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.
April 3, 2011
I was going to title this post FLOWER POWER.
At a Bloomfield College workshop I led last month, I taught basic tips on collage to young adults. The workshop included a demonstration on how to place papers, and how to apply glue.
The plan was for students to create a landscape collage of a beautiful place inspired by the art of Romare Bearden. It didn’t happen.
10 COLLEGE STUDENTS MAKE 10 COLLAGE FLOWERS
They were inspired – instead – by a flat, cut-out of a chrysanthemum flower that was on a table in the art room (the image above is more complicated than the paper flower).
What I see and learn at each workshop I teach – every time I teach – is that each person is creative in her/his own unique way no matter what I say or how I present a project. I like that.
Last November I wrote LET ME DO IT MY WAY about how the people who attend my workshops push away from my ideas and explore their own ideas. I wonder if it’s something I say or the way I present the materials.
I wrote: I never know in advance if students want to be directed or if they want to be their own director. It was a popular blog and includes wonderful images of student work.
THE RECENT WORKSHOP
At the Bloomfield College workshop last month, each student got my handout titled 10 Collage Tip. I asked them to follow the text and watch as I demonstrated working with papers and glue. The demo is basic and simple. Once learned, the technique takes an artist in any direction he or she wants. I like when I am able to facilitate a basic and simple approach to individual creative expression.
I said it’s important to match the type of glue (adhesive) and the tools you use to apply the glue to the type of media (paper) you work with. If the paper is thin, use a light (thin) glue or adhesive. If the paper is heavy, use a heavier more viscous glue or adhesive. I work with white PVA glue for medium weight papers. I work with carpenter’s glue for heavy papers and photos. I work with gel medium for Washi weight thin papers.
I brought brightly colored tissue paper in large sheets to the workshop, and talked about how to layer the papers to multiply colors.
I did a quick sampler for the demonstration. I cut scallops in blue paper and glued it down over yellow-green paper. I cut scallops in yelow-green paper and glued it over yellow-greeen paper. How simple is that? I think the students were impressed with the bright colored papers and overlapping colors. See the image below.
Because tissue papers are very thin and delicate, I wanted the students to use acrylic gel medium as glue. Everyone got a small plastic cup for gel medium, and a plastic palette knife to apply the gel medium.
I wanted to teach them how to work with a palette knife and not a brush for the glue application, because the brushes they had in the class were the wrong brushes – they were too large, and too bristly. Remember: match the medium and the tools to the paper!
Here’s more information about gel medium. There are many brands to buy, including Golden and Liquitex. Gel medium comes in different viscosities (thicknesses). We were using a creamy, medium-thin gel. Typically, painters use it to modify and expand acrylic paints.
Gel medium also works great in collage, decoupage and transfers.
I showed the students how to cut tissue paper into shapes, scallops and rectangles with a scissor. I showed them how to place papers on the substrate (the bottom paper), and suggested they use a pencil to mark where the paper is placed (so you know where it goes when you lift it up to add glue). I showed them how to glue in two steps – lay down a small amount of gel medium on the substrate with a plastic palette knife where the tissue paper will go, place the tissue paper down, and apply a top-coat of gel medium and remove excess gently.
Gel medium goes on white and creamy and dries clear. Most people in the class used a bristle brush to apply it, and some of them tore the tissue paper (it tears if it’s over-handled).
Read about gel medium: It is used to alter the consistency of paint. Gloss medium adds sheen. Matte medium reduces gloss (shine). It is used to adhere mixed media elements to the surface of a painting, to increase film integrity, to add transparent layers of color, to extend paint (reduce the cost), to prime a canvas, repair and protect a painting (as a final coat).
THE ART HISTORY OF COLLAGE
I always try to discuss important collage artists at every workshop.
Many of the students at the workshop have Caribbean Island backgrounds, so it seemed like a good idea to introduce them to the artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988). I thought the students would be inspired by Bearden’s watercolor and collage landscape paintings.
His colors are bright and happy. He was inspired by the lush landscapes of his second home in St. Martin, and began to work extensively in watercolor. He became a fabulous watercolor artist, and also incorporated collage into the paintings.
I brought along the monograph titled Romare Bearden The Caribbean Dimension, by Sally Price & Richard Price, filled with gorgeous watercolors, drawings and collage paintings done by Bearden on site in St. Martin. I showed everyone images like the one below, titled Eden Midnight (1988), watercolor and collage, 30×40 inches. Photo credit: the Romare Bearden Foundation.
Read more about Romare Bearden: He is one of the most famous collage artists in the United States and has works in major museums throughout the country.
Bearden’s images are about the people and places he knew. His imagery is a visual metaphor of his life.
Roberta Smith wrote about Bearden – VISIONS OF LIFE, BUILT FROM BITS and PIECES (April 3, 2011, the New York Times). The Michael Rosenfeld Gallery is celebrating the centennial of Bearden’s birth (he was born in 1911) and the exhibition runs through May 21, 2011. Read the review. She wrote: the works…were made from 1964 to 1983. Some are not much larger than sheets of typing paper; others are more than four feet on a side. Their suavely discordant compositions involve both black-and-white and color photographs and occasional bits of printed fabric; almost all depict some scene of black life, past or present or imagined.
TIME FOR GORGEOUS PAPERS
My talk and demonstration were quick. They heard all they needed to know about process and about Bearden. I wonder if they thought Bearden’s art was old.
They got their scissors, a plastic squeegee, plastic palette knife, glue brush, a cup of gel medium, and selected as many sheets of tissue paper as they could. Good thing I brought way too many sheets (I thought).
I was surprised that everyone began to work and it was a large paper flower.
The image above shows an orange flower in progress. Notice that the artist is wearing a shirt with orange and yellow stripes. Often the artist matches the art.
Because the prototype flower was made with heavy paper, and the student’s flowers were cut from thin paper, many students had difficulty cutting round edges.
The image above shows 3 students. Two are working on blue flowers. One is observing the work in progress. Notice that they are working with glue brushes. They are doing it their way. I didn’t say a word.
I showed them how to cut individual petals and work with smaller pieces of tissue paper if they had problems cutting flowers.
I showed them that overlapping tissue papers create multiple tones and hues. Many students had fun playing with overlapping shapes.
The image above shows one student who is working on two collages. She was very good with cutting stripes and flower shapes and with her placement (design), overlapping and colors. I am sure she is very proud of her work.
COLLAGE IS STICKY BUSINESS
Glue goes through thin paper and it’s important to remove excess (this can be done with the palette knife or the plastic squeegee). When working with heavier collage media, I teach students how to apply and blot off excess glue so pieces lie flat and no glue oozes out.
Two students glued the large tissue paper flower off-center so it overhung the edge of the substrate paper and needed to have some support. I showed them how to add heavier paper behind the tissue paper to support it. I think they liked the extended edge of their collage.
One student acknowledged she listened to my talk about Romare Bearden and his collage media. She put newspaper on the substrate and then added tissue paper collage on top so that newspaper text and images showed through. We both liked the newspaper text showing through the layered tissue papers.
MORE THOUGHTS on FLOWERS
The contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami (born: 1963) intrigues me. His works are reproduced in all the international art periodicals and shown in museums around the world. I saw his flowers on the cover of the 2009 Art Basel Miami Beach catalog. Gagosian Gallery represents Takashi Murakami.
I think the students at Bloomfield Collage have also seen his flowers and his art.
Murakami’s Chrysanthemum flowers have faces.
The image below is titled FLOWER SUPERFLAT (it’s a lithograph print on paper, edition of 300, 27×27 inches).
For Murakami, the flowers are a fusion between popular Western culture and Japanese Manga and Anime.
Read more about the artist at TakashiMurakami.com. His paintings are cartoony. His sculptures are huge and quasi-minimalist. He received his BFA, MFA and PhD from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.
I also recommend Sarah Thornton’s book SEVEN DAYS in the ART WORLD.
In Chapter 6 – The Studio Visit – she writes about Takashi Murakami:
Murakami has taken a Japanese national icon (the chrysanthemum), and endowed it with a gaping orifice in a culture where a wide-open mouth is considered rude. The image comes across as challenging. It’s edgy. It’s not sweet.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
I welcome your comments (please add them below).
Do you make collage? Do you work with tissue papers or Japanese washi paper?
Do you use gel medium or do you use PVA glue? Or do you use another adhesive?
Do you like the work by the artist Takashi Murakami? Please see his website.
Do you like the work by the artist Romare Bearden? Please see the review.
Thank you for your comments.
Collage artists typically work with appropriated images (on-line and print).
I recently wrote about ON LINE: Drawing Through the 20th Century at the Museum of Modern Art (the show closed Feb 7, 2011) – and talked about Paul Klee’s reverse drawings in the exhibition. I make reverse drawings and understand the process.
I was so inspired by all the lines, I immediately made a collage with line drawings. But I didn’t make the lines.
The drawings are small, appropriated papers – reproductions from periodicals like Artforum Magazine. I found the papers and put them together. I like the lines. Everything is very graphic. But they aren’t my lines, and I can do my own.
All collage artists are concerned with copyright infringement, what they can take and how they can use it. Some things are too easy and you shouldn’t use other peoples images.
I tell students in my collage workshops to add papers and paint and embellish found papers to make the images their own (and advise them to take their own photos in related setups if they want to work with photocollage).
Some artists make it a point to use appropriated images. That’s their niche.
Read about the claims and counterclaims of two hot recent copyright infringement headliners - Shepard Fairey and the AP, and Richard Prince and Gagosian Gallery.
The image above shows a section of a grid with papers, and lines that are straight, curve, criss-cross, and scribble. Can you see any famous artist’s work?
I put the blocks together, and added 2 or 3 smaller papers to modify each block, then put everything on a painted green background (substrate). The individual blocks very in size from 2 1/2 x 3 inches to 3 x 3 1/2 inches.
I like the variety, but decided I don’t like the idea that the lines aren’t mine.
Paul Klee did reverse drawings. Two were included in the MoMA exhibition and both are in the MoMA collection.
The first drawing is titled The Angler (1921) It’s oil transfer, watercolor and ink on paper with watercolor and ink borders on board and is 19 7/8 x 12 ½ inches.
The second drawing (see it nearby) is titled Twittering Machine (1922). It’s oil transfer, watercolor and ink on paper with gouache and ink borders on board and is 25 ¼ x 19 inches.
MAKE A REVERSE DRAWING
You can do a reverse drawing and nobody will know it’s a drawing because the drawing is on the back of the paper. The front (the reverse) looks like an etching. You’ll get a very interesting line.
Materials are basic: You’ll need paper, oil paint (or oil-based printing ink), a disposable paper palette, a metal palette knife, a print brayer and some mark-making tools like pencils, a ballpoint pen, and a wooden spoon.
The media has to be oil, not acrylic or water-based inks because only oil will stay moist long enough to do the transfer drawing.
Other materials you will need: drawing or printmaking papers cut to the size you want.
To start, squeeze a small amount of paint or ink on the disposable palette and spread it across the palette in a simple line. Work with the print brayer to create a smooth film of paint or ink over a large area of the paper palette (or spread the media with the palette knife).
Use any color oil paint or oil-based ink you want. I like brown, black and green.
After the color is spread on the palette, lay a clean piece of paper carefully on top. Don’t press it down. Don’t touch it or your fingerprints will show on the reverse side.
Your paper can be smaller than the paper palette and smaller than the ink or paint you’ve spread, or it can be as large as the paper palette (or even hang beyond it).
Have fun drawing with a pencil, pen or another mark-making tool. See how gently or how hard you need to press down to get the line transfer you want. The image will be in reverse. You may even like the image backward.
Some of your reverse drawings will be winners, and like Paul Klee you can add watercolor paint, ink crayons or pastel. Some of your reverse drawings will be less than perfect, but ideal papers for collage.
Try to write backwards in your reverse drawings. Try to do the drawing without a pen or pencil so you don’t see the lines as you are making them. Surprise yourself.
If you want to write text you can read, write it backwards, so it will read forward on the reverse side. Or write your words on tracing paper first and flip the paper over, then look at it in reverse as you do the reverse drawing.
You can look at a drawings when you do the reverse drawing if you want to draw from something in front of you.
See my reverse drawing faces at my website. I did variations of a single drawing by changing the speed and direction of the lines I made. I also changed the amount of oil paint on the paper palette (some thicker, some thinner), and changed the pencil or pen.
SERENDIPITY and MORE POSSIBILITIES: a WORK in PROGRESS
I just made reverse drawings of lines on small pieces of printmaking paper for a new collage. I placed the drawings in a grid of 3 across and 4 down, then reorganized them into a larger grid.
When the grid was enlarged, almost all the pieces needed to be adjusted.
Some of the drawings were too bold. Some were too busy. As individuals they were good, but in a group they were competitive and had to be toned down. So I added layers of oil paint to some to make a few lighter and others darker.
I added a little yellow to warm up the white and black. It made grey green. Then I needed to add a vibrant green to add punch.
I put the pieces on a large beautiful sheet of printmaking paper – ready to collage. It’s not yet glued down. So it might change before it’s finished.
In collage, things move (even a little) as you lift them up, turn them over, coat them with glue, lift them back up, and, finally, place then down on the substrate. I call it serendipity.
Are you ready to draw?
Please let me know if you need more information about reverse drawing. Thanks for sharing your comments.
December 21, 2010
The real genius of Robert Rauschenberg is his art made us part of the picture.
Rauschenberg said: “…I am bombarded with TV sets and magazines, by the refuse, by the excess of the world…If I could paint or make an honest work, it should incorporate all of these elements, which were and are a reality.”
Robert Rauschenberg – Retrospective at the Gagosian Gallery in NY
The image nearby is part of Rauschenberg’s “Cardboard” series (1971-72). There are a lot of these at the current mega exhibition “Robert Rauschenberg” at the Gagosian Gallery, 522 W 21 Street, NYC (extended through Jan. 15). And there are a lot of Combines, paintings and sculpture. It’s a huge retrospective.
In the “Cardboards,” Rauschenberg reduced his palette to near monochrome (the boxes are the paint and the canvas). He stated “he liked to work in a material of waste and softness.” I think these works are a direct comment on the disposability of modern life.
Rauschenberg’s trash is art and expands what contemporary art can be.
“Gift for Apollo” includes oil paint, wood, fabric, newspaper, print reproductions, metal bucket, metal chain, dooknob and rubber wheels (size 43×29 inches, depth variable).
Did you notice the green tie? It probably belonged to Rauschenberg, who included his own wardrobe in his works. Some of his paintings include cuffs from his shirts!
I love things with wheels – it looks like a child’s toy that you play with – but this baby’s toy is anchored to an oil bucket.
Rauschenberg’s “Combines” are all about improvisation and a sense of joyous discovery.
Holland Cotter’s NY Times exhibition review said: You’ll see Invention, Adventure and a lot of Muchness (his words).
The gallery produced a lovely exhibition catalog if you want it.
Rauschenberg died in 2008 (not so long ago). He was – and still is – an immense presence in contemporary art. Like everyone in the gallery, I was mingling with art history.
Anselm Kiefer – “Next Year in Jerusalem”
On the same day I saw the Rauschenberg retrospective, I walked 3 blocks north to another location of the Gagosian Gallery (West 24th Street, NYC) to see the mega exhibition “Anselm Kiefer: Next Year in Jerusalem.”
The show closed Dec. 18, but if you are a Kiefer fan (I think he is one of the most important visual artist alive today), you must purchase the exhibition catalog – it’s a work of art in itself, fully illustrated and includes Kiefer’s own words plus an essay by Marina Warner. I will definitely order the book. The images and layout are superb and I want to read the artist’s comments.
The image above, titled “Occupations,” is a huge steel container you cannot enter but can look into – and contains 76 enormous photographs mounted on lead (within) and a photograph of Kiefer from 1969 doing the Nazi HitlergruB (outside) at the rear end of the container.
Anselm Kiefer was born in Germany the last year of WWII and gained international fame in his 20s – he took photos of himself doing the Sieg Heil salute in front of places occupied by the Nazis during the Second World War. Kiefer currently lives and works in Paris, France.
Jerry Saltz reviewed “Next Year in Jerusalem” in NY Magazine. Jerry gives the show a Thumbs-up with an asterisk, and wrote: (the exhibition) is insanely over the top – a sort of walk-in mausoleum of enormous vitrines, containing objects like airplane engines, mummified wedding gowns, miniature submarines and real sunflowers. He did add: “As figurative and narrative as Kiefer’s work is, however, it’s quiote abstract and poetic, seeming to bypass language and rationality while creating patterns of meanig via form, weight, color, texture and compression.”
Everything is somber, low-lit and ashen
The image nearby is an installation view of glass and steel vitrines, some as tall as 20 feet, that contain relic-like sculptures within. Walking through the exhibition space, you see through one glass and metal vitrine to another, to paintings beyond, and observe all the other people as they move about. For me, the exhibition was a powerful commentary on war (seen through a glass darkly).
Kiefer’s huge, wall hung landscape paintings are thickly layered with ash, include lead, distressed materials and even a snakeskin, and depict iconic, barren landscapes of mountains, forests or the sea.
Roberta Smith, in a NY Times review of the Kiefer exhibition said: The power (of the show) is hard to deny…You will not see an art gallery look quite like this anytime soon. All the Kiefer installation photos (Gagosian Gallery) by Rob McKeever.