Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In Progress

I thought I'd share with you the making of an artwork from start to finish... sort of. This is the third of my "The Traveler's Tale" series so far. This series is more narrative than my usual work, and is loosely based on the theme of the journey of life, both inner/mental/spiritual, and physical/temporal- not that these are by any means two separate things. I've always loved maps, and thought they were really beautiful; I've used them before in a few pieces, with interesting results. Here are a couple of examples:

Pathways of Remembrance

Dharma Mandala

For "The Traveler's Tale", I'm using maps as the dominant collage material. You can see the first one, "As the crow Flies", here. The second is finished, but has not yet been photographed; I'm just slow, lazy, too busy, or all of the above. Hopefully I'll get to that soon, if the weather cooperates.

After I have the general composition worked out in my head (I haven't done rough sketches for these because the exact composition depends too much on materials), the first thing I have to do is find the right background materials. This is really the most difficult part of the process, because the image in my head does not always coincide with available materials, so constant revisions are made as I try to come to the best compromise.

For instance, what's the overall size? If I have map pieces that fit, they may be the wrong color, or have the wrong "mood" for the piece. For example, a Cincinnati street map is not going to look right if the piece has a medieval theme. But how much can I splice parts of maps together without making it look too sloppy or visually confusing? For this one, I wanted the hill to be one map, if possible, so this greatly limited my choices, as I had only a few that were large enough. Color, of course, is another important factor.

I chose the map of British Columbia because it was the only light-colored one that was big enough. For the sky, I wanted to use part of an old monotype. It wasn't really big enough, though, so I knew I'd have to supplement it with something else- hopefully the blue ocean part of the map. So I fiddled and jiggled and moved things around approximately 2 or 3 hundred times, taping things in place with artist's tape (not supposed to tear the paper), and then moving them again. Too many variables!! Eventually I get tired of this and just decide to go with what I've got at this point.

So, I glued the map piece on. As you can imagine, gluing something so huge (the overall size is about 20 x 27) can be quite problematic. For pieces this large, I use Grafix double- tack mounting film, but great care must be taken because if you put it down in the wrong spot, that's where it stays! It's great, though, because there's no wrinkling. I also attached a couple of extra map pieces, such as the one I added at the top of the hill, to make it a little taller.

The monotype I used had a tree on it which overlapped the sky too much to make it feasibly removable, so I decided I'd have to keep it. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow, right? I cut around the part of the tree that extended below the sky, then glued the sky on using the same mounting film.

Next I brewed up a mixture of acrylic inks to stain the map an appropriate color. I rubbed this on with a rag that was formerly an old cotton t-shirt, and VOILA!

Here is the new piece, so far.

Tune in next time, when we venture into the exciting and dangerous realm of (dhunt-dhunt-DHUN) IMAGE TRANSFER!


  1. Wow Sharmon! What an amazing process and the results are gorgeous. Of course, the Dharma Mandla reminds me of stained glass. Thanks for sharing. Lovely work!

  2. Thanks for sharing your process! Can't wait for more!! I did a image transfer video a couple of months ago.... Can't wait to see your technique..... love those transfers!!


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