Sunday, June 1, 2014

ISSA Third Annual Scratchboard show

Hello folks!

I'm sorry my posts have been few and far between recently - I've been doing some veterinary teaching which has had to take priority in the past few weeks.  Fear not, I will be spending more time on my art and sharing some stuff with you in June and August.
For now though I wanted to show you a couple my most recently finished pieces.  These two scratchboards were accepted into the annual show for the International Society of Scratchboard Artists (ISSA) of which I am proud to be a signature member.

The show is going to be held this year at the Page-Walker Arts & History Center in Cary, North Carolina.  It is an amazing show - featuring the best of the best in scratchboard art.  For those of you who are going to be in the area the end of June I highly recommend you check it out - there is nothing like seeing these works in person!  And for any of you who are artists, there are fabulous workshops held in association with the show (check out the ISSA website for more details). 

(c) Pam Boutilier "Winter Cherries" 6x12" Claybord/Ink
The two pieces that I will have showing are both going to be available for sale.  "Winter Cherries" is a particularly meaningful piece for me that took me close to a year to complete.  I almost abandoned it several times but the guidance of a great mentor of mine, acrylic painter Martin Pryce, helped me hang on and see it through.  And you know what - I am so pleased with how it turned out.  I think this piece really shows some of the amazing things that scratchboard/whiteboard as a medium can do!
Here's a larger-than-life detail shot
The other piece that was accepted is 'Savannah Dreams' - this one also was a long time in the making.  That was mostly because I had created the warm abstract background when experimenting with my Claybords a couple of years ago, but for some time I couldn't find what art I wanted to put on the board.  I found the background so fascinating by itself I wanted to find a subject that would harmonize with it, but also that would not be overpowered by the background or compete with it.    I found myself looking at a photo of a lion I'd taken at the Toronto Zoo back in 2012 and suddenly it clicked - the angle and direction of the lion would work perfectly with the gradient of the background (at which point I was referring to that board as my 'leather background' because it reminded me of an old, beaten up leather trunk).  This lion is interesting because he does not grow a mane - so if you thought he was a lioness it is quite understandable!
I worked the lion in black and white and honestly didn't decide if/how much I was going to colour him until all the scratching was done.  Ultimately I decided to go with only a subtle wash of colour, leaving him somewhat stark compared to the background.
(c) Pam Boutilier "Savannah Dreams" 9x12" Claybord/ink
All the time I was working on this I kept thinking of him on his rock in the zoo, gazing over his rather limited domain in the middle of Canada, in the middle of winter.  My mind was filled with the contrast of his life compared to his heritage, which made me wonder whether his soul might ever dream of the dusty, warm, sun-drenched savannah.... hence 'Savannah Dreams' as the title.  That contrast, between his current life and his ancestry, also made me decide to leave him as a more stark black and white relative to the soft warmth of the background.
As an added bonus I will also give you a link to my timelapse 'speed scratch' on this one.  Now this was intended only as a practice run, so please keep that in mind when watching it.  I love speed-draw/paint/etc videos and have always wanted to do some of my scratchboards but I didn't know anything about the equipment, set-up or process.  This was a great learning experience and the next one that I do will have much better camera positioning, lighting, and so forth.  
Both of these pieces really gave me an opportunity to watch how the mental and emotional process I go through while creating a piece of art informs the decisions I make with it all along the way.  To a large degree you have control over what you're doing - but it's almost like you are the head of a committee rather than a dictator... you have to listen to input from the materials, your environment, your muse, and take those and incorporate them into the work as you go.  I have never been as happy with a piece that I planned and executed exactly according to plan as I have with a piece that I've allowed to grow and develop organically as I worked on it.
So there's the art, and be sure to check out the show if you get a chance!

~ Pam

1 comment:

Sande said...

I will be so happy to see these in person at the show! I really am intrigued by your backgrounds, and of course, the main subjects too. I also enjoyed reading your thoughts on creating these pieces. I'm trying to be less literal in my artwork and working through some of the things you mentioned.