One of my favorite sayings, since I often work with found objects, is Michael Chabon’s “...striking out toward the sublime in a vessel constructed of the commonplace, the neglected, the despised.”
We Partners agreed to make work from natural materials for this exhibit. In using unfamiliar tools and materials we challenge ourselves to venture where we might not otherwise go, and maybe discover new worlds of possible expression. And it was fun.
Scroll down to see photos of some of the materials we used, and brief accounts of the artists’ process. — Miriam Davis
Plants for Water was done by printing papyrus and equisetum stems directly on the Yupo after dipping them in paint, then adding more paint and spraying with water. A frosting of gesso was added around the edges.
I used ground charred wood, turmeric, mashed blueberries applied to rice paper with sticks and feathers. Originally I had this idea to get sparrows to walk through the blueberries and leave tracks on the paper. Even after several attempts with different arrangements they outfoxed me totally and managed to gorge on the goodies without leaving a single footprint. I found that I could achieve this gritty debris of color and wash by applying ground powders made with feathers and sticks on dampened rice paper.
It was a big jolt to realize how much I depend on erasers to change charcoal and pastel. You can’t erase lines drawn in ink with a stick, so when I didn’t like what I drew, I had to live with it or cover it up like a bad tattoo. Definitely a challenge! This pix is a close up of a shape that wasn’t what I was trying for. Was it a phone, a heart, a ufo? I will have to dip my stick back in the ink and deal with it. The drawing is called Here Comes Trouble, and that seems appropriate.
I gathered a lot of natural materials, way more than I wound up using, including variegated flax leaves, pine needles, raffia, dried flower stems, tree bark, and succulents. Some I cut up and secured on the painting; some I used to distribute or make marks with acrylic paint. Had a great time, and the process sparked interest in pursuing this exploration in alternative paint application and natural materials.
For my image Follow the Water, I used water as my tool, adding black ink to follow its flow on a piece of clear acetate. By holding it in both hands, I twisted and turned it, allowing the ink to find its paths and patterns. This acetate was then exposed to a solarplate using the sun, my other handy tool. I then printed the plate using soy-based printing ink (kind of natural).
My materials for Fragile Earth I and Fragile Earth II were wasp nest, manzanita bark, dried seeds and weeds, moth (pre-deceased), powdered silver, fool’s gold, coffee and beeswax.
My son-in-law Ben and my grandchild Ada White and I collected mushrooms with gills that produce spores. We placed them on handmade paper and waited 24-48 hours until the spores dropped from the mushrooms to the paper. We have embellished the mushroom prints with mixed media paint and pastels.