The making of the featured artwork by Tracie Noles-Ross for the 2017 Moss Rock Festival Poster. Scroll below for a blown up image of the art and to the bottom for the final poster design!
When we met with Tracie Noles-Ross at Birmingham Breadworks earlier this summer to invite her to be Moss Rock Festival’s (MRF) 2017 Featured Artist, we immediately felt the synergy between Tracie’s art, point of view, way of life, and the festival’s themes of nature, smart living, art + design. Her artistic processes are anchored in and guided by her unique connection to nature, which also manifests in her creative observations, explorations, plus her sustainability-driven way of life. It was kismet, visually and spiritually. And she graciously and happily accepted our invitation.
Talk quickly turned to the art piece she would create for the 12th annual eco-creative festival happening November 4-5 at The Preserve in Hoover. We gushed over past MRF poster featured works by Susan Shoemaker, Darrell Ezekiel, Chiharu Roach, and last year’s Paul Cordes Wilm. This popular art series spotlighting various nature and wildlife subjects has been very well received by attendees each year and have artfully added to the identity of the festival and its eco-creative focus. Tracie had some ideas percolating to the top already, but was curious if we had any suggestions or guidance before we parted. We replied that we like to keep the focus on subjects that are indigenous to the state or local area. We left the meeting inspired, invigorated, and eager to see where Tracie would take the featured art imagery in 2017. And here it is! The work is made from a combination of watercolor and acrylic ink, and showcases Alabama’s state bird, the northern flicker/yellowhammer, plus native nature including goldenrod, ironweed, honeysuckle, and more.
When asked about the considerations and techniques she incorporated in this piece, which is a combination of watercolor and acrylic ink, here is what she said:
“I actually use a combination of watercolor and acrylic ink. I really like to draw and as I have gotten older, I have felt myself pulling farther away from paint and more toward drawing –but then a year or so ago I discovered the clay board surface and I fell in love. I am not a watercolor purist. I lay down areas of dense color, using very little water, and then I go back and pull it back off in areas with a wet brush to make interesting marks. It’s like drawing with an eraser—usually a very tiny eraser (brush)! The watercolor on the clay board surface is very forgiving and I love the push and pull of the ground and the marks to create a piece. I can use water to coax a sexy layer of translucence out of the ground in some areas if I want (a method I use for flesh or water) but a lot of the time, I lay down flat areas like I might if I was painting with gouache or ink and then use a knife or water on my brush to pull it back up making white lines in the work by exposing the clay ground and creating a brightness in the work. That technique feels more like drawing than painting and I like that. The acrylic ink allows me to go back into work and create details with tiny brushes as a finishing touch to the piece. Once the ink is put down—that’s it. It is not at all forgiving but by the time I have reached the finishing touches part of the process, I feel pretty confident about using it and it just makes things pop!”
To learn more about Tracie and see more of her work, click here to go to her featured artist page.
AND NOW FOR THE POSTER DESIGN!
Once we saw the finished artwork, naturally we were blown away. And our graphic designer, Heather Garner, who is a graduate of UAB, definitely and immediately agreed. Her first impression was, “WOW! The detail is amazing.” She went on to describe the way she would most likely approach the poster design. “The intricate details within the piece will call for a simple design approach in terms of how the typography will be used. With the fluidity of the piece, one must incorporate type within the design so that it doesn’t cause a visual hiccup with the audience.” We are over the moon about Heather’s minimal and clean design, which really highlighted Tracie’s art as the centerpiece. She successfully and beautifully married the two. We hope you love it as much as we do!