This piece has brewed in my head for a very long time. Probably as long as from the first time I went to New Orleans, or from the year I brought home the acorns from the live oaks (and forgot them in a ziplock bag in my purse, only to discover a month later worms had hatched....), but I never managed to collect any leaves to go with them. The acorns....not the worms. Each year, there seemed to be some reason I could not get them; weather too wet, me too forgetful, the parks dept. had swept things up.......I could not imagine any of the locals being happy with me yanking leaves off their lovely live oaks. Thus, the idea just rolled in the grey matter, way in the back of the cerebral file cabinet.
Recently, however, two things happened almost simultaniously; Silke @ Metamorphosis said she would be glad to send me some live oak leaves (and I am sure stifled her laughter of the requests of a crazy woman!) and Marie @ Art From My Heart surprised me with a bag of lovely little metal fleur de lys charms.
The piece now HAD to begin process!!!
But when you have held an image in your head for so long, it is difficult to start. I stared at the heavily gessoed canvas for days, trying my best to figure out precisely what to do. Oh yes, I saw what I wanted in my head perfectly......it was just getting from the head to the hands to the canvas, and kiddies, that is not necessarily an easy journey.
I decided the safest way to start (yes.....safe, as in, NO RISK, as in, UNSURE, as in, SCARED TO DEATH!) was to take a couple of Fleur stamps, stamp four images and see how they looked in the canvas corners, as in the top photo.
This was to try out size for the actual pieces I would do out of paperclay. As much as I loved the fancy one, it was quite obvious that the smaller one was going to fit the piece much better. So out came the paperclay, and I stamped and trimmed out the four pieces for the corners.
I love working with this medium. It is easy to handle, can be put in a toaster oven to speed drying, and a heavy nail file (the type for those big, honking fake nails) is perfect for smoothing the edges. They are easy to hold onto, can be purchased cheaply in packs at the dollar stores and can also be used flat on the table to sand the backs of things down even.
So here I was, with a plate of clay pieces, metal charms and dead leaves. That's an art-starter for me for sure!
Next step was thinking about the leaves. Oak leaves are by nature leathery, and seem to take a very long time to become brittle, which is good in that I had then a couple of weeks before I could figure how to use them. I applied a couple of layers of acrylic glazing liquid which made them more pliable, but the leaves seemed to absorb some of it slowly--they were not quick to dry. The second coating was gloss gel medium, and that appeared to give them a bit more body.
And then there was the pesky canvas......white, glaring at me.....okay buddy, you're getting a nice circle painted in the middle and those few light coats of color, brushed on, wiped off, repeat, repeat.....that broke the mental block. The detail in the gesso showed up wonderfully and seemed absolutely perfect detail wise! Now I knew where I was going, and I was pretty sure of some of the tools I would use getting there, but there were still challenges ahead.
I will be doing this in a series of posts--they may not be every day--but will show the piece in progress. I am delighted and excited about where I have it now. It has been slow, meditative work which is perfect for recouping from the arthritis. I have been forced to do one or two steps and quit.
I hope you will stay with the progress reports and enjoy the ride!