Gummy Mosaic

Gummy Mosaic

Continuing on my exploration working with grids, pixels and food, I was eager to use again my love of gummy bears. Looking at them spread out on the table, I wondered if there is a way to use the colour variety of the classic Goldbären pack to show a somewhat realistic portrait.

When my tutor asked if I'm planning to make any collage work, I decided to test out a mosaic instead. I took a photo of myself in a yellow shirt and cropped the photo so the colours would be limited from the start. Then I imported the photo in my cross stitch program with a 50x50 count. I then tested out a nose to see how it would work. Since gummy bears are rectangle in shape, I would use one in place of two squares. I've started laying them down vertically and horizontally, making way for different colours when the size of a whole bear would make too big of a difference.

I liked what I was seeing, but the size I started with would not work. I needed to go four times bigger on the scale if I were to cover a whole face with this grid count. I would also need way more gummy bears than one bag would offer.

I also went back to the cross-stitch program to make my life easier. Instead of the usual variety of colour, I turned off, one by one, all 100+ stitch colours to leave only about 10 of them, in the tones of the candy I was working with.

My friend from Berlin was visiting in London and brought me two large pasks only sold on Germany. I bought 5 more bags in my local off-licence, the only store selling the bears-only bags of Haribo. I spread them out to dry a bit before working on the portrait. When fresh, they leave sugary marks behing them and I need to be able to rearrange on the paper constantly.

I laid out an A1 paper on my widest board on the kitchen table. This smelled and felt a little more like cake decorating than collage making. I started working from the middle, just like on a cross-stitch, to make sure the face would be positioned well. As I worked on my skin tone, with equal amounts of pineapple, lemon, orange and strawberry flavours, I saw there wouldn't be enough of one to cover the most of my face. I was also quickly running out of the dark green and red, apple and cherry ones that I reserved for the shadow areas.

My boyfriend saw me huffing and puffing in the middle of my flow, and volunteered to go get more bags. He returned with ten more bags and the proclamation that the shop clerk now knows him as "that gummy bear loving guy". I accepted him snatching my title and spread out the bears on some newspaper to dry out by tomorrow.

The next day fresh eyes helped a lot, and I've reached the end of both portrait and gummies in about 3 hours. Now all that's left is to perfect. I've used some of the hybrid bears od half-colours I've set aside to smooth areas around the mouth and the eyes. I've put some medium highlights in the hair and some lightest ones on the left side of the portrait. The last thing I rearranged was the nose, adding more light despite there being none on the photograph. It added a nice dimension to the mosaic one.

With all the candy used, and some ingested, I was now certain I will not touch another Haribo to eat for a long while. I proclaimed the work done and went to photograph it. When the clouds parted on my balcony as we set it down, I was shocked to see how different it looked under direct light. The translucency of the candy played with my eyes and made a trippy effect. While interesting to look at, it was impossible to photograph. I returned the work inside for my usual photo set-up.

Here's a video of the work:

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