almost lacy. Here it is against the light:

I’m more pleased with this one. The colours are a bit sober. I also wonder whether my handling of the paper made it more likely to dissolve, so I paint another more solid looking stretched sheet, then wait to see what it does.

The paper behaves almost the same way. I love these colours, but the tears aren’t as wilful-seeming. Against the light, they really do seem to relate to the damaged cine frame and its lost narrative by being so fragile and wafer-ey (if that makes sense?)


Watercolour on tracing paper didn’t go well. I hadn’t stretched the paper, because I was in a rush, and it buckled horribly as I got it wet. The paper is far less absorbent than watercolour paper, or any paper really, apart from greaseproof paper – so it was very difficult to judge how the paint would behave as I applied it. So I made a sketch of the same image I’d done in the soft pastels, and waited for it to dry.

Then I held it up to a sunny window, as I’d done with the soft pastel version.

Yuk! Maybe stretching the paper and wetting it before painting might have helped, but this sketch is far from what I wanted to make. Every brushstroke is a blob, and there is little variety to the density of colours or texture, and not much contrast between light and dark – the paint is too translucent. I’m feeling an idiot – but should really get a grip and try this again. I have a vague idea that something interesting will develop from this, but re-making the same image again and again, when this has turned out such a mess, does seem futile.

I’ll have another go, but will stretch and wet… (see above!) and if it’s still rubbish, I will move on to another medium.


I looked at the dried fixed pastel image against a white wall, trying to decide whether it changed the drawing’s effect.

The wall isn’t reflective enough. I can’t really see much light coming through. So I try it taped to a window.

Then the sun came out:

I really like the grainy uneven quality that comes out when light is behind this image. Without the light it is much flatter. On a wall, or my drawing board, all you can see is the pastel powder, so the drawing is dense and velvety, but flat.

Then I tried the same image, but in watercolour paint on the tracing paper.


I wanted to try different methods of reworking the ‘lost’ cine frames, and my tutor pointed out that tracing paper might be a good surface, as it is translucent in a similar way to celluloid and you can paint or pastel on to it. She is right – but I find it hard to believe it can hold paint or pastel well when it seems so thin and brittle. Only one way to find out.

I tape sheets of a4 tracing paper to a board. I want to make small versions of the cine frames, and I think it will be good to see how different materials sit on the paper while I’m working. I know I’m likely to scuff images as I work round the board, but having a kind of system seems a good way to force myself to concentrate and stick with this process of making and comparing, while I continue to think about where this project is going.

So I start in soft pastel again. I’m using very soft Unison pastels, which are very dry and crumbly on this brittle paper. The colours might be slightly different, as I left the box I used (for the last big pastel version in my previous post) in my studio space at Uni, and I’m working at home. Smudging them is a clumsy business. I’m hoping that I can get more of the contrast between heavy black pigment, and the translucence of the melted bubbles of celluloid.

I used a good dose of hairspray to try and fix the pastel. I also took off some areas with cotton buds to try and give more transparency where the bubbles are. Here’s a bigger image:

When it’s really dry I’ll peel it off to see whether this has worked. Then I will make the same image using other mediums on the tracing paper. I’m planning watercolour, water-soluble ink blocks, oil pastel. I’m also considering other surfaces to work on.

I’m feeling more focused now. The idea of trying to represent multilayered narratives or lost narratives visually has felt slippery, as if I’m trying to make concrete something that only has magic because it is etherial. But being methodical doesn’t feel wrong. Maybe this is because a methodical process echoes the repetition of the frames that happens when these cine films are shown.


I am working on the cine films again. I thought I would look at images that repeat signifying the narrator/film maker. I made screen shots of the animals and birds that one particular film maker habitually filmed. These would make good wistful paintings, rather like the children paddling scene that heads up this blog.

While I was reviewing the cine films and thinking about the images and perceptions they involved, I also considered the lost images and narratives recorded in the damaged frames, so I took screenshots of a selections of these too.

These damaged frames say more about the nature of the cine film narrative experience than the animals and birds above. I decide to see how I can reflect this by working on these images in other ways. First: engines, burned image with soft pastels:

I enjoyed making this work, but the texture does nothing to communicate any lost narrative. I decide to try a quick version in watercolour:

I think this does more to convey the un-fixed quality of the lost narrative that I’m after. It doesn’t look much like the original frame screenshot, though. Need to try more methods.