|Nettle (in progress) Acrylic on Birch Plywood 17" x 15" x 4" 2013|
This low relief sculpture is based on my previous drawings of thistles in a vacant lot near my home. Once I had cut the leaf shapes from 1/8" birch plywood, I tried different arrangements without joining the pieces. I found that I wanted to include the rectangular panel as a contrast to the intricate organic shapes of the leaves and also to suggest the presence of civilization. I aim to portray a certain ambiguity between the forms - the leaves seem to infiltrate the rectangle, yet the rectangle imposes its own format on the plant structure at the same time.
Although it can be argued that the mathematical proportions of a rectangle can be found in organic, natural forms, known as the "Golden Mean", the rectangle itself functions as a human construct. This ties in with my theme of the integration of humanity with the natural environment, or the fusion of "culture" and "nature."
I have decided to title this piece "Nettle" as a reference to the stinging spines of the thistle and also as a reference to the idea of an annoyance. As a weed, thistles are tenacious and troublesome for farmers and gardeners. Native to Eurasia, thistles were introduced (accidentally) to North America by European settlers and they have infiltrated diverse environments since then.
|Nettle - Photoshop Sketch 17" x 15" x 4" 2013|
I originally thought of using drips and pours over the forms, but I have begun with solid, painted tones followed by wet-in-wet paint applied with cotton swabs to create the soft dots. I will pour a thin, matte glaze over them later and proceed from there. I like the way the patterning suggests some kind of reptilian or amphibian life form combined with the obvious leaf shapes and the rectangular shape of the panel underneath, a form of "hybrid". If the patterning doesn't work, I can repaint the forms with the colors I used above. They are all saved in sealed plastic containers for such an occasion.
Here is the project before I painted it. I considered leaving it as is in the photo, but it seemed unfinished and did not communicate my theme very well. Some panels seem to work in raw wood; others seem to need painting!
|Nettle in progress - birch plywood forms 17" x 15" x 4" 2013|