Heart Rock…

Queen of Hearts Project

There are many artists that I admire. One is Laolu. How he carries a story with symbolism and contrast is just epic.  Another artist I love is David H. Dale. My sister and I had the chance to ‘study’ in his studio for a short time a long time ago. He introduced us to watercolor painting and his home/studio was surrounded by flowers of all types. A mixed media artist that used beads in many of his works and they are just amazing, again full of color and the details were mesmerising. So it made my heart skip a bit when I read the Aljazeera article on Peju Alatise where she mentioned that one of his exhibitions showed her that art sells.

A few weeks ago, as part of her ‘Paradox, Paradigms and Parasites’ exhibition, there was ‘Geodes’. Based on how these wonderful crystals are made, they need a pocket buried in volcanic rocks and with time, minerals seep in, layer by layer, creating something so beautiful in which many have sought, fought and killed for. With this piece, Alatise asks us if we seek the the precious gem, the human inside this shell we wear everyday. Do we value the layers of our years and experiences that come together to make us us? Or are we just the cheapest tools used to find the next gem that would be placed on our mantles or wear as jewelry? The idea behind this piece spoke to me and I had to make a heart version of it.

Mine isn’t made from Stonecasts, metal stands and resins. No no. Just good ole paperclay and glitter. It was a quick one as I already had paperclay ready and a heart shape cut out. I made the edge first with a big enough hole in the middle. While this dried, I formed a person and quickly placed him in the hole. Then I filled out the edge into the hole until I got it shaped to what I wanted.

Once it was dried, I painted the heart Black and the person Silver. Then filled up around the person with black glitter.

Of course, it doesn’t step up to Peju’s Geodes but I can firmly say that I am inspired by her.  Her work pushes me everytime I see it because she is what I would want to be like. Not just the exhibitons, the travelling and all, no. More than that. To be able to put out work that captures you in such grace. To be able tranform an idea from thought into existence with such power. To refuse to be the norm and live by your tune, whether accepted or not and live life in it’s true form. That is what I would want to emulate from her. That is what I take from the pieces of her journey I have seen in her work and her life.

 

 

Compromise: It Comes In A Set of Three

Wonderings of a Mixed Media Artist

I don’t know why I am attracted to the number 3. Maybe it’s the holy trinity, the number of Matrix movies, the primary colors, the rule of thirds, I really don’t know. But I have noticed that when I work, I tend to work in threes. I think it’s because I read somewhere that it’s the number of the divine or it’s probably because my sister chose 5 and 11 just doesn’t sound like a number one falls in love with, you know and I just read that 3 is the lucky number for Sagittarius so I guess I am on the right path.

It is usually the number in a set of paintings I work on. It is probably because I am exhausted on that idea and not sure what else can be done to extend it…or I just like the fact that it is just three paintings like “Compromise”.

I actually started working on it with one in mind then added 2 more.

The first was of the masquerade forms bending over and into each other. After prepping and drawing my shapes on the canvas, I started layering the forms with my paperclay. I worked quickly over it so that it doesn’t dry out. I do spray water to keep it from drying but not too much as this tends to slow down adding details for me.

Once I was done, I go over the layers and the edges with a styrofoam ball wrapped in cling film to make it smooth and clean out curves, grooves and more. Then I add details into it, do a few more touch ups and let it dry.

After seeing what my my sketch was like on a bigger surface, I felt like one would be too lonely as it was done on a 14″ by 14″ inch canvas. it also felt incomplete. So I sketched out two more with differences in them and like what I saw. The second was for both forms to back each other and the third was for them to look like they had agreed on something or in balance with each other.

I let them dry for a few days then worked on painting them. I gave the background a wash of warm colors because the masquerades were painted black. I wanted them to stand out of the canvas and also give the details the contrast they needed to be seen once I gave them colors as well.

When I first started working on Compromise, I was targeting a colorful set of forms that seem to just be dancing. But once I was done, it felt more like one was suppressing the other, bending the other’s will to take more space because it feels like it can. They seem to think they don’t have much in common with each other but how can they when they can’t see what makes both of them unique. And I felt like that made the story incomplete. As much I hate to admit it, I always prefer a happy ending or at least, everyone getting what they deserve, justice for all, karma coming full circle. which was why I made the other two.

The second one depicts both of them, now on the same level. No one is occupying or suppressing the other. However, with their backs touching, it shows that both are not ready to listen and they have come to a stalemate. But better that than suppression and the occupation of another’s space.

And the third, I guess the third speaks for itself. Compromise. Their heads face each other, tilted the way you do when you don’t want to miss what the other is saying. They see each other, they notice that they have the same colors, same forms, just different in order. The differences make them more intertesting as one does not overshadow the other. There is respect of space, acknowledgement of form and acceptance of differences.

Maybe that is why I feel the connection with the number 3. There is always the beginning , the middle and the end. And Compromise does that for me.

 

Top Ten Tools I Use In My Art Studio.

Wonderings of a Mixed Media Artist

It always starts with something small. You get a glue gun here, you buy some glitter there, an “ooh that would make a wonderful addition to my center piece” statement or a “I wonder how I can use that” question and now, you have encroached a space in your home in which no one can lay claim to. You have created a monstrousity of a haven in which you never venture out of except when finding more supplies to fill up the smallest space you find. Welcome to your studio or in this case, mine.

 

As I have taken over my dinner table, I have been able to streamline most of my activities into these main categories:

  • Jewellery
  • DIY and Craft
  • Look at me. I am an Artist.

One of my hobbies is to surf through the internet (let’s be honest here, Pinterest) looking for inspiration, which is why I am surrounded by many supplies. Because of how available paper is to me, I quickly learned how to recycle paper and use it in most of my projects, products and art. But I don’t use it alone.

So, here is my top ten list of must have tools in my work space.

1. Glue: Elmer’s glue is a constant in my studio. I do make my own papermache paste when tackling bigger works but even then, I still add some white glue into the mix to give me what I need.

 

2. Wire: This is what I use to build armatures for my figurines. There are different strengths and thickness to wires. If you would like have an armature that doesn’t bend over easily, It is best to look for the lesser gauge numbers. For example, the 16 gauge wire would have more strength than the 24 gauge wire. I once went for a sculpting class in which the artist used those wire clothing hangers and they worked perfectly as they could carry the weight of the molding clay we used. I do also wrap my armatures with masking tape to reduce their contact with my moist paperclay so that no funny business goes on while I work on a sculpture.

3. Ziplock bags: To keep my freshly made paperclay moist and moldable. This way,  I can make a good amount of clay and store for later use in the fridge without it coming in contact with food though during the winter, it tends to stay on my table as the cool air keeps it from drying.

 

4. Paint: what can you do without paint? I use different types of paint for my work and they range from acrylic paint to enamel paint. There is a variety of paint in the market like the Martha Stewart Line  and the Apple Barrel Line, but I personally, have used FolkAcrylic paint and it has been wonderful to my work especially their metallic line. Decoart is also a great alternative as they have a great variety of colors as well.

 

5. Varnish/ Sealer: to protect the end product to avoid moisture getting in as it is made from paper. The two main ones I use in my studio are  Duraclear Varnish and Varathane Water Based OutDoor Varnish. Duraclear I use mainly for jewellery projects as though worn, they are usually handled with more care and also, it is a line used by other jewellery designers. Varathane is used for my bigger projects like Nothing New Under the Sun and more as it is used to protect both indoor and outdoor surfaces. It helps to ensure the longevity of my works without them yellowing or moisture seeping in.

6. Sculpting tools: These a great addition to my work as they help in various projects like my jewellery and sculpting. I easily make things I find around me as tools like toothpicks, skewers, old credit cards, old brushes and forother artists, dollar store dentist sets, but it is great to have sculpting tools in your arsenal.

 

7. Glue gun: I believe that a glue gun was one of my first craft tool purchase ever. And after many conquests and battles, she is still waxing strong. This is an important purchase so get one that suits your needs as well as the glue sticks. Don’t forget the glue sticks.

 

8. Jewellery pliers: Also one of my first purchases and they too have kept my studio alive. As my journey into the arts started with making jewellery, jewellery pliers are always around me. I use them as well to bend and cut wires in making my armatures, fixing and making wire jewellery and more. The round nose plier, the cutter and the bent nose plier are some I would recommend to have in your stash.

 

9. Masking tape: Everytime I find that my masking tape has gone halfway, a tiny panic sets in. So I tend to get more than one on an art supply run. I use it alot in my studio for taping down paintings, making clean lines in a painting, a quick layer for my armature wires, a snatcher of glue gun webs and a protector of my pinkie when cutting through a shipping box for project parts.

 

10. Cutters: You can never go wrong having cutters. As of now, I have 2: a box cutter and a craft knife cutter. The box cutter is for the heavy duty cutting, when I cut out parts for a project from shipping boxes. The craft knife cutter is for delicate materials and more fine cutting like for leaves, patterns and more. A popular one is the X-acto knife.

There are other tools I use but these are the major big timers for me. If you are just starting your journey down the artistic path, whether crafter, fashionista, artist, have a look through and see what you can add to your studio to make the best working space for you.

Have a great one.

Strong Shoulders, Heavy Heads, Soft Hearts: How I made my Contemporary Wall Art.

Wonderings of a Mixed Media Artist

Women. I paint them, sculpt them, still trying to understand them. Which is funny as I am one myself. But I think that is the beauty of us, the ladies. As we are all different, there is always another way, another view, another perspective on how the world works or feels. But one thing that has always been clear is the strength of a woman. Whether used as a chain of guilt or as the wind to soar, that is a tagline that has followed womanhood.

So, an idea came to me after feeding off social media about this year’s women’s day and how women helping women kept coming up and the process to move beyond breaking the glass ceiling. it was my version of women working together to make the world a better place. Yes, it may seem a bit sappy, but I do believe that we would get there, hopefully in my time. And luckily for me, I got a 20″ by 20″ canvas during one of my earlier art supplies runs to Michael’s so I started working immediately.

After making a quick sketch and some extra touch ups on how to make my piece, I got to work. I drew out the shape of canvas first on a cardboard then drew out the designs I wanted and cut them out differently. I wanted to have 6 forms, all different shapes but still similar in form. These forms are the bases of my armatures which I added jewelry wire to give them necks. Then I covered my armatures with paperclay I made using Jonni Good’s recipe, also giving each of them different designs all over before they dried.

I was really happy with how they all turned out. Though similar in form, I wanted each of them to still have a uniqueness to them. I wanted to show women that dance to their own beat or flow according to their course.

Also had a little photoshoot with them as well.

And while the women dried, I worked on the centre of my piece, the earth.

One feature I wanted to add was how Waja women from Gombe state carry their wares. They carry it on their shoulders, not on their heads as other ethnic groups do. Truthfully, I thought it was just the Gbagyi women of Abuja that carried their wares that way. So it was a pleasant surprise hearing that Waja women did this too. From what I heard, it is because the head carried the weight of wisdom so the shoulder helps in carrying the weight of materialistic things. And in a way, it seems like that is how women seem to be. They carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Paperclay Earth

Mini Photoshoot of Paperclay Woman Form

I wanted this to be a piece that reflects the innate power of women. There is a reason why if new ideas are going to be implemented in a society, women are targeted. Women are usually the carriers and enforcers of societal rules and values because they are seen as the caregivers of the next generation. It is probably one of the reasons why women that are different are often feared, ostracized and in some cases, killed because of the control they wield over change.

Once all the pieces were dried and painted, I arranged and glued them on the already painted canvas and allowed them to dry as well.

Strong Shoulders, Heavy Heads, Soft Hearts

I am happy with this piece. I can see it gracing the walls of an influencer of the world Like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie or the cozy santuary of a home maker. To me, it showed how different every woman is but at the same, how each woman wants to play her part in the world she is in. But not just for herself, but for her fellow sister as well. It is also the reason why I gave them necks that allow their heads to almost lean on each other. A shoulder to carry the world and a chest to rest their heads.

It is an ode to my mothers, my sisters, my cousins and my friends. The women who have always been there in my life. Those whose stories laid the foundation of strength and those whose lives were painted with vibrant colors.

 

Strong Shoulders, Heavey Heads, Soft Hearts Wall Art

 

Nothing New Under The Sun.

Wonderings of a Mixed Media Artist

In August 2017, I got an email that opened something for me. I got accepted to be part of Culture Days in London, Ontario, where I could display an art piece of mine. This email came at a time I was struggling. Looking to find my purpose in life and just what path I should follow that would let me live my life to its fullest potenial. A friend once said that I was a push over a few years back and it hit me to think that I always gave the reigns of my life to someone else to control. But this email felt like I was finally taking it back.

So I wanted to show how much I deserved this chance given and come up with a concept that spoke to me about London. Having lived here for about 5 years, considering that I moved home then finally relocated here again, I was out to show off how london had influenced me and started with furor.

There was no method to the madness I fell into and this led to sleepness nights, no appetite and an anxiety that never slowed down. I kept changing the ideas and oh, it was a train wreck…then I stopped. It hit me that I couldn’t do by trying to show off that I deserved this path. It was never about deserving, it was just about accepting. I wouldn’t be the first person to have go through anything in life. What issues, problems, joy, happiness I have ever had, someone else has done it already. My mix is unique to me but definitely not the experience. There is absolutely nothing new under the sun and that was it. My concept was here.

So, with better confidence and peace in myself, I set about creating my vision. I made about 17 figures from paper and wire using the papermache technique for all of them. As they would all share the same form, each would capture a different movement. This is to represent humanty basically.  While they dried, I worked on making swirls that represent the sun using newspaper for them. I wanted to get something close to the swirls you see in Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ as he is an inspiration to me.

I wanted this piece to be big as I always seem use smaller sizes to convey my ideas. So I used 2 16″ by 20″ and 4 8″by 10″ canvases for this. The plan was to arrange the pieces in such a way that you can switch them up when you hang them so that you get different scenes from this whole piece.

After painting all the canvases, the figures and the swirls, I finally arranged them. To add to their differences, I painted them in similar colors but each in a different way and arranged them in different hieghts across the 4 8″ by 10″ canvases. Then the swirls were placed on the bigger 16″by 20″ canvases as well. And finally, like a puzzle, they came together as my art piece.

This piece got good reviews from all that saw it. The colors stood out, it calls out for your attention and that was what I wanted. I wanted it to remind everyone that there is nothing new under the sun, hence the title. We may all have different stories, different experiences, both good and bad. But if the Sun could compare our stories to the ones he has seen as we travel round him, there wouldn’t be anything new. We all journey the same, we all want the same things. A home to call our own, another to love without restraints and walk our lives with a legacy to leave behind.

So…knowing that someone else had or has a journey similar to mine make me feel like I am in good company. I shall, one day, reach my destination. It may be a road less followed but the path has been beaten for me to follow. Ask the sun. He knows.