Floating Bison or We Get By with a Little Help from Our Friends

Stitching the bison. Photo by Cynthia Souders.

There can be drawbacks to working in a room with just yourself and a dog. I tend to lose myself in a very specific part of the piece I’m working on, even to the point that I don’t see the whole piece when I step across the room. This happened with the bison.

What drew me to the photo initially was the reflection in the water. I loved how the water reflected light up to the nose and then the play of the beard dragging in the water. As I happily worked away for days on the bison, Drew offered no comments, despite being a frequent visitor to the loveseat across the studio from the design board.

Area showing Thermofax screen printing on surface.

Thankfully, I participate in five design/critique groups, and members of these groups were instrumental in pointing out a number of issues that were not working on the bison piece. The biggest problem was that the bison appeared to be floating above the ground. Now if you’ve ever seen a bison up close, you know they are not prone to floating. They are massive, sure-footed animals that can make the earth shake if they take off in a run. A little more paint and shadowing brought the bison down to earth.

While attending another critique group, I saw how one of the members used silk-screen printing and stitching to depict grasses. This got me to thinking about how that might work in my artwork. After all, my pieces were all about the shortgrass prairie and the wildlife making its home there.

Beginning to stitch using the screen print as a road map.

As I left that meeting, I made a last minute turn on to I-70 and headed to the Arsenal again. This time it was to concentrate on photographing the grasses and other plants. My intent was to manipulate the photos and have Thermofax screens made.

A run of luck placed me in Monument with a friend who owns a Thermofax machine. Where would we be without friends?

Next up: the search for just the right silk.