Looked at the paintings of Alison Moritsugu – classical landscapes painted on the cut surfaces of logs – the individual paintings are very fine, with clear, bright colours. The log can be thought of as part of the landscape. The visual impact is multiplied by the beautiful, thoughtful way in which they’re displayed in groups of dozens together, forming organic, natural vistas. The group as a whole forms a landscape of a more fractured nature.
What this research showed me was that how the work is displayed has a tremendous effect on how it might be viewed. In this case, an individual log painting is interesting, attractive, a curio. But displaying them in a large group in the way she has is not only visually more appealing, but provokes the viewer to think about ideas about the land, its resources and how we use them, our view of the landscape as a resource on one hand, and an idealistic place with nostalgic connotations on the other.
I prepared some light bulbs for painting on:
Classic clear glass lightbulb – painted all over with Pebeo Vitrail (used in Part 1 Ex 1) orange stained glass colour (thinned with turps)
Large plastic sphere bulb – white shop bought gesso followed by black acrylic.
Pink factory coated bulb – dilute pva glue
Clear teardrop shape bulb – white home made gesso (using marble dust).
The surfaces of the lightbulbs, I realised pretty soon, need to be carefully prepared if they’re to be sound, so I allowed 2 undercoats with plenty of drying time.
While waiting, I gessoed all the surfaces of the inner container of a matchbox, and painted a tonal white acrylic background (representing a table top) to prepare for painting some of my collection of white objects. Then I painted the outer sliding matchbox cover in gesso and black acrylic. Now waiting for those to dry it occurred to me I could put something painted in the matchbox – matches perhaps? I dipped the phosphorus tips in pva to disarm them and left them to dry.
I was now thoroughly engrossed and discovering more potential in my matchboxes than I’d thought.
Back to the inner matchbox I painted some of my white objects on to the surface and four sides – a table lamp, bowl and china bottle – in miniature with the smallest brush I had. I then painted kitchen utensils on the first side of the black outer box and my collection of pens on the second side. Then the matches themselves received colours and patterns.
The whole object was now ready for assembly. The individual components looked ok; the matches chimed well with the painting of pens; the white objects and kitchen utensils also looked ok as a unit. But they lacked cohesion as a complete group. All the parts of the object should speak to each other; as it was I had up a group of individual paintings which were rather mystifying when put together!
The solution (of course) was a second matchbox, so I could put together the elements that complemented each other.
Eventually I had made two sets; one of brightly painted matchsticks in a matchbox painted (inside and out) with bright colours (depicting collections of embroidery threads, sweet papers, utensils, pens) on black surfaces; the other of painted buttons in colours complementing the pastel toned miniature depictions of my collection of white objects.
Here’s the button set:
And here’s the matchstick set:
I varnished everything as protection against handling and the abrasion of sliding and rattling.
Back to the light bulbs
They will have to wait for another time…I enjoyed myself and spent far more time on my little matchboxes than I’d planned, and must now move on to the next exercise to keep within my schedule.
As I worked I really enjoyed the feeling that I wasn’t just painting a 2D or even a 3D surface to be only looked at, but also making something, a tactile object, that could be handled, taken apart, put together again in different ways by the viewer, and at the same time enjoyed visually. There is even something to appeal to the auditory senses as each box also rattles!
When painting a 3d object it’s easy to wander into the realm of decoration / illustration. I’m not entirely sure I’ve avoided the temptation, and perhaps if I did such an exercise again I’d think a bit more about what concept or message i was trying to get across.