Tag: commissioned art

Encaustic Mixed Media: Wine Corks, Playing Cards, Scrabble Tiles, and Letters

Wine Cork Mixed Media, Finished Piece

Recently, I was asked by a family friend do do a commissioned work of art for her husband’s sixtieth birthday. I was flattered, and excited for the prospect of a new project. It all began with a very large bag of corks from wine Buddy and Margaret (lovingly called Uncle Buddy and Aunt Margaret, as they have been a part of my family since my parents were in high school) had enjoyed over the last 30 years. She mentioned she liked my mixed media pieces, and hoped I could incorporate the corks into the work of art. It was easy having a client like Aunt Margaret, because she appreciates art, is open minded, and has amazing ideas that helped me work towards the final piece.

When the first package of corks arrived, ideas immediately began buzzing. We discussed prices and sizes, and settled on a large, 36″x48″ panel as the base. I decided I would use the corks, and I wanted every inch of the panel covered with them. They would create the base texture for the overall piece. Since I was working so heavily with corks, I opted for a wine theme, to bridge the material with the imagery.

While I was planning out a rough design, Aunt Margaret began discussing the project with family members. As they talked about the future creation, stories of Uncle Buddy began to be swapped, sand volcanoes on the beach, the endless search for sharks teeth, his love for all things boards games and card tricks. As the family reminisced Aunt Margaret decided she wanted a type of “Buddy search,” a bigger image filled with all things Buddy hidden in the layers and objects. Soon after, I received another package filled with sharks teeth, newspaper clippings of Uncle Buddy’s high school football career, and beautiful letters written between Aunt Margaret and Uncle Buddy, while he was in the military.

Wine Corks Stage 1 and 2

As we threw ideas back and forth, it began to take form in my mind, and become a reality on the wood panel. I started by cutting corks in half, and gluing them to the panel to create a pattern in the background. I used whole corks to form the wine bottles, to create a sense of depth between the bottles and background. I cut wine corks in strips to go under the wine bottles, and define a tabletop space. At the very bottom I cut wine corks into circular sections to create a wave like pattern, reminiscent of the beach, and Hilton Head Island where they have spent much of their time.

To reference Uncle Buddy’s interest in cards and scrabble, I incorporate both into the piece. I decided to make it appear as though scrabble tiles where pouring out of the sideways wine bottle, spilling over a card game. I also used the tiles in the background, and spelled out each name in their family: Buddy, Margaret, Andrew, and Aaron. I’m still not sure this is a part they have discovered yet, but I enjoyed every minute of creating this personal scavenger hunt.

Wine Corks Stage 3

Once the base layer was complete, I added thin, art paper over top. I knew from the beginning I would cover the entire piece with encaustic wax. When the encaustic is melted onto certain types of paper, it create a semi-transparent look. I often play with encaustic and collage, and I was excited to have the additional elements of the corks, tiles, and cards added. I used different types of paper to distinguish the different areas, tacked it down with hot glue, then began painting the many layers of melted encaustic wax.

Wine Corks Stage 4

As I layered the wax, I also began incorporating copies of the letters and newspaper clippings. Although Aunt Margaret encouraged me to use the originals, I couldn’t bear to essentially ruin these family memories. I made high quality color copies, to maintain the ink color, and match them as close to the originals as possible. I scattered the envelopes and letters along the top, bottom, and behind the wine bottles. I also decided to layer the wine bottles with ripped up sections of the letters to tone down the dark green and create an interesting pattern with the mix of handwriting.

Once I finally achieved a fairly smooth, wax surface, and was satisfied with the placement of the letters, I began painting. I added wine glasses, olives, and shadows to help define the sections further. A number of times I added something, only to remove it the next day. The piece transitioned from light, to a dark background, from one to two to three wine glasses, it was continuously changing and I couldn’t seem to find my stopping point.

After seeking out second opinions from my wonderful husband and mom, I decided to add dark shadows to certain areas to create more contrast. I finally began to strike a balance in the piece, I was finally seeing the end.

Bottom Details

I emphasized the separation between the table and the background with a harder, dark line. The shadows under the wine bottles were emphasized, as well as around the letters.

Detail, Letter and Scratching

I also began scratching into the surface of the wax to create crosshatched shadows.

Detail, Glass with Olives

I darkened the shadows around the wine glasses to help the white highlights pop. As I painted in the glasses and olives, I opted for a semi-transparent look. I left the olives with see through centers, and a more sketchy feel. I love the play between the background and foreground.

Wine bottle details

The wine bottles finally began to pop, the letters stood out against the background, and your eye was drawn around the piece. It finally felt complete.

Wine Cork Mixed Media, Finished Piece

I was very pleased with the end result and excited it was going to a family I already love so much, to be hung in their living room. I know they will look at it and appreciate it every day.

Wine Corks Ready to Ship

The most stressful part came when it was time to package and ship this very large, heavy, and delicate piece from Atlanta, GA to Denver, CO. Layer after layer of foam and tape was applied before my signature twine, card, and encaustic info was added on top. It shipped out in a very pieced together looking box, but it was enough to keep it safe to its final destination

Uncle Buddy and the Final Piece

Happy sixtieth Uncle Buddy!

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Spray Paint Murals: Chor Boogie

michael jackson mural copy

I have always had an interest in street art. I love the vibrant colors, range of subject matter, and sense of freedom spray painted images have. As a child the special trips into the city of Atlanta brought awe at the height of buildings and a bit of shock to see words and images plastered on the sides of walls.

As an adult now living in the city I love seeing the living walls. Real art is created here. Conversations between artists happen as a stenciled bunny rabbit is suddenly surrounded by spray painted carrots, then a fox chasing from behind. One day I drive down the street and discover a mural being created, the next day I find Tom Selleck’s silhouette appeared on a bridge overnight. There is constant change, expression, and artistic freedom on these walls. You see mistakes, growth, and change in the layers of paint.

With spray paint often used as a means of vandalization and gang tagging it has developed a bad name. However, despite it’s many negative connotations I do believe there has been more acceptance of good intentioned (and well done) graffiti art. I am excited to see Atlanta begin to embrace street art rather than fight it. This is evident by the large increase in commissioned public art I have seen in my five years in the city. Amazing images have begun brighting dark corners, alleyways, tunnels, and overpasses. The ability for street artists and government officials to come together and create has brought much more culture and flavor onto the walls of my city. For those who don’t spend their weekends wandering art museums, walking down the street has now become an opportunity for them to be introduced to and experience art.

Chor Boogie is one of the artists working to give spray paint a good name.

MODERN HIEROGLYPHICS

Chor has been creating since the age of five, and spray painting since he was 13. For 23 years he has been working with spray paint, honing his skills, and working towards redefining spray paint as a fine art medium. A completely self taught artist, Chor has worked his way from Oceanside, CA to San Fransisco, and all over the world. His work of art, “The Eyes of the Berlin Wall” sold for $500,000.00, breaking records for the street art genre, and setting a standard for street art as fine art.

Chor is not only breaking down the walls between street art and fine art, he is taking the pieces and transforming them into unbelievable examples of the capabilities of spray paint.

unnamed

Chor’s artwork contains the sense of freedom and expression I am immediately attracted to. His work has layer after layer of bright colors, intertwining shapes, and a mix of graphic art and realism, which seamlessly come together to create images with impact. Simply looking at a picture online I feel enveloped in the color, I can only image what it is like to stand in front of one of these massive murals.

All of his work is created with 100% spray paint. His 23 years of experience is evident in the way he handles the material. The crisp lines, carefully faded colors, and overall clean look of his artwork is an unbelievable example of how spray paint rivals what any other fine art material can do.

chor boogie at work

I can feel the expression of his artwork dripping down the lines of the spray paint splatters and seeping through his many layers. I feel like I can breath looking at his work, it doesn’t look tight, stuffy, or overworked. I think part of the sense of freedom has to do with his process. He doesn’t spend a lot of time pre planning. His process is very go with the flow, which is evident through his work and in the way he describes it, “I basically scale everything by eye on a natural feel to keep things a little organic along with years of experience, I have a rendering if I’m doing realistic portraits, but I always add my original flavor to it.”

I envy his process. I get too caught up in the pre-planning stages and the little details. I strive to find a way to let loose, be organic, which is why I am so drawn to what he does.

Recently Chor was commissioned to complete a large scale mural on the ground floor of the CUBES, a retail development off West 42nd street in New York City. Chor chose to complete large scale portraits of Michael Jackson and Madonna. The bright patterns pop through the all glass front of the building. The layered spray paint shines through the more monochromatic, and slightly translucent faces of the two celebrities. The layers intrigued me as soon as I saw the images, and when asked the meaning behind them he simply explained, “everyone has flavor to them, some form of abstract within them, and we are all based upon layers shapes and forms.. that create a whole… as one.” Despite our individual level of celebrity, creativity, or exterior differences we are all made up of the same amazing, beautiful shapes.

madonna-jackson_chor_boogie_montana_colos

Future murals have already been planned for the second and third floors of the building, with super hero and film icons lined up to add a little flavor to the currently blank walls. I asked why he chose these themes for the projects and Chor explained, “I know I’m just like these celebrities and super heroes because I put in just as much work, just a different medium and on a different stage… and if the super hero theme mural happens, its all in relation to super heroes in NYC and the rest of the world..”

chor boogie and michael jackson

I’m excited to see the level of recognition Chor has received for his work. He is taking steps to change the views of spray paint’s role as a fine art medium. I hope with his continued success he will bring light to the importance of public works of art, and increase the collaboration between cities and their artists. He finished up our interview with a little advice for up and coming artists, “can’t stop won’t stop… never stop believing… make it or not.. never disrespect your talent ..”

A big thanks to Chor Boogie for taking the time to do an interview with me! To read more about his work check out his website here. Thank you for checking out this post and my blog. Help me spread the word about Chor Boogie, street art, and my blog by sharing it with others. I couldn’t do it without you!

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