February 19, 2013
Thursday, Feb 14 was Valentines Day. I hope everyone was able to share the love.
I was in NYC that day walking on Fifth and Madison Avenues from Grand Central Terminal to 34th Street. All the shops, department stores, and restaurants had red heart-shaped helium-filled balloons and red flowers in tubs in their windows or just outside on a sidewalk table.
People were walking hand in hand. Some were carrying flower bouquets to take to the office or home. I saw a little boy holding flowers wrapped in clear plastic. He held the flowers in one hand and held his father’s hand in another. I imagine he was bringing flowers home to his mother.
NYC was one big Valentine.
The image below is one of four collages I am sharing in this blog. All four images are titled Barneys because the collages exist in a Barneys New York shoe and boot catalog.
I received the catalog in the mail, and thought it was a perfect way to recycle consumer media with collage. The catalog is still a work in progress. I sometimes show the catalog to my students when I discuss how important it is to recycle postcards, catalogs, books and junk mail. It’s so easy to add images to existing backgrounds. And the paper is free.
Being in NYC on Valentines Day made me think about sharing the love, and that made me think about important blog advice from a great source – Alyson B. Stanfield and her Art Biz Blog. She offers great tips on marketing (and more).
I’m an expert at collage and want to share my ideas about the art of collage. In 2009 I started to write my blog. I was a newbie at blogs.
The 1st lesson was titled Who I am Writing For. I wrote about a friend (Sylvia) who loves design and creates jewelry. Sylvia says I should include more personal content. If you want to read the blog, here’s a link to that post…
The 6th lesson was titled “Cure Yourself of Blog Envy” and asked us to find blogs that inspire us – in my case – artist’s blogs where the content and images are presented beautifully.
I included a link to Gwyneth’s Full Brew. The artist writes “… I am documenting the intersection of art-making and art-seeing, daily life in New York City and…my drawing surface of choice since 2007 is the cardboard coffee cup.” Gwyneth Leech has had incredible exhibition success with her up-cycled coffee cup installations. She also takes wonderful photos of NYC and documents great places for a cup of tea or coffee.
At Blog Triage, I learned the best blogging serves your reader and includes links to useful information. The course included 20 assignments. Assignment #10 was titled “Show Some Link Love” – about including good links.
I always remind myself to share the links and share the love.
The image below is another one of four collages titled Barneys pasted inside the catalog. One page is about night and the other page is about day. The red lips are a huge kisser.
Sending comments is another way to share the love.
I got email recently (Feb 10, 2013) from Douglas Beaudry. He has a blog titled The Bearing Edge and designs and sells skate-influenced custom jewelry (wrist cuffs made with leather fashioned with recycled derby and skateboard bearings) – really cool.
He commented on an old blog that I posted November 30, 2010 in which I asked and answered a question.
Question: How Are the Best Blogs Like a Great Collage?
Answer: The best blogs are good looking, engaging, multi-media, explore new ideas, and like the best art, invite you to share the experience!
That’s my concept for really good collage. Collage is layered.
Douglas Beaudry commented: What a great blog post and certainly served to clear my brain a little bit.
I thanked him for the compliment. I don’t know how my post cleared his brain.
I re-read the blog How Are The Best Blogs…. Basically – it included a lot of links and was all about sharing links.
The original blog included a link to the artist Robert Rauschenberg who had an exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in NYC. I included a link to a Nov 26, 2010 NY Times Holland Cotter review of the exhibition. Both links are repeated here. The Gagosian Gallery link connects to works by Rauschenberg. The NY Times link is so well written it is still valuable to read. Robert Rauschenberg is one of the most important artists of the 20th century. He has influenced so many artists who followed.
The Barneys 4 collage seen below is in black and white and in color over a background that turned from amber yellow to bronze. I used magazine images that were printed in color and black and white. The models are a mix and match of men and women. I wanted the focus on the eyes. They are looking at me and you.
If you think you want to update or improve your blog (or want to start to blog), I recommend the self-study Blog Triage workshop. Check it out… There are so many ways to do a blog, depending on the audience you are writing for.
Following are comments about the media I use.
My substrate (background for the collage) in these 4 works was a high fashion Barneys New York catalog I got in the mail. I wish I could get more. I only got one.
I added text and line drawings because I love words, letters and graphic patterns and love to mix drawing, pencil, ink and printed media.
I thought about how to marry the old image with the new image and how the content changed with the overlays.
I thought about how the 2 pages had to work together and how all the pages had to work as you leafed through the catalog.
Collage is about juxtaposition.
I love juxtaposing images and making it into a commentary on our consumer culture. I wanted the images to become edgy.
Thanks for reading and thanks for your comments. If you have questions about collage, you can email me.
January 24, 2013
Next week I will teach a workshop in paper collage at Iona Collage in New Rochelle, NY.
I will be a substitute for their regular teacher, and I want the class project to be fun, quick and easy to do – and engage them in making a collage right there.
I will provide each student with a 6 x 9 inch exhibition postcard for them to work on.
They will use magazines for source media, and work with scissors and glue sticks to cut and paste papers. I will show sample postcards with collage that I prepare for them.
I will talk about the history of collage (and will not talk too much) while they are working on their project.
Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque are credited with the invention of modern collage (1912-1914). The English word collage comes from the French words papiers colle (glued paper), a term coined by the Cubists. People who paste paper may also paste photos, fabric and 3D materials like wood, plastic, metal etc.
Many books on contemporary art describe COLLAGE as a medium of surface planes that explore sub-surfaces. Many books also discuss collage as a medium that comments on waste and rampant consumer consumption. A lot of collage is about politics and identity. It’s always about narrative and media.
Basically, I want to say that there is so much potential collage media out there to recycle into art. I think the idea of recycling and consumer consumption will appeal to this age demographic.
How about creating cards with collage?
I think we all have too much paper in our lives. But, I also think every piece of junk mail is a potential substrate (base) for collage, or can serve as paper to cut and paste onto something else.
Do you get postcard announcements for consumer goods in the mail? Do you get glossy multi-page home goods and fashion catalogs in the mail? It’s all potential collage media.
In my collage classes, I talk about 3Rs – reuse, repurpose and recycle.
What about the holiday cards you received this year? Don’t throw them out. Recycle the castaways and use collage to create your own work of art. Cover the base with a little collage or cover it with a lot (but leave a little of the original card peeking through) to show the juxtaposition of the old with the new media.
Free Paper Bonanza
Last year I was gallery hopping in Chelsea (NYC). It was the closing day for the exhibition at one gallery, and I noticed a pile of really good, heavy weight exhibition announcement cards sitting on top of the counter where the gallery people sit. The cards were an elegant graphic (text) printed on lovely white stock.
As soon as I found out it was the last day for the exhibition, I asked if I could have the cards. They said yes.
Theme and Variation
I like the idea of theme and variation. I start with the same base image. It can be an exhibition postcard (from my exhibitions) or a greeting card I’ve reproduced from my collage paintings.
Do you make your own cards? Do you reproduce your images into cards? Use the cards as a base for multiple collages. The new little collages can become the inspiration for new large works.
All the images included in this post are my tiny collages made with magazine papers on top of my printed 2013 New Years card. The card is a reproduction of a large painted paper collage I did last year. The card is small, about 4×6 inches. I added up to 10 collage pieces (very tiny pieces) per card. The imagery on the original was very geometric, so I planned to use rounded shapes and circular lines as a counter-balance to the straight edges. I did about 20 collage on cards and sent the cards to people who send me hand-made cards.
I found a very interesting interview online titled “What’s New With Collage?” by Hrag Vartanian who interviewed Charles Wilkin at Hyperallergic.com (Oct. 25, 2011)
Wilkin curated an exhibition in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (NY) titled All That Remains, at the Picture Farm Gallery.
Vartanian asked: “What do you think is unique about collage today, if anything?”
Wilkin said: “One of the exciting things about collage is its primary use of discarded paper media which ultimately keeps it in motion, constantly changing like a chameleon. A quick look at the diversity of styles, concepts and technique found in contemporary collage proves it’s moved well beyond simply cut paper and glue.
He added: “I suspect many artists find it alluring for not only its immediacy but its unique and inherent nature to reinvent the familiar into something mysteriously new.”
Thanks for reading. Please let me know how you recycle papers into art with collage.
January 11, 2013
I subscribe to Alyson B Stanfield’s artbizblog.
The December 19, 2012 post at Art Biz Blog, titled Year End Review opens with:
You probably did more in 2012 that you are giving yourself credit for.
I immediately followed Stanfield’s suggestion to take time and outline my own accomplishments for the year 2012.
It was a wonderful exercise, both supportive (I got to see that I accomplished goals I set) and encouraging (I got to put in writing my goals for 2013).
Categories in the year-end review include:
How did you promote your art and what did you do to enhance your online presence? (Marketing Triumphs)
How did you strategize and track your growth, what books did you read to help your career, what grants/honors/awards did you receive (Business Growth)
Creative Challenges (how did you improve your studio habits)
Getting to see contemporary art in a setting like Art Basel Miami Beach makes me happy. I was there for 5 days December 4-8, 2012.
It’s an incredible experience, because the art you see ranges from museum quality blue chip art – to independent fine art dealer’s inventory from every country – to experimental and funky art that surely expands our understanding of what contemporary art is and can be. You get to see it all at Art Basel Miami. It’s an opportunity to meet and network with artists, gallery people (who were very friendly and accessible), and collectors. I attended programs, openings and free events. It was non-stop.
In the image above, I am standing in front of what I call a dimensional collage. The image was taken at one of the large art fairs. The image is courtesy of Mary Hunter (my artist friend who met me in Miami, FL for 5 days to see all the shows). I will write about the fairs, the program Conversations (with artist Richard Tuttle in dialog with Chris Dercon, Director of Tate Modern, London), and a visit to the Rubell Family Collection in upcoming blogs.
The final category in the Year End Review at Art Biz Blog was:
What was the single best thing that happened to your art career in 2012?
I will write about that in an upcoming blog. Hint: it was a huge undertaking and it was worth it.
I recommend you do your own Year-End Review at the Art Biz blog site.
Here’s a link to a pdf with more career advice especially for artists that includes:
Fail-Proof Business Advice from 10 Years of Art Biz Coach
Top 10 Marketing Advice from 10 Years of Art Biz Coach
I include the final 5 here because they are so important. I think you will agree.
(5) Start blogging: Write regularly and consistently. My goal in 2013 is to write blogs about collage that will become content for a book. Alyson Stanfield recommends artists blog about their art to establish their credentials as an expert. That sounds good to me (no matter what the subject) – because it helps you understand your subject in a deeper way, and the blog provides a place for dialogue with your fans, and makes you more search-engine friendly.
(4) Find ways to get your work out there. It’s critical for you to exhibit your art.
(3) Find ways to communicate about your art. Words can connect your art to more art viewers.
(2) Your contact list is your most valuable asset (keep it current and active).
(1) Get into the studio and make art!
I have a copy of Stanfield’s book I’d rather be in the studio. It’s an excellent book that is perfectly titled for the dilemma studio artists face – because we are always juggling studio time (what we want to do and where we want to be) with the need to devote time to being out of the studio (marketing, seeing art at museums and openings, networking, writing, updating career and contact information, etc.).
New Goal: In 2013, I plan to send out my newsletter Notes from the Studio more regularly. Its focus will change and be more about what I do in the studio (maybe show works in progress), about juggling time, marketing triumphs, and improving social media skills. I will always include links to my blog Art of Collage because my studio practice is collage and I teach collage classes and workshops. They are always related. My studio practice keeps my life centered. I teach collage because my purpose is to help people enrich their lives with art (and through making art). I hope you will sign up to receive the news.
Thank you for reading this post. Let me know how you did in 2012.
December 21, 2012
I planned to post a blog about my 5-day trip to Art Basel Miami Beach (Dec. 5-9, 2012). It was an amazing opportunity to see contemporary art.
I couldn’t write about the wonderful art in Miami, because I am upset about the tragic events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT last week.
Because blogs need to be posted regularly, I found another way to get past my writer’s block – by going to my studio and making a sample collage for a workshop I will lead in April at the Newark Museum. It was something to do, and after I did it, I knew I could write about it.
Making art makes me feel happy (happier).
Stargazing, Collage and You
I painted papers and collected magazine papers in bright colors and geometric patterns for the sample collage. I wanted to create a palette of painted papers in green-blacks, reds, and red-blacks and coordinated magazine paper in red and black stripes.
The Newark Museum workshop is titled Stargazing, Collage and You. It’s scheduled for Saturday, April 27, 2013 from 10-4, and is offered in conjunction with the Museum exhibition African Cosmos: Stellar Arts (February 27-August 11, 2013).
The African Cosmos exhibition is currently at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Arts in Washington DC and will travel to the Newark Museum.
See the Smithsonian website for images and wonderful text about the exhibition.
The website introductory page shows an image of a painting by the artist Gavin Jantjes (b. 1948, South Africa). It’s acrylic on canvas and was purchased by the Museum with funds provided by the Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program (see image below, image courtesy: the Smithsonian National Museum of African Arts).
The artist rendered dancing figures in a style similar to ancient rock paintings from southern Africa.
The Smithsonian website includes many images, including the image below – the stars of the Pleiades cluster, also know as the Seven Sisters (seen from the Cassini spacecraft. Image: NASA). Only a few of the stars seen here are visible to the naked eye on earth.
The Smithsonian website also includes links to information about celestial deities in the time of the Pharaohs, cosmic models, celestial guidance, and more. You will also see African sculpture.
Sample Images: Pieces for a Collage
The image below is a sample collage I prepared with magazine and painted papers, titled Dancing With the Stars. The papers are glued onto 14×11 inch Bristol paper (the substrate).
Following are sample collage papers.
I plan to demonstrate different ways to organize, paint and embellish papers at the workshop. We will use ordinary materials that are inexpensive and easy to find. The image below is green construction paper painted with a mix of green and black acrylic paint applied with a palette knife.
I will bring additional samples to the workshop and demonstrate the process so that participants can create their own palette of papers for collage. Notice the texture in the painted papers, and makes the final collage much more interesting. We save a lot of money when we create our own papers. We also make our work more personal.
On the red image below, I made scribbled marks with 3 crayons (held together in my hand) on plain red construction paper and painted over the scribbles with acrylic. It’s a crayon resist process.
The image below is red construction paper painted with red acrylic paint and overpainted with a second coat of black acrylic paint that was scratched into while the black paint was still wet.
I will encourage people to bring their own magazines to the workshop, especially if they want to use specific imagery in their collage. I will discuss how to play with images, textures and patterns. Collage is about juxtaposition. Many times, people don’t see the potential of images until the images are cropped. I will demonstrate how to cut, tear and assemble the papers into new images.
I think the photo of food (below) came from Real Simple magazine. I’ve included it here to demonstrate that all images have possibilities.
The image below includes small pieces from several different magazines, including ArtForum and W. I planned to combine the triangles into points on a star to collage into the background. The funny face is assembled with about 5 pieces of paper and is only 2 inches high. It was going to be the head of the figure stargazing at the Pleiades Constellation.
The magazine images below are backgrounds papers cut form fashion photos from W magazine. I wanted stripes in reds and blacks. The fashion magazines now show a lot of geometric patterns.
The striped papers became the body, arms and legs of the figure in the collage. The black paper on the bottom of the image (above) was cut up into the small stars for the constellation.
In addition, I drew 5-pointed stars freehand and cut them out, cut out a crescent moon, and glued them around the figure onto the collage. It was a challenge to glue down the tiny white stars.
I planned the collage in advance and did 2 simple drawings to determine the size and shape of the figure, the placement and direction of the of the arms and legs. I wanted to know in advance how tall the figure would be in relation to the background paper, and the size of the sky in relation to the size of the figure. See the drawing above.
I planned to make the background in two sections and cut a piece of magazine paper for the top portion. It’s a section of an abstract painting reproduced in ArtForum magazine. The bottom section is painted paper. I created the figure from painted and magazine papers cut into circles, triangles and angled rectangles. The figure was placed in sections (arms first) and glued on top of the background papers. After the figure was in place, I added a crescent moon and 5 pointed stars onto the background around the figure. The tiny cutout shapes that became the Pleiades constellation were added last.
See the finished sample collage above.
I hope you check out and are inspired by the images at the National Museum of African Arts website or see the exhibition at the Newark Museum in NJ. It will be amazing. If you want to take this workshop, please contact the Newark Museum
October 25, 2012
I like to create my own media for collage with watercolor, gouache and acrylic paint. Painting allows me to create multiple sheets of paper in the colors, patterns and texture I want for each collage.
I apply paint to recycled magazine papers and other paper media. I like to work in mixed media collage, and include hand-made papers, decorative papers, my own drawings and prints to the painted papers, and often paint papers to match colors of other papers.
See my online tutorial on painting papers.
I told the class that two of my favorite collage artists – Romare Bearden and Henri Matisse – worked with painted papers. Bearden painted his own papers, typically in watercolor. Matisse had studio assistants paint his papers for him in gouache.
The image above is acrylic paint on drawing paper, done by one student in the Pelham collage class.
We worked with a plastic palette knife. Almost every student I meet has no experience or almost no experience painting with a palette knife. I tell them it’s so easy to get really good results with this technique.
It’s a simple technique
The image above is a selection of 9 papers done with palette knife and acrylic paints by one student in the Pelham collage class.
I did a simple class demonstration, showed them how to set up their palette of paint colors on a disposable paper plate (plastic coated), and very quickly the students started to paint with the palette knife to make their own painted papers. They created an amazing variety of colors, designs and textures.
I showed them how to apply paint over a film of acrylic medium I applied to white drawing paper. After that, I showed them how to apply acrylic paint directly with the palette knife onto magazine pages.
I like to paint on magazine papers – to recycle pages from art magazines like Artforum, and fashion magazines like W because the pages in those magazines are heavier than typical magazines. I don’t recommend using news magazines for painting papers, because the paper is thin and curls when you apply paint or glue, and is difficult to work with in collage.
How to work with acrylic paint:
Use any good brand of acrylic paint. The better brands are usually more expensive because they include more paint pigment. The colors are richer and the coverage is better. I recommend students work with gloss or satin acrylic medium to make the paint thinner. I tell students not to use water to thin the paint.
I often buy art supplies online from Jerry’s Artarama and NY Central Art Supply.
When I am in NYC, I stop by NY Central Artists Supply at 62 Third Avenue. Their paper department is incredible and they ship everywhere.
Dick Blick is another good resource for acrylic, gouache and other art supplies.
Tools for the Workshop
In the class demo, I tell students to squeeze out dots or small ½ inch strips of acrylic from the paint tube onto a plastic coated disposable paper plate, and leave some space in the center of the plate so colors can be mixed.
The image above shows a plastic and a metal palette knife, a 1 inch soft paint brush, a paper cup, tubes of gouache paint, a single tube of acrylic paint and the book titled Jazz (about the artist Henri Matisse).
When I paint papers with acrylic, I typically lay the colors down on a disposable paper palette and mix one color at a time. When I paint papers with gouache, I typically mix the paint with water in a small cup so it’s diluted to the proper consistency. For the class, I wanted everyone to be excited by the possibilities of working with different colors and with mixing colors as they painted.
I also mix colors directly on the paper. First, I squeeze acrylic gloss or satin medium from the container directly onto the paper and brush it across, then squeeze dots of acrylic paint out of the tube directly over the medium and move it around with the palette knife to create stripes, patterns and transparencies.
The swirly painted image above is by a student who tried that technique. She applied paint directly over gloss acrylic medium and moved the paint with the palette knife to create transparencies and pattern.
The palette knife can be made of plastic or metal. I supply plastic palette knives. I also work with a metal palette knife. It’s important to wipe the knife clean, especially when changing colors, and never allow the paint to dry onto the knife (acrylic paint can dry quickly).
I urge students to wipe the paint off the knife with a paper towel so that the paint on the knife doesn’t get mixed into water (it they dip the knife into a water container). It’s not good for the environment to pour paint dissolved in water down the drain.
The image above shows Matisse in his studio in Nice, France in 1952 (this image is included in the book titled the Cut-Outs of Henri Matisse, by John Elderfield, published by George Braziller, NY).
All of Matisse’s collages were created with painted papers. His studio assistants painted his papers for him with gouache.
Matisse said he painted with scissors. He called his works paper cut-outs (gouache decoupes). Read about the Technique of the Cut-Outs…
The image above, a collage in painted papers, is by Matisse and is titled Creole Dancer (image courtesy the Internet). Notice it is organized as pieced blocks of paper in the background, overlaid with cut out shapes. Notice the painted papers show variations in color saturation and paint density because they are hand-painted.
I tell my students that Matisse did not discard papers that were cut out and that landed on the floor. Notice the image above with Matisse in his studio and all the papers on the floor. Notice his cut-outs were typically curved and organic in shape and referenced nature.
The image above is by a student in the Pelham class. She painted papers, and while the paints were drying, she created a collage with colored papers I supplied. Before she glued the papers down, she embellished them with oil pastel drawing to make the surface richer and brighter. Notice the oil pastel sticks in boxes nearby.
The class explored many different techniques with painting papers. They layered colors, wet layer over dry layer, to see how the colors changed. They painted with transparent gouache paint over papers painted with acrylic in patterns. They scribbled wax crayon on white drawing paper (a resist process), and applied acrylic paint in both transparent and opaque layers over to see how the crayon showed through. They all liked that.
I told the class that all the papers they created were usable – nothing was a throwaway. Some were so good they were paintings that could get collage additions and be finished as mixed media works. Some were ideal as unique collage papers and could be reproduced if they wanted multiples for large collage projects.
One student created a palette of papers that coordinated with purchased hand-made papers she brought to class. How clever that she mixed colors to compliment other papers she already had (collage artists collect papers for the next collage).
I showed the class how to twirl wet paint on drawing paper as they painted, and create directional patterns.
We talked about the art of the cut-out by Henri Matisse. I hope they were inspired.
I’ve recommended resources for paper and paint above.
Please email me or add comments to the blog if you can share a good resource for paper, paints, and any other media you like to use for collage. Thanks in advance.
October 18, 2012
Last weekend I visited the Studio Museum in Harlem to see the exhibition Bearden 100, a centennial tribute to the great 20th century artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988). What I saw was the 3rd and final installment of Bearden 100. It closes October 21, 2012.
I promised to write about the Bearden 100 exhibition in a previous blog about a Bearden workshop I lead on August 5, 2012 at the Newark Museum titled Conjur Woman: Portrait in Collage – inspired by the artist Romare Bearden.
The workshop was offered in conjunction with the exhibition Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections at the Newark Museum (closed August 19, 2012).
The image above is by Romare Bearden and titled Conjur Woman. It was completed in 1964. It’s only 9×7 inches, and was created with snippets from newspapers and magazines such as Ebony and the Saturday Evening Post.
Bearden turned his tiny collage into a huge black and white print (called a Photostat). The Newark Museum had small works and large prints on display. The large black and white Conjur Woman Photostat is in the collection of the Studio Museum.
Read more about the meaning of the Conjur Woman and more about my workshops.
22 ARTISTS AT THE STUDEO MUSEUM IN HARLEM
Here’s a link to see images of the 22 works at the Museum. The link is from the Bearden Foundation.
I was drawn to several works.
One was a figure by Elia Alba titled Portrait of a Young Girl, 2012 (see the image below).
It’s a 3D figure in a prayer-like pose. She wrote: It wasn’t just Bearden’s collage, but his merging of cultural and artistic practices that left the strongest impression on me.
I really liked a collage by Noah Davis titled The Frogs (2011) seen below.
It looks like collage with many magazine papers and fractured faces (it’s definitely inspired by Bearden media and technique).
I was drawn to a mixed media 3D work by Xenobia Bailey, titled Endless Love: Conjur Kit, 2012 (see below).
I love the fact that the artist named her work Conure Kit – maybe she is inspired by all the Conjur Women in Bearden’s oeuvre.
The artist wrote: I love the continuum that his (Bearden’s) collages have to African-American quilt-makers and musicians. Mr. Bearden constructs everything in his artwork as if he is patching together the idea of the New African in North America.
See #66: Bearden, In the Garden 1974 (image below). It includes red striped fabric on a figure, and abraded painted papers.
The Bearden image was selected by Tanekeya Word, a visual artist living in NYC.
See her mixed media work (below) titled Pretty Dope-a-licious Cameo #11, acrylic paint, gouache, watercolor, acrylic ink, gold leaf, embroidery, floss, pastels, latex paint on watercolor paper, 2012.
Willie Cole selected the collage by Bearden, #57 Gospel Song 1969 (below) It includes multiple pieces of abraded papers, a gray background, and shows what Bearden did to his media to create unique surface texture. It also shows how he used pieces of papers to create a sense of dimension, texture, and rhythm.
Willie Cole, a Newark, NJ artist, said he selected this work because it sang to him when he saw it.
See his work tiled Sole to Sole (below). Cole works with found media and creates/constructs metaphor about race in prints, sculpture and other media.
Cole describes himself: Today I am a Perceptual Engineer. I create new ways of seeing old things. and by doing so inspire new ways of thinking. I’ve also been described as an Ecological Mechanic, a Sacred Clown, a Transformer, the hardest working man in Shoe Business, The Original Iron Man, formerly known as the Dog Man, and once known as Vincent Van Black.
Willie Cole is one of my favorite contemporary artists.
More BEARDEN 100
The Studio Museum plans to extend the Bearden Project. They say:
The site will be frequently updated with new participating artists, sharing their story of inspiration and will include a high-resolution image of their artwork. We hope you’ll share your own artwork, stories, and comments with us by email.
Romare Bearden was involved in founding The Studio Museum in Harlem and the Cinque Gallery (initially funded by the Ford Foundation). Bearden and 2 other artists – Norman Lewis and Ernest Crichlow – established Cinque to support younger minority artists.
Bearden helped found the Black Academy of Arts and Letters in 1970. He was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1972.
He is recognized as one of the most creative and original visual artists of the 20th Century. He worked in many different media, including painting and printmaking, but is best known for his richly textured collages
October 11, 2012
On Sunday afternoon, Sept. 23, 2012 I led a multi-age workshop at the Pelham Art Center. It was map-themed art-making for kids, teens and adults held in connection with the current exhibition titled Anywhere But Here.
The exhibition (September 14-October 27, 2012) includes 15 artists whose works interpret their world through maps and cartography.
Below is an image of a work in the exhibition by Dahlia Elsayed, titled Conjuring, Willing, Napping, 2011, acrylic on paper, 29×40 inches (image, courtesy the Pelham Art Center).
Read more and see more images of works in the exhibition.
I am always pleased when I’m asked to lead a workshop in connection with an exhibition. I try to develop a project that relates to the exhibition theme that can be completed by kids and adults in the time allotted.
I create a sample work that is meant to inspire the kids and adults in the workshop. I don’t expect them to duplicate the sample, and most times they create unique works, once they get engaged in their own art-making.
The image below was taken in the early part of the workshop (the numbers grew as more adults and children arrived). You can see the sample collage I made for the kids – A Map of My Day – on the table in front of everyone.
I supplied all the dot papers and colored construction papers. I cut the papers into strips before the workshop so everyone could begin to place papers and glue quickly. The children loved the colored papers with dots and played with different ways to join the dot strips into unique dot patterns. They added cut magazine papers and drawing.
Collage Using Maps
In the image (below), a woman is cutting into a map (The Pelham Art Center supplied maps). I am standing in the rear at the end of the table. Many of the adults wanted to create a collage with an actual map.
In the photo, the boy next to me is drawing a map on brown paper. He and his brother wanted to draw maps – the older one wanted to draw a map of the world; his younger brother wanted to draw a map of Belgium. They were born in Belgium. Their father, not seen in the image, wanted to design a map of the American flag.
You see how independent everyone is.
Another adult in the workshop, an architect, was inspired by a work in the exhibition and wanted to cut a delicate pattern into a map. She created a fretwork pattern – a lacy design – that I believe was inspired by one of the works in the exhibition.
Below is one image that probably inspired her work. Its by Robbin Ami Silverberg and is titled Manhattan in Gold, 2012, MTA map, 25 karat gold leaf, 11×34 inches, edition of 5 (image courtesy the Pelham Art Center).
The image below, by Cal Lane, is titled Topo Map #5, 2011, Plasm-cut oil cans, 3.6 x 3.5 feet, courtesy of Art Mur, a gallery in Montreal.
Many contemporary collages are open-work, cut papers that look like fretwork. Many are installed as 3D assemblages. Fretwork is typically done in wood and metal, and is often used to decorate architecture.
How I develop ideas for a workshop
I always visit the exhibition before the workshop, and see the works and notice what is also collage. I am inspired by bold colors, texture and layering.
I liked the colors I saw in the galleries and was reminded of an image in a book I have. It’s titled You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination (by Katharine Harmon, Princeton Architectural Press, New York).
I prepared a sample collage to bring to the workshop, based on an image in that book.
I used papers I prepared in advance for the workshop – strips of colorful construction paper and photocopied polka-dot paper that I cut into several different widths that the kids could organize and embellish and glue down with glue sticks.
I assumed most of the participants at the workshop would be kids. I prepared papers that would appeal to kids. I hoped they would add their own drawing to the construction papers and be inspired by the drawings in the exhibition.
Below is an image by George Ferrandi, titled Recalibration Drawing #5 (poorly handled) 2012, pen on paper, masking tape, 20×25.5 inches, image courtesy the Pelham Art Center.
Below is another image taken at the workshop that shows the adults and kids and the table covered with papers and magazines. Everyone is busy cutting and pasting.
Below is one of my favorite works in the show – titled Beneath the Rain, it’s by Tomoko Abe. It’s an installation, of handmade burnt Abaca paper, cast porcelain and resin hanging from the ceiling with light and imagery projected through to the back wall, that creates amazing light patterns. The installation is 68×46 inches (image courtesy the Pelham Art Center).
The exhibition Anywhere But Here is worth a trip to the Pelham Art Center if you are in New York. The works in the show are bold and beautiful, intriguing and elegant.
It was an interesting experience for me to have a workshop with such a range of ages and focus going on – all at the same time during the 2 hour session. I hope everyone felt they were actively engaged in their own map-making process.
August 31, 2012
2011-2012 included many, many museum and gallery exhibitions all across the US honoring the centennial birthday for Romare Bearden (African-American, 1911-1988).
See the Romare Bearden Foundation site for updates and information.
Read about The Bearden Project (August 16-Oct 21, 2012) now at the Studio Museum of Harlem (144 W 125 St., NY).
The Bearden Project shows work by 100 contemporary artists who have all been influenced by Bearden’s genius. Each artist was asked to create a work of art inspired by Bearden’s life and legacy.
The image above, is titled Summertime (1967), collage on board, 56×44 inches, image courtesy Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, NY.
In the collage Summertime, Bearden employs the rectangular geometry of window and door frames in a way that explores inside and outside space. We are looking in. Who is looking out? Notice the face and eyes of the Dan mask set within the upper-right tenement window (and the eye seen behind the pink gingham curtain in the window nearby). Bearden’s figurative elements included African masks. Are these reminders of lost African ancestors?
In an earlier post, I wrote about an August 5, 2012 Newark Museum workshop I led titled Conjur Woman: Portrait in Collage. The post included many images by participants in the workshop. This post includes more images created at the workshop. See their images below.
See the upcoming exhibition Romare Bearden: Urban Rhythms and Dreams of Paradise at the ACA Gallery (529 W 20 St., NYC). The exhibition runs November 3, 2012-January 5, 2013. Reception date TBA.
The image above by Romare Bearden is titled Conjur Woman (1964). It’s a small collage, only 9×7 inches and was created with snippets from newspapers and magazines like Ebony and the Saturday Evening Post. She is looking at us. See her hands. One holds a leaf – to make a potion? Notice the window in the upper right corner. Are we looking out at the full moon?
See more Bearden images in a post I wrote on January 15, 2011 titled Romare Bearden: Conjur Woman and Collage.
Looking At Collage Looking At You
Bearden’s is a radically inclusive artistic vision.
We can’t help but participate. He draws us in.
We are viewing and we are viewed.
The Bearden image above is titled Carolina Morning (1974). It’s mixed media collage on board, 30×22 inches. The work was included in the Southern Recollections show that travelled to the Newark Museum.
We see a woman holding a baby. Is she in a doorway or on a porch? An older woman with a young child is in the distance. Are they approaching – or departing? We are caught in the woman’s gaze and have to wonder what she is thinking about.
CONJUR WOMAN by Workshop Participants
Here are additional images by people who attended the Conjur Woman workshop at the Newark Museum August 5, 2012.
Now, I look at the art and notice how it is looking back at me.
Mansa Mussa sent me a close up view of his collage, seen above. Notice the face of Romare Bearden (a photo he took when he met the artist in person). Bearden is playing drums. Notice the saxophone player in the foreground. He’s looking at you. This work is all about jazz music. Bearden was a great jazz fan and knew all the greats.
Joan Alleyne-Piggot sent me her image titled “Without Limits, seen above. It’s a collage with text and magazine papers. Notice her emphasis on mouths. She wrote:
What the eyes can’t see, the ears will hear
What the ears can’t hear, the nose will smell
What the nose can’t smell, the lips will taste
What the lips can’t taste, the hands will touch
Everything is without limits if one fails to try,
She wrote: “I was inspired by Romare Bearden’s work after attending the premiere at the Newark Museum and decided to take the workshop. It was very inspiring.”
Dorothy Meissner sent me an image of her collage titled The Conjurer, seen above.
At the workshop she built her collage with black and white stripes (the piano keyboard all around), and skyscraper imagery. She finished the collage at home after the workshop when she found her skyscraper magazine images. She wanted the skyscraper image to capture the energy of the big city.
I will visit the Studio Museum in Harlem and write soon about the The Bearden Project show before it closes on October 21st. I will also visit the ACA Galleries and write about the upcoming Bearden show Urban Rhythms and Dreams of Paradise.
Thank you for reading this post and thank you for your comments about all the exhibitions this year that honor the creative genius of this great artist.
August 9, 2012
Extraordinary Collage Artist
I led a collage workshop at the Newark Museum Sunday, August 5, 2012. It was titled Conjur Woman: Portrait in Collage.
The workshop was organized in conjunction with the exhibition at the Museum (on view through August 19, 2012) titled Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections that travelled from the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The exhibition celebrates the life and work of Romare Bearden (African-American, 1911-1988) and the centennial of Bearden’s birth. The exhibition includes 80 works in collage, printmaking, and painting.
10 talented people participated in the workshop. They had all seen the exhibition and many wanted to take the workshop because they were so inspired by the art they saw. See images of their work and read their comments below.
Romare Bearden is considered one of the greatest collage artists in modern history.
I spoke briefly about his Conjur Woman imagery and some of the materials Bearden used. I showed a reproduction of the image above.
It’s titled Conjur Woman (1975) and is a collage of various papers with paint, ink and surface abrasion on wood, 46×36, in the collection of the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio.
I brought decorative and hand-made papers for everyone to share. As soon as they saw the papers, they wanted to start making collage. I told them all of the amazing papers were purchased at NY Central Art Supply in NYC.
I brought handouts about Romare Bearden and his Conjur Woman image. I said he had three artist strategies: he worked with photographic and photomechanical reproductions; he selectively appropriated canonical images from Western painting; and he reworked the images to represent 20th century African-American subjects and identity.
I said Bearden’s imagery is about visual juxtaposition, and it’s important to notice how he mixed fragments to create a whole new image. I said: notice the eyes and the size of the hands. Notice how he incorporated images of African masks.
I brought handouts about the history of collage, and told them collage began in the Far East in the 12th century, and the first known collages are from Japan. Picasso and Braque are credited with the invention of modern collage (1912-1914). Read more…
Many people brought their own photos, reproductions and collage materials to the workshop.
I brought magazines (Vogue, Vanity Fair, Oprah, W, and ArtForum) and everyone shared.
I did a quick demonstration on how to tear papers and cut images from magazines. For example – if the image is part of a page in a magazine: cut or tear out the whole page, then cut around the image and make the paper smaller and easier to handle, then cut precisely around the image. It sounds like it’s an extra step and takes longer. It’s actually almost as fast, and easier. I also showed how to tear with a ruler. You can move the ruler as you tear against it, and use the ruler to create a shape or curve.
I showed how to get a white edge on torn paper by tearing the paper toward you.
I showed how to use a brush dipped in water to create a wet line when you are working with hand-made paper (the line can be straight or curved). You can hand-tear against the wet line, and create a soft edge. Some people really liked the soft, furry edge.
Everyone began to locate images in magazines to add to their other papers. I handed out the substrate (Bristol medium weight paper) for the bottom layer. Some people brought their own substrate.
I asked everyone to start their collage with a background layer of solid grey and colored papers that I brought. I talked about how Bearden used geometric shapes in horizontal and vertical designs.
I did a quick glue demonstration – please read about my process for gluing and getting papers to lie flat without bubbles and glue outside the edges.
I always say it’s important to work with the right glue and the right weight paper. I brought white PVA (polyvinyl acrylic) glue.
I discussed how it is difficult to work with thin magazine papers and how they curl when you apply glue. I always recommend photocopying the papers to make them medium weight so they are easier to handle.
The workshop started at 10:00 am and continued through 4:00 pm. Everyone wanted to work through lunch. Only a few took a lunch break.
I took pictures of people at work that showed their hands. At the beginning of the workshop I spoke about how important hands were in Bearden’s art.
The above image by Bearden is titled Of the Blues: Carolina Shout (1974). It’s collage and acrylic and lacquer on board, 27×51 inches, Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, North Carolina.
The image below is Abena Busia at the workshop organizing papers for her collage. The image of the hand became an important element in her work.
Pictures of Pictures
About an hour before the workshop ended, people walked around to look at what others were doing. I took digital images with my cell phone and others took pictures also.
After the workshop, I emailed everyone and asked people to write a few sentences about the theme of the collage they made. I am still receiving their comments, so not all are included here.
The image and comments below are by Pam Wright.
“My piece (titled Protection, Direction) was inspired by Bearden’s “Southern Collections” themes. It was a reflection of the experience of family life in the African-American community. The role of the conjure woman both past and present was one of protection and direction. It included pictures of my family as well as those of the past. It incorporated themes such as rural life, farming, cotton, poverty and migration. Pattern and movement were accomplished by the use of textured papers torn and cut, postcards, burlap and paint.” (Pam Wright)
The image and comments below are by Abena Busia.
She emailed the image (above) the day after the workshop and wrote: “I was determined to finish, and when I found the right hand, I found I could.” She calls the piece Conjuring Mama. It is a memorial to her beloved mother.
The image below shows Carol Masi at work on her collage.
She wrote: “The theme of my collage is based on spiritual images. I was drawn into the Saints when I visited the Byzantine Museum in Nicosia, Cyprus. I have been inspired by them ever since. I was so moved by the Bearden exhibit. It inspired me to take the workshop which I thoroughly enjoyed.” (Carol Masi)
The image below and comments are by Martha Wagner.
She wrote: “With this collage (titled Conjur Woman), I strictly decided to reproduce Bearden’s style by using only photos of women with skewed body parts that didn’t match, with the underlying picture of a woman’s face. Eyes of an animal, a hand not belonging to a woman, etc. is the way I made this artwork. I also used cloth pieces for clothing for one of the women and for a hand holding a pen. (Martha Wagner)
The image below and comments are by Gail Mitchell.
She wrote: “The title of my collage is Teenager’s Dream Come True. It is a reflection of my art life: 3 of my quilts, photos of me taken by my boyfriend (currently my husband of 44 years of marriage), my love of beads, embellishments, inks and stamps and being BLACK & PROUD and celebrating my life!” (Gail Mitchell)
The comments below and image are by Mansa Mussa.
Mansa Mussa wrote: “The singer is Andromeda Turre, singer, songwriter, model, fashionista, beauty… I took that photo of her performing at a South Orange, N.J. jazz performance this summer. I met her a couple of weeks before when she performed at the Newark Museum’s Jazz in the Garden festival with her mother, cellist Akua Dixon.
The narrative of this Conjour Woman is that she’s a siren who uses her voice on-stage to entice the male musicians to perform at the highest level. Her cohorts are his sisters who dance on her belt and on her skirt, creating a fantastic aural and visual spectacle that compels the musicians to focus…She is backed on saxophone, the musical instrument most like the human voice, by another one of her sisters. This figures is the musical director of the ensemble and the only female musician.
The figure at the top right is her younger sister, studying the elder, and waiting for her moment on the stage.” (Mansa Mussa)
More Information about Romare Bearden
The Newark Museum held a symposium on July 16, 2012 with guest speakers, all experts on the life and art of Romare Bearden. I purchased the exhibition catalog and an excellent book of essays titled: Romare Bearden in the Modernist Tradition (2008, Romare Bearden Foundation, New York).
I recommend the book for those who want to learn more about the artist. The essays are excellent.
Visit the Bearden Foundation for images and more information about the artist and upcoming programs and exhibitions.
Read about Bearden’s life at the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery website.
July 26, 2012
A student in my collage class at the Pelham Art Center asked me to include a printmaking project. In a collage context, that means collagraph (a print made with a collage technique).
I thought that was a good idea for a class project because a collagraph can be the beginning of many things – it can be a finished work – it can be the start of a mixed media collage – and it can be a source for collage papers. Collage artists need a lot of different papers and printmaking is a good way to create interesting papers for collage.
I thought of 3 different collagraph techniques working with ink and paper and how you can prepare a plate for a print. I think I will show all 3 techniques in the next several weeks.
PREPARE THE COLLAGRAPH PLATE:
One technique is to glue papers to a hard surface like cardboard, Plexiglas or hardboard (Masonite), allow the papers to dry and, using a brayer (roller) or paintbrush, cover the papers with paint or ink.
A second technique is to use papers (cutout stencil pieces) that are not glued to the cardboard, Plexiglas or hardboard plate. You ink the bottom plate and then place the papers onto the inked bottom layer and use a brayer or paintbrush to add another color to the papers.
A third technique is to create a design or image directly on the plate with glue or acrylic media with a brush, a squeeze bottle and let it dry, and then roll ink or paint onto the plate.
The image above is a collagraph plate prepared by a student in the class at the Pelham Art Center. The white background is acrylic gesso on the Masonite. Gesso is an art material used as a primary coat. 2 coats of gesso were applied. The papers are medium weight drawing papers cut and glued to the gesso-coated hardboard.
The plate is not ready to be printed because it needs to get a coat of acrylic medium before it can be inked and used to make a print. The coat of acrylic medium will protect it from water and solvents so it can be used many times to print. After the plate is inked (and printed) it will take on the colors of the inks. Plates sometimes become very beautiful as they are inked and used.
At the next class session we will apply acrylic medium in 2 coats, allow it to dry, ink the plate and make one or more prints.
PREPARE THE INK FOR PRINTING
We will use oil-based inks and spread the ink with a brayer in a thin layer onto a piece of plate glass ¼ inch thick. The ink on the brayer will be rolled onto the collagraph plate. More than one ink color can be applied to the plate with brush or brayer as multiple steps.
PREPARE THE PAPERS FOR PRINTING
You want to have printmaking papers prepared in advance (sized, a little damp) so that as soon as the plate is inked you can place the paper on top of the plate and print.
It’s important that paper is sized larger than the plate. You want to see a border around the print. The technique for printing is simple: You place the clean printmaking paper on top of the inked plate and transfer the image by hand or with a press. Practice makes perfect.
The images above are my collagraph plate (demo plate for the class) and the pen and ink drawing that inspired the shape of the paper pieces for the collagraph plate. It will be interesting to see how the print turns out and how it is different from the pen and ink drawing. I will experiment with black and white and colored inks.
NO BIG PAPERS for this PRINT
I asked students to cut the papers small because the Masonite plate was also small.
The size of the design elements or image you glue onto the plate should be relative to the size of the plate.
The size of the plate should be relative to the size of the paper you want to print your image on. It’s probably a good idea to determine the size of your paper first and then find the plate that will be the base for your print. Printmaking papers come in standard sizes. If you use drawing papers from a drawing sketchbook, those papers come in standard sizes also. I have drawing paper from a pad that is close to the size of the collagraph plate.
I will show students how to tear other papers to size at the next class. Many artists like the torn (deckled) edge for printmaking paper and there is a special technique for tearing papers.
PRINTMAKING BY HAND
I ordered a PIN PRESS from Rostow and Jung Akua Inks and will bring it to class. The pin press replaces a printmaking press and is easy to use and is affordable for a serious printmaker who doesn’t have the space for a flatbed print press. Read about the pin press (see what it looks like)…
I will also bring sturdy wooden spoons and a printmaking barren so that people can transfer their image to paper by hand.
The Rostow and Jung Akua website has many links to tutorials and videos on many different printmaking techniques, including monotype, monoprint, carborundum, silk aquatint, linocut, woodcut and more.
The 2 images below are collages I made with my own monoprint papers. I like to recycle print papers. Recycle Totems is 16 x 18 inches. Recycle Grid is 17 x 14 inches.