• Zoe Papas

Reflecting on My Art in 2020

2020 was a crazy year. What affected my art career the most was art shows and exhibitions being postponed or canceled due to the pandemic. I am very fortunate that my husband and I were healthy and still had jobs this past year. I also managed to get some new artwork done. Here's a look at the art I did in 2020 in chronological order, including my thoughts behind each piece. I hope you enjoy!



Echoes of a Moment


22" x 30" Charcoal, chalk, pencil, and ink wash on paper

Echoes of a Moment was inspired by the Greek myth of Echo and Narcissus. I completed an artwork in 2019 titled The Fleeting Image, depicting Narcissus gazing at himself. It was a natural progression for me to then do an artwork inspired by Echo. Instead of a literal interpretation, I decided to run with the idea of an echo and how I could depict that. I actually had a different idea in mind when I initially had my model pose for the work. After some uninspired sketches and thinking about previous artworks that I had done, this was the idea I chose.


Regarding the composition, I wanted to emphasize what I thought was most striking about the pose, the strong diagonal of the form. The negative shapes on either side of the figure are mirrors of each other. I chose to cut out these shapes to create a double layered effect. This is something I have doing recently as a way to add another dimension to my work and set it apart. Using ink wash in the background, I “echoed” the figure many times to create the ghost-like effect.


I titled the piece Echoes of a Moment because I wanted it to represent the idea of an interaction having long-lasting effects. Ultimately, the work is about the impact that people have on our lives.



Perennial


15" x 22" Charcoal, chalk, and white paint on paper

Perennial started out as a life drawing done during an open studio session. I kept revisiting this drawing thinking of how I could make it into a finished artwork. Humanity’s connection to nature has been a theme I’ve been playing with in my art recently, so I knew I wanted to incorporate natural elements into this piece. I decided to run with an image I had in my head of vines growing across skin.


I wanted to repeat the nature theme by having natural elements in the background as well. I painted the negative space in the piece with white paint, with the positive space being tree-like shapes. The pose of the figure shows is solid and firmly rooted. I put her seated on a pedestal to further emphasize this.


The word perennial refers to plants that are long-lasting, instead of just for a season. This seemed like an appropriate title for this work to represent the endurance of the human spirit.



The Moment of Knowing


18" x 30" (each piece) Charcoal, chalk, and watercolor on paper

A piece depicting Adam and Eve had been a recurring idea in my head for a while. With the Creative Pinellas grant, I finally took the leap of hiring private models. For this piece, I felt like it was necessary to be able to have full control over the poses of the models and the lighting to properly execute my vision. I knew from the start that I wanted this piece to be a diptych. I did composition and pose sketches before drawing the models because I knew it was important to get the figures just right. My idea was to reflect the emotions of Adam and Eve after the fall through their body language. This piece was a lot more expressive than what I had done in the past.


The tree of knowledge of good and evil is essential to the story of Adam and Eve, so I knew I had to include it as well. I went around taking lots of pictures of trees so I would have plenty of references to work from. The tree is split along the two parts of the diptych, which also separates Adam and Eve. My idea was for the tree to reflect the history of the event. The vines on the right side represent the tempting snake. The roots mimic the crossed legs of Eve. On the left, leaves fall representing the fall of mankind.


The title of this piece was inspired by a close reading of the Adam and Eve story in Genesis. It refers to the moment in time that sin enters the world and Adam and Eve regret their actions.



Hope Remains


30" x 22" Charcoal, chalk, and graphite on paper

The catalyst for the piece was the life drawing itself, which was done during an open studio. I really liked the pose and expression of the figure, and it reminded me of being hopeful, due to woman’s slight smile. I chose the Greek myth of Pandora’s box as the inspiration for this work. When Pandora opens the box, she unleashes suffering upon the world. However, she closes the box too quickly, and Hope is trapped inside. I felt like this was a really intriguing story, especially with respect to current events.


I had an easy time with the composition of this piece. I think the pose really lends itself well to the story. I chose to incorporate the double-layer effect as before and cut out the rectangle to show a window to the suffering in the world outside the box. The figure, representing Hope, looks on, knowing that the suffering will end. In the background are the faces of despair. I asked friends and family to send me pictures of themselves doing certain expressions which I used as reference. I drew the faces in pencil, the light range of values make them appear beyond the seated figure. The lilies that Hope holds represent purity and rebirth.


I felt that Hope Remains was a good, straightforward title for this piece. It is reminder that Hope can be a powerful virtue in the midst of suffering.



From the Ashes


13" x 40" Charcoal and chalk on gray paper

From the Ashes started out as response to the prompt, fortitude, from the Martha's Vineyard drawing contest. While I did not place in the contest, I was still really happy with how this drawing turned out.


I had my husband pose for this piece several times. I did some short drawings from life initially in order to figure out the composition. Once I sketched out the composition, I had my husband pose again for a longer life drawing and also took photos as reference. I think the long, vertical composition works well for this piece because it shows the figure rising up. I had to order bigger paper than usual because of the height of this drawing. My easel and drawing board proved to be too small so I had to improvise by clipping the paper to a long board leaning against the wall.


This piece is based on the idea of overcoming suffering, represented by the ashes. The light is the person's faith and inner strength that is allowing him to pull himself out of a negative situation. The person emerging from the ashes evokes the same resurrection imagery as the phoenix's rebirth or the biblical story of the boys in the fiery furnace. Thus, From the Ashes seemed like an appropriate title.


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