I consider myself a reformed gardener and devoted naturalist. When the Burr Oaks invaded my restored prairie, I fretted and whined befire I finally surrendered. What felt like defeat turned into a fascinating and life changing experience triggering a paradigm shift in me.
What I realized is that I could learn a damn awlful lot being a student of nature versus trying to be it’s czar. The land knew exactly what to do and it reverted to a state that became a perfect pheasant habitat. I began to make friends with the so called “noxious weeds”. I found incredible beauty and restoration to my soul in this process and learned a lot about letting go.
Sooo . . . back to art. I had this idea I wanted to implement a manifestation of integration, a ritual, symbol of truce of my will if you will. My intent here is to merge myself into the surrounding landscape to be in harmony. I gridded out a photo onto this 8 foot sheet of Arches cover stock paper. I wanted this piece to be true to life in scale, size and shape. I used gesso, a glue like mixture of binder and chalk to paint out my outline. I accidently ( I thought) made a thick edge with the japanese brush I was using. I decided to go with it and just keep workng in this manner. I let it dry throughly, knowing the gesso would repel some of the absorption of the inks. I have a tenderness for certain plants, including compass (for direction), Indian grass and Japanesne Silver grass as well as a couple others. I painted with the plants themselves layering up to 4 passes of applications of stepped valued ink washes.
Now the wind comes in . . . it picks my work up, (I still gasp, cheapskate that I am) . . this is very expensive paper and although hardy, it can tear when soaked. and it did. So here’s the thing, I have invested over eight hours of actual preparatory work into this piece, not to mention planning and thinking time. Will it work or be a flop? Well – that is the chance we take right? Believe me I do not say that as lightly as it sounds. So painting is done, transporting begins. Wind does it thing. Yanks it out of my hands, curls it, rolls it, smears and flipping flaps it around. I withhold judgement. Will it work? Don’t know til it dries. So it dries and I look. Nope didn’t work. Sucks as a matter of fact. Huge flop. Hmmm . . why? lost the contrast. now I have nothing to lose. I take a paper towel and get down and scrub over image and guess what? You remember that raised gesso edge? My saving grace. I subtract the ink with a bit of elbow grease and looks what appears . . . and I am amazed more often than not by these processes that are not linear but very faith based meanderings. I am rewarded with enough success to to take the risk again and dive off the cliff. So there you are . . that’s the story. I do not declare a masterpiece here but the beginning of a new technique for a new series of work that combines the female figure with in experimental landscape earth art. Thanks for reading.