This article appears in the April Newsletter of Hand Papermaking Magazine
Number 110, April 2015
Dear Hand Papermaking,
I was recently awarded a one-percent commission by the State of New Hampshire to complete six large-scale handmade paper paintings (90 x 40 inches) of the state tree, the white birch, to be installed in Concord, the state capital. I would not have won the commission had one of the panel members been able to penetrate the maquette I had supplied with his pocketknife! Here’s the story.
I submitted the required project board to the esteemed panel of judges, and
as I deemed an actual pulp painting, with its variations of texture, lush colors, and thick depth, far more convincing than any photo, I included a maquette. It was made from well-beaten abaca, and
representative of my idea of using
the birch tree as the subject. The
panel loved the work. The idea of
using the state tree in the com-
position really appealed to them.
However, they were skeptical that
the medium would hold up. After
all… paper? Wouldn’t it warp or
fade? And what happens if it gets
wet? That is when one of the panel
members pulled out a pocketknife
and stabbed the maquette! Now as any papermaker will tell you, well-beaten abaca (beaten for 20 hours) will hold up to a pocket knife, no sweat. After several attempts at stabbing through the surface of the painting, he was a convinced that the medium was indeed as durable as I claimed it was in my accompanying text, and he voted in favor of my design. So, that is how a one-percent commission of handmade paper paintings is now in the collection of the State of New Hampshire.
I named the group of paintings Transitions. They are installed in the main lobby of the Anna Philbrook Center in Concord. As visitors to the building walk up and down a ramp, they experience paintings of the state tree, as it transitions through the times of day and seasons of the year.
Since the article on my painted landscapes appeared in the Winter 2002 issue of Hand Papermaking magazine, my process, skill level, and technique have evolved. And I have learned to anticipate concerns about the durability of the pulp medium, and to offset them with evidence to the contrary. Most of all I have learned to stick with this wonderful medium because of what it can do, and what I have yet to dis- cover that it can do. A life-long quest to be sure!
Sincerely, Meg Black Topsfield, Massachusetts www.megblack.com
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