I was asked often at the recent RAW show how I develop a piece when its part sculpture and part painting and where I get my inspiration and ideas from. This blog post will track the development of my newest piece “Blue Mars” from the concept level straight through to the final piece. Please feel free to comment.
The inspiration for Blue Mars actually came from a previous piece called Maire Pontchartrainus. (Pictured here)
The concept behind Maire was a fantasy piece that mimicked a populated moon but was rendered in as an illuminated map. It was my first attempt of a piece of this type and I used silicon as the base for the raised features, which worked ok but did not allow me much leeway on sculpting the landscape into forms that I wanted. The piece was also further out than I originally intended, thus the features were smaller and not as detailed.
I’ve wanted to revisit the concept with new materials, ideas and closer up than the original piece. I began with a simple crater drawing intending to stay moon based, but quickly decided I liked the concept of canals so added them into the preliminary design.
From this point I chose air drying clay to work with to develop the landscape details. I was unsure how it would do attached to canvas, so it was a complete experiment.
Air dry clay tends to crack if its laid too thinly, but I wanted that effect in order to create a cracked, parched look to the landscape. So once I had the craters in place, I proceeded to do an overlay of the clay across parts of the canvas. This helped support the main details of the various craters and mountains also and would give it a much more realistic feel when completed.
Once the clay work was in place, the whole piece was left to dry for 24 hours. The result was a cracked, surface that looked remarkably real, but was very unstable and ready to fall off the canvas.
Now the whole canvas (56×53 had to be varnished carefully to fill in the cracks and make sure everything adhered properly. 3 coats were applied until I felt reasonably secure that it wouldn’t fall apart.
The final result after drying, was a solid landscape ready for paint.
Once the varnish was dry, then the first base coat of color was applied. In this case I masked the edges and applied 2 full cans of black spray paint to the whole canvas. This acts as a secondary sealant and coats with a nice even spray.
It is particularly good for relief details.
Once the spray paint dries completely, then yet another coat of varnish is painted on. This seals everything and offers an additional line of defense against anything cracking or falling off later.
Once the varnish is applied, its again left to dry and finally the result is a shiny, firm surface ready for actual painting and detailing.
Now I am done with the base sculpture work and can begin the painting process. The first step is adding a metalic blue to the various craters since my design calls for water in the craters in canals. This blue will be augmented with other details later.
So far this as far as I’ve come. Expect part two soon as I start to apply colors and details.