Artificial Sweet Peas
acrylic, colored pencil, ink
with gold leaf on paper
24" x 18"
Another exploration of pattern, this piece began with an uncut sheet of printed
packaging for an omnipresent artificial sugar product. I began by laying over it a
pattern of sweet peas on a lattice.
My initial concept was just to be pretty and ironic. But apparently reading the paper's
fine print of chemical names and "nutrition" information over and over knocked the
"pretty" right out of my head. I began to notice that I had designed the flowers to be
facing away from the sun (their backs to the viewer). Then I just seemed to want to
make the colors slightly unhealthy, which lead to my adding an overlay of mildew. I
guess I have issues with artificial chemicals and their ever growing and harmful
presence in our diet. Once I realized what I was up to, I added the final touch of the
very inorganic clean white tablets popping out of the pea pods.
In spite of my apparent need to wallow in grime and preach a bit, the piece somehow
still manages to keep catching my eye as a rich and sumptuous pattern (the mildew
not withstanding). The gross out factor starts only upon closer inspection.
PS: I wish to express my thanks for the paper to Kathy Maher. I had planned to
show my appreciation by making Kathy a smaller version of this piece. But the
idea of presenting her with a mildewed little thing just doesn't seem quite right
© Ron Orpitelli 2006