I’ve been doing a lot of painting experiments over the summer—having fun going out on a limb & trying new materials, new subject matter, new ways of applying paint.

On that note, I took a chance and decided to create something (wasn’t sure what) for Glow, a fantastic, immersive, nighttime experience here in little old Oracle, Arizona. Glow! takes place at the historic Triangle L Ranch B&B and is the brainchild of Sharon Holmback. It includes sculptures with lights integral to the pieces installed on a sculpture path that winds through the property. There’s entertainment, food and more over the four nights that Glow takes place. I’m honored to be a part of this extravaganza. My work is located inside the Adobe Barn Gallery, right in the middle of all the action.

Once I committed to doing this project I needed to figure out what I was going to create! I’ve been experimenting with acrylic painting on Dura-lar, a clear plastic film, for the past year. It seemed like an obvious choice of material since you can paint on both sides of the film, layer multiple painted sheets together and light shines through it. That was a start.

Not one to plan, I puttered around with a few vague ideas. Since I’ve been working on a series of paintings of flowers I thought that might be a good subject. Since I’ve been teaching workshops on painting on Dura-Lar, I’ve got lots of leftover scraps with which to experiment.

Experiment Step #1—I rummaged around and found scraps of Dura-Lar on which I’d painted flat, transparent colors. I took 3 colors I liked and cut them into strips and glued them down to a sheet of wet-media Dura-Lar. You can see the strips in the photo below.

Step #2—I cut a stencil of little leaf patterns and stenciled them on the flip side of the color strips. I used several different colors for the leaves.

Phase 1

Step #3—moving right along…I drew some flowers using Golden High Flow paint in a Fineline Applicator on a fresh sheet of film.

Step #4—I laid a sheet of film over the flowers and painted transparent colors matching the shapes of the lines below.

Step 5—I sandwiched them all together.

Voila! A rough idea is in place. I shined a flashlight through this and it was transparent enough to glow!

Now how to proceed? I decided to make the trek to IKEA in Phoenix for lighting ideas. Found some clear cylinders. Found a lamp that I figured I could disassemble and then use painted sheets of Dura-Lar to replace the shades. I was in business.

I’ll spare you most of the gory details of my process. The lamp has three sections and each section is comprised of 4 layers of painted film. It had to be cut to exactly the right size in order to fit in the grooves of each section of the lamp. The sheets of Dura-lar had to be pretty large in order to cover the circumference of the lamp. Let’s just say it took a lot of trial and error, a bit of yelling at the materials (maybe more than just a bit), but finally I got it all designed, painted and assembled.

After this I transported the smaller cylinders and the larger lamp to the Gallery at Triangle L. With the help of my intrepid husband, James Cowlin, we got the cylinders hung from the (very high) ceiling and the lamp settled in below.

Here’s Jim’s fantastic photo of the installation:

A true learning experience.