Over the years, I’ve accumulated a substantial stash of art publications that I always thought I’d re-visit but never have. Challenged to part with them during a recent studio purge, I ended up tearing out a lot of pages for future collage work, and those tear sheets inspired me to move forward on an idea I’d long been considering.
I’ve always been uncomfortable with the numerous artistic depictions of the Three Graces motif that originated in ancient Greek literature. I experience most of those depictions as limiting young women to a life purpose focused on the cultivation of qualities believed to make them attractive (and submissive) to men. I’ve longed to depict the Three Graces as mature, substantial, somewhat weathered-and-worn from their labors of bearing light into a broken and suffering world through their personification of the biblical qualities of faith, hope, and love (1 Corinthians 13).
I began by ripping the tear sheets into strips and stitching them onto a background in an overlapping sequence. After assembling four panels (three for the Graces, one for experimentation), I pinned them up on my design wall and was astounded by the vibrant colors and patterns. Regrettably, as much as I loved the panels as they were, I did not feel comfortable creating my work out of visible bits and pieces of other artists’ work. I ended up painting over the panels with a thin mixture of acrylic, spackle, and water, intending to make the imagery less recognizable. When that resulted in more coverage than I had desired, I used my electric sander to abrade the surface of the panels, then complementing that roughened surface with random distress marks. I loved the results!
In addition to the paper panels that formed the torsos of my Graces, I also used the Japanese technique of momigami to create thickened, textured papers for the women’s faces, hands, halos, and lanterns. Newspaper twine (uncovered during my studio purge) was incorporated as an embellishment for the women’s halos.
Click HERE to view in-process images.