Today I'm going to take you through the process for one of my mixed media photographs, "River of Life." I'll actually show you the step by step process I've gone through in my artist's journal I've been keeping just for this project.
The first step was reading through the book "In Light of Eternity" by Randy Alcorn and looking up all the scriptural references that he cites in his book. This has been the basis for all of the artwork done by all of the artists over the course of this past year. There were actually a couple of pieces of scripture that inspired this particular piece. First, in Revelation 22:1, it says, "Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb."
One of the first things this scripture does is make me think of what river images I might already have, like this photo taken for no particular reason at the time but has been patiently waiting for me to print it. I made a digital copy to color and put in my journal, waiting for the next piece of the work to come together. You can see I also doodled some palm trees onto it, to see how I'd like to work in the palm tree element that I want to keep as a theme in this project.
Another verse helped influence this piece, Genesis 2:10-14, "A river watered the garden and then flowed out of Eden and divided into four branches. The first branch, called the Pishon, flowed around the entire land of Havilah, where gold is found... The second branch, called the Gihon, flowed around the entire land of Cush. The third branch, called the Tigris, flowed east of the land of Asshur. The fourth branch is called the Euphrates." I really like the link between maps of a place and the image of the place, and I've used maps for overlays before this project, so it wasn't a great stretch for me to think of a map of Eden's rivers to connect the River of Life in Heaven and the river that fed the whole earth from Eden, possibly even the same river? The thought intrigues me that there is a close link between Eden, referred to as Paradise in the Bible, and Heaven, also referred to as Paradise...
In my journal, I can overlap the photographic image and the map, to work out how the two will fit together in the darkroom, change it if I want to, mull it over, move it, or change it completely.
This is the black and white contact print, with the map and a single palm tree as an overlay. When you look at this image and the next one, you can see that the overlay can move around, making no two in the series exactly alike.
Finally, I use watercolors, then dry colored pencils to add the final dimension of color to the piece. In this case, I decided to make the sky yellow in a reference to God's light in Heaven, eliminating the need for the sun or moon, but not necessarily eliminating the sun & the moon themselves, as found in Revelation 22:5. "And there will be no night there - no need for lamps or sun - for the Lord God will shine on them."
So that takes you from beginning to end in the process. By the way, the first entry for this in my journal is dated February 2007, and I just finished it November 2007: about nine months, so I guess it's appropriate for me to think of the finished piece as one of my babies.