An Artist’s Process
New Finished Artwork
Work in Progress
Do you ever wonder about an artist’s process? I often find myself staring at a breathtaking piece of art, mystified as to how it was accomplished. It seems to me to be a well-guarded secret, accessible only to a chosen few. If only I could watch the artist at work, and gain some insight into the magic that makes it all happen.
But of course it isn’t magic; most likely the artist’s process involved many hours of hard work and even struggle, which included more than a bit of trial and error. Mixed media art in particular can be this way, because there’s frequently no established method to follow. We just have to make it up ourselves as we go along. Making mistakes, and repeatedly backing up to try another possible solution is part of the problem-solving process that characterizes mixed media art.
Don’t worry; I’m not going to take you through my entire process – only a very small part of it. This is not a tutorial, just a look at one problem I encountered, and how I attempted to solve it. Analogy III, below, was close to completion, but it needed something – a focal point.
At first, I thought I might use this luna moth (above). I painted it on acetate, so that it would be translucent. But when I tried it out, I wasn’t happy with the result. It was beautiful, but seemed like just too much when juxtaposed with the rest of the composition. I’m sorry I didn’t photograph it at this stage, but hopefully the photo below will give you some idea.
Before I gave up the idea entirely, though, I wanted to try making the moth out of a map, which is a feature common to the Analogy series. I tried scanning the moth painting and printing it out, then transferred it onto a map. I didn’t take a photo, but trust me, it was NOT good.
So my next idea was to make the wings from the map itself. I started with these wings, planning to add the markings to them somehow, but then decided I didn’t like the parallel lines that I had gone to so much trouble to find.
I liked the freer, squiggly lines on these map pieces better. I began cutting out tiny fragments from maps and gluing them on to simulate the pattern on the wings. This proved to be pretty tedious, so, before going ahead with the bottom wings, I tested these on the piece…
Now they seemed too light for the rest of the piece, and still just a bit too large.
A New Idea
An important part of an artist’s process is to keep generating new ideas. In other words, persistence is key.
Since the large wings seemed to overpower the composition, I thought something small might do the trick – a chrysalis. Here are a few iterations I made and tried out. (Again, I didn’t photograph these at the time, so I apologize for having to cover up the finished version.)
Try, Try Again
After all that work, I concluded that the chrysalis, no matter which one, was just too small. It did not provide an adequate focus for the piece. At this point, I felt like Goldilocks – too big, too small, too dark, too light – but never just right.
Finally, here is the solution I came up with:
Analogy III, monotype with mixed media on Rives BFK paper, 15 x 11 inches
Everything I described to you above gobbled up three days of my time. I think my final solution works, but I’m not sure if it was worth the time it took. And how would you even evaluate that?
Like the other works in the Analogies series, it is a monotype (monoprint) with added media, which may include colored pencil, crayons, or ink. They also contain collage elements, usually in the form of vintage map parts.
Above are some of the other pieces in the Analogies series. The series is based on the similarities between the various patterns found in nature. These patterns are called fractals, and you can learn more about them here. Click on the photo to go to the shop page for each piece.