March 4, 2014
Your comments are always welcome
I am always pleased to receive comments and questions on the blogs I write, especially when they require me to dig deeper and locate information and learn something new in the process.
Duh Chuen Wang Priefnitz commented on the Dec. 18, 2013 post Robert Motherwell and Contemporary Collage, and asked about Motherwell using Japanese rice paper in his collage practice.
It’s true. Motherwell incorporated Japanese rice papers into his collages.
I re-read the exhibition catalog Robert Motherwell Early Collages, especially the chapter by Jeffrey Warda on papers and materials that Motherwell used in the 1940s (pp 55-67) and learned the Japanese papers were called unryu. See an image of the paper below.
Unryu is one of the most popular papers from Japan, and is commonly referred to as mulberry paper. It contains strands of fiber that are added to the sheet to create contrast and texture. Tear Unryu Paper in any shape you desire and you create a soft, feathered edge. The name translates as “dragon paper” and refers to the long fiber swirls that are unpulped, unbeaten kozo fibers. Unryu paper can be tissue thin or thick enough to support a print. The long fibers are typically made of kozo, but can be gampi or hemp. See what the papers look like at NY Central Art Supply.
Motherwell Modified Collage Papers
Jeffrey Warda wrote Motherwell modified his papers with ink and paint – always exploring how the papers changed as he applied new paint or ink layers. Unryu is especially strong and can withstand manipulation with water media.
It made me think about what I saw at the exhibition, and how the surface of the collage papers were wavy and the edges were irregular.
My favorite Motherwell collage (seen above) is titled Pancho Villa Dead and Alive (1943). It includes gouache, ink, oil and pasted German decorative paper, colored paper, Japanese paper and wood veneer on paperboard (size: 71.7 x 91.1 cm – 28 x 35 7/8 inches), collection, the Museum of Modern Art, NY. Image: Dedalus Foundation, Inc./VAGA.
Please notice how Motherwell created a geometric background with rectangles and circles in layers of paint in dusty blue, faded pink. creamy white and yellow with 2 abstract black stick figures painted over. Notice papers on top of papers. See red black and tan paper on the right side. This is his German decorative paper. Motherwell added splotchy dot patterns with pale red, pink blue and black.
In the catalog essay, Warda tells us Motherwell loved to work with fine quality artist drawing papers for their matte appearance and subtle textures. We learn Motherwell selected commercially printed decorative papers for their bright colors because the papers reminded him of long visits to Mexico with artist Roberto Matta. Warda also discussed how Motherwell experimented with Japanese rice (unryu) papers to see the response he got from ink and paint stains he applied to the thinner Japanese papers.
The image above is a detail of the collage Joy of Living (1943) and shows how the green ink puddled and spread. Notice the wavy irregular texture of the green paint. We don’t know how many layers of water media, ink and paint Motherwell applied and reapplied because he wanted to see how the paper changed as it absorbed each new application of ink or paint. Please note also that the colors faded and some changed over the years. Warda shows examples of color changes.
The image above is a full view of Joy of Living (1943). The collage on paperboard includes Japanese paper, colored paper, construction paper, printed map and fabric, ink, gouache, oil, crayon. Collection: the Baltimore Museum of Art. Image: Dedalus Foundation, Inc./VAGA (size: 110.5 x 85.4 cm – 43 ½ x 33 5/8 inches)
The image above, titled View from a High Tower (1944-45), is collage with tempera, oil, ink, pastel, pasted wood veneer, drawing paper, Japanese paper, and printed map on paperboard. Size: 74×74 cm – 29 z 29 inches (private collection). Image: Dedalus Foundation, Inc./VAGA
Notice the torn edges of various collage elements and the wavy, buckled edge of the large light grey paper on the left side. Texture is an important visual element – almost as important as the geometric patterns with straight and wavy edged papers in red, brown, blue, white, yellow, green, black and grey.
The Motherwell image above is titled Blue With China Ink (Homage to John Cage). It’s collage with oil, ink, charcoal, pasted Japanese paper, colored paper, drawing paper and fabric on paperboard (101.6 x 76.2 cm - 40 x 30 inches). Image: Dedalus Foundation, Inc./VAGA. Motherwell love to paint with a light blue and variations on yellow ocher.
Motherwell produced nearly 900 works with collage during his lifetime, and said collage influenced his paintings.
Read the exhibition catalog essays. They give critical insight into how Motherwell began working in collage, and how important it was to his creative practice.
The Guggenheim Museum exhibition was an opportunity to see and share Motherwell’s love affair with paper and collage.
On Feb. 6, 2014 I gushed: I love how Motherwell painted over his media, used patterned papers, painted onto so many different papers…I love how he tore off layers of papers to expose raw paper surfaces below…
I was excited because I had never seen so many Motherwell collages in person before the exhibition.
Please add your comments below. Tell me what you think about the papers Motherwell used. Do you work with Japanese papers? Do you paint your papers for collage?
January 23, 2014
The Journal as Art
I’m reading the book Drawing from Life: The Journal As Art, by Jennifer New (Princeton Architectural Press, New York).
It’s a beautiful book with text and drawings by 31 artists who keep a journal. Chapters include Observation, Reflection, Exploration and Creation. The preface states: journals are unsung heroes, the working stiffs of creative life.
A journal can be a diary, sketchbook and notebook. It can include anything and everything. It’s a place to play and explore images and ideas.
DO A DRAWING FROM NATURE
At the beginning of the book Drawing from Life, I found the image above – a line drawing of oak leaves with a live twig and oak leaves placed on top of the drawing by Maira Kalman. The artist says she likes to gather information while she walks. She is the author of 13 children’s books and a frequent contributor to the New Yorker magazine. I’m intrigued by her drawing.
I love that you can see through the photo of the leaves to the beautiful drawing below. It’s simple and elegant. I feel the gesture of the lines in contrast to the actual leaves and bark.
In an interview, Kalman says she always has a sketchbook with her and is drawing all the time.
I decided I have to make more time to draw.
So many people say they can’t draw a straight line. Actually – anyone can draw a straight line if they use a ruler. No excuses! If you are an artist or wannabe, I say: get comfortable with drawing because it’s really important.
If you don’t know how to draw something (example: leaves), trace the outline of the leaves and transfer the image onto drawing paper. Another way to approach drawing is find a drawing and copy it. Turn the image upside down and start to draw. You will be amazed at how good your drawing will look when you copy from an upside down image. Your confidence will rise. You can start to draw from what you see - example – a view on a walk, your desk, your room, etc.
Look at something and make an abstract drawing - gestural lines and shapes in response to the image you see. Collect images and make a sketch while you look at the image.
I think it’s fun to doodle with lines, move the pen and watch the image grow. I like to draw from my imagination.
The image above is the 7th drawing in my journal. It’s my favorite drawing so far. The journal is exploring an imaginary fishy world with waves, floating food, and underwater critters. Do you see the snail and the fish in this one?
The journal papers are 10×8 inches. The drawing is small and the collage papers are tiny.
I started the collage with horizontal strips of BFK Rives art paper. I drew with pen and ink on the cut paper and then glued them into the journal. Notice the irregular sides. That’s intentional. I found magazine papers with printed text, tiny dots, a spoked wheel, and stripes. Since the drawings are high contrast pen and ink, I looked for collage papers in a range of grey to black tones. I drew spirals with pen and pencil with softer edges.
I titled the image above White Paper Waves. The cut paper on the bottom of the collage was a scrap leftover from another collage project. I love the pencil outline around the cut out waves. As soon as I found it, I knew I would use it.
I titled the image above Fishy Tails.
Recently I decided I want to cut the collage papers into open shapes with space in the middle. I use a fine scissor. I want the paper to become another line – collage as drawing that can be glued on top. The image below is a cut paper sampler for the next drawing.
PLAYING WITH LINES
I started the journal because I wanted to play with thin and thick, straight and wavy lines. I wanted to create new images that explored the image that came before. My journal is a journey via drawing and collage. I want to see how the images change. It was very important to use certain papers. I discovered I like some papers much better than others. It will influence what I use and what papers I collect.
My journal is spiral bound with a heavy black paper cover and includes medium weight drawing paper. I’m particular about size. It has to feel right in my hand. The pages have to be receptive to pen and ink and bear the weight of glue and papers.
Some artists do a drawing every day. Experts say drawing is good for relaxation, concentration and observation.
If you want to learn to draw, find an online tutorial, a how-to book, or take a class at an art center.
Buy a notebook with blank pages and fill it with drawings. Write comments, keep notes on what you observe. Draw from life. Look at what’s around you. Doodle with thick and thin lines. Create open and solid shapes. Add patterns and stripes. Fill in with cross-hatch lines. If you like – embellish with paint and collage.
Buy pencils and pens. B pencils are softer and darker (2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B). H pencils are harder and lighter (HB, 1H, 2H, 3H, 4H). I do not like H pencils and never use them. I like 3B, 4B and 5B. Higher B pencils (6-8B) are too soft, dark and smudgy for me. Permanent ink pens come with a range of ink tips. I like them all. I especially like the pens with a brush tip.
I love the blog post “the 90 cent solution to becoming organized, creative and successful” by Pat DePuy at Mainstreethost.com (December 18, 2013).
What is the 90 cent solution?
It’s a notebook (a journal) that you buy. Typically it’s unlined papers in a bound book.
Experts say it works best when what you enter is handwritten – when you print by hand or use script/cursive – never mechanical wordprocessing.
Experts say keeping a notebook improves your memory. There’s documented evidence that the ideas you record by hand get acted on and become more successful.
Because your notebook/journal is handwritten, you remember with much more detail when you review what you wrote.
Advice to everyone: keep a notebook. Artists: fill your journal with images you find and drawings you make. Add comments on what inspires you, what you did and why you like it, and what you will do next (what will change, what will stay the same).
Please contact me. Do you draw? If not, why not? Do you keep a journal? Can you describe it? Thank you for reading and your comments.
December 18, 2013
Pancho Villa Dead and Alive
My favorite work by Robert Motherwell is titled Pancho Villa Dead and Alive (1943).
I love the work for the color, texture, painterly surface, the look of the layered papers, and Motherwell’s exuberant approach to his collage practice. It is mixed media to the max. It looks so contemporary.
What a treat to see this and other works by this artist when I entered the Thannheiser Galleries at the Guggenheim Museum (through January 5, 2014) at 1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street, NY.
I did not expect to see so many – 50 plus collages and related drawings in ink and paint from the period 1943-1951. I did not know Motherwell created that many works in collage media. Every work is large in scale (especially for collage and drawing).
Pancho Villa Dead and Alive was created with cut and pasted papers, ink and wood veneer on paper board (28 x 35 7/8 inches). Some papers are printed and embellished with more paint. The paints include oil and gouache (opaque watercolors).
Motherwell layered painted papers in the same color family (see the light blue section in the lower center part of the collage). Notice the paint drips.
Motherwell painted his papers in his favorite colors: black and white, ocher and pale blue.
He used flat light blue paint and faded pink paint for his background and some of the overpainted papers.
He painted red and black splotches and (faded) red and blue drips behind the child-like stick figures that imply two bodies (dead and alive) riddled with bullet holes.
Motherwell liked to work with fine-art drawing papers for their matte appearance and subtle color variations. He liked commercial coated papers, especially in bright colors, because they reminded him of the colors he saw in Mexico (during a 6 month stay with artist Roberto Matta).
View from a High Tower (above) was completed in 1944-45. It is 29 x 29 inches, tempera, oil, ink, pastel and pasted wood veneer, drawing paper, Japanese paper and printed map on paperboard (private collection).
I recommend the exhibition catalog for the four excellent essays. The first essay is about Motherwell’s early career with Peggy Guggenheim (titled The Theorist and the Gallerist, written by exhibition curator Susan Davidson). Another essay is about Motherwell’s life-long fascination with themes of violence, revolution and death (titled Bloodstains and Bullet Holes, by Megan M. Fontanella). The third essay is about how he stretched the boundaries and the possibilities of paper as a vehicle for visual ideas (titled Motherwell’s Risk, by Brandon Taylor). The last essay is about his materials (titled Motherwell’s Materials in the 1940s, by Jeffrey Warda).
Jeffrey Warda’s essay (page 56) mentions that all the commercial papers Motherwell used faded and the strong pink is now a pale flesh tone.
Holland Cotter wrote a review for the NY Times (A Painter’s Cut-and-Paste Prequel: Robert Motherwell Early Collages at the Guggenheim, Dec. 3, 2013).
Cotter’s final paragraph asks slyly if Motherwell relinquished his role as sole creator of his work (a defining feature of Abstract Expressionism) because gravity, chemistry and light deserve equal billing as collaborators since the works have changed color, texture and form. My comment: Change is good.
Embellish the Media
I love how Motherwell painted over his media, used patterned papers, painted onto the papers, painted out papers, added lines, dots, drips and splotches. The surface is dense and yet there is incredible freedom in the process, and so much energy in the execution. I love how he tore off layers of papers to expose raw paper surfaces below, and contrasted hard-edge cut papers with soft-edge torn papers.
The image above is titled Jeune Fille (1944). It’s 24 x 19.5 inches, oil, ink, gouache, pasted drawing paper, colored paper, Japanese paper, German decorative paper and fabric on canvas board (private collection).
Motherwell was an explorer – adventurous and exuberant in his practice. Everything in the exhibition looks cutting-edge and even edgy. That is why this show is so important.
Read my comments (below) on how Motherwell got the exhibition that launched his career in 1943 – see FINAL THOUGHTS – Who you know…
Motherwell was a scholar and a founder member (who wrote about) the Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1940s – also known as the New York School – and (no surprise!) Motherwell’s collages are filled with the gestural energy prerequisite for Ab-Ex painters.
Read more about Abstract Expressionism at the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History (Metropolitan Museum of Art) website.
The image above is titled 9th Street Exhibition (1951). It is pasted papers with gouache and ink on paper, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, Donazione/Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph L. Tucker, 1963.
Read an excellent overview of Motherwell’s life and career (with images and links) at Wikipedia.
Also see the the humorous (and informed) post about the Motherwell/Guggenheim exhibition (11/13/13) by Ariel at Collage Volupte called How Robert Motherwell Lost His Dada Cred – its about Motherwell’s connection to Dadaism and Surrealism.
At the end of the post, Ariel writes about an old parlor game called Exquisite Corpse – played by Dadaist poets and visual artists in Europe in the period between World War I and World War II.
Motherwell was fascinated with dada, Surrealism, and automatic drawing.
FYI: Roberto Matta introduced Motherwell to a version of the exquisite corpse game at his NY salon. Motherwell attended the salons regularly in the early 1940s. Read more about the history of the Exquisite Corpse.
FYI: As a game, the exquisite corpse can be played by poets or visual artists. Players add words or images (drawings or collages) in turn. The first player writes or draws, folds the paper and passes it on to the next player. The final image or poem is supposed to be a surprise. Usually there are three or four players but, depending on how the paper is folded, the number can be more or fewer players.
FYI: Pancho Villa is an historic Mexican Revolutionary general, celebrated for his extraordinary feats in battles in the Mexican War for Independence. He was never defeated. He was assassinated in 1923 when he tried to run for political office in Mexico. Many streets throughout Mexico are named for him.
WILL YOU BE IN NEW YORK FOR CHRISTMAS?
Try to see Robert Motherwell: Early Collages at the Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue at 89 Street before it closes January 5, 2014.
The exhibition catalog is excellent for the essays, but not for the images. You have to see the works in person. I can remember how bold and colorful the works are. I saw them. I will remember. The catalog colors and resolution is disappointing (it may be because the catalog was relatively inexpensive). The Motherwell exhibition archive and the number of images may change. Best to get to the Museum and see the works in person. If you are a collage artist and if you love collage, you must see this show.
Who you know and how you build relationships with the right people is critically important. It also helps to be a brilliant artist in the right place at the right time.
Robert Motherwell (1915-1991) was an intellectual who wanted to be a painter.
Motherwell got his BA in philosophy and French at Stanford University (CA) and started his PhD in philosophy at Harvard University. He left Harvard, went to Columbia University (NY), met and was mentored by Meyer Schapiro (art history professor with an extraordinary reputation and contacts) who advised Motherwell to quit philosophy and focus on painting.
Meyer Schapiro introduced Motherwell to European emigree artists in NY, including Andre Masson, Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst. It was helpful that Motherwell was fluent in French, had studied literature and philosophy, and had been to Paris.
Motherwell became good friends with Chilean Surrealist artist Roberto Matta who introduced Motherwell to automatic drawing and Surrealism (which influenced Motherwelll’s artistic practice for the remainder of his life).
Matta also introduced Motherwell to Peggy Guggenheim who invited him (with William Baziotes and Jackson Pollock) to create collages for her upcoming collage exhibition at her gallery Art of This Century in New York.
According to Peter Plagens’s Wall Street Journal review (Robert Motherwell and the Exuberance of Invention, Wall Street Journal, Dec 5, 2013), Peggy Guggenheim wanted to juxtapose the work of pioneering European modernists with younger American artists just beginning to push into Abstract Expressionism. She asked the Americans to create collage for the Art of this Century show.
How could the young artists say no – they had to create the work – they wanted to be included in a show with European masters like Jean Arp, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso.
Motherwell’s collages were a huge success in the Art of this Century show. Peggy Guggenheim organized a solo collage show for Motherwell the following year.
Pancho Villa Dead and Alive was in the second show and immediately purchased and is now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art NY.
Please send me your comments. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.
November 8, 2013
We haven’t got enough PAPER
I teach a collage class at the Pelham Art Center in Pelham, NY. We have a new collage project each week. Almost every project has paper as the primary media.
We are half way through the fall term and have run out of magazine papers – our primary source for collage. I supplied the magazines at the beginning of the class term, and the students have depleted the supply. We need more magazines.
I would like the students (or a donor) to replenish the supply. I don’t want junk magazines. Cheap paper is a waste of time. It’s very hard to create collage with cheap paper. It curls when you apply glue. It’s hard to cut and tear. It doesn’t hold up over time. It looks cheap.
I want students to work with quality magazines papers that are printed with rich color, offer strong graphic design, and use creative text. Replacing the ArtForum magazines would cost me much more than I want to spend. I would like every student to donate or find a donor neighbor. So many people toss away magazines or put good magazines into recycling bins. Collage artists recycle. We need good magazines.
Magazines I like include art, photography, internet, home decor, fashion, garden design, nature and more. The paper quality is important. ArtForum, ArtNews and Art in America have good paper. I like Vogue, Elle, Elle Design, W and Interview magazine. National Geographic is excellent for paper quality, color, nature and animal images.
I will ask my friends and neighbors for donations. I would like my students to do the same.
I’m a snob for good paper. In my own collages, in addition to magazine papers, drawings, and my painted papers, I use artist hand-made imported printmaking papers because I love the range and contrast of whites. A lot of my white papers go in as the background layer in a collage.
Good Paper is Expensive. Good paper makes a Good Collage.
Another Way: Create Our Own Papers for Collage
In recent class projects we created large collage papers with multiple small magazine papers. See the first image – a grid collage above. It’s a substrate for a figure collage. In another class, we created a crazy quilt collage with overlapping patterned papers. See my sample image below in red, black and white. I will add another layer.
In a third class, we created a background collage for a landscape. We used pieced papers from a lot of different magazines.
I asked the students to keep the originals and reproduce multiple copies in black and white and color. The copies become the resource media for additional collages: as collage paper and as a paper substrate (bottom layer). Papers can be reproduced from the original as needed. If the original collage is copied digitally, it can be reproduced in a copy shop in very large format. You can play with the image and color in PhotoShop.
I like to include drawing with collage. See the 3rd image above that I made on artist paper and stamped all over with a bird pattern. I cut and paste small sections whenever I want line drawing in the collage.
I included two images that are computer scans of a rug (advertisement) from a design magazine. I like the diamond pattern and needed one to be positive (black on white) and one to be inverse (white on black).
4 Goals for the Class
Create projects that create (generate) papers. Create projects that repurpose and embellish papers. Discuss how to sort and organize collage media. Discuss why it’s important to collect, create, reproduce and build inventory for collage – because it saves time and money, it makes your media personal (you can pick the colors you like), and it’s much better to have all your papers available when you are ready to work .
Please add your comments and suggestions on how to hunt and gather materials for art projects. Thank you for sharing.
September 28, 2013
In my last post, I wrote about the opening reception and an upcoming event (annual benefit) Signed Sealed and Delivered (Saturday, October 5, 2013) – all at the Silvermine Arts Center in New Canaan, CT.
The current galleries have 2 solo shows and 2 group shows (September 15-October 26, 2013) with a lot of installation art. It’s so contemporary. The works are exquisitely presented – so typical for Silvermine gallery exhibitions. My last post included images at the gallery receptions.
Silvermine Arts Center is located at 1037 Silvermine Road, New Canaan, CT. The exhibits run from September 15, 2013 through October 26, 2013. Gallery hours: Wednesday-Saturday: 12pm-5pm, Sunday: 1pm-5pm. For more information about exhibitions, call 203.966.9700 or visit the Silvermine Art Center website.
I think installation is contemporary art – and what makes it most contemporary is that, whether we know it or not, we are all part of the show. If the installation is participatory, we are encouraged to walk into the space, even touch and move elements in the exhibition.
The image nearby shows a contemporary installation with 10″x10″ works on wood panels, hung in parallel horizontal rows around the gallery space. It’s a preview for Signed Sealed and Delivered at Silvermine Art Center on Saturday evening October 5, 2013 (5:00-7:00 pm).
Question: Is my photo about the people looking at the art – or is the photo about the art? I think the former. In any case, the viewers were engaged. There were a lot of people looking at the art during the reception. This photo shows only two. If I took the photo with more people looking at the art, you wouldn’t even see the art. That’s what happens at a crowded reception. It’s exciting to be there, but you don’t see the art well, so you have to return for a better view at a quieter time.
Here’s a pitch to support the arts: Purchase tickets online for the October 5th Silvermine Arts Center wine & hors d’oeuvres party. Tickets are $35 per person – and new this year – the show and sale includes 10″x10″ original works on panel in addition to 100s of 4”x6” works of 2D and 3D art. Buy smaller 4″x6″ art for $50 each. Buy 3 small works, you get the 4th free.
Add $100 to your $35 ticket and choose a 10”x10” original work of art, average value is $300 that will be raffled during the evening. Preview the raffle collection at Silvermine (thru October 3). See works online. The Saturday evening gala event is always well attended. Order your tickets before they are sold out.
I donated artwork: one work (titled Cellblock) is part of the 10″x10″ raffle. It’s a white and black collage, made with papers wrapped and glued over recycled 35 mm transparencies. See it at the gallery preview (thru October 3rd). Four of my 4″x6″ collages will be for sale (see images below).
Installation Art Makes Us See in a New Way
The image nearby is a view of Beyond the Book I took at Silvermine Art Center a few days after the opening receptions. I went back to get images of the art without people. I wanted to show you how I see the art installed. Notice the horizontals and diagonals in the photo. Notice the forms projecting in space and the angles between.
That’s the way we see the whole picture. We think we are looking at one work, but in reality (the way the brain works) we are looking at everything at the same time. It all has to work together or the installation will look wrong.
Looking involves moving. As we move to get closer, and as we step back, the whole picture changes based on “sight lines.” Objects that have a direct line of sight with one another are said to be inter-visible.
We don’t just look straight ahead or move our eyes across and around the site. We may look up (how high are the works placed in relation to the floor and the ceiling?). Some installation works literally climb up the wall. In fact, that’s the way we see the exquisite installation by Amy Bilden in her current Silvermine solo exhibition titled Inheritance.
In the image above (the installation shows works by Sheila Hale and Stephanie Joyce), Sheila’s book sculpture is viewed by looking up and down. You have to see it in motion. But, your eyes are doing the moving.
Installation for a Lot of Small Works
The image nearby is the installation for Signed Sealed and Delivered (2012). You can see how many works are included. When you arrive, your eyes scan the entire arrangement of 2D and 3D works installed in rows.
The images below are my 4 small collages created for the gala fundraiser this October. Each is a unique work, made with tiny pieces of cut and pasted magazine papers and over-layered tiny pieces of thin, translucent white Japanese rice paper. The layered rice papers created geometric shapes and outlines in different shades of white, depending on how many paper layers I used.
I hope you can come see them in person on October 5th. They will be placed in different locations in the exhibition space, included with small works by many other Silvermine artists.The images below show how I Iayered the collage papers. Layering is an expression of how I see.
Thank you for reading. As always, I welcome your comments. I like to think about how we see art, and about how we see everything. The picture is always moving – it’s a view from a moving object: you in the car, train or plane; a view of moving people and ojbects: people on cars, bicycles, skates. It’s a moving image: a movie, TV, a video online, you at a sports event (in the stands, on the field), you at the theater, or people moving as we take in the view.
We live in a super-saturated visual environment. Images are non-stop. I say it’s a cut and paste world filled with images. We put all the images together. We complete the image. It’s all a collage.
Please tell me your thoughts. Do you have a special insight about how we see? I hope you will share.
April 26, 2013
I exhibited original collage paintings at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show at Pier 94 in NYC from March 21-24, 2013.
I planned my booth (M135) and designed it to be all about bright colors – hot pinks, warm reds, greens, blues, darks and whites to make the colors ping.
Every piece of art – every painting and collage that I hung in the booth was selected for its color in order to attract an audience. And it did.
The 2 images below are installed as a diptych – 2 works hung together as one. They are titled Musical Notes 1 and 2.
The work on the left is a painting in acrylic on canvas, 24×24 inches. The work on the right is a collage with acrylic painted papers on a 24×24 inch wood panel. My studio practice is mainly collage, but I love to paint so some works are paintings and some works are painted paper collage. The image above was taken by Marcy Michaud. She wrote a blog about the show and included my image.
When I do painted paper collage, I paint papers first, and then, when the paint is dry, I play with cut paper blocks and organize them into grid patterns. I almost always work with a grid. Sometimes I change the size and shape of the papers as I make the collage. Sometimes I paint back into the papers after they are glued down. The color relationships are the most important part of each work.
The images below are 2 collages with painted papers and assorted magazine papers, framed size 13.5″x16″. The works are titled Color Game Hidden Spaces (top) and Color Game Green & Red (bottom). They were installed on a side wall in my booth.
On the opposite wall, I hung a horizontal framed collage I titled DNA. See the image below. I want people to be attracted to the power of color. It’s painted paper collage on paper, framed: 22″ x29.5″, 2012.
I was asked – why did I title the collage DNA? Answer: The color blocks made me think of uncurled strands of DNA. A little bit. My approach to naming the art was very unscientific. Someone said: DNA would only show in 4 colors. My collage had more than 4. I had 3 greens, 2 blues, a red-purple, a reddish brown and several yellows.
I checked out images of DNA online and learned that the DNA molecules are paired chemicals – hydrogen bonds given the letters A,T, G and C (A pairs with T and G pairs with C). The letters stand for adenine-thymine and guanine-cytosine. Here’s more information…
See the image below (image courtesy the Internet). It’s an uncurled strand of DNA that does look a little like my collage.
I know my collage DNA included too many colors – but I love color.
I found a link to a letter from Francis Crick to his son Michael explaining how he (Crick) and Jim Watson discovered and built a model of D.N.A. It’s a lovely hand-written note from a father to a son. Read more…
VARIETY IS IMPORTANT
People want to see variety, especially at a trade show. So I included about 30 additional unframed works for all the people who visited my booth to look at and hold.
I tucked these smaller unframed collages into 11”x14” clear vinyl slipcases and placed them in an art bin freestanding on the floor. Each vinyl slipcase was numbered to match a price list with titles, image sizes and media for each work.
Many works in the bin combined printmaking, drawing and collage.
The image below is titled Random Squares in a Grid 2 (Brown & White Stripes). It’s collage with assorted papers and acrylic on paper, 11.5″ x 11.5″, 2011.
The image below is titled Random Squares in a Grid 7 (Azo Yellow). Its a collage with assorted papers over painted paper, 11″ x 12″, 2011.
It pleased me that people took time to handle the unframed works. People like to touch. I took the works out of the slipcases so they could see and touch the surfaces.
The image below is a collage of colorful striped papers on top of a silkscreen print card (the card is a print from an original drawing). I like to collage over hand-made cards. The paper is fine printmaking quality, folded like a card, 8″ x 7″, 2013.
The 2 images below are 2 more small collages on top of hand-made cards on printmaking paper, folded, 8″ x 7″, 2013. The cards were very popular at the show, and priced to sell.
It was a good thing that I included the variety I did. Many people loved the pinks and reds of the framed works hung on the walls. Many people were interested in the variety of different works in the art bin.
Please visit my website to see 28 images that were at the show. Click on each image to enlarge and get a better view of the detail and collage layers.
THE WORK CONTINUES
Follow-up is so important after the trade show closes. I am still contacting designers, architects and others, sending information and image files they’ve requested.
A trade show offers incredible opportunities. The networking is amazing.
Please contact me if you want more information. I am happy to answer your questions about how to organize work for exhibit in a large show like the Architectural Digest Home Design show. My booth was located in the “MADE” section with more than 150 designers, artists and craftsmen – from lighting, fine crafted furniture, photography, sculpture and fine art paintings and collage. I think I will participate in the show again next year.
I will probably play with painted paper collage in the studio, and explore the idea of DNA paired as blocks. I am intrigued with mixing art and science. Do you think art and science work well together? Many people do. Thank you for reading and for your comments.
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.
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
December 5, 2012
What can you do with Collage?
Two weeks ago at the Pelham Art Center, I talked about collage projects during the fall term. Many of the projects included recycling and repurposing papers. The class is titled Embellish An Image – Play With Collage.
Almost every class project I teach involves working with paper. We also work with found media and fabric. Everyone likes the idea of recycling junk mail, catalogs, magazines and cards. We say – don’t throw anything out because you can find a way to use it.
I stress 3Rs: Recycle, Renew, Repurpose.
If you doodle, do drawings, paintings, or prints, you can use the drawing, painting or print in your collage, either as the base for the collage (it’s the substrate) or as collage papers on top. It’s easy to start a collage when you build on top of something else.
The image below is my collage with pen and ink drawing in a series titled Strata. It’s on 8×8 inch paper. I made 16 different drawings and added collage to each one. I showed the images to my class and explained that strata is about horizontal layers. In this case the layers are a drawing and papers on top.
I like to combine drawing with collage and I encourage students to add drawing.
A hand-drawn element makes the collage personal. Anyone can do drawing. Doodling is drawing. If you think you can’t draw, try tracing. Gather images and papers you like as inspiration. Do a copy of the image. You can start with a tracing on vellum paper. Draw with pencil, pen and ink, crayon and pastel onto small pieces of paper. Add your drawing to your collage..
Explore Theme and Variation
If you create your own greeting cards, you can use the cards as a base for a collage series.
If you don’t want to cut up the originals cards, take a digital photo or photocopy them if they are small. Make multiples and use the copies for collage media.
If you create a wonderful collage, don’t cut it up. Make multiple copies and use the copies as a base for more collage or as collage media.
Possibilities with Painted Papers
We used wallpaper from a donated book in a recent project. The paper was oversized, strong, and free. Some of the wallpaper was patterned and textured.
Each person painted a page with blue and green acrylic and created a background for a landscape collage that included an island surrounded by water and sky. Each person worked with a palette knife and used 2 greens, and mixed blue and white. The painted wallpaper became the substrate (the bottom layer). Some students added gloss acrylic medium to the paint. It made the paint more transparent and gave the colors depth in layers. After the painted wallpaper substrate was dry, students added various collage papers.
The image below is by Marlene Furtick. She added magazine papers and papers she painted in a previous class.
Many collage artists use heavyweight watercolor paper or museum board as a substrate. It’s expensive. Sometimes the paper warps or buckles because of the water in glue or in paint. Wallpaper is a good substrate because it is typically coated and will not absorb water and will not warp or buckle.
Everyone Loves Painting Papers for Collage
Painting papers is a way to create collage media. You can paint on magazine pages, scrap paper, fabric, newspaper and wallpaper You can photocopy or scan and print the painted papers and create multiples. You can also use the original painted papers as a substrate. I always encourage students to create a painted substrate. It’s a great way to begin a collage.
For another class project, we worked with medium weight scrap paper that was plain white, and painted it with gouache (opaque watercolor). Students used a 1 inch wide soft straight-edge (bright) brush and worked with diluted paint applied as a single color. Students painted more than one color on separate papers.
The image below is by Joyce Dutka, and shows the worktable and oil pastels nearby.
The papers are painted with gouache.
I encouraged Joyce to add drawing to her collage papers because doodles and drawing give the work more personality. It also added color, pattern and texture
Joyce cut her papers into shapes and embellished the papers with oil pastels. The project was inspired by the artist Henri Matisse, who worked in collage at the end of his career. Matisse called his collages paper cutouts.
We used fabric for collage in a recent class. The fabric was donated. Students cut up the fabric and glued it down onto canvas I supplied. We worked with carpenter’s wood glue because it is heavier than white PVA glue.
Carol Frank created the image below. It’s upholstery fabric and paper on natural unprimed canvas. The project is called Strata. Carol placed the horizontal strips so some edges were under and some edges were over others.
Here are more ideas for collage projects:
Explore black and white and red. Find magazine images and newspaper text. Play with shapes and line. Cut words into strips. Turn them upside down and on edge.
Find a large magazine image you like and glue it down on Bristol or another heavy paper. Select an image that is big enough to cover the paper substrate. Add collage elements all over to create something that looks new and different.
Explore a grid design. Cut up 6, 9 or 16 small blocks of medium weight paper. The blocks can be 2×2, 3×3 or 4×4 inches. Add drawing or collage to each block. Organize and glue the blocks on a heavy Bristol or watercolor substrate. When you rotate the blocks as you place them, you get different patterns.
Play with layers. Work with thin paper over thicker papers. Let the edges peep through. Cut and open out top layers to reveal layers beneath.
Cut out text from books and magazines. Draw or write on cut papers. Glue Japanese washi papers on top to reveal line and text underneath.
Play with colors and tone. Work with a selected palette of collage papers that you create, collect or purchase. Choose colors that show contrast in color saturation (pale to bright) and in value (dark to light).
Play with edges. Cut and tear collage papers. Overlayer so edges peek through. Cut papers into curved shapes. Glue papers to create rhythm and pattern.
Explore examples of art by artists you admire. Copy (interpret) a painting, but do it in collage.
Interpret the style of 2 artists. Do a collage that includes elements of both.
I will teach 10 classes on Monday evenings (7-9) at Pelham, starting in January 2013. Contact me if you want to join the class.
Thank you for your comments. Please take the survey nearby and tell me what you like.
November 15, 2012
I love to use text as a main element in collage. The text are lines and then I add drawing.
I find text in art magazine and also in books. I don’t like to tear pages from books, but don’t mind pulling pages from magazines. The magazines are a great resource for collage papers, and some art magazines have a lot of pages.
When I find text with a large typeface, I cut the text horizontally so the letters are split into long strips, and the words are not easy to read.
Recently the class I teach at the Pelham Art Center asked to explore using magazine pages with text for collage.
I brought the image (seen below) to the class. It’s a small collage. The horizontal strips are all split and layered magazine text.
The images below are 2 of my pen and ink drawings with collage from the Strata Series. See all 16 images in the series…
The Strata series is about layering, with a reference to landscape, and a little bit of play.
NOTES ON THE CLASS PROJECT
I suggested the class cut and tear the text into thin horizontal strips. Cutting would create hard edges. Tearing would create soft edges. I suggested they organize the papers into visually compatible groups in related colors. I suggested that some strips should touch or overlap.
I shared beautiful black, silver and white printed paper with wavy lines, and showed them how to create a soft, torn edge by using a brush dipped in water that made it easy to tear the paper. The reverse side of the hand-made paper is a beautiful dense black.
I shared pages of printed text and gave them copies of magazines to look for more text.
The images below are by the class members. It was a challenging project and I think everyone was pleased with the collages they created in one evening class session.
Do you think the collages look like landscape strata? Do you like the text they selected? Are you inspired t0 make collage with text?