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Around 2006 I started to get more serious about what path my artwork would take me. I hired an art coach to help me decide upon a consistent theme to my artwork and what goals I wanted to achieve. I created a “bucket list” of what shows and places I wanted to display. The top of the list was to have a solo exhibition in the Florida State Capitol 22nd floor art gallery. The state capitol building is 22 stories tall with an observation deck on the top floor. This observation area also features an art gallery. The gallery features Florida artists in solo exhibitions that last usually three months in length and changes four times a year.

 

To exhibit in the Capitol gallery an artist has to go to the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and download an application from the Art in State Buildings link. There are five different requirements that are listed in order to apply. The artist has to have done at least three of the five. These include: providing a complete CV (Curriculum Vitae) or list of education, solo shows, group exhibitions, prizes won, etc. a solo showing in a museum, letters of recommendation, ten slides of your work in digital format, and more.

 

I decided that I wanted to submit as my body of work my “American Native series” featuring the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes of Florida. I had been working on this body of work off and on for the last fifteen years, but I still needed enough paintings that showed continuity in order to make a statement. To that end I worked for the last six years creating new works. After a lot of different attempts I finally created a unifying element that tied them all together: a stylized men’s Seminole jacket that also incorporated different design elements that related to the center panel in the wall hanging.

 

Vote Yes! for Harness Racing

My first painting in the style of a man’s Seminole Jacket: “Vote Yes! for Harness Racing”
It is now in the Florida Gulf Coast University Art in State Buildings Collection.

When I felt comfortable enough that I had enough paintings to show as a solo exhibition, I began the long process of filling in the check boxes in the application. One of the boxes required a solo exhibition in a museum. I was able to have an artist friend introduce me to the manager of the Marco Island Historical Museum. I met with her and the gift shop manager and showed them my portfolio. (iPads are a wonderful vehicle for showing artwork). They agreed to an exhibition which was shown in their gallery from October, 2012, through December, 2012.

 

Exhibition at the Marco Island Historical Museum

Exhibition at the Marco Island Historical Museum

 

I was able to use that body of work to apply to the Southwest Florida Museum of History. That show ran from October, 2013, through December, 2013. I added four more paintings to that show along with photos taken of me painting and creating a piece. I gave these to the Museum’s communications manager. Those photos ended up being used several times in regional newspaper articles about my show in the Naples Daily News and the cover of the weekend activity section of the Ft. Myers News-Press.

 

I then started the time consuming process of applying. I worked on the application off and on over the course of two weeks. Once I had it proofread and my artist statements were in order, I applied in June, 2013. After not hearing about the receipt of my bulky application packet I called the Division of Cultural Affairs Office—“Yes, they had received it and the jurying committee was meeting the following week.” How lucky was that? Often you have to wait several months to a year as most shows are booked two years in advance. I waited, and waited and waited.

 

Finally, I called again at the end of December, 2013—“Oh, didn’t I know I had been accepted to display from February 1, 2015 through April 30, 2015?”

 

A multi page exhibition contract was mailed to me right away which I initialed, signed and returned. I also had to submit a list of the proposed paintings in the exhibition for insurance purposes. To this list I added titles for three new paintings that I wanted to create (and finally only had time to get one piece completed due to other show commitments and commissions).

I was on my way!

 

 

 

The Creation of “Drake”

Image

Every once in a while, I like to let my readers see How I go about creating one of my Batik/Rozome paintings.  First off, My readers ask “What is Rozome?”  The easiest way I can explain it is that Rozome is a wax and dye resist process similar to Batik, but using Japanese bamboo brushes to paint the soy/beeswax onto the fabric, while a different style of bamboo brush pushes the dye into the dampened silk fabric, rather than immersing it in a dye tank.

For this painting I selected a photograph I took of a male Wood Duck that was take by me last spring at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Central Florida.

This beautiful park features all animals that are found in the state of Florida with the exception of  “Lu “, the Hippo, an honorary citizen.  You can see all sorts of wonderful birds, manatees, otters, alligators and much more.  Well worth a visit!

I then enlarged my photograph so that I could make a large line drawing to work from. I used this drawing to serve as a road map for my project.  Working from the drawing, I transferred the lines onto a large piece of silk, creating my own drawing on the fabric. Then, after stretching the panel to keep it taught, I applied a layer of soy and beeswax to the areas that were to remain white.  Gradually, I would wax over each successive color from light to dark as you can see from these works in progress photos.  (I did the most of the background first before I went back in and worked on the duck).Image

During this process, I am following the hundreds of fine lines I drew on the back of the fabric so I could created the water effects (My friends think I am nuts). I am still waxing as each value of color is painted onImageHere you can see the darker tones are gradually being added.

 

ImageHere is the piece almost ready to be ironed out to remove the wax.

After I have removed most of the wax by ironing and blotting, I then roll the piece up in several layers of newsprint like a jellyroll and steam it for three hours in a converted Turkey fryer.  Removing the piece from the newsprint, I then rinse it in a chemical bath to remove any excess dye before I press it dry.  The painting is then ready for a photograph and to frame it!

Back from the Dry Cleaners

After a week at my favorite dry cleaners, the painting looks bright and shiny.  The silk threads glisten.  The main panel is ready for its two soulmates to be created !

Final Image for Wet World

Final Image for Wet World

Take it all off!

I am now in the final stretch of this piece.  I have added a few more colors to paint on, and then it’s time for waxing out.  As you can see, I am placing  sheets of newsprint over portions of the image at a time,  allowing the wax to absorb into the newsprint.  This takes at least 1/2 an hour of my time.  Quite  often I am asked:”How long does it take for you to create one of these paintings”.  I actually loose track after a while, but in this case, the photo enlargement, and placing on the fabric have taken over 3 hours; the waxing of the white layer took about two hours, then the remaining layers took another 4-5  hours.  This does not count the drying time between each layer of wax and dye. So for this project, I already have at least 11 hours work before touch up and finishing to go.

Ironing out the wax

Using newsprint to remove the wax

Rubbing off the excess dye before dryingIroning out the last traces of wax

The Continuing Process

Darker blue waters are added

Darker blue waters are added

Now I am getting really excited about this painting.  The colors are holding their own.  The next few photos are showing the build-up of color, moving towards the final result

Dying Steps, part 2

Dying # 4

Dying # 4, adding more color

After these first two rounds of dying and painting are completed, I go on and add more color, working from light to dark, trying to bring out as many details as I can. the painting begins to take shape

Version three of the dying process

I now can get started with my dying process. This painting is very complex, due to the number of color combinations and waxings that must be done in order to accomplish getting the information in front of me to look like what I have envisioned. I start by painting on all of the white areas with hot wax. This time around, pure white is few and far between, so after I do the initial waxing I paint on the next few colors: yellow for the floating debris, and a pale rose pink for the basic flesh. tone While the painting is still wet, I decide that it is too intense, so I paint a layer of ecru dye over the pink over the wet fabric, to more carefully match the color I am looking for. This gets waxed, and I keep on going…

"Warren's World" in the early stages

"Warren's World" in the early stages

"Warren's World" Panting with first few dyebaths started
“Warren’s World” Painting with the first few dye baths started

I know  that asking what you were doing while on vacation is a common question, but this time, I decided to try to show one tiny part of it in a new painting series I’m christening “The Water Series”.  While snorkeling with at Sandy Cay in the Bahamas, a photograph  I took of my husband snorkeling opened up a whole slew of new ideas on how to create the moment in Batik.  I would like to show how over the next few writings I created a new wall hanging that is still in process.  The first photo I am showing is the cool picture I took of Gill in the water snorkeling.  I liked the reptilian patterning on his arm and the way the light reflected on the surface of the bright turquoise water.  I took the photograph that I liked so much, and converted it into a line drawing in Photoshop.  I then blew up the black and white image to the size I wanted to create the painting, and proceeded to draw it on to a large piece of beautiful white upholstery grade silk that I had acquired  last year.  (Oh thank heaven for yard sales).  Then I began my wax and dying process.

 

Gill snorkeling in the Abacos

The photo that started a new series

 

 

The line drawing from the photo

The base layer for the new batik

 

The Seminole Kimono

Friday, I picked up my new painting from the tailor, with the “Sleeves” and center panel sewn into place and ready for hanging.  It came out great, and looks better in some ways than I imagined.  The problem now is trying to hang it to photograph.  The sleeves and folds makes it an awkward shape, long in a horizontal format, and not wide: 36″ tall by 72″ wide.  I shot one set of images, but am going to try again.  It is very different from the other pieces I have put together…

I am always happy to see “the season” (the three month period when the Naples Florida art and social world goes crazy) come and then go. I almost get nothing done in the way of artwork during that time.  I was pleased with my gallery exhibition at the ArtLab.  I did manage to create two pieces for the” Have A Seat III” event at the Friends of Art  Naples Museum of Art event.  I also was busy with displaying at the 25th Annual SW Florida Craft Guild’s Exhibit of Excellence at BIG Arts on Sanibel Island.  There I won a Merit award for one of my pieces from the February show: Hava Tampa Spirit.  The reception was well attended, but most of the time, I have been doing a lot of thinking.  After seeing one of my pieces hanging in my February show, I decided that I was not happy with the final format of the layout, and I felt that I wasn’t doing well in expressing my feelings for the images that I was working with.  After I had a critique with Barbara Hill, my art advisor,  I decided to take one of the pieces from the February show apart, and try to rework it into a more cohesive image.  This took a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth, but I finally came up with a workable plan to create a Seminole style Kimono image that would hang on a banner.  I worked out this image by making little paper dolls of layouts, photographing them, and seeing how they looked together.  I have sent the fabric off to be re-sewn into the sleeves and shaping of what I want.  We’ll see where I go from here.