The portfolio is called Traces, named after a poem by ZMP studio member Annie Rogers which acts as the prompt and unifying theme. It's a strong poem with a lot of visual word-images that could be used as inspiration, and it contains themes of memory, language, loss, and childhood. As I wrote in my last post, my mind and heart were fixated on the loss of my dog Ty and when I read the poem I became also fixated on the mention of a paint by numbers kit.
Vintage paint by number paintings are an iconic mid-century art form — low-brow and democratic, much like many types of printmaking. Paint by numbers is also a pretty perfect description of the traditional Japanese process of making a woodblock print. In this method, most of the major decisions about the image are made in the sketch phase. The carving and printing are executions of the sketch and literally involve carving areas for each color based on a drawing and then laying those colors down in the printing. Click this link to see an example of how the colors build during the making of a print, much like filling in a coloring book, and much like painting by numbers.
So I started looking at vintage paint by number kits.
|Deer are a very popular motif in paint by numbers.|
|Rivers are also popular, and Ty loved his rivers!|
|I photoshopped a picture of Ty onto a river-themed paint by number just for fun.|
|There's quite a bit of Asian-themed imagery in paint by numbers, too. That could be cool, to reference the Japanese roots of my chosen art form.|
|Ha ha ha, here's Ty in Japan.|
|Or why not just do a straightforward paint-by-number style dog portrait like one of these?|
|This is one of my favorite Saito images, "Winter in Aizu." The solitary figure is so lonely and haunting. Maybe I could do a Saito-style winter scene of tiny me and Ty walking.|
The winter scene is where I landed and I spent a long time pondering what the scene might look like. In the next post I'll tell you about a subsequent shift in my thinking.