Creating on really rough paper: The 4 problems I solved

Why work on rough paper?

One way to boost creativity is to solve problems that arise from working on really rough paper resulting from extreme pretreatment.

Click here to read more about the pre-treatment and how to create new work inspired by older ones.

Problems and solutions

The problems I faced in using really rough and bumpy paper for Red Playground 8 and 9 made me look for creative ways to solve them. Following are the problems I encountered and the solutions at which I arrived.

1. Drawing contiguous lines and shapes with the graphite.

The roughness of the support prevented drawing straight-forward graphite lines and shapes.


I simplified interpretations of the earlier works. By using an old clock-face as a drawing aide for the circle and a straight-edge to create  lines, I delighted in the graphite gaps on the rough paper.

The lines and shapes were rough, unlike their forebears. This is the “something new” for which I’m searching.

I will place additional shapes and lines in Inktense to compensate for those I could not draw with graphite.

Adding linear elements with the pigment ink pen will add complexity.

2. filling in shapes with Inktense.

Pre-treatment appears to have stressed the paper, as indicated by the Inktense wicking past the graphite boundaries.


I shall intensify the strength of Inktense solution to avoid stressing the paper more with additional applications. 

I anticipate there’ll be interesting effects where the Inktense wicked.

Adding blue Inktense next session should solidify the work with the layering of primary colours.

3.adding a sense of form

Adding a sense of form to ‘Red Playground 8 and 9’, much like I did for ‘Red Playground – Finish what you started’ could be important.

The support roughness will make this challenging.


I will add dimensionality to both pieces. Most likely it will differ from that of ‘Red Playground – Finish what you started.’  Because I am exploring, different should be good.

4. The bands across the top and bottom

Originally added to both new works as a unifying element during the early design stages, I envisioned them as a way to display the pretreatment staining. However, I accidentally added Inktense to the bands.


Not applying more Inktense makes them look out of place. Adding more Inktense,  should give me one more opportunity to play with this design element.

Future problem solving

I am pleasantly surprised to see the ways creating on very rough paper is stirring up ideas for future works. It’s akin to an adventure.

Next session I’m adding blue Inktense on top of prior strong yellow application, giving a  green.  I envisage the contrast and busyness of the blue on top of the yellow (and red) will need to be toned down.  I also need to be sure there is balance in the chroma and patterns of on the quadrants of each piece and between the pair of work.

How can I introduce form or dimensionality to the piece in order for it to have a relationship with  ‘Red Playground – Finish what you started’.  I very much look forward to doing this.  

Click to see larger image.

Creating on really rough paper
Close-up view of paper with graphite lines
Stronger inktense applications
Stronger Inktense applications
Form was added to Red Playground-Finish what you started using coloured pencils. Form will be added, but in a different way.
Form was added to Red Playground-Finish what you started using coloured pencils. Form will be added, but in a different way.
Arrows showing bands
Arrows showing bands

Red Playground 8 and 9 Videos

'Can Red Come Out to Play VII and IX' above 'Red Playground, 8 and 9'
'Can Red Come Out to Play VII and IX' above 'Red Playground, 8 and 9'

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