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Working on a Series

I am still working away on the Stations of the Cross. I tend to work on one piece until it is completed to my satisfaction but with a series like this, I think it better to work on each piece and then rework or add or subtract as needed for coherence, I don’t really like to show pieces until they are completed and ready for display but I thought I would discuss my manner of working.

There has been some controversy over pieces made that are essentially a copy of a famous painting. This might be considered part of art history tradition as learning occurs when studying and copying a previous work; it might be considered laziness in not taking the time to develop a composition; it might be a homage to previous artists; or it might be copyright infringement. While it is probably true there is little that is new, still each artist brings their own life experiences into each piece—if they are confident and dare to do so.

My work is based on my photographs; although I have used two others–one by my daughter-in-law and the other by my niece—of family members. I usually find a model to pose for me; sometimes a friend’s family member, sometimes one of mine, and sometimes I mine my store of photographs I have taken over the years. But this series required a specific set of photographs. With the pandemic in full swing, vaccines still a rare commodity and contemplating the series, I chose to use my hands.

This was not an easy process. Taking a photo of my left hand was easy enough, but the right hand was a bit more challenging. I set up the camera with the viewfinder facing me, set a piece of foam board on my chair, positioned my hand and pressed the button; repeated for the other hand.

Here are a few shots:

this is my working area
not so easy to take a photo of your right hand
converted to black and white image in photoshop elements
reference photo on the left and drawing on the right
this is where I write about my concept for the series and yes it is in my sketchbook. it took me several years to realize I could write in my sketchbook as well as draw.

Next I download the photos, do some cropping in Photoshop Elements, convert to black and white, posterize and use a filter–usually either graphic pen or stamp (thanks to PIxelladies for their class in teaching me how to do this), I print the image, trace around the image with my pencil or pen and then draw the image in my sketchbook. This image is traced onto tracing paper and then transferred to a stable applique substrate with the markings of the fingers noted on the back.

I choose the fabric—for this particular series all the fabric has been dyed with various wood sawdust from a generous wood-turner. The raw edges are turned under, the markings of the fingers transferred by hand embroidery to the front; finally the piece is placed on the background and machine stitching to emphasize the creases and skin lines.

Now all of this is fairly technical and maybe your eyes are glazing over at this point—-but I am still working away at this project; tomorrow will be an overall view of all fourteen pieces in their current status at the end of today.

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