Bark Quartet was conceived to be four different “realities” of ash bark. The first window was to be an actual bark rubbing in graphite which would be a black and white negative of the bark transferred to paper by rubbing a soft graphite block (on its side) over rag tracing vellum pinned to my favorite ash outside my window. This was a mechanical transfer of all the intricate matrix of a random section of the tree.
Now , as if to make up for the pure mechanical reproduction that was devoid of any creative input on my part, panel two would be a transparent fantasy done with watercolor overlays with the pattern inspiring shapes that intersect as they wash over the same bark section. An earlier watercolor work of mine “Ordering Primal Soup”, comes to mind with this panel of wiggling, biomorphic shapes conforming to the geometry of the ash pattern.
Having made a panel using transparent color overlays, and demonstrating the effects of translucent color on bark patterns on a two dimensional surface, it would interesting, I thought, to now make the same painting with an opaque pigment. This would demonstrate how the same thing could be said with two different mediums. This would give insight into the nature of both by juxtaposing the two.
Since the previous panel was two dimensional, now I would contrast its illustrative, flat surface with the actual three dimensional surface of the real bark. These pleated peaks and valleys would now be overlayed with the thick, opaque, polymer clay colors. The result would be baked in a large oven to achieve its final sheen.
I have explained how the first three “windows” of ash were derived, but I had not conceived of the fourth panel until the end. Contemplating the different realities I depicted of ash bark, why not have the actual thing as the fourth and final reality? Simply ash bark, in all its beauty, unadorned! A Quartet in fact! This brought my endeavor full circle.