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.

 

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.

 

 

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.