Johann Wessels
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making something new

Posted: Jun 07, 2011

making something new

I was walking along a pebble beach the other day and struck by how many small sticks had washed up. They were all beautifully bleached almost white and looked rather like bones.

There is an expression about "pulling up sticks", which refers to moving away from a place. Since we moved recently and the notion of having to reestablish myself in a new city among unknown people, the idea of the sticks resonated in me. It reminded me rather of Joseph Beuys and his bundles of blankets and fire wood. There is something about collecting objects and storing them.... for leaner times ahead. There were so many metaphors that came to mind as I collected these bleached twigs and put them in small bundles.

I believe in a saying "collect firewood for colder days ahead". It refers to investing in friendships and memories which will warm your soul in future times. Maybe even a rather bleak prospect of old age when you need to "warm" yourself and remember kinder times.

I wanted to put together a piece about a collection of objects taken as snapshots. I glued the bundles to old cardboard rectangles I had made and aged previously, making it into a composition like a page from an old photo album. I washed raw umber over it all to bring down the contrast a bit and add some dirt to the worn aged look.

One of the "photos" will not be actual twigs but a painting of twigs. I started with a dark ground (my favourite Van Dyke Brown) and then painted a pale gray glaze to start the basic structure of the twigs. I gave that a slight glaze of raw umber to darken it a little...give it some dimension and then went over it adding lighter parts with the gray again... and will build onto the highlights to bring them out as much as I need to. I am looking for a rather spectral faded look which will evoke the feel of an old faded sepia photo.

So far so good. Hoarknockle has brought in some tea and I shall be taking my luncheon in the sun room.