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.

Busy Busy Easter.

Queen of Hearts Project, Wonderings of a Mixed Media Artist

Happy New Month, everyone. I hope you had a wonderful Easter.

Mine was busy as I was making some postables from some of the hearts I made for my Queen of Hearts Project like the one featured in this postable. I also just signed up for a pop-up event and realised that I don’t have as much as I should for that day. So, I got the engines revving and now working away at my small studio. Here are some things I have been working on:

I really love these balls. Made from styrofoam and paperclay, I want to make them as sets of 3 or 4, depending on how much time I have. But so far, the different colors really give a nice variety. I also gave them hooks so that they can be hung as well either from a tree or off the ceiling.

These guys are as cool as funk. They look like they should be an album cover. Also made from Styrofoam and paperclay. These would be great as mantle pieces.

Still working on this set of recycled bottle art. When I doubt what I want to do, flowers are always my saving grace. These are going to be poppies and I would like to give them a soft pastel color background…that’s the plan.

So, these are the projects keeping me busy right now. I still have alot to do like making their carry-on bags and more. This will be my first event of the year so I really want to start it off right.

Have a wonderful new month. I hope you get to achieve alot in this new month. We have officially entered the second quarter of the year. 2018 is whizzing past quickly. Well, here is to a productive April.

 

A Gathering of Hearts

Queen of Hearts Project

Happy new month. March came in quickly and didn’t come alone. Snow and chilly winds got me all snuggly in bed as I watched the Ten Commandments and Prince of Egypt for like the 100th time for each. It was the type of day to just relax, have a cup of hot chocolate and catch up with your body. So while I daydream a bit, let me show off some progress I have made with my hearts.

There are some hearts that aren’t really based on my emotions or feelings of that given day. These are generally from ideas that came up and I thought to see how they would turn out.

My King Amsa was triggered by the song, King Of My Castle, by Cris Brann. It kept playing my head even though I can swear that  haven’t heard it in years. So, I am the Queen of my own castle…and hearts.

A gold filled heart that was triggered by a sad story I read online. I don’t remember all the details but it was about a girl who was jilted by her lover and it was such a deep hurt, I felt it. So in hopes that I could send a message out to hurting hearts, I made this one. Sometimes, a heart may need to be wounded to show it’s capacity and potential.

This one is about self care. Basically, see your heart as a garden, water it, tend it, feed it with the good stuff and let it flourish, bathed by your passions and self love.

I use a makeshift palette by using cling film wrapped around cardboard when I paint. It has worked so well for me and the paint leaves behind a story of my color choices in my paintings and sculptures.

The tired Traveller is a reminder of my bus rides during the christmas holiday that I mentioned in an earlier post. I knew I would look back to those days and laugh so I gave her a nice bus, painted yellow as a shout out to Lagos Public Transportation, the all enduring Danfo bus.

Ok, I guess they do have some emotions attached to them. In some ways, my heart had to find a way to get into all of them.

So, have a wonderful March ahead.

 

Black Heart Woman

Queen of Hearts Project

Black Heart Man‘ by Bunny Wailer was a song that played quite alot when I lived with my mom. I never really listened to the words but hummed along as it filled the living room and she danced away to it. It seems quite ironic to dance to it now that I am older and have seen the lyrics of the song. It’s quite dark, warning children to be wary of ‘Stranger Danger’ but also saying that anyone can become ‘Stranger Danger’, given the right environment. Stranger Danger in the sense that there is a villian in each and every one of us.

Too dark? Sorry, not trying to pull you there. But see how easy it was to fall into that black hole as memories of nasty experiences spring up in your head. A neighbour was mean to you as a kid, a cousin accused you of something you didn’t do and all those horror stories that you keep locked away at the deepest part of your soul because if you don’t, you mirror your demons.

But…

You don’t become them. You turn that blackness into soil, ready to take in every seed and make them bloom into creatures of beauty. I know. I have lived it because I knew that my life could have been better. However, the past is the past and if I wallow in the mud instead of turning it into my garden bed, they win, right?

So my heart is a garden. Lilies and roses blossom side by side, sunflowers follow the light of my soul, daisies and violets dance along with the wind of hope.

Yours can bloom too.

Sand in the Cracks of My Heart

Queen of Hearts Project

The weather has been dreadful. The sun has been shy lately, hiding like a child, eagerly waiting to be found but still wants to win their game of hide and seek. And while listening to Ruby Gyang’d new song, Oya Dance, I must say that I miss warmth.

Growing up in a tropical country, Nigeria, Canada makes me miss extremely hot days and warm swimming pools. I remember days as kids when extended family members all gathered in Lagos and we go to the beach. My dad would always caution us to stay to away from the waves but my uncle, my dad’s younger brother, was more of the risky one. He would splash and carry us in while keeping an eye out for my dad. Those are fun memories.

But my most recent memory of the beach are of the summers I got to spend in Italy. I fell in love with the clear blue water, the hot sand and the whiffs of baberqued meat as we travelled along the coast of  the Ionian sea. I amsure you now understand why my heart yearns for summer heat.

Well, as I cannot be there physically, I made a version of a happier me by the sea.

This was made from tissue paper, a cereal box cut out of a heart. After giving the cut out 2 layers of paper, I glued up tissue paper to make the waves. I painted really tiny versions of myself and my husband, basking under the sun like lazy lizards. I finally painted my beach, added some glitter to make it shine under a light and also painted up my sea with foamy waves.

This is a cute heart and right now, I envy tiny me as she is captured in that tranquil moment forever.

 

 

Saved By The Brush

Wonderings of a Mixed Media Artist

I love abstract paintings. The way colors seem to clash but yet work together to draw your eyes to certain areas and the varying emotions that come up for everyone that sees them. I also believe that the act of painting abstract for most artists is a liberating, explosive feeling. For me though, it was the scariest thing.

Staring at a blank canvas is a BP rising thing. It’s like the point of no return once you throw anything on it and all you can do is go forward from there.

I think conquering that is a great thing though. It allows one to let go and set free. Though I am self taught, I tend to be rigid in my paintings as I can be a borderline perfectionist. I need to have the perfect stroke, the perfect lines, the perfect blends that are in my head and I have to do it quickly so I get constricted…which is why I started watching other artists paint.

One artist I love is Amira Rahim. Her blend of color and bold strokes shows a freedom and flow in her work. I got the chance to sign up for one of her online live classes and It was a good investment for me. I started the class with this painting as she asked that we work on an older piece.

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Some progress done…

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some more progress done…

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and the final piece.

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I am so proud of this piece. This is a representation of me letting go. I am now so excited about making more abstract art. I would love to combine it with paper and other things or material that would give different textures. That would be fun to work on. But in the meantime, I shall bask in the colors of letting go.

 

 

 

Home Is Where The Heart Is…

Queen of Hearts Project

After alot of travelling for the holidays, from London, Ontario to Boston, Massachusetts then Minneapolis, Minnesota and back to Canada, I can definitely say that I was physically exhausted. But my heart was full. This was the first time I got to have a lot of family members around me and I cherished every moment of it.

However, every story has an end and my very own Hallmark version of a great holiday shuttled back to reality as I found myself in many greyhound buses in the cold winter.

Even though I miss those moments, they definitely made my heart bigger. The winter didn’t seem as harsh and I felt like home wasn’t as far anymore. I have people at this part of the world that have known me for forever. And that is what this heart is.

I enjoyed making this because it has a mix of different elements. I used party tissue paper and made 2 layers by gluing two sheets together. I wanted it to have a see through feel that would seem delicate but strong enough to not bend over under the weight of the added elements.  After the sheets dried, I cut out 2 hearts and also cut out a tiny window almost at the middle of each of  them. I made two tiny paintings (I think I should consider making tiny paintings. So Kawaii.) and placed them at the windows, located where the heart would be on a person’s body.

   

One painting represents the people that are dear to me tug my heart strings. The other is a depiction of the location I call home with a little touch of politcal humor in it.

The last touch is the fringe I made with white yarn. After I glued down the miniature paintings to one layer, I added strings of yarn all round the edge then placed the second layer of tissue on top then left it under a heavy book to make sure it dries well.

I used watercolor to give it a splash of color andthen combed out the strings to make it fluffy. I had to give a layer of white acrylic paint on it to cover my mistakes with the watercolor so the see through was over shadowed. But it stll looks good. Just what I wanted it to look like.

A nice represantation of my loved ones.

‘The Heart of Man Is Very Much Like The Sea…’

Queen of Hearts Project

When I started making hearts for 2018, my aim was to make it like a journal. Everyday, I draw out what the day felt like to me and if I can, create it. And it was a grand plan and I started off strong, drawing out my feelings, feeling like the most accomplished artist that has ever lived as I imagined what shall become of my hearts at the end of the year. And yes, it didn’t take long before it hit me that I counted and groomed all my eggs before they hatched. But let’s not focus on that right now. Instead, allow me to take you through some of the hearts I already have.

Van Gogh once said

“The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths it has its pearls too.’

These words rang true as I designed this specific heart.

Something dissapointing happened. I cried my eyes out but at the same time, the urge to throw so much emotion at the situation came rushing in as well. There I was, anger, pain and love clashing and storming in me and yet, I had to take control over them as I acknowledged my life experiences. How different choices could have led my life down a different path. This heart’ represents that moment for me. The grey is for the storm, with red rhinestones that remind me of precious moments and the chains of beads are my tears (This was a really literal piece).

I love this piece alot as it remnds me that life is a mix of such days and even those are precious too.

 

 

Happy Valentine

Queen of Hearts Project

It feels like kismet, you know. The very first post about my year long project is on Valentine’s day.

For a long time, it seemed like I had a love hate relationship with val’s day. I only really started enjoying val’s day when I stopped hoping and wishing for this fairytale love story to happen to me. It was the year I accepted that I may never have that experience and that that is actually ok that val’s day became a fun day(I was part of the organising team for a val’s party and we painted the school red…literally).

Since then, it has become a day that I mark with friends, loved ones and now, in my studio, making hearts. In my bid to challenge myself in 2018, I decided to make a heart every day. Yes. 365 hearts should be my end result by december 31st, 2018.

I won’t lie. It has been hard keeping up with it as I have other projects I am working on, building both my portfolio and my business as an artist. But this is mine, you know. The more I work on it, the more ideas come and there are 365 ways to make a heart. This is just one of them.

There are more hearts to show you, I promise to do that in the coming days. I am still not sure what to call my project though. I am kinda between ‘Queen of Hearts’ or ‘My Heart Project’. Hmmm, maybe something else. What do you think?