It will not surprise you to hear I made myself a massive, hunker-down, shelter-in-place project, now nearly three-quarters completed.
In January I received the people’s choice award at a local juried show. One option for the award is an exhibit on a large wall above the checkout counter at a nearby public library. Before the lockdown went into effect, I made it over there to check out the space. One side of the wall is 24 feet wide, with about 6 feet of vertical space. There is also a smaller wall on the other side of a central doorway.
I’ve always meant to try one of my burned tree paintings on the lengthwise axis of a roll of watercolor paper — but been intimidated by the time commitment required. With my beloved wilderness off-limits, I knew I needed something demanding to do.
When completed it will be 22 feet long (not quite an entire roll of 30 feet : -) Since I don’t have room to work on something that big in my studio, I’m doing it in sections that will hang abutted. I figure if John Grade’s immense Middle Fork sculpture was created in sections, I can do it, too.
I’ll mount them so they can be hung either vertically or horizontally, though I expect most venues will need it to be horizontal.
Two friends independently dubbed it “Water Lilies of the Anthropocene.” While it’s nowhere near the size of Monet’s largest water lily paintings, it’s the largest of my 12-year preoccupation with wildland fires, as their remains increase in frequency and severity in our warming climate. The library is excited about it and plans to do some programming around it. I’m excited because lots of people will see it — whenever we can visit libraries once again.
I’ve just starting panel 7 of 7, at ~18.5 feet now. Between that and varnishing and mounting, I think it will take another 3-4 weeks. The animation at the top of this post represents 28 painting days, with 7 panel prep days as well.
We have all had plans and dreams interrupted by the virus. I wish us all good health, an easing of the stresses and strictures, and a chance to show what we’ve been working on during this pandemic siege.
UPDATE May 1, 2020:
The painting portion is finally finished (there’s still varnishing, creating shaped boards to mount them on and mounting them to do).
My photos don’t quite do it justice — it is too large to lay out in any contiguous space in my studio, so each panel has been photographed separately and digitally composited. The color-matching across panels is more accurate in the painting than in these photos.
It’s fun to see it in its possible vertical orientation, too. One thing that surprised me: the panels also look surprisingly meaningful as separate side-by-side pieces.
Any suggestion for a title welcome!
UPDATE October 1, 2020:
Panel 2 of what I finally decided to call The Magnitude of the Problem has been accepted into the Northwest Watercolor Society’s 80th Annual International Exhibit (online this pandemic year). It will be viewable beginning the evening of October 27.
UPDATE July 2022
The painting was on display in the Kirkland Public Library October of 2021 to January of 2022. I was thrilled by how much the library was involved – we created an all-ages reading list and together author Lorenda Williams and forestry professor David L. Peterson and I gave a virtual talk.
Then a fabric version of the painting was created with Arisa Brown‘s help and a new story by Lorena, featuring the threat to the Mariposa Grove. It has been on display at the Wildling Museum in Solvang, California, and we’ll be giving a virtual talk for it on September 15.
Currently the original painting is in a solo show at Plasteel Frames and Gallery in Seattle. I am equally thrilled by how it looks wrapped around an inside corner.
Next up will be a large window display through Shunpike’s Storefront program October 2022-January 2023.