Recently I posted one or two work-in-progress photos and then a picture of the finished product for a new mixed media painting that I called "Phoenix." As it happens, I took photos at the different phases along the way... not a full on tutorial, but I thought it would be fun to share how this piece progressed and maybe a little bit of my thought process as I worked.
To start, I had an inspiration piece in mind - vague, and totally subject to change, as always. I began by gathering supplies to do some collage on the background (as you can see, I always use really cheap, beat up brushes with gesso and matte medium - then I don't feel so guilty about gunking up the ferrule.)
I pulled out my easel and set up my canvas - 24" x 30," and got to work. Here you can see what it looked like after I wrote all over the background (a highly cathartic part of my process that I do quite frequently on everything from canvases to art journal pages - it shows up in various layers of my work, and here it happened to be the base layer. I also frequently write in French - using a second language seems to make it easier for me to express thoughts and feelings. Weird? Maybe!) On top of the writing is the collage and white gesso.
Next I started painting. I just grabbed Indian Yellow and Prussian Blue because they look good together and they were right there in big bottles, conveniently sitting out as if waiting for me to use them on this. Over the last few months, I've been very drawn to the plus sign or a modified Maltese cross - for me it symbolizes positivity, healing energy, and renewal.
As I worked, I used my typical process of cleaning off my paintbrushes on scrap paper, creating some fabulous collage fodder in the process...
While I was making these papers, I had no intention of using them in this piece, but the artwork seemed to call for some of the specific motifs that had ended up on those collage papers, so I tore them out and added them onto the painting.
My original inspiration was already fading fast at this point, and as I continued to work I suddenly started thinking about my visit to the botanical gardens in Singapore four years ago. Don't ask me why... I still haven't entirely figured out how and why my brain makes the connections that it does, but I have learned that it's usually a good idea to go with it. So with that in mind, I sat down and sketched out some flowers and then colored them with soft pastels and then used an aerosol acrylic spray to seal them so I could collage them onto the painting without smudging the color.
After letting the sealant dry overnight, I cut out the flowers and collaged them onto the piece.
I knew I wanted even more flowers, so I took out my Chinese Garden Plum Blossoms stencil and stenciled some more blooms into each of the clusters, then used acrylic paints to flesh them out.
You can see hints of it in the photo above, but my work wouldn't be "boho grunge" without the grunge - I love a nice, dark texture paste, and I'd added some all over the canvas here, and also used several word stencils and stenciled a series of words on top of each other all around the border of the canvas. More catharsis, plus it framed the artwork quite nicely! I also used my Ornamental Compass Screen stencil here and there in the background for the added impression of texture.
To me, the symbolism of the cruciform motif and plus signs inside circles along with clustered blooms of flowers seeming to burst out of the grit and darkness made me think of a phoenix - rising from the ashes to be reborn and start anew. (If only it was that easy to break through and overcome our challenges in real life, right?)
Here are a few close-ups of the finished piece:
I'm really pleased with how this painting came out... in fact, it's the first piece of my own work that I've ever displayed in my living room where visitors can see it! In any case, I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my process :)