Since childhood I have been creating watercolours and drawings in the tiny format of 5 x 7cm but I had always dreamed of painting much bigger watercolours. Until now, the largest size I was able to paint was 50 x 70cm – the size of a poster, due to the size of paper commercially available. In order to create larger pieces I realised that I would need to make them on a roll of watercolour paper.
The main features of a watercolour painting are its transparency and brightness. The wet technique requires a purpose-made suitable paper; the choice of paper therefore is of crucial importance. I managed to source one of the world’s last manufacturers that still produces rolls of watercolour paper – a paper-mill in France. The Company was founded 450 years ago and it supplied the great French Impressionist painters with this particular type of paper. The paper is produced an huge rolls, so I had to reduce it and make manageable pieces – from an initial length of 10 metres with a height of 110cm to rolls of 2.5m in length and a height of 20 or 35cm.
Next, I had to find a system so that I could actually draw on these lengths of paper – I needed a support of 60cm wide so that I could start to draw on location in pencil or ink. When the part of the drawing on the flat surface was finished, I had to fix it in order to roll it up and continue the piece, until I arrived, after five or six lengths, to the end of the paper roll. During the drawing process I was unable to see the whole piece but I had to keep my concentration and sense of scale and style until I had finished the whole panorama. It was not possible to see the completed drawing at all until, at the end of the day I was able to unroll the whole drawing and lay it down flat.
In England I managed to find a printing company who were able to scan the work in black and white. After several attempts with different papers, we finally managed to make prints on my particular watercolour paper. This allowed me to make several trial paintings of the black and white print before creating the final watercolour on the original pencil or ink drawing.
Another printing technique has allowed us to make prints of these watercolour panoramas – 250cm x 20 or 30cm.
These prints are produced and signed in a small limited series edition.