Creating my largest Artwork yet!

The piece with lines drawn on in Ink. Click to enlarge.

After visiting New York City in December, I decided to do a large scale piece from a panorama I took with my iPhone. This vast piece was created over 3 weeks with layers of Ink & Acrylic on Paper. It measures 1.5 x 5.62 metres spanning an entire wall.

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I started by drawing on the main parts of the image; buildings people and cars using jet black indian Ink. Instead of a paintbrush I used a stick-shaped piece of wood that I hand cut and sharpened with a craft knife. I dipped it into ink and drew on the paper with fast expressive lines. By using a non conventional tool,  there was no expectation of what the piece needed to look like, so I felt a great freedom to create a piece in my own unique style. I didn't worry about making a mess, or ink running down the sheet, instead I focused solely on the shape and lines I was creating. I knew that the running lines of ink and accidental marks would somehow form part of the piece later on.


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The piece when I started to add colour. Click to enlarge.

After a few days of working on the piece, I had a giant white wall, with black lines of ink. However; I knew it wasn't finished and that I needed to take a radical next step. From the very beginning it was always intended to be a black and white piece with no colour, however it needed 'brining to life' so I made the brave decision to add colour. The scariest part was knowing there was no going back - once I started to add the slightest mark of colour, I need to finish it all. I was really stepping out of my comfort zone.

To keep in line with my use of non conventional tools, I cut wedges of cardboard in different shapes which I would later use to scrape on blocks of colour. I didn't want this to become a detailed painting, so by applying colour in sections it would add a liveliness without the need for fine details, I knew I could add detail later on with Ink.

Cardboard wedges used to scrape paint on in block sections

Cardboard wedges used to scrape paint on in block sections

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From this point on, the style of the piece completely changed and it was now being built up rather quickly with different layers. The first section of colour was a layer on top of the original ink lines. Then I added another layer of ink drawings, to bring back some of the detail that had been painted over with the coloured paint. Then adding more paint, then more ink and so on. This technique was working really well for me as it allowed me to fill in large areas of white space with interesting and varying colours. 


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A very messy road area. Click to enlarge

Just as the piece was coming along nicely I made a fundamental mistake. Using the scraping technique, I successfully added colour to all of the buildings and vehicles, however the road (which takes up 50% of the whole piece) was causing me significant difficulties. To compliment the colours used in the buildings I chose to paint the roads a greyish purple, as it wasn't to dark and overpowering, however I was not looking the the imagery properly and painted the whole section of road the same shade of purple making it look like one huge, flat pain. In a failed attempt to fix this mistake I started scraping sections of silver paint over the purple, however I wasn't really thinking about what I was doing and this just made the piece look even worse. In a second attempt to fix it, I got extremely carried away and painted the whole lower half of the piece a very dark shade of grey, which completely ruined it as the road was now very overpowering and dark. Part of the dark grey is still visible in the image below. 

Starting to repaint the road area in block sections. The dark grey still visible on the right hand section of the piece. Click to enlarge.

Fifty shades of Purple. Okay maybe not that many. 

Fifty shades of Purple. Okay maybe not that many. 

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I came back the next day with a clear mind and thought about how I could save the peice or 'resurrect' it. I soon realised that instead of looking at the road as one huge block, I needed to break it down into sections and focus on each section at a time, as i was doing with the buildings. I spent a lot of time mixing different shades of purple to carefully vary each section of colour. I took a lot of care and gave a lot of attention to each section, making sure it looked right until eventually the piece came back to life. It was a great feeling when the piece started to look new and alive again as it took 5 days of work to fix my mistakes. I decided to keep some of the dark grey showing through as it complimented the purple and is a constant reminder to myself that everything in life (event the big mistakes) happens for the better, and that this whole piece was a great learning curve where I was able to learn from my mistakes and make the most of things that weren't planned. The mistakes I made meant I had to try a new method which ended up making the piece far better that it would have been, if I had not made the errors.

The addition of road markings and people. Click to enlarge 

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In the third week of this piece I used a smaller wedge of cardboard to scrape on road markings which really gave it a greater sense of scale and perspective. As this was a painting of a panorama, there was 4 vanishing points meaning the road markings looked warped with no straight lines. I also added another layer of ink markings, re adding all of the vehicles, people and other details that has been painted over in the 'road catastrophe' earlier on. When drawing on each person in the piece, I though about someone in particular and tried to make the figure represent their character or appearance in some way. Kim Kardashian makes a guest appearance in this piece!

The finished piece. Click to enlarge

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Now that the piece was finished it was time to stake a step back and really think about how it was created. After I finished the piece, it was taken down so the wall could be painted white and the surrounding area could be cleaned, then it was put back up for everyone to see. I really surprised myself with this artwork as 3 weeks ago I couldn't have imaged what it would turn out to be. Not only is it my biggest piece of art, but it is my most expressive and the most fun to produce. Throughout the last 3 weeks I have learnt a lot, tried a lot of new techniques and applied a lot of newley discovered skill. I hope to do more pieces of this scale as it gave a great sense of freedom, joy and expression. I am extremely proud of what I have accomplished over the past 3 weeks and look forward to seeing what the future holds.

Watch the reveal video for this piece (below) and explore more on the Art page. If you enjoyed this post share it!

Thanks for reading, have great day - and remember everything happens for the better! It's only looking back, that you can connect the dots and understand why things happened the way they did. 

Adam Marsh

Adam Marsh