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Fern with ZZ (Mixed Media Art)

Intrigued by the spontaneous work method of Oliver’s Roses, we decided to continue the botanical theme with no other idea in mind. No preconceived thoughts on what kind of picture this would be. On the day this picture was started, it rained here for the first time in many weeks. To celebrate, and bring good luck to the picture (and to “Rock Garden with Succulents”) we stood outside in a pouring rain with the paper over our head, to soak it down. After that, we began again with a wash of bright green acrylic on this heavy watercolor paper. Then we squeezed more bright green directly from the tube onto the paper and began to randomly palette knife it around. Waiting for that to dry we moved on to other things and when we returned, we could see a long stem of a fern, plain as day. So, we built the picture around this fern. More color washes—blues and pale greys—were laid in as background, and random scratching in was done for some intrigue. Given our fondness for crackled tissue, a large section of this was laid in and other art papers were torn and laid down as well. An experimental swatch of paper with “fossilized” imprints of some evergreen needles added an interesting touch. Still, something was missing. It needed another botanical note. For one thing, the fern needed spores on its leaves. We don’t have a box of spores sitting around, so we harvested the seeds from a rose-of-sharon out in the yard and glued those down very, very carefully. They look very spore-like indeed. The final touch was intended to be some bright yellow leaves from a stem of our giant ZZ plant. These encased in acrylic medium in an attempt to preserve their wonderful texture and color. That did not work. At all. As the leaves were clearly not going to be preserved, we set about tracing them onto watercolor paper, cutting in to create the veins, and mixing paints to capture the varying shades of yellow. We then encased these in acrylic medium for the shine of a real leaf and glued them in place. Perfect. We love this interesting example of what can happen in a spontaneous, uninhibited abstract art experiment.

This picture measures 16” x 20” and, in a first for us, is housed in a store bought frame. The frame is good quality, but if you wanted a custom made wood frame to better embellish the picture, we could always make one for an additional cost.

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