3UP – The Inside Scoop

Published May 3, 2014 by isisimaginings

Hello, THANK YOU to all of you for your very kind comments last night, I was completely overwhelmed & rather emotional. This is me giving all of you the biggest {{{{{{{{{{{{{HUG}}}}}}}}}}}}}}.

I said on the PaperArtsy blog last night that I would tell you the story of the main images, so settle down, we’re going to be here a while………

When Leandra announced the new series of #3UP I knew immediately that I would want to use Ellen Vargo’s stamps if I were lucky enough to be chosen, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with them. I was thrilled when the set I’d chosen – EEV03 – arrived, but I still had no idea what I was going to do & there was much head scratching until I looked at this picture & inspiration began to dawn.


This is Red Stone Dancer by Henri Gaudier-Breska (1891-1915) & I first saw it at the Royal Academy of Art in London a few years ago, where it was part of their Wild Thing exhibition in 2009/2010. It’s probably my most favourite piece of sculpture & it always makes me sad that Gaudier-Breska only had a few years to create such amazing pieces before being killed in the First World War. If you ever visit Tate Britain, the sculpture is on exhibition in Room 1910, so take the opportunity to see it in person.

My second piece of inspiration was Stravinsky’s music, The Rite of Spring & the accompanying ballet, which was choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky for the Ballets Russes. I decided to try to combine the two in my #3UP project. Coincidentally, both pieces made their debuts in 1913.

It began easily enough; I created my dancer by painting a mix of London Bus, Brown Shed & Chutney Frescos onto heavy card, stamping EEV01 with Black Archival, painting with Gloss Glaze & cutting out the shapes.


The next step was also easy; stamping on tissue paper with EEV01 & EEV03 & attaching the tissue to an 8×8 box canvas with matte gel medium.


Adding Fresco paints; Nougat, Stone, Vintage Lace & then some second generation stamping with Watering Can Archival ink.


It was now that things began to go wrong. I knew I wanted a muted background & I had a vague image in my mind, but I couldn’t transfer it to the canvas. I added more paint, then Grunge Paste, then drips of paint, then I painted over all of that, then I brayered with Limelight & Bora Bora……….. 009

There were so many layers at this stage that I’d completely lost the initial stamping & still I could not make it work.


At this point I should have left it for a day or two, but I was conscious of the #3UP deadline, so I kept going. And it kept getting worse & worse. By now I’m adding stamping, more brayering, red Dylusions ink – to signify the death of the dancer – and getting more & more stressed.


I have to be honest, there was more than a slight meltdown round about now & yes, there were tears of frustration & anger. The night before the deadline I contacted Leandra & told her it wasn’t happening & that I would be missing Ally Pally to give it one last attempt. She convinced me to take a break & gave me an extra few days.

The day after a fairly lovely time at AP – I couldn’t quite forget what was waiting for me at home –  I carried on for the next few days until I ended up with this.

Pcture 2

And for twenty-four hours I tried to convince myself it was fine, when I knew it wasn’t, but couldn’t come up with any ideas of how to fix it. Then, on the Friday night Darcy messaged me to see how I was doing. I sent her this photo & basically said “HELP!” She replied with some great suggestions & the next day my friend Lisa also had some ideas, so I got to work again , took the canvas off the wood & began cutting until I had the shapes you see on the finished piece. All the time I was cutting I was on the verge of panic; one slip with the blade & it was over. What if I still couldn’t get it to where it wasn’t the ugliest thing I’d ever seen?

I worked most of Saturday & until lunchtime on Sunday, sending Darcy photos of every stage, asking her opinion, until she must have dreaded seeing my email address appear in her inbox, but she stuck with me & I will be forever grateful to her.

I finally arrived at what you saw on the PaperArtsy blog last night. The dancer must dance to her death, as ordained by the village elders – the ‘owl eyes’ in purple – to ensure a successful Spring for the survival of the village – the coloured pods bottom left.


To be honest, I couldn’t look at this for a while afterwards. I even turned it to face the wall. But now I can look at it & I actually feel quite proud of it. And myself. It is true to say that without Leandra, Darcy & Lisa I would have given up & then hated myself. And the guilt I would have felt at letting Leandra down would have been unbearable.

So, I have rambled on for long enough. Thank you if you’re still here. Thank you to Darcy & Lisa for all your help & suggestions that saved my project from the bin,  for the support & encouragement & for allowing me to bombard you with emails. Thank you to Ellen for designing such fantastic stamps & for inspiring me to try more abstract projects. And thank you to Leandra &  the entire PaperArtsy team, I hope you know how special you are.

And if there’s another 3#UP challenge will I apply? Ask me when it happens………………  🙂

14 comments on “3UP – The Inside Scoop

  • Oh Kirsten, how we stress ourselves when we know that it is all about experimenting, enjoying and sharing. So glad that you carried on. You certainly inspire me and must learn to believe in your ability. How lovely to find inspiration from art and music. I studied art and music at college and slap my own wrists for not finding time to keep up. I must listen to more music. Thankyou for sharing your story. Enjoy your work. Xx

  • You first piece might not have been what you were after but personally I liked it. The second piece is more restful and equally beautiful.

  • Well done for not giving up, it looks great now – and even before you got so frustrated with it (I can totally sympathise with that!) I love the bold shapes and strong accent colour.

  • We are so proud of you and pleased that you carried on, your end piece is just lovely, and even though it started out with a great story of inspiration.. it has an even greater story now lol

    We are always here to help. xxx

  • Kirsten, always follow your heart, your first canvas is stunning, i can see the dancer more clearly. I love that your story reflects both the story of the sculpture and reflects the struggle in Stravinsky’s music.

    Your first canvas shows your reflective struggle with getting your interpretation down, the second canvas is beautiful but does not convey the same message to me.

    Great share, good to see the depth of soul in this amazing ArT Piece:-) xxx

  • Well first of all how brave of you to cut into your work like that, I’m not sure I could have done it. Secondly I think that it’s wonderful in both forms, I love the splash of red in the first (sorry no deep thoughts from me) but I also like the composition of the second – for no other reason than I like it. Well done for hanging in there, it was well worth it – but then that’s easy for me to say lol xx

  • I can relate to your struggle. I’ve been sitting reading & looking at your posts here & on PaperArtsy for some time & what strikes me is the difference that placing your original colours onto a pale blue background makes. The terracotta dancer has been given pizazz & is no longer lost in her background. The way that little diamond on the left fits into the notch cut out of the right panel like a puzzle just grabs the attention & I love the way all the shapes somehow have their own space yet combine into a cohesive whole. The background shapes of diamonds add so much depth too. Well done & I’m glad you managed to go to Ally Pally as well!
    Paula (PEP)

  • Amazing to hear the behind the scenes version… Looking at the extraordinary sculpture and knowing The Rite of Spring very well, your finished work seems to have grown so organically out of the inspiration, and it works supremely well as a piece of art in its own right. It’s fascinating to hear how troubled the journey was. It seems there is truth in the old saw – no pain, no gain. Maybe true art has to be forged in the furnace of doubt and struggle. Congratulations on your phoenix-like emergence from the flames!
    Alison xx

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