With Labor Day behind us, we’re heading into the final stretch of the art festival season here in New England. One day I’ll be free to summer in Florida or other places where the festivals go on all year but for now I’m busying myself getting ready for my last outdoor shows and, after that some great indoor shows at the lovely Briggs Nursery in Attleboro Massachusetts. What a perfect place to show botanical art!
While I seldom use flowers in my pieces, when I do, my favorites are roses and carnations. Here, the tips of the little carnation petals seem to melt into the yellow background while the magenta edged white petals assert their presence. This little piece is only 4″ x 4″ I’m thinking a pair of these might work well as corners of a door frame. Hmm…
Next stop, Fall Festival at Slater Park in Pawtucket, Rhode Island on September 13 and 14.
This 12″ x 6″ resin-coated piece features several plants I’ve used before and one I haven’t — bald cedar. The long cedar leaf spans all three of the rectangles in the painting and ties the whole thing together, I think. Compositionally, it serves almost the same purpose as the garden asparagus I’ve used in some of my works on paper, but is sturdier and easier to deal with at the stage of adhering the plant to the support. Once the resin is poured, any leaf or part of a leaf that is not firmly attached to the wood panel tends to float to and through the surface–a problem that no amount of poking with a toothpick is likely to fix — so proper attachment is critically important.
When using white backgrounds, I don’t always leave the cradle sides white as well, but it works well in this case.
This week I’m feeling confident in my resining techniques and comfortable with my full-sized propane torch, so I’m trying my hand at some larger pieces. This one measures 6″ x 12″. If that doesn’t sound large, try a few steps of the resin dance yourself and you’ll see it my way. The working window is only about 20 minutes from the first pour to removal of the last bubble and I work with up to six pieces at a time. Still, I’m on the march and have larger panels waiting in the wings.
For the real plants in the foreground, I chose a mix of weeds and garden plants — wild grass seed heads, a piece of Japanese maple, and a little leaf of curly coleus.
This is typical of scenes I pass by every day in and around my home town of Stonington, Connecticut. As summer goes into its third act, I wanted to spend some time celebrating the sea and the shore. This little piece is just 4″ x 6″. My next piece will be a night scene looking across the Caribbean at the lights of villas and boats on a tiny island.
I’ve been busy perfecting my technique applying resin, graduating to a full-sized propane torch for bursting the tiny bubbles that form in the mixed resin and need a little help rising to the surface. I started out using my husband’s little kitchen torch meant only for crisping creme brulee, but sadly, too much handling with sticky resin-covered gloves quickly rendered it kaput. The good news is that I have become sufficiently adept at applying resin that I can work on up to six pieces in a session. Considering all the prep for any given session, this is a real time-saver.
Foam flowers or Heuchera, are fuzzy little white stems that don’t make themselves particularly useful for purposes of floral composition. The leaves of this hardy plant, on the other hand, still look three-dimensional even when pressed flat. I love the depth of color around the veining and I especially love the asymmetrical and somewhat tattered look of the outer edges. I added some abstract ‘framing’ to this one with touches of sap green, cobalt blue and gold and I popped on a couple of dew drops for fun. The edges are painted in the same colors and style and the whole 5×5 piece is coated in three layers of glossy resin.
At the VIRTU Art Festival in Westerly, Rhode Island, last week, my little 4 x 4 landscape was the first to go so I felt emboldened to try my hand at an 8 x 8. The real botanicals in this piece are all in the immediate foreground. I used feathergrass against the white of the reflection in the water, added just the tip of a ginkgo leaf on the lower right, and a few individual sections of a Japanese maple leaf just for some added drama and color. As it turns out, feathergrass tends to lift a little on the first application of resin making it hard to reach a glass-like finish in less than three coats, so I had to wait a full 4 days to see the finished product. I think it was worth it though. Next in line for the resin bath is a farm scene in which I use only my ferns at the edges of a field.
Yesterday was a perfect spring day in southern New England, so my husband and I paid a visit to our favorite garden center – The Farmer’s Daughter in South Kingston, Rhode Island. This collection of spiky papyrus, ruffled coleus, scented geranium and abutilon will spend the summer in a great planter on my deck and supply me with terrific foliage for my pressed botanicals. Meanwhile, in the garden, my ferns, miniature ivy, yellow archangel, and fringed bleeding heart have all come to life and are ready for a judicious harvest.
Meanwhile, work continues on my new project – pressed botanicals on acrylic backgrounds. For these I use wood panels as supports, and encase the finished work in two or three coats of two-part resin. This one features a single feathery Japanese maple leaf and awaits its second coat of resin. Out with the gas mask…
Having a great time with my new project but there’s a lot to protect. Note the latex gloves, and the waxed paper to protect my counter. Then there is the issue of my lungs. Need to upgrade to a full-on gas mask even though there are hardly any noticable fumes from the Envirotex two-part resin system I use. Better safe than sorry and I’m so happy with the process and results that I plan to gear up for a full series. This little guys are just 4″ x 4″. The abstract features azalea leaves and carnation petals, while the little landscape sticks to tried-and-true ferns. My next piece will be a boat at sea. Haven’t settled on what plant to use to represent land flora and sails. Last season, raspberry leaves made great sails, but, alas, my raspberry bush is not yet prepared to supply me with more.
I’ll be showing these at Lippett Park in Providence on May 17th, weather permitting, and at the big VIRTU art festival in Wilcox Park in Westerly, Rhode Island on Memorial Day weekend. Meanwhile they’ll be in my Etsy shop.
Resin is a wonderful way to preserve and enhance real botanicals, so I decided to try a few pieces on wood panel in order to provide the best possible surface for the ice-smooth resin coating. First, I painted my background on a 5″x 5″ panel. Then, I chose a plain mustard yellow for the 7/8″ sides of the cradle, and mounted my two sweet ivy leaves. Before coating the work with resin, I couldn’t resist adding a tiny ‘droplet’ of water on one of the leaves using more acrylic and a tiny signature brush.
This is the second time I have added a touch of acrylic paint to my printed graphic in order to add depth and contour. Just the sky is left untouched. To bring it to life I added just the top of a pressed ginkgo leaf and a carnation petal as foreground and to lend perspective, I also added some fern ‘trees’ in graduated sizes.
With the start of the show season just weeks away (my first show will be Craftopia at Hope Artistes Village in Pawtucket, Rhode Island on Sunday, April 27) Meanwhile, this one is the latest addition to my Etsy shop.