Evolving a concept and new Paintings on Rayon…(part 4)

June 22, 2007

Finally I have arrived at what I wanted to continue since I finished the silk scrolls about the agates – crystals. Currently still a part of the series The Magic of Fossils and Minerals I will keep this open, depending on how many pieces will result from this theme.

Working on several series with one concept has an incredible advantage – you never get bored because depending on your mood and inspiration you can easily switch between themes, even techniques and still not lose your concept, the guideline of your whole project. The continuity and coherence of your work is guaranteed.

At the same time it is not getting boring for the viewer either who won’t be forced to look at 20+ pieces which look merely all the same. But maybe I am only missing the sense behind this – one day this might change…

Back to the crystals. My intent for these was not a most realistic reproduction of crystal images – photos can do this much better – but I wanted to catch the very essence of something that nature creates in perfection. What is the essence of a crystal? Translucency? Not necessarily – there is an abundance of crystals in the metal section which are not translucent at all – bismuth (Bi) crystals which reflect all colours of the rainbow, or pyrites which glissen like gold.

Nevertheless – the first association we have when we think of the word “crystal” is that of something translucent, clear like water. Not without reason we say “crystal clear” water. And crystals will never fail to inherit something mysterious and seductive. A fact that is deliberatly used by all those fortune tellers and others!

Aquamarine was the first result of this thinking process:


Here the crystals are embedded in their “natural environment” – although this is not a realistic image at all – but it could be.

The colours are quite subdued, sparsely used (as in the real one) because I did not want to distract from the “waterlike” appearance. I wanted to keep this light and airy and to leave it open for the viewer to decide what s/he would see in these. There is also no reference for size – this could be a tiny group of crystals as well as a huge kind of obelix embedded in a landscape.

The next one that came out of my magic studio was a completely different one: I called it Tourmaline:


The characteristic of the real tourmaline is an incredible colour range between nearly whites, all sorts of reds and rosés and of course all shades of greens till nearly black. Another typical value of the tourmaline is its vertical structure that seems to inherit straight lines within the crystals of unpolished natural turmalines – only an optical effect that is caused by the ditrigonal crystal system. But I used this effect as a kind of texture and thus increased the optical impression. Also this was the means to show another characteristic of the tourmaline crystals: elongated forms which are reminiscent of needles rather than broad cubic forms.

With this I think I have described the process well enough to clarify that creating a concept is not necessarily something you initiate deliberatly but evolves out of your whole body of work. It is based on intuition and personal development. This is something you cannot force but only let it happen. It takes its own direction. Once you have recognized that direction, it ia easy for you to follow with more work if you like, a guideline you can extend or bring to an end when you think that the idea is dead.
Creating a plan (such as a business plan) before and working from a highly intellectual concept is a completely different issue and should be discussed another time.

2 Responses to “Evolving a concept and new Paintings on Rayon…(part 4)”

  1. Nikki Says:

    Petra, these two, Aquamarine and Tourmaline are quite incredible. You have managed to retain the distict low-ish light that shows through raw crystals and portray the sense of the sparkling minerals very well. Did you use a masking medium to keep those tiny sparkling areas white? What I admire best about your work is your eye for design, and, I hope this doesn’t sound pretentious, because I mean it: the skillful command you have over “sculpting silk” as you call it. Excellence!

  2. vyala Says:

    Nikki – thank you very much for your comments. No – I did not use a masking tape – I start painting light areas first (as in watercolors and the same way I am painting on silk) but for highlighting tiny areas at the end I am using titanium white mixed with a touch of yellows or greys, very dry paint on the tip of a brush and then stab it on the rayon very carefully. The effect are the tiny lights you see.

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