The high school that I attended in Liberty Hill, Texas, had the most beautiful sculpture garden. It was full of geometric shapes, and fluid looking sculptures. It was my favorite area at my school and probably was a great influence on my passion for art. I would spend my lunches sitting inside a huge piece of installation art and wish that I could create such beautiful artwork. It was a place of comfort when I was depressed and a voice of triumph when I was having a good day. The love that I had for this place is truly unexplainable.
Today, I started a new art project. I had been contemplating the project for months, but I finally put my thoughts into action and started a sculpture garden in my own yard. Thankfully, I have some good friends who gave me several large pieces of boat docking foam. Boat docking foam is perfect for creating large pieces of art.
Boat docking foam
Black permanent marker
Hand saw, optional
Spray paint, various colors
Installation Art Basic Instructions
Lay a drop cloth in the area where you plan to work on your creation. Carving Styrofoam gets messy fast. A drop cloth will prevent a huge messy cleanup.
Begin by drawing your design directly onto the Styrofoam. Determine which sections of your design will be recessed and which areas should extend outwards from the Styrofoam’s surface.
Use either a hand saw or a chainsaw to remove large sections of Styrofoam. Remember to keep the chainsaw away from you and always, ALWAYS, be mindful of the blade. You don’t want to have any chainsaw accidents.
Add details with a serrated knife. Again be extremely careful. Cut the Styrofoam in small sections and with a sawing motion. You may also use a Styrofoam cutter. Styrofoam cutters are extremely high temperature, but can be very fragile. These work best for small details.
Blow the entire surface of your Styrofoam with a hairdryer. Make sure to remove any loose Styrofoam before painting.
Paint the main body of your artwork using spray paint. Work from the top to the bottom of the structure. Keep the spray paint can at least 12-inches from the work surface to prevent the paint from pooling. Allow the spray paint to dry thoroughly. The spray paint will appear to eat away the surface, don’t worry; it’s okay.
Add smaller details with acrylic paint.
Attach a metal rod to the back of your boat dock foam so that it will stand freely.
Susan’s Ocean Installation Art
I decided that my first piece of installation art had to be an ocean scene. I often find myself painting beaches. I suppose that is because I am completely in love with the ocean. (My husband is from the coast.) You can create your own beach scene by adding a few techniques to the basic instructions that are already provided.
I determined that my mountain would encompass the entire right side of my Styrofoam. Because my Styrofoam is recycled, it had a dirty surface. So, I asked my husband to remove the top layer with his chainsaw.
I then marked the recessed sky and water area, and instructed him to cut away large sections of Styrofoam on the right side of the piece. What I was left with was a large block of Styrofoam with the basic forms of a mountain, ocean and sky.
To add definition to the mountain, I used a serrated knife. I added crags and cliffs to the mountain’s surface. I also added a couple of crags to my fingers. So, be very careful!
At present I have only completed the basic definition of my artwork; however, I have got the look of the entire piece ingrained in my head. I have drawn inspiration from my artwork “Rockport Fulton at Water’s Edge.” Hopefully, it will also inspire you to create your own piece of installation art.