Sometimes when you’re looking for artistic inspiration you have to resort to desperate measures. In my case, those measures include stealing from my neighbors.
Before you call the police though, let me clarify that I was on their property with their permission. Even better, I was being paid to be there (which I suppose means I got paid to steal…something perhaps to keep off the old resume).
My Crime Story
Last spring, in an effort to supplement my rather sad writing/art income, I posted flyers asking if anyone in the neighborhood needed garden work done. A few people responded, including my next-door neighbors (talk about a short commute!). They wanted a full garden tidy-up while they were away which meant spending many, many hours in their very lovely, very Japanese-esque back yard.
While gardening, I couldn’t turn off the creative side of my brain. My art-related neurons refused to ignore the future-drawing potential of one of the neighbors’ Japanese maples that was set behind a row of bamboo poles. On a break, I ran home and got my camera and took oodles of pictures.
From Crime to Art
Once I was ready to turn my pictures into something artsy-fartsy, I realized I had a problem: None of the photos quite captured what I wanted. I was looking for a picture that had the bamboo across the front and coming up about one-quarter to one-third of the image, and the leaves coming up from the bottom left corner and curving up in a C shape across the top while still leaving a fair amount of blank space.
No picture quite fit the bill. Some had too many leaves and no empty space, some had leaves with no definition, and some had the bamboo cut off too short. Since I don’t have Photoshop I had to get clever and crafty. Out came the scissors, the tape, and my puzzling skills to cobble together just what I was after.
Using tracing paper I transferred the photo outline over one inch at a time then colored in each leaf, working one-inch square by one-inch square as I like to do.
This was an incredibly tough piece to work on, mainly because I wanted to draw and define each of the individual leaves and it was really, really, REALLY hard to figure out where one leaf started and another ended using my pieced together photo. With a heaping dose of patience, about 30 hours of work, and an aching amount of eye strain the piece came together.
I still need to go back on this and define a few of the leaves a bit better, but overall it came out pretty much as I hoped. And, so far, my neighbors have no clue about my pilfering from them!
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TAMMIE PAINTER IS THE AUTHOR OF THE TRIALS OF HERCULES: BOOK ONE OF THE OSTERIA CHRONICLES AND AN ARTIST WHO DEDICATES HERSELF TO THE TEDIUM OF CREATING IMAGES WITH COLORED PENCIL. YOU CAN FIND HER WORK AT TAMMIE PAINTER’S BOOKSTORE & GALLERY.