Twice a year the Boulder Arts Association (BAA) hosts a group show on 8x8 panels. Anyone who is a member of the organization may participate in the show, creating art that responds to the theme. For the Spring/Summer group show the theme was Trees!
I adore trees! I used to draw trees almost everyday in the margins of my papers at school. I have created wondrous mixed media trees as part of art retreats. And yet, the imagery of trees had not made it into my current art practice. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to create two trees with my contemporary inspirations.
I started with some crayon sketches. I like to do this to play with color and shape with an art material that isn't too serious. It keeps the sketching stage fun and light. I drew several different options before settling on which ones to create. I knew I wanted to build the trees out of paper, so once I had the ideas I could begin making paper leaves and a trunk.
I like to to play with color and shape with an art material that isn't too serious, like crayons.
I also painted the 8x8 panels that had been provided by BAA for the show in Green and Blue. Since the theme was trees I wanted the wood grain of the panel to show underneath. For the green I did a light wash of liquid acrylic, but for the blue I used an ink, which proved to be difficult to work with in later stages. Live and learn I suppose. Once the panels were prepped I was ready to begin in earnest.
Go Softly (Willow Tree)
I created the Willow Tree first. I wanted the two trees to be a pair, and so decided on a rich blue paper for the trunk and branches. This deep blue mirrored the background of the second panel. It took a long time to troubleshoot the falling branches. Squares are notoriously difficult to build a composition upon. The slightest tweaks can shift the symmetry and balance. After much fussing I created a tree shape I was happy with .
For the leaves, I found the tiniest corner of a larger stamp that reminded me a the long spear-like leaves of a Willow Tree. One of the homes I grew up in had a towering Willow Tree in the front yard. It was a sanctuary for imagination. If could be a circus tent or a dragon's cave or fairy glen. My parents always left the trailing branches long, so the space within had a sense of privacy and magick. These were the feelings I hoped to capture in creating the leaves out of paper and paint, like a curtain whispering of another place or time.
Apart from difficulties with the ink background, The Maple Tree came together much more smoothly than the Willow Tree. I had a few different Maple tree inspired options to choose from, and ended up going for an open and reaching shape in the trunk.
When I began building up the layers of papers for the foliage the ink underneath started to bleed. Thankfully, with a careful touch I was able to limit the amount of blue that bled into the red and purple leaf papers.
I had recently traveled to the Denver Botanical Gardens, which has an amazing collection of Bonsai trees. These old yet miniature plant-turned-art-object were part of the inspiration for the shape and movement of the Maple. Once complete both paintings were sealed in gel medium and signed.
On View at R Gallery for One More Week
The BAA "Trees" Group Show will be at R Gallery for one more week.
The opening for Trees coincided with the BAA Juried Exhibition. The Gallery was so full of people when I arrived you couldn't walk in the door. I had to wait for the best in show of the other exhibit to be announced before the crowd shifted enough for me to pop inside.
The show is only up for a couple more days, so stop by soon to see the whole collection. R Gallery 2027 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80302
My two submissions were at the very top right of the gallery wall. It is really inspiring to see all the ways people interpret the them! Some are comedic, some hyper realistic, some only loosely following the prompt. Together it makes a tapestry of talent, and I am grateful to have to opportunity to participate.
The Show is only up for a couple more days, so stop by soon to see the whole collection. If either of my pieces don't sell they will be available here on my website.
2027 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80302
Open 7 Days a Week (Temporary Winter Hours) 11am - 9pm Thur, Fri, Sat 11am - 6pm Sun-Wed
I had so much fun with these two explorations I want to find time to make more trees on larger panels. After this creative journey I have a whole forest of ideas to bring to life. One of my favorite parts of working off of someone else's prompt is the doors that open, the inspirations that arrive. Without the outside input I may have never come to them on my own.
After this creative journey I have a whole forest of ideas to bring to life.