Since I last blogged I have been working tirelessly towards the submission date. I like assignments that motivate you – not all the time, but every so often. It’s like proving that you are able to compete, and yes, this is a competition!
The top section of the work was completed with a small bone button that I had among my collection. I added it to the outer circumference of the “breast” that you can see to the top right of the sculpture. It reminded me of a mole and by incorporating it I opened the discussion of breast cancer. The section below, where the breast would anatomically belong. I whitened that area with silk that had not been dyed to accentuate its flat, bare and scarred appearance.
I had removed the central panel of the front and wanted to replace it with a section that read in a more significant way. I began with an old green button, quite large, that reminded me of New Zealand Greenstone. A similar stone is called Jade in Asia. Greenstone was traditionally carved into icons or amulets that represented birth and life. We know them as “Tikis”. After beading the perimeter, I decided to leave the space open to represent the uterus. The panel was attached to the sculpture.
The next week was spent working up sections for the side and back of the sculpture. The panel that I had removed from the front had a certain weight and strength that would better serve to give a hip-like structure to the torso. This meant working up a second piece to balance the sculpture. The beading was much denser; however the new piece would rise upwards towards a lighter protruding form on the sculpture itself. This area suggested a shoulder blade. I was now constantly turning the sculpture to assess its form and balance.
The process at this point was leading me from one problem-solving area to another; I was beginning to wonder at the amount of work still needed to complete the work, and needless to say, I was working during every minute I could find.
The process was similar to what the Quebecois Automatistes were exploring during the 1940s https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Automatistes In many ways abstract, but through the imagination the imagery becomes very representational and real.
It is at about this time in most of my artworks, that I become disillusioned by their success. I begin to doubt my vision and ability to turn the individual parts into a whole. The only thing I can do for now is to fill areas of the background with silk to better bridge the gaps in terms of height and colour. I am hoping that once I introduce the lichens, I will be able to unite the components.
Lichens: I’ve been looking forward to this change and looking again at the rock that I began with, don’t want to overdo this element. I estimate that I’ll need about 20 pieces and cut enough of the linen fabric for this number of lichens. This time I decide to back the fabric with iron on cloth backing. I’ll be able to maneuver the layers under the machine foot a lot easier than with the cotton backing that I experimented with earlier. It will also provide a much cleaner edge when I cut the individual motifs.
I quite like the quilted composition of the lichens and will keep this process in mind for a wearable piece. Colouring each of the lichens with the aquarelle pencils provides a guide for the stitching that will give each piece a 3-dimensional look. As I work the piece they colour works its way into the fabric and becomes more muted. They are white lichens; therefore I will emphasize the whiteness of the perimeter and darken the centres once they are in place.
It is now March 2 and the deadline for entry was March 1. What happened?
Yes, I completed and submitted, a day early!
In total I made over 40 lichens. I wasn’t going to add the small seed beads as I had done previously, but decided I would as they added a further dimension which tied nicely to the rocky outcrops. The purpose of the beads was to expose some of the rock beneath.
The edges of the lichens were sealed with wallpaper glue which also stiffened the pieces nicely. The sculpture kept asking for more motifs to balance and complement the beaded outcrops. I used an excellent fabric glue to adhere the pieces to the sculpture. I didn’t feel this process was out of keeping with the piece as lichens do adhere themselves to the rocks. My rocks have been indoors now for a year and a half and the lichens are still firmly attached.
The sculpture was taking shape now; however the pinkness was not what I envisioned. I used my own dye mix to deepen the colour of the centres of each lichen – a mix of steeped tea and some butternut dye to strengthen the colour. I was planning to use the dye later to soften the pink overtone.
The work at this point was the most exciting. Adding silk filler where needed, deepening the background colour, and further shadowing and highlighting where necessary. I left the most exciting detail to the last. I have found that white oil pastel adds a magical quality to work that asks for an icy highlight. I was most satisfied with the way the silk noil played off the beading, especially the smallest white seed beads. The white pastel further enhanced the background to relate to this element.
The last job was the photography. Until now I have used my handy cell phone camera. However, the competition required a much higher quality. I am going to blog that process in a separate entry.