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Art Nouveau On The Block

The cramps around the joints in my right hand suggest carpal tunnel syndrome. I know this dull ache all too well from my 9 to 5 days as a CAD Artist in the apparel industry. Digital sketching with a Wacom Tablet pen for hours everyday. Perhaps I need to ice it. Perhaps it doesn't really help that it's currently being used to type these words onto my screen. Aaaah, well. Suck it up, Righty!

I just finished the digital concept for the artwork on the next utility box paintings. Submissions are due in just 2 weeks. There is an application to be filled just as there was last year and every year before. I first started submitting in 2020. I had thought my concept was strong but I was also very intimidated, as I haven't done anything that large before. My design was, in hindsight, a bit overly ambitious, because I cannot.....for the life of me.....simplify!!! I tend to over-do and feel so envious of the Artists who produce incredible pieces in minimal aesthetic. In 2020, my artwork did not get picked by the juried panel of judges in the Burbank Arts Association. I wasn't terribly surprised, nor, (if I'm being totally honest), was I terribly bummed. There was an incredible amount of commissioned paintings that kept me busy all 12 months of 2020. It worked out. Universe telling me, "Not your time yet."

Hand sketched in colored pencils, and background designed in Photoshop. 2020, too ambitious, and just not good.

The thought of submitting in 2021 hadn't crossed my mind. Paul (husband) encouraged me to submit artwork and an application because it wouldn't hurt. We brainstormed, came up with an idea together, and I submitted. I did, and still do, love that design. We were inspired by the bright green parrots flying the Burbank skies, and seeing a flock of them perched on the power lines above our backyard. Also, the surreal sunsets we soaked in during the quieter months of the pandemic. I started getting a bit more excited about the colorful design I executed on Adobe Photoshop, which I pay a monthly subscription of $9.99 for. I hardly ever need Illustrator, so I don't want to pay for an additional application. I draw and paint everything by hand and if anything needs touching up, Photoshop is my app.

Acrylic painted parrot. The rest, Photoshop. 2021. Way better than the previous one.

The email from the Burbank Arts Association came a couple of months after the submission last year and I still taste the pure sweet elation of the "Congratulations, Cosette! Your artwork has been chosen!" email. I think I literally jumped up and down. I had no fucking idea how I would execute this in actuality. As mentioned earlier, I have never worked on something in that scale before, nor had I done any public Art.

It took almost 2 weeks in October with the challenge of a couple rainy days and Paul being out of town for a week ("challenge" because we have a school-going child and additional help would have been awesome). There were days of frustration and tears, but there were MORE days of pride and fun. There were over 60 submissions and 10 designs got picked to be commissioned by the city. Yes, we got paid. I will not say how much, but I will say that about a little over a third covered just the materials. I will also add that I needlessly bought things I didn't end up using, and now I feel smarter about what to buy on this go around.

Starting the design for this years utility box, I messily sketched the concept on a print out of the box blueprint they provided us in the application. While the rendering is good enough for me, it would absolutely need to be more "WOW" as a submission for consideration.

There are themes the Association chooses every year. Last year, the theme was "A Moment In Time", and this year it's "New Art On The Block". You would think, me growing up to New Kids On The Block in the very early nineties, I would gravitate towards a 90's boy band influence when hearing that theme. However, my mind instantly heard "Art Nouveau." One of my favorite decorative art styles since I can remember. Art Nouveau hasn't made a huge influence in my Art, as I have been figuring out my own style in the last 2 years. I am blown away by the arabesque architecture and provocative art that Art Nouveau offers. If there were any time for me to try this intriguing style in my Art, this is it!

With it's intricate geometric designs, curves, swirls, and florals, I knew Photoshop would not offer me the necessary tools to create this design with ease. I knew Illustrator would. Again, I do not use Illustrator much and so I don't want to pay for it. They do offer a 7 day free trial, however! I subscribed and started designing right away. The free trial period ends in 2 days and if I don't cancel it, I will be charged $20.99, every month, until I cancel. So, I didn't have a chance to take my time with this design, although it is due in a couple of weeks. I absolutely am in love with the concept and design, however, it is once overly ambitious!! I feel like I should scale back....but....I'm not!! (nervous laughter) I kept to a pink/green color palette as that aesthetic is very much my brand. I'm tempted to share more of my design with you but in the spirit of surprise and not jinxing myself, I will keep the design under wraps and just share a sneak peek.

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