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!

Lampshade (2018)

One thought to “ART340: Final, Part III”

  1. It’s great to read how group critique helped you resolve this piece. Your choice of the interior for a feature image makes me think you really like this element in the piece. If so, maybe you should try some silhouettes as a next step. It would be interesting to explore how themes of decay might be conveyed this way.

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