ian robertsContact

The Scroll

All the Scroll drawings are mixed media and are 12" in height. The width of each image varies.
Scroll #1 is 272" ( 21 feet) long. Scroll #2 is 473" ( 39.5 feet).
For a description of the Scroll go to the text at the end of the images.

Please click on each thumbnail to enlarge the drawing.

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The Scroll

Last spring by a set of convoluted circumstances I ended up sitting across from Ellie Blankfort, an art coach.. We talked for an hour and then at the end of the session she said, "I want you to do a scroll."

The idea was to take a long piece of paper and unfurl a section for the day's work. You could do anything on that piece. Do a drawing, paint, collage, write. Anything.

The process had only three rules. You had to do something every day for a month. When you finished the day's piece you rolled it up so you couldn't see it. Then the next day you unrolled the scroll to reveal that day's blank paper. You were not allowed to look at what you had done previously until you unrolled the whole thing at the end of the month. So the roll slowly thickened on one side as it shrunk on the other.

Some small piece of the last day's drawing was supposed to continue onto the next day's drawing. It could just be a little piece of line. But it is why on many of the images there are other things often visible and encroaching on the sides.

I went to an art store, bought a 36" x 20' roll of good watercolor paper, sawed off a 12" piece and got to work the next day.

I enjoyed the process a lot. Rather than being held by a genre, say a representational painting of a figure that has a lot of conventions surrounding it, I could do what I wanted, since it was only for me, and for Ellie, to see at the end of the month.

I collected images out of magazines and newspapers for collage. I used markers, colored pencils, watercolor, pastels, oil sticks, gouache. Artifacts of things that happened during the day got stuck on the scroll, literally.

It was freeing and allowed me to do things I thought about all the time but had no outlet for in my "normal" work.

The second month I felt I'd found my stride with it. The first month working each day the scroll was twenty one feet long. The second month it was thirty nine and a half. I felt it exuded enthusiasm and fun. Or at least I felt it.

After the second month I left for France to teach my workshops in Provence. I wasn't carrying all the mixed media stuff to France and I knew I'd be too busy to do it anyway.

By the time I returned home in July I realized that I had learned what the scroll had to teach me about expression and loosening up and so didn't go back to it. But those two months taught me something about enthusiasm and fun that as I have gotten older had maybe started to slip when I made a painting.


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