Works In Progress- Emergence and Scarlet Cups

An abstract paper mache sculpture in progress by MJ Seal

I started these as little studies for larger future works – but they were coming along so nicely I decided to go ahead and make them into full fledged sculptural pieces-

I’ve had this idea for a piece where small green “sprouts” would be shooting up out of some leathery gray landscape and decided I would do some smaller studies with paper scraps before doing any larger versions-

I found that you could get this leafy, lichen-like surface by crushing up dampened cotton art paper. So I tore up sheets of grey rag paper (I used Stonehenge brand), soaked and then crinkled them up, unfurled them and then mounted them onto an painting on paper that I wasn’t happy with. I then brushed glue water over them to give them some rigidity.

I then took some pieces of white paper, crinkled them up and soaked them in dilute, spring green paint. I unrolled them and let them dry. They came out looking vaguely like small fern fronds-

I liked the way this piece was coming out so much I decided it could be more than just a study. So I mounted it down to an old canvas and added more gray paper “lichens” and after it dries I will be applying the green sprouts.

After seeing some peculiar red cup fungus on a hike last spring I decided to try making some similar forms out of paper mache


I applied some paper “lichens” to a sheet of paper-

I then sculpted some small cup fungus-like shapes out of paper mache clay. After the little cups dried I painted the interiors with glazes of yellow and crimson acrylic paint- with the glossy finish they really glow- like rubies. On the exteriors a scumbled a buff, opaque paint- just like real scarlet cup fungus.

I then took the sheet of paper and as with “Emergence” mounted it down to an old canvas and applied more of the leafy looking crumpled up pieces of paper to it-

The canvas was a fairly deep gallery wrapped one so this piece will really pop off the wall. It looks like a lichen encrusted rock and will be really interesting when the scarlet cups are added.

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