by Devon Smallwood for Re-Invent a Work of Art (2013)

Inspiration Piece: Cicada 1 (Intaglio)

Inspiration Artist: Devon Smallwood

I re-invented an intaglio print titled Cicada 1. My main focus in working this sculpture was to make it a very tactile piece. I wanted a large variance of texture that was articulated enough to show up on film, sort of in the same vein as applying high contrast show make-up before appearing in a black and white film. I began with the hatchling’s body, by forming five separate sections of the Melting Chavant modeling clay in appropriate shapes and dimensions and adhering them together. I just used friction and the warmth from my hands to make the initial body form. I gave the body it’s texture by pulling an etching needle through the top shell in a free-form swirl pattern. I sculpted the eyes from floral foam and gave them their texture by pushing one of the Friendly plastic pellets in and out of the foam to create the holes in the eyes for the compound look. I also edged the eyes in more plastic pellets. I wrapped the body of the hatchling in the steel wire to create texture between the different layers of shell and to give the legs a more tangled look when viewed from the bottom. The legs themselves I made my breaking the wood dowels into quarters, for a less controlled look, and then glued them into acute angles. I gave them their texture by shredding a small section of the included rope piece and rolling the glue covered dowels through it. The wings I cut and sanded from the thin wood slats using a basic woodcut tool/knife. I painted the scale texture on them using the same etching needle dipped in a slightly darker green paint. I then ground more of the floral foam into a powder and applied it to the wet paint covered tips of the wings. The husk began with a rough wire form. I then covered it in the canvas sheet to give my paper-mache newsprint strips something to adhere to. I covered the husk in the shredded newsprint strips and a mix of the Interior Elmer’s glue and water and let it dry for a few days. I created its texture by applying a heat gun extremely close to the semi-dry acrylic paint, which caused it to bubble and dry in an almost cratered or pebbled way. The bottom bark texture I created by gluing the small canvas and thicker 8x10 wood slat together for height and by then using a U-gouge to create a pattern that I covered with more newsprint strips soaked in acrylic paint. The entire image was then painted from top to bottom in acrylic paint.

This contest was incredibly fun, and frustrating, and inspiring. It really sent me outside of my comfort zone and I think the MysteryBuild contest would be a great undertaking for anyone struggling to think outside of the box with their work.