Preparing for the OCA South West exhibition

I had put my name forward for this exhibition on the basis that work in progress was welcomed, and because I’d said I was going to start saying “yes” to opportunities to exhibit.

I decided to show some of my pink work – the explorations of pink in my archive that were initially going to be my A5. I had talked to Anna Goodchild, who is organising the exhibition and decided to submit three A4 sized diptychs, two on landscape sheets and one on portrait. The title is “Archive pink”.

I decided to use pastel backgrounds, but had problems making the set look cohesive. I tried using pink for all the backgrounds but this wasn’t as interesting. I printed the pages as they were to get a feeling for the colours in print. The colours, although different, were too similar in shade and there was no feeling of structure to the set. After seeking peer advice I decided to restrict the background colours to just two. I wanted a particular ice cream/sugar almond/dolly mixture palette and searched online for hex codes, which turned up #ffffba, a very satisfying yellow that worked well with all the images I put it with. Finding a pink was harder, my first choice of #e9b1d1 did not work at all well with the image of the paperback book. I found another pink from an older image that looked promising – #f0c9ed – and indeed it did behave better with all relevant images. By this point the light was failing so I have edited all the images to reflect the new choices and tomorrow will print them and see how the colours behave in daylight.

The inspiration for the pastel backgrounds was Daniel Handal’s series Pajaritos, where he shows tropical finches perched against framed backgrounds in sugared almond colours.

Learning points – I am noting these here because experience has taught me that when it comes to Photoshop I will forget.

  • To add a new layer of colour – click on the layer below where the new layer needs to be. Layer menu, new fill layer, solid colour, then specify the hex code.
  • Name the layer with the hex code so you can easily tell which colour it is.
  • To position guides (for placing linked images accurately) use the View menu, then the option low down about placing guides. This is more accurate than dragging and dropping.
  • Use soft proofing options to check how the colours will appear. The most reliable option for me is to print a trial image on small paper.

This is how the work looks at the moment, except that they are all the same size. It will be hung via a strip of dowelling on the back top edge, and rose gold binding clips. I’m actually not sure about the clips, I think I will look for either plain silver or actual pink clips and see if those work any better.


I would love to know more about understanding colour. The hex codes are like Greek to me, and it’s challenging to look at two close shades of the same colour and try to understand why one works and the other doesn’t. I find myself using adjectives such as “clean” and “dirty” to express the kind of pastel I want, it would be good to have a tighter understanding of colour and how it works.

8 thoughts on “Preparing for the OCA South West exhibition

  1. Nicola Hallam November 5, 2018 / 9:12 am

    I had to ask for the hex codes from the company who created my business cards so they could be applied to my website. I have been in love with them ever since 🙂 I found it particularly useful when creating my book and sampled a yellow from one of my images for the book inlay. Here here to hex!

  2. Catherine November 5, 2018 / 10:07 am

    What a process you’ve gone through Kate but I know you were determined to get everything right. They look great to me. Hope all goes well with the Exhibition too.

  3. Simon Chirgwin November 5, 2018 / 12:03 pm

    Put simply, break down the 6 characters into 3 bundles of two and the three bundles map onto the red and the green and the blue of RGB. 00 = None; FF = Maximum. So, #FF0000 = pure red and #00FF00 = green etc. The clean-ness or dirtyness of the colours probably goes with the way that web-safe colours (ie the ones that ‘work’ on any digital display) go up in logical steps of 3 so the full number of options in hex are 0-3-6-9-F; so #000000 is black, #333333 is a dark grey, #666666 is a medium grey #333333 is light grey and #FFFFFF is white. I think the further you go from these 5 values, the more grubby the colours look, but have a play in the colour picker…

    • Kate November 5, 2018 / 4:43 pm

      Oh, that’s useful thank you! A quick revision of hex and I’ll be away 😀

  4. Simon Chirgwin November 5, 2018 / 12:05 pm

    Ooh! And I’ve just learnt that basic html tags – for italics in this case – work in comments! Brill!

    • Kate November 5, 2018 / 4:43 pm

      Every day’s a school day!

  5. Stefan J Schaffeld - Visual Artist November 6, 2018 / 12:30 pm

    Fantastic work, Kate – will certainly have a presence at the show . Please share the installation view – congrats for keeping the exhibition momentum

  6. sarahdandrews November 8, 2018 / 7:01 am

    Super work, super blog, super levels of energy!👏👏

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