Saturday, November 27, 2010

From Start to Finish

Several weeks ago I posted an "in progress" group of pictures on my FB page.  I did finish the piece and here is the chronicle of the project - from start to finish.  It's a long process, doing a sculpted gourd using the natural direction of what nature gives me.  There isn't much sense in making drawings on paper because your plans will invariably go awry and your paper drawings will have been wasted.  I believe one has to "see" what the gourd wants to be, then help it become.

This tall snake gourd bent fairly gracefully in one direction,with a nice gentle swelling at the bottom.  The iris hiding there needed to be set free to blow in the garden breezes, leaves wanted to arch and droop as landing places for dragonflies and butterflies.  

After drawing the images onto the gourd and burning the line work in, the engineering begins - after all, when you cut a leaf or bloom from the center of the gourd, what will hold the remaining top to the bottom?  Leaves and stems must be rebuilt behind the flower which wants to lean outward.  After soaking the "free" parts of the design (blooms and leaves), the gourd walls are soaked in warm water and gradually bent, holding their positions with strings tied to weights or to the table, till the piece is completely dry.  If the parts are very narrow or the stem is all that holds the large bloom, support must be built onto the backside of the gourd wall.  But, careful, don't build so much support in that you can't reach the inside of the design where a butterfly might be resting.  The contraption in the pictures holds the gourd for me in any one of many positions.  I used to have to do the holding in my lap - very precarious!  All of the cut edges and the sculpture material added to make the design more 3-dimensional must be sanded, hence the mask.  The sander is loud - headphones help.  Sander makes talc-fine dust - so I hold the vacuum in my left hand while sanding with my right.  It's definitely a balancing act!

The painting is done in stages - basic colors applied in the beginning so that I don't mistake positive image for negative space.  Lots of layers of transparent acrylics build the nuanced color in each leaf and bloom.  Often something may start out life as magenta and end up as yellow!

Here are several views of the finished piece.  I miss gardening, but I love making one that lasts forever!  I'll be bringing this one to the Celebration of Fine Art, Scottsdale, opening Jan. 15.  Hope you'll get to see it!

1 comment:

  1. This is absolutely incredible! How you have taken the simplicity of a common gourd and transformed it into a work of art like no other. I see a rare combination of painting, drawing, sculpture and intaglio. Earplugs, face mask, vacuum, drill, paintbrush, putty, glazes, knives, wire and God knows what else but the finished result is simply beautiful! A garden in a gourd! Great post, thank you!