Saturday, February 20, 2010

Gridded Images

I've played around with gridded images for several years, both in my own art and in assignments for students. In my Design class at Lone Star College for several semesters my students did portraits in pen and ink using a grid, where each square had a design of some kind. The designs had to be carefully planned to match the values of the photograph for there to be any kind of resemblance. I thought this was pretty much fun and did a few self-portraits of my own, at first using simple designs -- closely packed curved lines, geometric shapes, shapes that were organic but nonrepresentational. Then I wondered if it would work to use designs with representational images -- animals, plants, seashells, etc -- and yes, it did. Ink was used for some of the portraits, but the image shown here, Facescape, (34" x 26") is in watercolor. The images are a little subtle to be seen at this size. This piece was shown in 2007 at the Watercolor Art Society of Houston Membership Show.

In 2009 I was asked to design a tee shirt for The Woodlands Earth Day Festival. Their theme was "it's all connected," and they wanted an image of the earth. In brainstorming ideas for the design I got excited about doing a gridded image of the earth, made up of little drawings representing life on earth -- animals, plants, trees, insects, flowers, water, and other symbols. The small images all working together to create the overall picture of the earth seemed a fine way to illustrate the theme of connectedness. The size of the image was 14" x 14", with 196 one-inch squares, each with a unique image. The medium used was black ink. The result was quite effective, and not only tee shirts were made, but also 250 limited edition prints. The sad conclusion of the story is that Earth Day 2009 was rained out! Some of the tee shirts and prints were sold at later events, and the remainder will be sold at Earth Day 2010.

The image above is my design for Earth Day 2010 in The Woodlands. The black and white version for 2009 turned out so well that I wanted to see how something similar would look in watercolor. This one, Fragile Planet, has the same number of squares but they are 2" x 2" so the overall size of the image is 28" x 28". Some of my favorite images from the smaller version are repeated, but about two thirds of the images are new. I kept a list while I worked, mainly to make sure equal billing was given to mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, fish and other sea creatures, trees, flowers, plants, and symbols representing water, sky, and humans. This endeavor took about six months to complete. (Years ago I narrowed my focus to watercolor as my medium so I could see quick results, but it seems patience comes with age!)

It's my intention to celebrate the diversity of life on earth, and emphasize that our planet is indeed fragile. The dying out of the frogs or the bees or the polar bears affects all life on earth -- it really is all connected.

In March I will be one of three featured artists at the Linda Watson Gallery in Conroe, Texas for the show titled "Go Green." My friend Paula is also featured, with her fabulous sculptures and clocks made of found materials. I will be showing watercolors of nature including Fragile Planet. Prints will be available for sale at the show, as well as at The Woodlands Earth Day Festival on April 10, and also on my Etsy page.


paula said...

cool to hear how this came about! love the stories of evolution in artists work.
thanks for mentioning me too ;)

Cynthia said...

Yes, I enjoy that as well, and glad to hear you do too! HAPPY to mention you!