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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wood Grain and Butternut Leaves

Butternut Leaves  10" x 12" x 1½"  Birch Plywood

Butternut Leaves  10" x 12" x 1½"  Birch Plywood
I am happy with the way the wood grain catches the light at different angles in this piece. The simplicity appeals to me as well as the potential for shadow. The wood was sealed with 'Clear Coat', preserving the tones of the birch plywood. I am working on a second panel in a similar approach - just the birch, some sandpaper and a few cutting tools. Hopefully I will have photos of the new project in a few days!

This is exciting for me! I feel that I have arrived at a simplified image with a satisfying surface texture and a reference to the beauty and strength of plants.

Friday, May 24, 2013


 I have been hanging the panels in different arrangements every few days. The four panels here seem to make a good group since I added a light cream-tinted glaze over each one. The pouring medium dries to a high gloss, so I used matte varnish over the last pours. The stone-like affect is beginning to grow on me! My mentor has advised me to be open to what happens in the studio, especially if it is not what I am expecting nor what I intended. I have decided to leave these panels as they are. The white cut-outs are integrated more with the grounds and most of the edges are somewhat blurred with the glaze pooling along the edges of the cut paper.

My blog took a back seat lately as I worked on my first thesis outline. It has been interesting to go back and look at all the research I have already done through the MFA program. My essays have helped me to identify the main issues in my work. I'm sure I will be revising the outline several times before I am finished with it, but at least I have something to begin with.
Hybrid Panel - Crocus 10" x 8" x 1½" Paper and acrylic on board.

Hybrid Panel - Spruce Twigs 12" x 10" x 1½" Paper, graphite and acrylic on board.

Hybrid Panel - Fiddleheads 10" x 8" x 1½" Paper and acrylic on board.

Hybrid Panel - Roots 8" x 10" x 1½" Paper and acrylic on board.
 The next panel began with a detailed pencil drawing which I intended to cut out from the start. I am working on a second panel (below) with a thin wood cut-out of the plant's silhouette. I have trimmed off the three stems that protrude from the left side of the piece as I find them distracting. I hesitate to do to much to it! The plan is to see what the two versions will look like together.
Hybrid Panel - Butternut Leaves 10" x 12" x 1½"  Paper, graphite and acrylic on board
I enjoyed the drawing, but is it compelling enough?

Birch Panel - Butternut Forms 10" x 12" x 1½" Birch plywood and board 
More interesting than the graphite traditional drawing

I find it difficult to evaluate my work right after I finish it as I am usually most enthusiastic about whatever it is I have just made. The graphite panel, Butternut Leaves, above has not reproduced well. Perhaps this is what it really looks like and I will agree with my photo of it by tomorrow! It seems to lack the vitality of the other panels. Tomorrow I will be sanding the edges very carefully of the Butternut Forms. The wood grain adds to the piece. I may just seal the wood with a clear coat and leave it alone after that.

The butternut tree is an endangered species in New Brunswick. Apparently it is illegal to cut one down or prune it without permission from the province. A very industrious squirrel has been planting the nuts from our neighbour's tree in our yard and we have several small butternut saplings growing in odd corners of the garden. I actually pulled a few up before realizing what they were. The same squirrel has given us an oak tree and several purple-leaved maples. I found a cache of chestnuts the other day, but none of them had sprouted yet!

Three earlier panels form a group.

After arranging the four "frosted" panels together, these three make a good group.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

New Panels and Drawings

Hybrid Panel 4 - Ivy,  Acrylic and Paper on Panel 10" x 12" x 1.5"

Hybrid Panel 5 - Crocus, Acrylic and Paper on Panel 10" x 12" x 1.5"

Hybrid Panel 6 - Spruce Twigs, Acrylic and Paper on Panel 10" x 12" x 1.5"

Drawing 12 - Crocus, Graphite on Paper 10" x 8"

Drawing 13 - Fiddleheads 1, Graphite on Paper 10" x 8"

Drawing 14 - Maple Flowers 2,
Graphite on Paper 10" x 8"
I have begun hanging the panels on the wall in my studio. It is helpful to see them together, as I plan to complete between nine and twelve that will hang together as one artwork. The Ivy panel needed more work on it. Drawing and cutting two white ivy leaf shapes helped as well as a new pour of semi-transparent paint. I like the halo effect around the edges of the charcoal leaf. The white leaves and the light pour create new figure-ground relationships.

The crocuses were drawn while sitting on the grass in my front yard. The graphite allows for smooth transitions and sharp details. I decided to make a white silhouette from the drawing instead of cutting up the drawing. The crocus panel was interesting as soon as I cut off the upper left corner, while following contours suggested by the crocus plants. 

In the fiddlehead drawing, I chose to include strands of dead fern leaves left from the previous season. I have been working on a panel using a white silhouette of this drawing. My cutting skills with an Exacto knife are improving daily!

Bringing a branch from one of our maple trees into our living room where it has been in a vase allowed me to observe it carefully without the wind moving each stamen and petal in front of me. I enjoyed observing and drawing directly, and I was also able to photograph the twigs successfully. Taking a photo is kind of like insurance that I will be able to finish what I have begun. It was a learning experience as it was the first time I had used the macro lens on the camera correctly. If only I would read the camera manual, I would learn all kinds of special settings I could be using!

I revisited the spruce twigs this week after a discussion with my mentor. I poured a couple of times to lighten certain areas of the panel and I am more satisfied with the result. The panel needs to be coated with matt varnish. It's too shiny and glossy at the moment!