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Watch Helena Wurzel’s “Garden Shadow” grow!

It’s not often that we get to watch an artwork come to life, but Helena Wurzel made that magic happen. For today’s Artist Spotlight, Wurzel’s walking us through the creation of her painting Garden Shadow—with pics galore! We strung those pics together in the gif above for a play-by-play of her process, and it’s pretty mesmerizing. Read more about what went into the final painting below. (And if you’re wondering why you recognize the image, it’s because Wurzel lent it to us for one of our free, downloadable Zoom backgrounds!)

The garden that inspired this piece is one Wurzel walks by everyday on her way to scoop up her kids from school. She often takes pics of it as she passes. “I think it's so important to pay attention to the things that catch your eye in daily life,” the artist says. “My iPhone tends to be a good record for me because I am constantly taking pictures, even if I don't know what for or if I will use them later on.” Her painting’s a great reminder to stop and smell the roses, and not just because it’s the result of her own observant nature—gazing at Garden Shadow is a mini botanical break in and of itself, full of vibrant visual details for the eye to enjoy.

Wurzel started from the photo above (left), one of several snaps she shot of her shadow over the garden. From there, she progressed to a colored pencil drawing based on the photo, a gouache painting made from the drawing, and an oil painting made from the gouache painting.“It's nice to use a variety of materials because they all teach me something different,” she says. Colored pencil drawings are a recent-ish development for Wurzel, who started experimenting with them last year on account of the super low key set up/clean up time required (i.e. well-suited to time-sensitive mom life). She loves the intensity that comes from translating a photograph into a colored pencil piece—no mixing means an immediate injection of color. “It allows me to be more adventurous,” she told us. “This painting is so much about my love of color, mark-making, and pattern.” Looking at her step-by-step, it’s wild to see how much energy that first translation breathes into the image, all the natural hues happily exaggerated.

You’ll also see her exercising artistic license in her shadow, which she changed to the shadow of someone watering the garden with a hose. This adds another layer of interaction that activates the scene. Beyond that, as Wurzel explains, the transparency of the shadow “plays with what the inside of our bodies could look like—the flowers and stems become organs and blood vessels.” At the same time, abstract and geometric forms take shape, a little more individuated with each new phase. Garden Shadow grows right before our eyes.

Want more of Wurzel’s colorful work? Browse her limited-edition 20x200 prints, and add a piece to your own collection!

With art for everyone,
Team 20x200

Wurzel's (free!) downloadable zoom background 

Browse Helena Wurzel's Art