As I was preparing my application for Spanish Village Arts Center, it occurred to me that you might like to see how I make my pieces. I chose a prickly pear for my application piece because it’s a local flower, I have one in my backyard, and I knew I could paint and collage a small painting in one week-end. The timing bit was actually critical since I had not planned in advance to make a piece just for the storyboard until I reviewed my photos and realized I didn’t have enough! So, here’s how it happened:
I chose an image for its simple compostion and how it captures the essence of a prickly pear. I had a ton of other pictures, but none seemed simple enough for this painting. I drew a sketch and decided to go with this image.
I love doing collage on wooden panels, but the surface needs to be primed before I start. I use a gesso for acrylic paints to smooth the surface and make it easier to draw and paint. After the surface was primed, I sketched out my cactus flower, deciding to zoom in from the original concept. I thought it might make the picture more dramatic to be closer in.
I started the underpainting which will act as a roadmap for the collage. I chose purple for the background because it is opposite of yellow on the color wheel — and I just love this purple.
I decided to change the background to show sky and earth, but left a bit of purple showing through. I painted the image to wrap around the sides as well as on the front.
First I had to choose what paper to use in the background. Even though it will be almost impossible to tell what the original sources are when it’s all done, I like to choose carefully. I have pages from a Spanish-language tarot book (I chose to use the pages on the the card, El Sol.), sheets from a score of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” , comics from The Tenessean from January 1978 , a map of Mexico and some groovy wrapping paper.
Then I painted a very thin layer of purple on the pages intended for the background, and stencilled color in layers on top.
More layers of stencilling. I like to use cosmetic sponges for the small stencils.
For the flowers, I decided to use gift tissue colored with watercolors. I love the vibrant and unpredictable effects of watercolors on sheer tissue.
I start gluing down ripped pieces of colored paper, starting with the background. I use gel medium instead of ModPodge because it doesn’t wrinkle the paper and has a nice finish.
Then I glue down the next big element, the cactus.
Ripping the tissue for the cactus blossom. I just love the range of color from watercolor washes.
Each color is glued down with a brush.
Finishing up gluing paper on the prickly pear blossom. I make sure to cover the sides as well.
I use a henna coned filled with acrylic paint to put on the needles and final details. I sign my name with a henna cone as well.
And here is the final painting of a prickly pear cactus. 5 x 7. I used these photos in my application to Spanish Village Arts Center, and hopefully will know soon if I advance to the jury phase. It would be quite an honor to join the community of artists in Spanish Village.