“fabulist.” a 24-hour contest in nerves.

i happen to live in the beautiful city and moderate clime of greenville, sc.  (affectionately & oft hash*tagged as #yeahTHATgreenville.)

last weekend, the metropolitan arts council held its annual “flat out under pressure” event where local artists bring their paper, canvas, board, or whatever*have*you to the office, have it stamped, and are to return with that same stamped board by the next morning.  it’s 24 hours to make one piece of art.  at stake?  having your art on downtown’s trash bins (nicer than it sounds; it’s free advertising and who doesn’t like fancy trash cans with art on them?!), and… a trip to italy.

before you read too much further, i’m going to spoil it for you:  i didn’t win.   but i did have LOTS of fun creating this piece.  after i’d calmed down a bit.  (as the name implies, it’s a LOT of pressure!  and YES, i had queen’s “under pressure” stuck in my head for most of the time i was feverishly painting this piece!)

so here’s a peek into the process of creating this 15 x 30″ board that encapsulates 16 of aesop’s fables (yes, i spent more than 16 hours on it).  i’ll list them below for you if you want to find them out!

click through the slideshow to see details of the process.

here is “fabulist.”  or, “aesop’s sketchbook,” or “how to lose your cheese, fall short of grapes, explode in vanity, escape the angry bees, do as you would be done by, stay faithful, grateful, brave, wise, & outrun a hare with a house on your back.”  a work in 16 studies.  😉

aesop sketchbook halthegal 1
i had thought about doing an aesop’s fable faerie tale feet piece a while ago. it’s been a running (pun!) joke/analogy/allegory that my husband & i are a turtle and a bunny- therefore the tortoise & the hare was necessary painting material. so here’s some notes in my moleskin from the few collections of aesop’s fables (i’d never read them ALL before) and some sketches of leaping hares and a bumbling tortoise in my sketchbook…
aesop sketchbook halthegal 2
earlier in the week, i did a teeny test patch to make sure mounting watercolour paper on this wooden board would serve my media well. so the test patch is a bit more subtle than my final original large piece, but we’re all learning, right…?
aesop sketchbook halthegal 3
here’s me around 9:03 am friday morning haven just gotten my board stamped @ MAC! eeeeep!!! i’d gotten downtown early and had a sully’s steamers bagel (gosh, they’re yummy) to try to calm my nerves… but not even carbs can help this chick.
aesop sketchbook halthegal 4
so i paced around the house a bit and nervously applied pencil to my board…. i started with the tortoise and the hare– i wanted to give it a sketchbook feel, so i used a lot of different materials– soft graphite, my fave red drawing pencils, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, conte… all of it!
aesop sketchbook halthegal 5
i kind of just went through my list of fables i wanted to capture and started filling in the board. i knew where the tortoise & the hare were going to go… and the fox and the grapes, but the rest of it was impromptu. and by impromptu, i mean 24 hours of “can i really do this in time without messing up royally?!”
aesop sketchbook halthegal 6
here’s a view of the full board before any color was added… i can’t remember if everything is drawn on at this point or not.
aesop sketchbook halthegal 7
and we slowly start to add color. i used my trusty gouache– all my old paper plates saved from faerie tale feet paintings… so i saved time on mixing colors… and re-used what i had!
aesop sketchbook halthegal 8
layers and layers of color start filling in around and in the figures…
aesop sketchbook halthegal 9
building building building… color, form, contrast… shadow, light, and trying not to make it a total rainbow fest. (guilty?)
aesop sketchbook halthegal 10
loooooots of animals. loooooots of drawings. loooooots of paint.
aesop sketchbook halthegal 11
this was my view around 2:46 am when i finally laid down for a three hour “nap” so i could look at it with fresh eyes in the morning. so there was more work to do, but i just had to take a step back first…
aesop sketchbook halthegal 12
this hare face in the middle is just my favorite part. i don’t know why. but i love him.
aesop sketchbook halthegal 13
here are the THREE brushes i used to fill the whole board. they are my warrior heroes.
aesop sketchbook halthegal 14
my trusty stack of reference material and paper plates full of color to apply…
aesop sketchbook halthegal 15
and here’s me! on my way downtown with my finished piece to deliver it to the exhibition before they lock the doors!

so while i didn’t win, you CAN purchase this piece and many of the other amazing works created by 68 other local greenville artists in just 24 hours!

the flat out under pressure show is hanging at the MAC gallery until july 8.  open during their regular office hours.  details and winners list on their website HERE.

the 16 fables i included:

  • the rose & the butterfly
  • town mouse & country mouse
  • the frog & the ox
  • the goose that laid the golden eggs
  • the hare & the tortoise
  • the mice in council
  • the peacock’s complaint
  • the bear & the bees
  • the fox & the stork
  • the lion & the mouse
  • the fox & the crow
  • the fox & the grapes
  • the moon & her mother
  • the crow & the pitcher
  • the milk maid & her pail
  • the frogs’ complaint against the sun
  • the owl & the birds
  • the wolf & the goat