Completed art, pre-baby

I finally finished the ancestor art piece I'd been working on a couple of months ago. This is my conceptualization of my great-grandfather, who was a Civil War veteran in a US Colored Troops artillery company. He joined, I think, after running away from his owner in Kentucky.He got out of the war with some respiratory problems. But his main health issues came from being shot several times by a local farmer who refused to pay up for farm work my great-grandfather did for him. I have no picture of him, but I do have that picture of five of his sons, plus one of my great-grandmother. So I composed a face for him using two of the faces that looked least like my great-grandmother.

The first try just looked like crrrrrap, and I was so disappointed with the results I threw it out. (Yes, I know -- I should've just sanded it down and then painted it again or something. But it suhhhhhhcked!) At least I kept it until I figured out why it didn't work.

Oh, there were soooo many things I didn't like: the composite face was too small for the body I'd attached them to, the background was too bright, the matte medium transfer of the soldiers was too opaque when layered on a woven fiber paper kind of like this, the tobacco field was on a transparency and it was too shiny...

I reprinted and repainted the composite face slightly larger, but not so much that it looked like it didn't belong. Okay. But it needed something to underline and yet soften the division between the two halves of his face. I found a vellum scrapbook sheet I'd bought ages ago, with the text "a man of good and moral character." It barely touched the canvas before I knew it would work. Much better.

I still had matte medium transfers of the soldiers and fields, so I tried switching their positions. And there it was... the soldier's uniform and the background color showed through the transfers just enough! Toned down the background, the wing and the vellum edge with a little more schmutzy color too. Then I drilled through the canvas, and pushed the eyelets into the holes with the eyelet hammer.

And since things were going so well, I highlighted one row of the tobacco field, and a couple of the soldier's hats. Done. I just need to cover the back and sign it, really.
Posted on November 14, 2008 and filed under "genealogy", "like it love it want some more of it".