My mom is a fabulous watercolorist. Her use of color is absolutely amazing. Now, I do admit that I may be a bit biased as President of her fan club, but it’s true. For years we have been looking for ways to collaborate. We have tried my writing on her pieces after she paints them, or her painting on my words once the ink dries…but it hasn’t seemed to work out from a technical perspective. Her watercolors would smear my words or my words would run when they hit her watercolor…ugh! We have been successful in creating murals and wall art, but not everyone wants painting directly on their walls. So our challenge was to figure out a way to combine out talents in framed art. This past weekend we found a new path.
A patron during the show asked Mom if she ever framed her work with anything other than white mats. Mom said no, in that white mats allow the color in her work to stand out more. The woman was looking at one of Mom’s works with flowers in a vase. You can see it here.
The pieces feature day lillies and in a grey blue vase, sitting on a table with a wooden chair in the background. The fun fact behind this story is that this piece of art was not hanging in the gallery. It was stacked up in our “overflow” area in my living room waiting to be hung on a wall as storage. Mom was showing the patron another piece of her work when she saw Day Lillies. She pulled it out of the pile and wanted it immediately, but was unhappy with the mat.
Earlier in her visit, this same patron greatly enjoyed my art. She loved the color in my mats and all the japanese papers. She is a real fan of Asian art and we spent a great deal of time telling her about our adventures in Japan paper shopping. That is when Mom suggested that I create a mat for Day Lillies out of japanese paper. The patron thought it was a great idea – so the deal was set.
We went into our studio and pulled a variety of papers she liked that we thought would compliment the piece. I focused on papers I had bought during my buying trips to Tokyo. Here are the papers we pulled. She wanted to compliment the piece without competing with it. We pulled this small group and I told her I would fill in the spaces with similar pieces to these.
The next night I went to work. I was a bit nervous working on a completed watercolor, as the mat was attached and could not safely be removed for me to work. In creating my work, I usually create the colorful mat first, then add the insides to compliment the outside. In this instance, I was working the other way around. I had to match the paper on the mat to the completed piece without competing or diminishing it. It took me a lot longer than I thought it would. Near the end I had a hard time finding paper in the same color family as the colors Mom had utilized in her painting. I was VERY thankful that I have bins and bins and bins of paper scraps from who knows here. I scoured by stashes and found just the right pieces.
This afternoon, Monday after our anniversary show, she stopped by to pick up the completed piece. Mom and I were nervous as she would either love it or hate it – we were prepared for both. When we walked her into the gallery where it was resting and she saw the finished product – she cried! She hugged me, then hugged Mom and thanked us profusely for making such a beautiful custom piece for her home. We let her know that she had our first innovative collaboration, and that we very much appreciated her trust in us to collaborate sight unseen on her piece. Here is the finished product.
Now that we have been successful in a framed collaboration, we have moved onto others. I completed one other over the weekend, and Mom is working on creating a piece for a mat I created. We are trying the collaboration from both directions just to see which way works best. As we create more, we will keep you posted on our progress.