March 14, 2011

New Work - Squirrel and Locust

I am very happy to unveil my latest work, "Squirrel and Locust", part of my newest series, "Flora and Fauna".  I began by photographing a squirrel skull found in the woods and using those images to make cyanotype prints.  These were combined with heliographic prints of the leaves of my locust tree that the squirrels take refuge in while raiding the bird feeder, along with a print from the fern beneath the tree.  I added a vintage embroidery panel and handpainted fabrics.  It's very extensively stitched and hand beaded, and I added some painted highlights at the end of the process.

The cyanotypes came out particularly crisp and detailed.  Above is the view looking down on the inside of the top portion of the skull.  You can see the sockets for the grinding teeth in the middle of the picture, inbetween the eye sockets, and the huge incisors, pointing inward, at the bottom of the image.  Below is a side view of the top and bottom halves of the skull--look at the size of those incisors proportional to the rest of the head!
Below is the vintage embroidery panel, half of a former table runner.  It's one of my all time favorites--such a beautiful pastoral scene, with squirrels inexplicably floating on lily pads, rafting out to a tete-a-tete with the twinkle of romance in their coy little squirrely eyes.  Anthropomorphism at its finest!
Here is a detail of the locust leaf print, made on white cotton, heavily stitched and then beaded.  The leaves on the left side of the work were drawn with freehand stitching, then painted and beaded.
I am having more fun than the law probably allows with this series, and this was a particularly joyous piece to work on.  I read somewhere that the key to squirrel's survival as a species is that they have a very rapid and effective response to danger--run away!!-- but then their brains forget about it almost instantly, giving them the chutzpah to make another foray.  It's the squirrel version of the zen of be-here-now, and the essence of what I was working towards with this piece.  What do you think--how does it "read" to you?

6 comments:

Julia Kelly said...

Found your blog through SAQA and glad I did- love the quilt- very interesting factoid about squirrels too!

Quiltmuse said...

Another successful piece, Sue. I love the use of the embroidered panel. It adds a charming touch of whimsy to the piece and contrasts nicely with the reality of the skull.

Vivien Zepf said...

What a fun combination of materials and techniques, Sue! This sure did bring a smile.

Allison Ann Aller said...

This piece is like a poem that requires multiple readings for the meanings to form in the mind...
And visually it is so interesting! I would love to see this in person..I am sure your joy emits in strong waves from it!!!!
Love the Squirrel Psychology, too. ;-)
Fabulous work...

coolquilter said...

Wow- the orange locust leaf prints are fantastic(how did you get such great color in a sunprint?). Love the squirrels too!

Sue Reno said...

Thanks, all, for the kind comments! Coolquilter, the locust leaf prints are done with textile paint.