Here's my final nicho! It's called "Heartbeat of a (Manipulated) Nation." Because I used the glass from a vintage photo frame to cover the nicho opening, I'm having reflection issues (I'm NOT a photographer) in this and some other pics. Below are some shots of just the nicho--before I put it in the piece--so you can get a better idea of what the "heart" looks like.
Below's a close-up pic of the nicho itself, which contains a heart made of paper clay that's been covered in strips of paper taken from a thesaurus. For the paint technique, I simply covered the heart in black acrylic and wiped it back with a wet rag. The background was first textured with modeling paste and then painted with blue acrylic; I then went over it with white acrylic, using a dry brush technique.
Below's a close-up of the left side of the piece and its toggle switch focal point. The texturing was created by laying down a layer of plaster and then pushing in and removing a chunk of corrugated cardboard. The paint is just layers of acrylic washes with some dry-brushing mixed in.
Here's a close-up of the right side of the piece--the nicho itself. I kind of like the way the heart has a speciman-behind-glass feel to it.
The (sometimes mad) ramblings of a mixed media artist.