Friday, January 23, 2015

Clover Creek: A Bug's Eye View

I was honored to be chosen by the Bethel School District to make a painting for the new school in Frederickson, WA - Clover Creek Elementary. The commission was managed and paid for by the Washington State Arts Commission. After meeting with the State people and the school people we decided to engage the children with an oil on canvas dream-scape representing the native plants and animals of nearby Clover Creek. I contacted local experts to put together a list of flora and fauna that are truly native to that very specific place. From the list I then chose things that would be fun to paint and fun for the kids to look at. 

I started last spring (see the cherry blossom?) with my pal Barry who helped me devise a way to paint a twelve foot tall canvas in a seven foot tall studio. 

First I had to prime it in the only space large enough to fit an 8x12 canvas - the street in front of my house.

And we're done.

Next Barry installed his ingenious invention of a two roller system with a breaking mechanism in the studio. 

I started by color washing the canvas with a lovely purple grey and then began to paint a couple of Fringe cup flowers - looking at both photos and the actual flowers which were blooming in my garden at the time. 

Since the painting is a "bug's eye view" I looked at plants from below to get the right perspective. 

I had to look at this little Inside Out Flower with a magnifying glass.

The studio felt pretty small for such a large piece. 

Painting the Salal berries. Who knew they were such sculptures? 

Here are the Salal berries finished and photographed from the top of the canvas as it lay flat on the floor waiting to be stretched. 

I stretched the painting at Clover Creek Elementary School with the expertise of conservator Peter Malarkey. He put the stretcher together easily and then stretched the canvas onto it by lying underneath. (The expansion bolt stretcher was manufactured by Museum Services in Minnesota.)

Then he checked for wrinkles with a flashlight. 

The painting was installed by Tim Purtill of Atomic Art Services with some very tall ladders and steady nerves. 

 My heart was pounding during the installation. I look a little freaked out.

Thank you to Mike Sweney of the Washington State Arts Commission for his patience guiding me through all the paperwork. 

The plants and animals of Clover Creek: A Bug's Eye View are -

Vancouveria hexandra
 inside-out flower
Lonicera involucrata

Gaultheria shallon
Maianthemum dilatatum 

false lily-of–the-valley

Rubus spectabilis


Maianthemum stellatum

starry false solomon’s seal
Tellima grandiflora

Fringe cup 

Horse Tail

Lipstick Cladonia

Dicentra formosa

Pacific Bleeding heart
Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus

Cladonia chlorophaea

Pixie Cup Lichen
Misumena vatia

Goldenrod Crab Spider

Monadenia fidelis
Pacific Sideband Snail

Pseudacris regilla

Pacific Tree Frog

Papilio rutulus
Swallowtail Butterfly

As well as installing the painting I mounted a poster to be displayed in the school for the children to further engage them with the piece.