As I wrote the other day I’m putting together a series of posts that detail the process and inspiration behind a series of new works. The first of these posts is today and will take a look at my new piece “Explore”. The idea for the piece came to me while I was taking part in Make It Vancouver. I had my sketchbook out while I took part in the show and was doing quick sketches of ideas that came to me from hanging out in such an inspiring environment, surrounded by so many talented artists and beautiful work. Someone walked by me with an incredibly coloured and layered skirt and I suddenly was struck with a vision of a hot air balloon that mimicked the vibrancy of the stylish clothing.
The piece started with the background. I used matte medium to cover the entire canvas with a variety of papers and ephemera including book pages, sheet music, film, and textured papers. I covered this layer with a light blue ink. I then created a series of stencils which I covered the entire canvas with – many inspired by a past trip to France and the stained glass windows of Notre Dame. I also laid out a set of paper letters, spelling out “soar”, on the surface of the canvas. I sprayed a range of darker blue inks across the surface, and then pulled off the stencils, to create depth and interest for the image’s sky. I finished texturing the sky with some stylized swirling homemade stamps printed in blue and grey inks and bubble wrap dipped in white acrylic paint.
The next layer came in the form of the landscape – the sun, trees and mountains. All of these were created from cut paper, that I then painted over with several layers of acrylic paint to add more texture. The dots radiating from the sun were created by using the end of my brush.
I then created the hot air balloon, its adventurous explorer, and the garland of words streaming out behind it on its journey. To create the balloon I cut out 30 identical balloons (in order to make the outlines of each pattern element match) which I then cut apart and combined into a single balloon. The basket was created from paper strips which I wove together. The streaming banner is a ribbon that I glued each pennant to (it was a finicky, frustrating nightmare that had me pulling my hair out). The girl was made of cut paper. All of these elements were then painted over with several layers of acrylic paint. The final steps for the entire piece involved outlining all of the major image elements in ink and then creating detailed pen and ink patterns throughout the image to add interest, complexity, and unity.