Friday

When is a work in progress finished?



More than six months ago I started with an idea by adding modeling paste in the form of vertical textures to represent a build up of drips and when I completed this stage, the surface was painted over with acrylic and fine tuned with a number of glazes in oil. Since then it remained tucked away with the other unfinished canvases, along with the blue painters tape still attached to the sides, despite considering it was a finished painting. Still I could not shake the feeling that there was more that needed to be said, even though having followed through on the original concept on all points.





Three weeks ago while working in the garden, I came across a number of very delicate roots from a birch tree that had invaded a flowerbed I was preparing for spring. Upon closer inspection of these roots, I noticed there fragile structure and felt they resembled arteries and veins and could be used in a painting, considering I still had not dealt with the open-heart surgery in artistic terms. While I continued gardening, the mind was actively involved figuring out ways to work with these wonderful roots, when the painting from months ago came to mind.








A few days later I pulled the canvas, dusted off the sides and experimented with a few strands of roots to see how they would interact with the textures. Once satisfied that this would be the path to take, I proceeded with my usual cautionary attitude, covered the surface with regular gel medium and strategically placed the roots onto the medium. That evening I studied the results, analyzing every aspect of the progress, only to decide to wait until morning, when under natural light I could best judge the next step to be taken.


With a fresh perspective I concluded a few more roots would need to be added, especially one that would rise off the surface and so appear three-dimensional, now that I had planned to introduce tissue paper into the mix and did not wish for it to be just a cover. Once the new pieces of roots had adhered and dried to the surface, it was time to add the buff coloured mulberry tissue paper.








I had used tissue paper before as a top layer in which I tore numerous small openings, allowing the textured surface beneath to poke through; it was this approach I was now embarking upon for this canvas. After covering the surface the artwork was set aside, in order to contemplate on the current process and instead of overnight, the canvas remained set aside for almost two weeks.


Though there were still some technical issues to be resolved the art work in progress finally had achieved a level of completion in which it could be considered finished, now that the relationship of surface texture and the roots all interacted with their new skin. All that needed to be resolved was making the suspended tissue paper stronger, then protecting the entire surface and settling upon a title.


Well that was yesterday . . .

After further serious contemplation I decided one more layer of mulberry tissue was required since too much of the roots dominated the surface visually and I still had not achieved the desired effect.





The process of the second tissue paper layer needed to be applied with greater control since there were areas that did have the desired look and were not to be covered. This would mean tearing up larger sections of tissue paper and adding them as if composing a puzzle until a homogenous look was achieved so that it did not resemble having been patched.


Now that I consider this canvas a finished piece of artwork, I view it not as a success nor a failure, but rather a study in the process of materials and their relationship with one another. For it has spawned numerous ideas on how to improve upon the relationship of the materials used in this artwork when considering another canvas that deals directly with my heart and the surgery I underwent.


Art is a process, nothing more. A process of adding, subtracting, subtracting and adding until the artists hand stops, pulls away and the artist takes a step back.


Now I just need to settle on a title; any suggestions?



19 comments:

Leslie Avon Miller said...

This is really beautiful, and full of personal meaning. I don't think I can suggest a title as I know you to be a thoughtful man with a good command of the language. Perhaps you could free write, uncensored, about this piece and see what comes up for you?

Wild Somerset Child said...

I love how you have explained the thought processes behind this piece of work, and shown it in stages - and I do so agree that working in the garden sets the mind free to think; inspiring. Title: Like Leslie, I am not sure about suggesting something; I feel it is impertinent. But seeing as you asked, how about 'Roots of Healing'? Maybe that is insensitive, but I don't mean it to be.

Kelly Marszycki said...

I agree -- a thought-filled process, moving in sync with the materials at hand and respecting the process. Although the thought of "covering/re-covering/dis-covering" a surface comes to my mind? I'm very glad to have read your entry, Egmont!

Lawendula said...

I really like your art, it's simple, nature bound, wonderful.
Wir schrieben uns ja einmal über die Bedeutung von Birken.
Birkenwurzeln, das ist sehr schön...
"Roots and veils" would be my suggestion for a titel. But maybe this is to obvious. "Wurzeln und Schleier."
"Björk taking the veil" could be another one (Björk is icelandic for Birch) and it is a quite amusing thing to imagine her as a nun.
"White nights of the birches" would be another one that comes to my mind. You know the Russians call there midsummer nights "the white nights".
There is some kind of Nordic theme in the art piece.
Sehr schön! Genieße die Zeit, sei libe gegrüßt aus Deutschland!

Betsy said...

The piece is beautiful and has a wabi-sabi aesthetic to me...lovely.
Maybe "Emergence"...but then again titles are not easy...take some time to think about it.
Thanks for your comment on my blog about my window!
~Betsy

Ian Foster said...

This is magnificent Egmont, I liked it in the first picture with just the roots but your decision to shroud it with the tissue paper is masterful. I have just used a word that I think would be appropriate in the title 'shroud', but I am not yet sure how to complete the title, I will give it some thought and let you know if I am inspired.

Maggie Neale said...

Oh Egmont, I did so enjoy the process within the posting and how you have interspersed your images with words telling such a story. I want to learn how to put images within the story and the images in the order of the telling. Your posts inspire me to tell more of a full story in my posts.

I think you have fulfilled the desire to combine the garden and your artistic textural surface. I agree the word "shroud" works well and I like your word "fragile" a "fragile recovering shroud"...just to add some of the suggested words, but you are a wordsmith and it will all come into being in the right time...."fragile recovery"

iNdi@ said...

sometimes it's just a matter of sitting and waiting
and the name comes of itself...

jeannette stgermain said...

I love it -it's the process in capital letters:)

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

I feel we have all been invited in to your studio, to share in your process....thank you. Art making is both personal and universal and this post is proof. I like shroud and fragile but you know best.

Four Seasons in a Life said...

I wish to say thank you and to let you know I appreciate every comment and suggestion for a title.

The search will continue, but for now I cannot shake the feeling that the canvas represents a part of my physical body and the many surgeries I have had since 2003.

Wishing each and everyone of you a wonderful week.

Egmont

Laura J. Wellner (author pseudonym Laura J. W. Ryan) said...

This is very beautiful...layers and textures, each step in the process is just as lovely as the next, the simplicity of the white and the natural complexity of the roots...it's very lively, yet peaceful. Love it!

I hope you have a good week!

Best wishes,

Laura

Trisha said...

I am a fan of leaving work to see what happens. Perhaps a look at Robert Rymans work might interest you. He worked mainly in white and concentrated purely on process and marks.

Honest Blog of a Late Blooming Bohemian said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts and your process. The layering of the hard modeling paste, the delicate roots and the tissue paper creates a beautiful effect and portrays mystery, revealing and hiding, and somehow something of the fragility of life.

John M. Mora said...

This is spot on sublime on so many levels. It is wonderful work and your steps and the narrative so well done and heart felt (no pun intended). Speechless.

layers said...

wonderful textured and personal meaning to you... make a list of words that came into your head while making the piece and the title will appear!

GYPSYWOMAN said...

what an incredible piece - on all levels - and you have honored us so by taking us with you through your own masterful creative processes - and on the name while i do agree with layers above, there were two words that kept coming to mind for me - the healing - but again, only you know it's real name!

have a wonderful weekend!

Kim said...

Just catching up with some of your posts. This is wonderful I love this piece!!! Truly fabulous and inspiring! Surely you don't need our suggestions! Roots and layers wonderfully intertwined. I really could gaze at this piece for ages! I will be back again. I am sold!

linda said...

it is late,, my brain has already gone to sleep but this piece is so revealing of how, to me, you see your healing heart, as it grows and is covered with new tissue-an interesting choice, the mulberry---and, almost writhing in it's growth, comes out and goes in and twists and turns...it is very revealing, tells me the story of your path to here now...as seen then, a heart's healing and as of this writing, i see something seems missing...i suppose you would know what was taken, given back? left behind, yes....

it is an honor to witness this piece of the inside of your being human.♥