Fossil Failure


So sometimes I get an idea, and if the idea is in my head but I haven’t started it yet, it may get sucked in to something else just because it is on my brain.

I have a lovely friend who is into fossils, and I thought it might be fun to do some art based on them, since I am apparently drawn to dead things. She allowed me to go through her collection and take photos, which was fun. Then another friend who works at the university let me come take photos of their collection, also. So I had a lot of photos of fossils, and some ideas, and no time to do anything with them.

Then a third friend convinced me to join her in taking a Suminagashi class (which is a kind of Japanese water marbling) with Emily Williams-Wheeler, a local artist who is both nice and fun, in addition to being amazingly talented. We had the wrong kind of paper for the class, so it didn’t work quite as desired, but was still a blast.

I was struck in the process by how much the marbling really reminds me of stone and rock (Ha! Marble!) and so instead of going for the bright colors, I ended up kinda rocking (notice what I did there?) the subtle thing, which is bizarre all on its own, since I am generally about as subtle as a jack hammer.

Since I am still entranced by the texture one gets with thermography, and I had all these lovely dyed papers from the Suminagashi class, and all these reference photos of fossils, I decided to put them all together. In my head it was a lovely idea because the melted texture thing would be PERFECT for the fossils to raise up from the paper. In practice, it was a dire flop.

I don’t know what kind of paper we ended up using, but it is definitely weird. I could draw with ink just fine (the thinner, clearer lines), but when I attempted melting the powders it somehow absorbed it and spread (the fuzzy lines). I didn’t think that was possible, which just goes to show how much I don’t know.

Since I had visions of these being lovely, silly little bits of art, I was rather crushed when it didn’t work out. But at that point I had prepped all the designs already, so I figured I would go ahead and paint them. However, while the ink didn’t spread much, my paint did-in addition to being terribly flat and not terribly attractive. 

So then I decided just to do ink drawings, but that came out pretty boring, too.

Then when I removed the painters tape I often use with my work-and which I typically have no difficulty with-it tore the paper instantly. Then I attempted to erase a bit just to see what happened, and that was also a complete disaster.

On the assumption I had nothing left to lose I then attempted to do the melting on top of the painting, but it still managed to soak in when the heat melted it.

Then, since I had nothing left to lose, I tried Elmer’s glue, of all things. and it actually worked. At least mostly. It’s hard to see in the photo.

Since I can’t erase on this paper I went ahead and did the rest of them up. In person, with the texture, they do look slightly cuter than they do in the scanned images (though I have developed quite an attitude where the scanner is concerned, so that will probably be my standard response to anything going forward), and I think they could be quite reasonable if framed properly. However, I admit they are rather a sad disappointment when compared to what I had in my brain.

However, after playing with the smallest ones, I did these two, which are my favorites.

Eventually, I am going to come back to the original thoughts I had in regard to these fossils, but since I have invested two days into not getting very far with these ones, I am going to take a break and work on other things.

At this point, I am not sure they qualify as art, but they are certainly a testament to sheer obstinate persistence.

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