Friday, January 6, 2012

Save The Date

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 " 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


  1. Beautiful no other words. Good luck

  2. These look fabulous and you should be really excited about them! I thought of a few animals that maybe would be fun to create - skunks and racoons come to mind, harbor seals or sea lions, red or arctic fox, polar bears, bobcats, iguana, sheep, goats, and gophers!

  3. I love all of the animals you have done so far and can't wait to see them all hanging together. The only animals I remember the BIble mentioning by name are the raven and the dove that Noah releases to see if they can find land. They might be nice additions.

  4. This is going to be a fantastic show!
    I wish I could get to Florida to see it in person.

  5. Fabulous and amazing, Elizabeth! It is going to be an incredible show!

  6. I'm going off an old camp song we sang every summer I worked with handicapped kids in my hometown," Rise And Shine And Give God Your Glory", if you google it you can find the lyrics. It mentions elephants and kangaroos. I do have a Dove though, that I have already done! A great idea to add to the end of the show! The song also mentions the Dove.

  7. These are all so gorgeous! I can imagine the impact they have, all in the same gallery space :) Don't forget the frogs - or the crows! ha ha

  8. Monkeys? Gorillas? Orangutans? Just went to the zoo with my granddaughter and these were some of her favorites along with Rhinos.

  9. These are just the BEST! Wish I was closer to Orange Park!

  10. I just love that the whiskers are made of music staffs. The ostriches, however, are my favorite of these. Very creative.

  11. Just love your work! The only other animals I would add would be zebras and primates.

  12. Noah didn't forget the squirrel! And several varieties to fill your 50 sets. Grey squirrel and red squirrel, plus that cute British squirrel with the tuffs on top of his head. Sorry I am not up on my squirrel varieties. How about critters that leave our gardens destroyed? Rabbits, gophers, and deer? Song birds? Many varieties to fill your quota with. Wish I could see the show. You inspire me!

  13. OH MY gosh. This exhibit is 2-1/2 hour away from me. DARN. THAT is SO far away! I hope you will bring some of these to the Leesburg workshop in March (if they don't all sell immediately!) I am crazy for the elephants! TAlk to me about TEXTURE. How did you do that on the lion paintings? THAT is so cool. Was the texture in the paper and then glued on? Gosh, we can all hardly wait to have you here in Leesburg!!!

  14. This is all very amazing to me. I've never seen anything like this before. Today in an art class in "Calgary, Alberta" a lady told me about your work and so i checked it out! So glad i did! I love it! All the best with your show. Wish i lived closer....

  15. Wow Ross, I'm totally flattered! All the way from Canada.
    think you ALL for the amazing comments on this post! It's just wonderful to hear suggestions and positive words about my work. We are on the home stretch! 10-more pieces to go

  16. Ginny, it's not THAT far!!!
    I'll bring some work in March, the texture on the lion is swirls and fibers that were in the paper that I glued on top. All the work is sitting here in storage, I deliver on April 20th. :)

  17. These are amazing! I would LOVE to see this exhibition, but Australia is just too far away - (2 1/2 hours drive is not that far Ginny lol). I love all of God's amazing creatures, but it is hard to go past the gorgeous red-eyed tree frogs or the orangutans. You could also do some spectacular dragonflies. Will you consider doing a blog post on the exhibition for those of us who just can't make it??? Amanda

  18. I wil indeed blog about this show when it happens. I am very excited about the animals and so happy to have gotten so many wonderful suggestions. Dragon flies are on my list but not sure if I will get to them or not. They are currently all in boxes in my spare room, so I have not ever seen them all out at one time either. I am just as excited about that as any of you! Australia sure has some wonderful and colorful animals and birds! I wish you ALL could attend, no matter how far you live. But I will post photos and I will have an exhibition guide available in print or as a downloadable PDF closer to the date. it's in the works!


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