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« Calligraphy Workshop Recap: Igloo Letterpress | Main | Becker Gallery Art Show at Otterbein University: January 8-March 31 »

Becker Gallery Art Show: Process

I have wanted to document the details & work that went into creating all of the pieces in my art gallery show. In a few words: it was a big ol' mess.

Each piece was created using a variety of items from nature. For all pieces using a charcoal effect, I mixed a stick of charcoal dust by shaving it into a cup, soot (essentially, the same thing), & water. The reason I added a bag of soot to the mix was to help give my charcoal + water mix more substance, since I was using this mix as my "ink" to scribe with my calligraphy pen. Without the soot added, the "ink" was too watery & thin to work well flowing out of the calligraphy nib. It also helped to add a subtle "dirty" effect to the finished piece, which I kind of liked. All pieces with white writing was used using a white charcoal stick. 

With some of these pieces, I also wanted to steer away from my need for perfection in my work, & literally let my writing tool & concept of nature guide me, not my controlling hand to create a perfect letter. It was difficult for me to let go of the goal to create nice-looking letterforms, but I kind of enjoyed the end product of some of the pieces looking more nostalgic in this way; almost like that of an old-fashioned, handwritten letter. No erasing allowed, no going back over to make it look just just...was.

Some pieces were created from a strong sense of procrastination. This "L" masterpiece didn't quite make the cut...

...speaking of other pieces that actually didn't make the cut was the one above. It's ironic, because it was this piece that inspired the idea behind "Nature's Way with Words" as my theme. It seemed too literal of a piece (almost like, "duh, turning twigs into writing utensils, captain obvious."), so I went toward the direction of more subtle uses of nature to focus on the "natural" artwork itself, not the literal translation of nature-to-writing-using-nature. Make sense? It does if you don't think about it.

Other pieces were created using raw pigments. It's a dangerous job, really (for those of you who don't know, generally speaking, raw pigments are fine dust particles that can be mixed with adhesives, such as water, oils, etc., to create paints. It's the natural way to make your own paints). The fine dust particles, if breathed in, are very toxic, so I had to makeshift my mask, since I didn't have any on hand. Scarf + Mom's dental gloves for the win.

I wish this photo would show just how vibrant this green was. Using raw pigments to make my own paint was more addicting that I anticipated. It's amazing how much more vibrant the paint colors are when using raw pigments instead of already-mixed paint in a tube. I might have just been converted.

Speaking of being converted, I am Not converted to dealing with moss ever again. I had big ambitions for this piece--I wanted to carve into the moss a message using a calligraphic/lettering style, & it turned out to be a big ol' mess & very time consuming. But, I didn't give up. I had collected some moss around the area, & from an art store, & learned that mixing egg yolks & water to the moss helps it become manageable. Thank you, Lord. However, it was still difficult. I used half a can of spray adhesive (whoops, not a natural element, I know!) to adhere the moss to the surface, & take away teeny portions of it where I wanted the lettering to show through in the negative space. Hours upon hours, & a sore back later, here is a close up of the final product:

Truth be told: it wasn't 100% what I had envisioned; however, I let my original vision go & welcomed the idea that 1. I am only human, & 2. the fact that I did the best I could only shows my humanity; & therefore, it fell into the theme of "nature" that much more: Nature runs her course, & some things are what they are accordingly (this is what I kept telling myself & how I talked myself out of eliminating it & the hours I spent on it out of the gallery show line-up).

So, there you have it, a little peek-inside the studio as I gathered some of the pieces to fit within a theme. It was challenging, but it also served as inspiration & a spark for me to create more original artwork. Some of the "favorite" pieces will be translated into ready-made prints into my shop & available for purchase, as well, so I will keep you posted on when they'll be available!

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