During my group crit. my tutor David Baldry made one comment, that my work would really only achieve the effect I’m chasing if I get the display right, which I have to agree with. It is almost distressing to find myself embarked on a painting and drawing journey, when I’m someone who is most confident making when I’m dealing with shapes and spaces. When my head is taken up with two dimensional effort, it seems to have little energy for thinking in three dimensions. But he’s right. Display will be critical, and I need to collect more ideas. And not panic.

He also suggested that I try working BIG. I have made some pieces that are larger than others, but I have not really been as happy with them as the smaller images, and I hadn’t thought of using tracing paper really large-scale, because I’d been obsessing about using it wet, and is very difficult to manage wet when it’s large. But of course, I have loved working with the soft pastel images…

So I have begun a new piece. I bought a 1016mm wide 20m roll of 112g tracing paper, and a 120cmsq 9mm marine ply board, then set myself up with two tables and some G clamps, together with some protective decorators kit. I hope to keep it on a roll of paper somehow, as if it is its own screen, so it needs very clean edges:

I decide to re-work one piece that came out well in soft pastel on a small scale. It has a strong composition, in that it has a bold sweeping line through it that seems very powerful, and lovely rich colours, if I get them right.

Several days in, it is starting to come together. I’m spraying it with fixer regularly, in the hope of building up really deep areas of pigment. I’ve also begun experimenting by blending with paper stumps, in case grease from my hands is binding pigment and making each surface smoother, which will make it harder for future layers to fix.

Although I’m really enjoying the challenge of making this new piece, it has occurred to me that working smaller might be interesting too, and of course present other options for displaying my collection of pieces. I could just try to paint or draw the images much smaller, but I recently went into a shop and noticed it was selling individual till rolls, and decided to try printing onto them and make my own ‘film roll’ models. This took some fiddling about on my macbook which eventually crashed in misery, but I did manage to reverse print a selection of my recent pieces just before my technology gave up, and here’s my first attempt:

Tiny print issues:

* I’ve since researched what “thermal” means, and now realise this paper will change colour if heat or pressure are applied to it, which makes this trial unnecessarily difficult to manage, so I’ve sourced a non-thermal roll for future attempts. It looks like more fragile paper too, which will be more attractive.

* I have to act quick to make each print because it has to line up and the paper I’m printing onto wants to curl up. So I can only do this one image at a time. Hence it is even harder to line up images, and keep them still while I press them out.

* This printing method is not high definition. It is only as good as my printer, and not all the ink transfers fully. Downside: indistinct images. Upside: they look broken and faded – just like elderly ciné film frames!