My most recent artwork was created from a call for artists from another local artist, Michele Waalkes. The call asked for proposals for temporary window paintings to make downtown more festive and also to promote the December exhibit: Illuminating the word, Saint John’s Bible, at the Canton Museum of Art.
I was chosen as one of 10 local artists to complete this commissioned project. It took me 3 evenings to complete it, about 12 hours total, although some of that time was waiting for the thin layers of paint to dry in between the next layers.
My design incorporated many elements from the Saint John’s Bible, especially Jacob’s ladder and the butterflies. I wanted to include a message, something written in the sweeping calligraphic style of that bible, and first thought of the word Peace. As I started sketching some ideas, I quickly realized that I would have to paint all of my letters in reverse on the inside of the window, and decided on a much easier to reverse, but just as powerful holiday message – Joy.
First I blocked out my measurements for the border and Jacob’s ladder with masking tape. Being the center of the design, this part needed to be straighter than I could manage freehand.
Next I filled in the golden yellow outlines for Jacob’s ladder and the reverse letters of Joy. You can see the office I was working in, part of the Canton Chamber of Commerce. Business meetings were happening behind me as I painted. I’ve done many painting demonstrations and public art pieces now, so I actually enjoy having an audience. (I guess that’s also obvious since I am blogging this to the world)
Then I started to fill in the outlines for the butterfly patterns. Each block of the ladder was filled in with a portion of a different butterfly wing seen in the bible.
Next I filled in the major areas of each butterfly block with highlights and solid fills. Each color takes 2-4 layers to have an even coverage on the glass with minimal brush strokes showing. I made sure to start and stop each stroke in the same spot to keep everything smooth.
The rest of the butterfly patterns were filled in. The top one is a peacock butterfly, the center is a monarch, and the bottom is a swallowtail.
I filled in the background with colors and themes from the Jacob’s ladder. I brought in the bold blues and greens, and added golden yellow swooshing through to represent the angels.
Here I am on the inside of the completed window, during the last week of November 2013.
Here is the completed outside view, with the letters happily facing the correct direction (I was worried about that). The reflections make this a bit difficult to see at this time of day. I am hoping to get back and take a night shot with it illuminated from within before December ends and they scrape it off.