It’s been a whirlwind of activity here with family from as far away as Alaska, and more from Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, and Alabama, to celebrate my 70th birthday and then have Thanksgiving together the next day. Guests stayed in three different houses, mine included. Overlapping stays here at our house meant ten days of house guests. Two are still here until maybe tomorrow — or could be Tuesday, if the computer problem in their car doesn’t get resolved early in the morning.
The best part for me was sitting just watching and listening to the interaction among the young adults in the family, filled with hair-raising stories and confessions of risky childhood exploits, causing parents and grandparents to cringe on hearing them for the first time. There was a lot of laughter and a great sense of renewed bonding. Our family is so spread out that we never get together all in one place. I’m just so grateful to them for deciding that my birthday milestone would be a good reason to do it.
Projects in the studio and in my office await my return to work. And I am so ready, refreshed and renewed.
One of my projects involves a demonstration of DecoArt products used with the gelli plate, which will be used on both companies’ websites and facebook pages. I’m halfway through with that, which has an early December deadline.
And there is a painting commission and a digital design project to do as well. Lots of catching up to do.
Here are some examples of collages I’ve been doing as a warm-up for the upcoming DecoArt/gelli plate projects, or as part of the final project, which remains to be seen. These four collages are based on a single DecoArt stencil of pop art flowers. The top one on the left is a background made from the second (negative) print in a green/gold, then collaged on top is a tracing paper piece that was printed with a ghost print from the same stencil, but another inking of the plate. I think the others might be self-explanatory (or not.) Essentially they are just variations of the same stencil, arranged in different configurations and colors, with additional painted papers. The one on the bottom right, across the top, has a loopy line of black silk painting gutta on top of painted paper. The gutta never really dries to a hard finish. It isn’t meant to be used on paper, but I did it anyway. Then overnight it clung to a piece of paper that had been lying on top of it, and when I peeled off the paper that was stuck to my collage, some of the gutta came up. I really like the result.
Back to the studio for a much-needed break tomorrow.
When things seem to get a little stagnant, I like to thumb through my favorite art books or browse online videos for inspiration. When I find links that inspire me, I like to share them. I was excited to find this one by Claudine Hellmuth demonstrating the use of metal polish and magazine pages to create your own collage papers. I love this. I knew about this technique, but had never tried it nor seen it demonstrated. Sometimes I have too be shown.
The following video deals with fabric design and starts in the middle of the demonstration, so the information isn’t complete. You can probably fill in the blanks. But nevertheless I like what’s happening to this piece of cloth:
Here Anne Bagby demonstrates how she uses cut paper stripes from hand painted and printed paper in her collage designs:
And finally, I love the following video by Linda Germain, which shows just how simple and Zen-like the gelatin print process can be. Notice that she uses the exact same collection of homemade materials over and over, with a different result every time. Each application of paint and placement of the masking materials, or stencils, gives you two prints — a positive and a negative. This is my go-to process for making collage papers. I use a gelli plate rather than the traditional gelatin plate.
I hope you’re inspired too.
In the comments section from my last post, I was asked how I choose papers to go into a collage composition. That is such a great question, and I’m not sure whether or not I can answer it adequately, but I what I can say is that it’s very intuitive for me.
Starting a collage-making session, it’s important for me to narrow down the choices, because I’m easily overwhelmed by too many different papers, which start to attract me for their own beauty and not for the purpose of the work at hand. Therefore, I like to have just a small selection of papers on my work space. That usually means my current favorites.
Since I do love surprising color combinations, I don’t consciously limit my choices to a color scheme. That’s just me. There’s no wrong or right in that regard.
So my process goes something like this: choose one piece that could serve as the basis or theme for the collage. Then choose another one that plays off it or complements it in some way. A third piece might be something to contrast with the first two, or might serve as an accent in color, pattern, or texture — for example, the one pop of bright color in the design. The one shown below is “Cardinal’s Reflection” – titled for the cardinal who kept looking at itself in our front window on a snowy day. This collage has five pieces of paper. The long narrow red piece was added to repeat the red showing in the background paper, a painted magazine page.
Or it might be an eye-catching pattern or interesting texture. In this one, made up of five papers, everything is relatively quiet, and possibly on the boring side, without the small piece of Japanese origami paper with an intricate pattern near the top.
Anything beyond three or four pieces becomes risky, because less is more. But I like to take risks sometimes. This next one is an example. Maybe it was because I was caught up in anticipation of spring.
I seldom end up with a collage made up of only two elements, because I don’t like even numbers. Once in a great while a collage will insist to me that it’s finished, even with only two papers. This one is an example. These were weathered papers, and the corrugated piece added to the background paper was enough to complete the design, and I added the penciled rings to the background.
Note: Clicking on each of these images will take you to my Etsy shop. I hope you’ll take a look at the rest of my collages there, and will feel free to ask about any of them in terms of the design process.
Most days it’s not easy to get one’s critical left brain out of the way and just respond to materials and colors and patterns. But for some reason, this past weekend I was able to do that in a quick session creating several collages. Using my hand painted papers, I worked as fast as possible, making sure I didn’t overthink the process. In fact, I was working on them in our living room while listening to and half-watching some TV show that my husband and I had recorded. I think having that small distraction in the background made a difference in my ability to just let the work flow.
I’ve noticed this at times when I’ve been on the phone while painting. After ending the conversation, I’m sometimes surprised that I’ve made great progress on a passage of the painting or resolved a problem with color or composition.
Of course it goes without saying that music will do that too. When it comes to playing music in the studio, making art can become a kind of dance — sometimes literally.
Do you have special ways of quieting your inner critic?
The above collage can be found here in my Etsy shop.