commission: his heart in texas

His Heart in Texas (detail image) 24"x24" mixed media collage, 2011
His Heart in Texas (detail image) 24"x24" mixed media collage, 2011

In my experience, Texans and New Yorkers are the people most blatantly proud of their states.  The rest of us, we like our home states just fine.  We will tell people about our childhoods there, local history or random anecdotes, but it never seems to have the intensity of those people from Texas or New York.  I have no issue with this, it is simply an observation and relevant to my recent commissioned piece I finished earlier this month.

His Heart in Texas (detail image) 24"x24" mixed media collage, 2011
His Heart in Texas (detail image) 24"x24" mixed media collage, 2011

I created a 24in x 24in mixed media work based on the theme of Texas.  To be honest, I know almost nothing about Texas; I have never been there.  I have never had the desire to visit.  Therefore, when my client approached me about creating a work based on the state of Texas, I was looking forward to the challenge.  I enjoy creating works with a theme I wouldn’t normally choose for myself.  A task of this nature pushes me to work beyond my normal artistic themes, which allows me to grow creatively.  This work presented an additional challenge because my client’s spouse didn’t want to hang an annoyingly-super-Texas artwork in her house.  I could tell the idea of an all-Texas themed piece made her a little nervous.

His Heart in Texas (detail image) 24"x24" mixed media collage, 2011
His Heart in Texas (detail image) 24"x24" mixed media collage, 2011

Before I began, I asked the client to send me some reference images, photos he felt captured the atmosphere and character of Texas.  Taking his wife into account, I also asked her what elements she appreciated which would work with the Texas theme.  From here, I had enough of an idea to begin the work.

Image 1:  I used acrylic paint to cover the canvas; I wanted the colors to imply vast blue sky at dusk.  The lower portion was intended to be the start of hills as well as finish setting the color scheme for the work.

Image 1
Image 1

Image 2:  I used a translucent paper for the form of Texas, although this will later be subtler with layers of paper and textures added.  I also began to create texture in the lower left of the work with woven fibers and a thick layer of matte gel applied with a palette knife.  The drawn tree and circular gold patterned paper helped to develop the landscape.

Image 2
Image 2

Image 3:  I developed the landscape further.  I also added pages from a vintage elementary school textbook.  The pages were about adventures of cowboys, and a history lesson on how Texas became a state.  The client’s wife loves animals in general, and has a passion for horses.  Therefore, the addition of horses seemed to be a perfect element to make the aesthetic more appealing to her, while still working within the Texas theme.  During this stage, I also added more papers and fibers, continuing to develop a strong textural feel within my determined color scheme.

Image 3
Image 3

Finished Piece:  To finish to piece I added another textbook page in the silhouette of Texas, as well as some vintage style tourism marketing for the state.  As a couple, I know their faith in an important part of their lives.  I attached a stamp of the Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus into the crowd scene on the page.  I also added a small ornate bronze cross at the end of a thin rough brown chord.  I felt this helped to symbolism their combined devotion.  I tied small pieces of the chord to it to create a look similar to barbed wire.  I also added green woven fibers to the fields for the appearance of fencing, and developed the night sky.  After a few additional touch-ups the piece was finished.

His Heart in Texas, 24"x24" mixed media collage, 2011
His Heart in Texas, 24"x24" mixed media collage, 2011

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Matthew says:

    For knowing almost nothing about Texas, you did a great job on this piece. I lived there for 25 years, so I’d say I know a bit about it.

    1. THANK YOU! I apprecaite that. I was really happy with how the piece turned out. I think the color scheme really helped.

  2. Nice job describing the process! My favorite thing about going to a museum or art gallery is to get my nose really close to the art, so I can look at it and try to decipher how the artist created the piece. You took a lot of the guesswork out when you not only described the making of this piece, but also included process photos! The honesty is admirable; your talent is apparent; you’ve managed to say something good about Texas, which is growing rare today (take me, for example, I could badmouth Texas presidents and presidential hopefuls all day long).

    1. I know exactly what you mean! I love that, looking closely at brushstrokes and layers in a work. Thank you so much for taking the time to even read my post, and thanks for your kind comments. That is actually part of why I looked forward to this piece, in my mind–all I can really think of when I think of Texas was George W.–and that is not a positive association for me (but that is a rant for another time). So I was excited to delve more into what people love about Texas and their pride in the state and make a piece my client loved.

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