It took me a mere 2 days to make Flying Butterflies but it was almost a month's worth of experimenting before Falling Leaves was actualized.
For Flying Butterflies, I knew exactly what I wanted. I was inspired by the story of the Greek sculptor Pygmalion who carved a statue so fair and realistic that he fell in love with her. Pygmalion eventually married his own creation after the goddess Venus made her come alive. I thought the Pygmalion story paralleled my own obsession with realism as well as my love for the fantasy in my small world.
That was the genesis of Flying Butterflies, where the steel butterflies became real and then flew away. My poem, If I were a sculptor, was therefore both my tribute to Pygmalion as well as an insight to my own struggle for that balance between realism and fantasy when I create.
A month after I completed Flying Butterflies, I started work on Tree. I wanted to continue exploring the same Pygmalion-Realism-Fantasy theme. One way would be if the sculptor's flowers could turn real.
Some of you may remember this and knew in the comments that ensued that I did not like it. There was something else missing in this ensemble apart from all that I had complained about. There was no movements unlike the flying butterflies in the other one. I knew I had to get rid of the roses and give it something else but I just didn't know what.
3 weeks went by.
The day Falling Leaves was conceived was a special one. For the 1st time in the 18 years I have lived in this house, I decided to pick up the broom and sweep up the leaves from the driveway. I know, it is terrible, disgusting, sloppy (Birgit, I know you want to hit me now with your spade) that I have never done it but you don't understand what kind of an endeavour that is. The terrible heat, not to mention the deadly mosquitoes. Ouch! Ok, alright, I am spoilt, I won't deny that now, but anyway, back to my story.
After about an hour's worth of sweeping dead leaves and acquiring a tan that I have yet to rid till today, I decided I would re-work the tree. It came almost subliminally, the idea of having metal leaves falling from the tree onto the ground where they turned to real leaves.
Anyway, I didn't associate then the idea of falling leaves with my earlier sweeping of the leaves on the driveway even when I was making this bunch that were to be the real ones on the ground.
It was the next day when I was taking the pictures that my mind went Ding ding ding!
These were random pictures I took of the dead leaves and seeds in the drain (4 pictures up). In these pictures, I didn't see dead leaves anymore. I saw how attractive the colours of the dead and rotting came together. I saw beauty in decay.
It kind of clicked then. The junkyard, the abandoned house and now this sculpture. They were all my attempts at exploring this whole idea of life in death, beauty in decay.
It was almost inevitable that I should have a bird in this sculpture. Can you see why? Anyhoo, this was what it looked like before the bashing.
Repainting the bird was fun. I finally got to use the really fine brushes I have been hoarding since forever ago
and tested the pastel chalks for the first time.
It took me a while to paint even simple accents like the strip on its head. I think I spent a good hour trying to blend the body colours.
The tail was the trickiest because the chalk colour didn't stick easily to the feathers. Even looking at the pictures now, I can't help thinking it could be more realistic and that I need more practice.
Now who says we shouldn't sweat over the small stuff, huh?