I entered the last phase of my Intermediate Painting final unsure how to proceed. Though I was feeling better about where my mini series was headed after Part II, nothing I was sketching piqued my interest or excited me enough to begin painting. I knew from the start of the final series that I wanted to paint on a somewhat unconventional surface, like the shadow box I had done for the last assignment, but I just wasn’t sure what surface to use. I had resigned myself to just using a canvas and painting something to get the assignment done, but I decided to wander around my house quickly to see if there was anything that caught my eye.
I was in our back room, which still has some yet-to-be-unpacked boxes from our move last summer, and spotted a lamp my dad had shoved in the corner. Although the lampshade appeared fairly solid black when the lamp was off, the light shone through it nicely when it was on. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but I knew I wanted to use it for Part III, so I “asked” permission to take it from my dad and began sketching.
Prior to finding the lampshade, I had continued to think about the connection I had made between the University of Tennessee Body Farm and my piece Four Hands. As I sketched ideas for the lampshade, the image of a femur kept coming to mind, so I figured it was a sign I should find a way to include one. I also wanted to continue the work with the pastel mushrooms and grass. I returned again to the Body Farm and ideas of decay, particularly the setting in which the site is located: a fenced-in undeveloped wooded area in Knoxville. In an effort to connect the light to what I wanted to paint on the lampshade, I began to think about the light quality in a forest. Having lived in the middle of the Northwoods, I knew exactly how light shone through foliage, and I realized the light as it appeared through the lampshade was not unlike that of sunshine in the woods. Having made that connection, I found the direction I wanted to go with the piece itself, so I set to work.
After I finished gessoing and began painting the plants around the base, I realized it was missing something, I just wasn’t sure what. Initially I had considered doing insects, bees and ladybugs in particular, but didn’t know if I should proceed with that idea. I was very grateful for group critique because I knew exactly where to go after their great ideas and encouragement to include the bugs. One classmate suggested I paint on the inside of the lampshade, as I wanted to add more dimension to the grass but wasn’t sure how to do so on the outside. Likewise, everyone thought the insects would be a good connection to my Bugs and Seeds, which is something I wanted from this series. I went ahead and painted solid black grass on the inside, which appears to be in the background when the lamp is on, adding the depth I was searching for. I painted a bee on the outside, and combined the two ideas by adding a bee and a ladybug silhouette on the inside of the lamp.
In the end, I quite like how this piece turned out. Although it’s the end of the final series for Intermediate Painting, I don’t think I’m finished exploring these ideas of life, decay, preservation, nature, etc. I like the direction I’m going after doing Part II and III, so perhaps I’ll continue with this series into the summer – or at the very least, continue working with these themes and palette. I’m curious where I’ll go next, especially since this is the last studio class of my undergrad!