This blog post is a little delayed but I wanted to share with you the story of how The Wall was created. You may already know the story of how I stumbled across my full pagers accidentally - I wrote a blog post about it here - they have now become an important part of my artistic journey. The Wall is ultimately just one of my full pagers on steroids!
So first to how the idea came about. Having just finished a new full pager I was thinking to myself how can I create something that really challenges me and I had been inspired by one of my favourite artists Tarajosu who creates these incredible wall murals all over the world. We both have similar styles of artwork so I could visualise how it might turn out and it gave me the confidence to actually go for it.
My initial plan was to create a piece of art in the centre of the wall rather than a full pager and in fact I didn't intend on it being symmetrical either. But on the 2 hour drive up to my house in the midlands I somehow convinced myself the only option was to go BIG or go home - I love symmetry and I love my full pagers so it was a no brainer really. And so I embarked on this crazy journey....
The first big hurdle was to figure out how to create symmetry on such a large scale. Usually I draw pencil gridlines on the page, I use a protractor to draw straight lines spanning out from the centre of the page to the edges and then a compass to draw circular concentric lines. So I needed to find a way to do this on a larger scale - first I cut out a large 40cm cardboard circle and made my own large protractor, then I made 20 centremetre pencil marks along all sides of the wall and found the centre of the wall. I placed my homemade protractor in the centre of the wall, from here I marked out every 5 degrees and then drew a line from the centre through this mark.
Then came the real creativity, I tied a piece of string to a pencil and made a loop on the other side to create my own large compass! I placed my finger in the loop in the centre of the wall (and used my husband when it got to the largest circles) kept the string taut and then draw the circle - I am pretty sure that explanation made no sense so you can read this article which includes photos. I just needed to adjust the length of the string to get varying concentric circles. To finish I made straight line grids by joining the 20cm marks along the edges with the corresponding 20cm mark on the parallel wall. These lines were FAR from perfect and there were massive differences between the two sides but it gave me a guide to work with so I could keep it as symmetrical as possible.
I didn't plan the concept or shapes out before I started, above you can see how the drawing started out, pretty much the way all my full pagers usually start. I used the Pentel permenant marker N850 for the lines and a Sharpie Magnum for filling any large black areas. As I was going along I started to get a feel for where the drawing was going and where I wanted to take it. I sort of had this idea of something that was growing and coming out of the wall with weird winding tentacle like shapes and little portals into another world.
After building up the centre and deciding on the sort of pattern work I wanted to use my task was to lay down the main bulk of linework. By planning out the linework first and adding bits to the edges I could create depth and layers - a full pager doesn't have the same effect if you work the whole way from the centre to the outer edges. I had anticipated that the struggle would be filling a whole wall with patterns but actually the tricky part was practically working on such a large piece and keeping it symmetrical. To maintain the symmetry in any drawing I work on it bit by bit on both sides so on such a large scale it involved going up and down the step ladder a LOT of times.
The detailing and shading is where the real hard work began, if you think shading on paper is hard then try it on a wall. Admittedly at points when my arm was hurting and it was 2am I did feel like skipping the shading part just so I could speed the process up but I knew it just wouldn't be the same without it - and I'm glad I persevered because it's the shading that really brings this drawing to life. I used normal black sharpies for the shading - they were best when they were a little worn down. Thank god for my trusty podcasts who kept me company during those late nights when my arm was about to fall off! In the photo above when I had filled in the whole of the bottom half of the wall I finally felt that my vision was being realised.
As is always the case its the final push that is the hardest part, I always seem to get this massive resistance near the end but it's the most satisfying hurdle to overcome. By this point I had accepted it simply would not be perfectly symmetrical, I had 'messed' up so many times but I guess the beauty with this sort of thing is that seeing it as a whole you don't really notice those imperfections (note to self: must not be such a perfectionist!). Being only 5 ft 2 meant that even on the step ladder I had to stretch up to reach the upper corners and top edge, making the whole process generally tougher - I had to do less thinking and more drawing!
And here it is, the final drawing! Reflecting on it now I feel very proud of myself for finishing such a huge piece, I learnt it's a good idea to just say yes and then think later about the how bit. Don't overthink whether you can achieve something, just decide you are going to do it and then figure out the rest, I pormise it will be amazing. It may sound obvious but the best part of illustrating is that you are in complete control of what you create, in this drawing alone I sneaked in lots of little playful bits and I even let my nephews add to it! I mean it's my wall so why not right?!
And now I get to have this crazy wall as the backdrop to my study as a reminder of what I can achieve.
I created these videos so you can see the details up close and get a better idea of the process involved. I personally love to see behind the scenes and how something comes together so hopefully you will enjoy it too.