Here’s something special I made for a friend’s birthday. His dad died in the fall and he and his dad were very close so I tried to create a little tribute for him. I used pictures and a favourite poem of his father’s that he recalls his dad reciting to him.
I used the gel medium transfer technique with printed black and white copies of the photos. I learned this technique from Claudine Hellmuth and essentially it involves applying a slightly thick layer of gel medium to the canvas, then laying the cut out black and white copy face down on top of it. Leave that to dry thoroughly. Once dry, you wet it down and gently rub away the top layer of paper to leave only the image behind. I could use some more practice on this technique…there are some spots where I took away a little too much and I found the image of him fishing didn’t come out very clear, but since this is a memorial, I kind of liked the misty faded images in this application.
I tore and painted a variety of papers and added these to the canvas to add some texture. I also used some items such as leaf shaped buttons, Chinese coins, stickers, and diecuts to add dimension to the work. For the poem itself, I printed it onto that clear plastic that’s used to create pictures and documents for use on an overhead projector.
I wanted something a little different than a simple frame for hanging this piece of art so I made a hanger of sorts out of a rusted metal butterfly I had. I also wanted to use this butterfly because of a beautiful story a priest once told me about how people don’t leave us when they die; they transform into a different state that we don’t recognize with our earthly eyes just as a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. I’ve loved butterflies ever since.
Once I added the hanger at the top, I felt there needed to be something dangling from the bottom of the canvas to balance out the piece. I had these Chinese embellishments in my stash and used that, simply hot gluing it to the back of the canvas.
It was such a joy to make this piece knowing the love that my friend had for his father – it made every step of the work an inspiration for me.