Anatomy of an Artwork, Part Two

So here’s how my little donation for the New Bedford Art Museum evolved:

wood panel

I prepared my wood panel with paint and roughed up the surface a little.

Then I broke out the Sculpey–a material I’d never used before (even mixed-media artists can be provincial)…it comes in different colors which I loved, and it doesn’t shrink in the oven.  Regular oven–no kiln necessary!  It smelled something like Play-Do, which kind of ruined the illusion for me, but never mind.

Little Sculpey nest

I used the Sculpey to construct my nest and bird.  Each little pellet of the nest, which in nature is mud, was rolled and shaped individually with Sculpey.  And then, even with the 100-degree temperatures and high humidity, I baked them in the oven–see what we do for our art!

Then comes the part where I attach the parts to the wood panel, using paint and matte medium as the glue that will hold it all together.  Dried grass, which I collected from the park, was strategically poked among the nest pellets in order to replicate the look of the Barn Swallow nest.  I also found a real little feather which I placed near the top of the nest.

Much consultation of photos of Barn Swallows, as well as the Audubon print which inspired it all–this, to get the colors of the feathers right, as well as the feather pattern.

I wanted to recreate the feeling of how the swallows choose to build their nest in close quarters–up high near the roof of a barn, under the eaves, cramped in near the storm gutters, etc–so I used a small piece of wood and placed it just above the nest.  This bird would have to wriggle carefully in and out of the nest just like the real ones do.

And here it is.  Inspired by John James Audubon and in support of the New Bedford Art Museum.

Feathered Nest

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