Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Double Vision Confusion

Double Vision Confusion

Gouache and acrylic on paper mounted on birch panels
12" h x 24" W

The 6th from the series Red Bean Paste and Apple Pie.

Another piece about rice and wheat; the 1st piece was It's Complicated and can be seen here.

After I finished It's Complicated, I felt there was more to mine on that topic, partly because those grains are such a big and confusing part of our lives and also because I had so much fun painting the wheat fields and rice paddies.

A hole in the wall is a phrase that is often used to describe a small restaurant that might be easily missed but is quite good. It is also a phrase that often is used to describe an ethnic restaurant that is run by an immigrant family. These small restaurants are often our first exposures to another culture.

In a way, we're looking through these holes in walls for glimpses of far away lands and cultures. And it's a jungle out there!

Those are the ideas in this piece. The backgrounds of the two halves are based on two historical wallpaper patterns — the oak leaf pattern of William Morris and a chinoiserie palm tree pattern. The oak and the palm are trees often connected to wheat fields and rice paddies. The two holes in the walls turn into a pair of binoculars through which a hidden person gets glimpses of distant lands. But while she's looking at far away places, she misses the small critters that are near her — field mice and paddy frogs, two species that live in close proximity to our grains.

Here's how the piece started:

The background on the wheat panel and the wheat fields are going in:

I changed my mind about the storming sky in the wheat fields:

The field mice are in:

The frogs, rice paddies, and palms are mostly there:

The coconuts, the grain in the middle. I intended for the grain to bring to mind the 3rd eye. The circle in the middle is originally the focus knob on the binoculars (although quite enlarged), and I liked the idea of the connection between "focus" and the 3rd eye:

And here the grain is starting to take on a religious look. Not my intention, but it's interesting to me that the shape evokes the outline of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The cell structures look a bit like stain glass, too. Neither were intended, but I like the result:

The finished piece is the image at the top where the central medallion is more grounded.

Monday, July 02, 2012

It's Complicated

It's Complicated

Gouache, acrylic and glitter on paper mounted on birch panels
24" h x 12" W

The 5th from the series Red Bean Paste and Apple Pie.

Rice and wheat, two of the more common grains people consume in East Asia and in North America They have played a big part in how well humans have prospered — they could be stored for a long time, and refined grain even longer. But we have a complicated relationship with them in modern society. In cultivating them, we also developed a complicated relationship with the horned lark and the cattle egret, birds commonly found in wheat fields and rice paddies. The center medallion is the insulin molecule, and it's surrounded by 'sugar,' another thing that we have a complicated relationship with; both wheat and rice also turn into sugar rather quickly.

Here's the sequence of daily or every other day developments:

I'm waffling between doing terraced rice paddies vs paddies on the valley floor, so I'm playing with one and then the other.

In the end, I went with half and half:

The background is both sky and ocean:

And the birds went in:

The finished piece is the very first image at the top.

For the sugar, I played around with different options. I actually tried using real sugar. There was very little information about mixing sugar with acrylic paint (I would use acrylic as an adhesive). I tried using it as I would salt on watercolor, and the sugar melted and made a shiny, sticky mess. (I guess I could've guessed that.)

My critique group buddies suggested white sand for sand painting. I thought that was a great idea and went searching for white sand. But that was actually harder to come by than I figured. In wandering around the aisles at Michael's, I found this granulated glitter, which actually looked A LOT like sugar. And that's the 'sugar' around the insulin molecule.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

1st Gocco Print Drawing

Gocco print (silkscreen), 2001 or so

This was inspired by a visit to a Kazakh family's yurt in an oasis town somewhere along the silk road. I don't remember the exact town, but was probably around Turpan, Xinjiang, Chinese Central Asia. I visited the area in 2000.

I'll be giving away several Gocco prints over the next few months, this is the 1st of the bunch. To enter into the drawing, leave a comment to this entry. I'll cover 1st class shipping within the US. If you're overseas, or would prefer another method of shipping, we can discuss.