Doing it Twice


Two years ago, I visited Mesa in Arizona for the first time. The dessert skies and landscapes have so much color and variety.



They provided the inspiration for paintings on silk. My aim was to show how majestic a Saguaro cactus is. The top picture shows how I’m holding it up next to its model.


But then during our return trip I lost the piece. Called every place where we stayed but it’s really gone.


In the meantime I had learned more about them: Buffelgrass and fountain grass are invasive weeds that choke out the indigenous saguaro. These grasses are also highly flammable and burn very hot. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson (https://www.desertmuseum.org) organizes volunteers for a yearly buffelgrass pull to save the saguaros.


It didn’t take long to decide to do it again and to try to do it better. Here are some snapshots from my process:

1 Paint the sky with acrylics on high-quality silk.



2 Create the saguaro out of individual pieces and stitch them.



3 To evaluate if the color values are correct, I take photos, turn them into an black-and-white version and keep painting and stitching until I have the contrast and harmony that’s part of my vision for a piece.



4 Here you see the appliqué pieces just pinned together while I’m still finalizing the back- and fore ground.



5 Appliqué the cactus with stitches that look very spiky.



6 The “Saguaro” is done. It is gallery-wrapped on wooden stretchers, ready to be hung - Maybe in your home?



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© 2012 - 2020 by Maria Billings