Kudzu Art Exhibit
Today was the deadline for the juried art exhibit I mentioned in a previous post. I dropped it off at the Bank of the Carolinas in Advance during lunch. Getting it done was a whirlwind process but I couldn't have done any of it without My Geek, Sue and Erin.
I don't take on anything unless I get a clear idea in mind. At first, I was completely blank. Disappointed, I was about to conclude that I just needed to bow out of this one. Then I received my Sept/Oct issue of Somerset Studio. Sachi Komai's shadowboxes of tags gave me the idea I had been grasping for.
One requirement for KudzuArt was that the piece "interpret or reflect life in the Carolinas". There is so much to living in NC! What one thing would I pick to reflect living here? You have the mountains and the beach. There are all kinds of sports, arts, outdoor activities and history. With the tag idea, I could draw little images representing each of these on little leaf shaped tags and put them into a collage. I had my idea.
An odd thing about these ideas I get: typically, I get everything - size, medium, colors, etc. - all at once. The kudzu idea came as a collage and watercolor.
"That's strange. What little experience I've had with watercolors was very frustrating!"
But there it was. I couldn't think of another way to execute the idea in my head.
A BETTER IDEA
After describing my idea to My Geek, he mentioned that it would be cool if each of the leaf tags had a key dangling from it. It was brilliant! I loved it. Elliott Brothers Locksmith on 8th was very kind to give me a bag of fifty keys from their trash bin. It was the weekend. I had all my supplies. It was time to get started. I had Friday evening, all day Saturday and Sunday, and Mon.Tue.&Wed evening. (Yea, I know.)
I was pretty pleased with how the background turned out. The watercoloring required only basic techniques. I practiced on scrap paper before I started on my expensive 23"x30" 300lb. Arches. I made all my leaf tags but, before sketching all the Carolina images on them, I arranged them on the watercolor background to see how I would arrange them with the keys.
It looked so wrong. It was horrible. The keys were weighty and too bright. I didn't know what to do.
HELP FROM FRIENDS
It was Sunday night and the project had come to a screeching halt. My Geek suggested I take pictures and e-mail them to my friends, Sue and Erin, for suggestions. The consensus from them was the it needed more color and the composition was off balance.
I have a weekly phone date with Erin and we brainstormed over the phone for about a hour. In the end, the entire composition had changed and I was starting over. But it all made sense and I really didn't see anyway of saving what I had done so far. I would much prefer to live closer to Erin so that she could just drop by but the time she spent on the phone with me was awesome.
I had already planned on taking 1/2 a day off from work the next day so I could try to finish. (Good thing, since I was now starting over.) I picked up more supplies and dove right in. It was Tuesday and I knew exactly what I had to have done by nightfall: the background image needed to be painted and the shadowbox needed to be sanded and stained. I've been in situations like this before where I didn't time things well and paint and glue were still not dry. This time everything would be set before turning it in.
It was required that the piece be framed and ready to hang. I needed a custom built shadowbox so I had to enlist the assistance of My Geek. If I decide to take on a task with an insane deadline, that's one thing, but I felt so guilty pulling My Geek in on this. He was very encouraging, though, even when sleep deprived. At my 100th apology he said, "You can't make art without a little insanity."
Wednesday morning, before going to work, I stained the frame again and tore the background into a circle. I thought the torn edges turned out great except for the state of NC. I liked the idea of it breaking the circle but, since it didn't break it dramatically it just looked awkward. I also had to tear it from the back to get the effect I wanted (no white edge).
At lunch I came home and glued the background to the backboard of the shadowbox (this had to be in place before I could start the collage that night). I hate spray glue but I needed good, even secure coverage. I used 3M Super 77 Multipurpose. It had to be glued in the right place on the background so when I nailed the frame on, it would be centered.
All that was left was to glue the tags on. This took much longer than I expected but the whole piece depended on these showing movement and dimension. The keys looked great. I ended up going to an antique store and buying two rings full of tarnished keys about the same shape and size. I used a combination of E6000 adhesive (will glue almost anything forever) and Scotch foam mounting tape.
Whether from stress or exhaustion, I had a wide range of emotions about the finished product: amateur, crap, craft-fair-ish, bizarre. In these moments of evaulation, my critics have set up camp in my head.
There is a moment, though, after dropping off a work that you've greived over, when you feel loss. It's very strange. It overwhelms you unexpectedly. I didn't think I had an attachment to it but I suddenly felt like something had been taken from me by someone unworthy.
This is an obnoxiously long post. I don't think blog posts should be this long. It defies the nature of blogs. For the most people, this is too much detail, I know. But part of my goal was to document the artistic process. To answer the questions, "How did you come up with this?" or "What made you decide to do that?"