Happy Earth Day! Want to celebrate with me on my tree-themed project? I’m all kinds of excited this week, because yesterday I registered for ArtPrize 2014! [Insert the sensation of 1,000 butterflies in my stomach that may or may not make me throw up a little bit.] My creative side has always leaned more toward “craft” than “art”, but I’ve been working on it. The “art” side of me has been dying to get out for a long time now, and I’m finally finding where I’m strong. See, if you met some of the people in my family, you might think I had paint and ink and charcoal running through my veins. My family is home to some amazing artists. But I’m kind of stuck on stick figures, digital media, and gluing bits to bobs, haha. The thing is – that’s really not all that bad. Because it means I dream up things like this:
If you read here regularly, you may remember what I had to say about art earlier this year – I chose “art” as my one-word for 2014. And I am embracing it, and entering in this year’s competition for the world’s largest cash art prize – it’s over a half million dollars awarded to winning artists from around the world.
I’m not going to win. Crap, I don’t even know if I’ll make it into the competition. It’s nerve-wracking just sharing this part of the journey with you all; I’m putting myself out there not even knowing if someone will take my art. Those butterflies in my belly are a nervous wreck, too. ;)
I can start talking to venues to try to get accepted beginning next week. ArtPrize is cool; it’s all over the city in businesses, parks, and museums. The different venues curate their collections for the public to check out from the pool of entrants. Last year there were over 1500 entries, and this year I am hoping to be one of them! Fortunately I can do this one step at a time, starting with registering. I’ll tackle turning on the charm to get accepted next week, haha.
This was obviously not a one-hour project, like I’m known for. I worked on this piece for a lot of hours after the kids were in bed. I estimate that I have between 25-30 hours into it. You may remember a similar, smaller project I shared before – I have made a tile mosaic with a tree silhouette before. But I learned a lot from (and since) that project, and I upped my game this time around. I went about 3 times bigger, and made adjustments that should make this piece more durable for the long-term.
The inspiration this time around all started with a photo I snapped on my iphone one morning. Really. This is it, unedited:
It’s just a cool tree that I drive by on my way to work. I made it “mine” for this project in a graphic editing program (I use PicMonkey), because, obviously, the for sale sign had to go, and I envisioned a high-contrast look. So I settled on a two-tone color scheme of purple and green, and printed the same image in a few different shades on my printer at home.
I got smart this time, and I used ceramic tile (just the stuff for kitchens and bathrooms!) to mount my image on. The advantage is, most of it is still connected together. Because the intended use is to put grout over it, underneath each sheet of tile is a sort of netting that holds sheets of tile together. That meant that I didn’t have to cry if any of my 280(!!) tiles got out of order as I worked with them to make all those tiny works of art. Not all of the tile was connected, I had to do some custom trimming to create 20 x 14 rows. But I was able to work in big enough segments it wasn’t in any sort of spillage danger, because this thing got moved several times over the course or a couple of months.
I did apply my artwork in groups of 4, to group the colors together for greater impact. And this is where my craft side shows: Mod Podge. Haha. I LOVE the hard coat formula for heavy duty work. It’s not water-based like the original formula so I didn’t have any ink bleed on this project. (Still, you always want to test for color-fastness on a small sample.)
Once it dried, I went over every square with an exacto knife to trim every edge, and then I added 2 more coats of sealant.
Then, I sprayed it with a few coats of a spray finishing glaze. Each coat had to dry for 24 hours in between – it’s got a gorgeous gloss on it in-person (though photographing something so reflective has been a challenge, haha!) But finally, the tiles were ready. 280 tiny little works of art. I removed each one from the connecting net underneath, and mounted them with heavy duty adhesive onto a board that I had painted black.
Finding a frame was a huge challenge for me, too. Every color I tried either didn’t “pop” enough, or the colors didn’t match. So finally, I just found a design I liked, painted the whole thing black, and used silver Rub N Buff on it to finish the color.
Right now it’s in my office area, (AKA the only place that’s not a wifi blank hole in the house, ugh!) until it hopefully finds a venue to be displayed this fall.
I can’t even explain how proud I am that I’m pursuing this. And no matter how I write that sentence, it sounds so cheesy! But it’s true – being a “real” artist is one of those bucket-list things I’ve always wanted to do someday. Feeling artistic isn’t quite the same as pursuing art in a tangible way like this.
Follow up: I did get accepted into the competition! Want to know more about my piece and my inspiration? I made a quick video sharing my thoughts here: