As you know, I have been working away at my Noah's Ark show for almost a year now. This show will be at the Thrasher Horne Center for the Arts in Orange Park, FL. When the Executive Director called and asked me to exhibit, I said "Yes!" before I asked "...how many pieces?"
And then the work on 50 PIECES feverishly began. I personally decided to go with the concept of Noah's Ark because I wanted to have a cohesive show with an interesting theme. I love doing animals and what could be better than 25 sets of twos? My concept was to produce each set at the same time, using the same papers and sometimes even crossing the art over from one panel to the next. This way if a collector wanted to purchase two pieces, they were truly a match made in heaven.
Toucans in the studio
Looking way back, I think the Toucans might have been my first set. AND I actually took one on a family cruise with me and completed it in my state room. I bet my Carnival Cruise Line room attendant enjoyed watching my work progress every day he cleaned the room. Between activities, eating and drinking, I probably never spent more than 20-minutes at a time working on my toucan. BUT at the end of the week, I had a finished piece in my luggage.
I don't think I ever had such a fancy vessel to clean my brushes in!
I have been making animal pairs like crazy since the cruise without looking back. Considering I have a day job as a graphic designer, I am not a full time artist. I paint mostly at night, on weekends, and when I can fit it in to my schedule. As a result, many of my in progress photos are shot in the wee hours of the morning.
Turtle #1 underpainting early stages, on the easel
The Turtles taught me how tedious spots can be. Like childbirth, a few months later I forgot the pain and went in for another spotted animal, despite my better judgement.
I often use sheet music as birch tree bark,
but this application for whiskers seemed right on!
Jaguar #2 / 24x20 / collage on cradled birch panel / ©St. Hilaire Nelson
Patterns and spots are all part of the texture of hand painted collage paper. One day while wandering around Lowe's, I stumbled upon some silicone sink liners that I thought would make great stamping tools, and so began another effect to explore...
two 10x22 sketches for Giraffe
Stamping background patterns onto the wood panel with sink liner material
Detail / ©St. Hilaire Nelson
I could not have the Ark without the Elephants, so I gave myself the challenge of creating water droplets out of a combination of paper and underpainting. I was happy with the effect and proud of the playful nature of the work.
Drips and splatters in the underpainting were re-enforced with torn paper on top
Elephants lead to Kangaroos as the old camp song about Noah's Ark rang though my head... elephants and kangaroosies roosies, children of the Lord!
pencil sketch on wood panel in the studio
beginning underpainting stage with fluid acrylic
detail of underpainting with pencil mark making
In my need to keep producing work for this show, I packed a larger suitcase than I needed for a weekend and took a 20x24 Koala up to Massachusetts with me to visit my family. The 20x24 just BARELY made it into my purple rolling bag, I held my breath a little as the airline attendant threw it onto the conveyor belt.
beginning stages of underpainting in the studio
my 5-year old nephew helps out as I work on my lap in my sister's living room
Truly enjoying the idea of tearing up these palette papers
My brother's son was so intrigued with the collage process that he had to help, we had a great time one morning working on the Koala in my sister's living room. Good thing I have a big suitcase!
I began to wonder if Noah would have included sea life on the ark.
And then I thought about colorful crabs...
crab sketch detail, pencil on birch panel
crabs in progress on the easel
Most recently I have done Lions, which I think are some of my favorites. But I tend to say that about EVERY new piece I do...
basic underpainting on the easel, this is what I start collage with
The eyes have it, my favorite part!
Lion detail, texture and color
To date I have done about 20 SETS of two animals. I am at the point where I am asking for suggestions from folks of animal pairs. Do you have any animals you'd like to see represented?
What's on my easel RIGHT NOW? A pair with flare, and humor...
Stamping with sink liner, see also giraffe
My husband says I look like a mechanic
Fun expression and a study in opposites, purple and yellow
Show Opens April 27th
St. John's State College
Orange Park Campus