In 2005, I had the opportunity to study for fives weeks at Oxford with other classmates from my university. Our professors and lectures were fascinating, the city was captivating and I found myself utterly content, enjoying each moment as it moved seamlessly into the next. On this trip, I danced (honestly, for the first time) at a fabulous student dive bar. I saw amazing theatre performances in London and spent hours wandering about the Tate Modern in complete admiration. My friends and I laughed until all hours in an adorable local pub while drinking delicious cider beer. During that time abroad, we made some incredible memories. I recall feeling for the first time in my adult life that this must be how it feels to ‘live in the moment’. This work reminds me of those remarkable moments.
The initial background image for this piece was an original photo I took in the gardens of Blenheim Palace. The other main images included a stock vintage style illustration of a woman on a bicycle, two men in a doorway, an engraving of Queen Elizabeth, and a photo of Big Ben. The iris was a real flower I scanned. The flower was from a bouquet my husband gave me on my 27th birthday, during our last month in England.
I created a sense of depth in the background image through the use of several layers of the garden scene. This allowed me to alter each layer focusing on the different elements I wanted to emphasize, such as the detail and vivid color in the foreground, and the simplified shapes in the darker and more blurred background.
The head of Queen Elizabeth was duplicated and a graphic pen filter was applied with dark violet and cream colors. This top layer was gradated into the original layer, accentuating the engraving style. The color combination in these layers also integrated unity within the piece. The queen’s head was added onto the body of the bicycling woman to give the image a playful charm and distinctly English atmosphere. A distressed and tattered frame border was included to keep in the aesthetic tradition of this series; the inclusion of simple brush elements such as the splatter marks (around Big Ben in the soil), the violet swirls (in the iris) and the frail trees (on the path).