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.
January 17, 2013
Making art is a habit you cultivate. It’s a good habit and very important for artists.
But you need a proper space that’s dedicated and a place that makes you feel inclined to work.
I’ve had studios in my home and outside my home. Sometimes it’s more convenient to work from your home. Sometimes it’s better to separate yourself from home and work in a space dedicated to just making art.
My current studio is a dedicated space with worktables, sink, bookshelves, storage cabinets, my easel, printing press and flat files in one room with overhead fluorescent lights, and an east-facing window. I’ve been in the studio, located in New Rochelle, NY at Media Loft for 5 years and I’ve improved my studio space over the years. Media Loft is a great space for artists. We organize open studio events and have a first floor lobby gallery.
The image above is my worktable covered with papers, paints and tools. When I’m working it gets messy.
Notice the paint jars in the center of the table. I bought the jars in a retail stores that sells everything you need for storage. I needed to store paints that I custom mixed. Notice the painted canvas sitting in front. It was a clean piece of canvas and I’m using it as a blotter for excess paint from my palette knife. I swipe the paint onto the canvas and I think this work surface will become a collage element in a future work.
My table gets cluttered with painted papers as I work, and then I clean it up and organize the materials to make room to continue or start over on a new project. When people visit for open studio events, the space gets cleaned up totally, and people think I work that way. You can see that I don’t.
See the painting and collages on the wall behind the worktable. I just had a hanging art system installed in the studio and hung my art as if my studio is a gallery. It looks good when people visit. I also want to look at the painting and collages on the walls. The hanging art is there to inspire me to continue to work on the Metro Series. I am exploring color and want to see the colors I’ve used in front of me. The Metro Series is about geometry. It’s constructed abstraction. Geometry is my reality.
Every artist needs a dedicated space – no matter how small.
It’s easy to get to work when you have a dedicated space where ongoing projects can be left in progress. It means you can leave at the end of the day and return the next day and everything is set out ready for work as soon as you arrive.
But, many artists work in improvised spaces. They make the space work for them.
In a recent class I teach at the Pelham Art Center, a gifted student who’s an artist brought up the subject of her studio space problem.
She is trying to decide the best place to work. She can set up a workspace in her home basement or in her kitchen. The basement is bigger, but is also a shared space for family and TV.
The kitchen would be a happier place – she said it felt right even though it was the kitchen.
I asked if she could find a way to store all her art materials, glue and collage tools in the kitchen.
I don’t know whether the kitchen is vintage or modern, but, no matter what the style, there are new or vintage pieces that could be used for storage (or maybe there is a piece of furniture somewhere in the house that could move into the kitchen).
I found the above image online. I asked for images of antique wood flat file cabinets. I got a huge number of images, including old metal flat files (probably less expensive than new).
Similar pieces can be found at ebay or etsy.com or go scout at a neighborhood antique shop, a tag sale or country auction. Maybe you already own something like this. It’s a beautiful piece to store your beautiful papers.
The image above is suitable for an office or contemporary styled room. It’s readily available if you look for metal storage files or boxes.
If there isn’t floor space, is there a place to set a portable writing desk or stack storage boxes on top?
The image above appeals to me. It’s vintage and could hold postcards and small booklets for projects in progress. I would leave it on top of a cabinet or counter in the kitchen as a constant reminder of your creative time.
I’ve seen portable desks (writing desks) with storage compartments. Everything is tucked away and safe.
The image above shows 2 storage boxes to store collage papers, scissors, pencils, pens, etc. The boxes come in so many sizes and range in prices and are available online and in retail stores. They look fine stacked and could be stashed in a cupboard, on top of a cabinet or counter. I would keep glue in an upright position inside a cabinet.
Taking Out and Putting Back Can be a Good Thing
There’s a benefit to taking out materials every time you begin to work on a project because you handle all the media and see things anew. When you return the materials to the storage container, you organize again, preparing for the next time you will work. You can write notes on what your next steps will be so you are ready to begin when you return.
I suggested to my student that she could organize her materials (papers) and place them into extra-large plastic zipper bags, sorted by project. Depending on how the kitchen is organized, the bags could be placed in a kitchen drawer, or into a freestanding stack of drawers on wheels, or into a crate.
I have stored papers in plastic page separators organized into 3-ring binders. I sorted the papers by color, texture, pattern and image. I place the binders on a shelf with art books (for reference) next to my stack of magazines that are a resource for more collage papers. My favorite magazines are ArtForum and Art News.
Check out ebay or etsy.com (storage and organization) for vintage storage pieces if that’s your taste. Or go online and locate sources for new types of storage – boxes, containers, flat files, storage drawers, etc.
It seems like everyone is into storage solutions today.
What solutions have you created? Please share how you’ve organized your personal art project space. Thanks for sharing.
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
September 13, 2012
When I started making collage more than 25 years ago, I liked to use cut-outs from magazines.
I never had enough papers with the right images and it took a really long time to collect the papers I wanted.
I always needed more papers. So I added handmade and decorated imported papers to the magazine cut-out papers.
Handmade papers can be very expensive. I didn’t want to use junk papers. I love saturated color and texture and pattern, and that usually costs more.
I started to paint magazine papers with acrylic paints. The bigger and fatter the magazine, the better. Heavy body acrylics are the kind I like. I also work with “open” acrylic paints because they stay wet longer.
Recently I created printed papers for collage and used the open acrylics. It was an experiment. It didn’t work.
Open acrylics work so well for painted papers, but I don’t like the way the paints transfer image and color when it’s a print. It’s not as rich as printmaking with oil and water-based inks. The acrylic colors are flat and dull when the paint is transferred to the paper.
Exploring Printmaking with Intaglio Inks and Oil Paints
I tried printmaking with Akua intaglio inks. I like the way the inks transfer pattern and color. I love the mellow surface.
The image below is a sample of the papers created with the Akua Intaglio inks. I will use these papers for collage.
I was able to get transparencies and also texture.
Read more about how to work with the Akua intaglio inks.
Oil Paints for a Collagraph Print Collage
The image below is a sample of the papers I created with oil paints. This was a lot of fun. I used a palette knife to apply oil paint directly onto brown supermarket bags cut into small pieces. I laid the painted papers face up onto a Plexiglas plate and placed a dry piece of printmaking paper on top and ran the print through the press.
What you see below is not the print. These are the papers that were inked with oil paint and used to make the print.
I said the printmaking process was “collagraph.” In this process, I ink the papers with oil paint and place them onto the print plate and transfer the paint from the loose papers.
Typically, when you make a collagraph, you build up the surface of the plate with texture by brushing on acrylic mediums, or gluing down textured papers, silk fabric, or even painting with glue. After the media is dry, you ink and wipe the plate, place the printmaking paper on top and run it through the press.
The Print Parts Became a Whole Collage
I didn ‘t like my collagraph at all. The painted papers didn’t transfer the the paint the way I wanted them to, probably because the painted papers were in two layers. The transferred image was too light.
But, I loved the way the papers looked, and decided to use them for collage.
I had to let them dry for 2 days.
I made 3 collages. See them below. 2 are glued to wood panels that are about 1 inch thick. One is glued to paper.
I will donate these to the Silvermine Arts Center for their benefit Signed Sealed & Delivered on Sunday, October 28, 2012. At Signed Sealed & Delivered, all of the works are 4×6 inches. Some of the works are 3D. All are for sale.
Read more about the benefit event at Silvermine Arts Center. See how the works are installed for the public to view and select. The works are by Silvermine Guild artists, faculty and well-known friends. The event will benefit Silvermine’s public programs.
The images below looks layered. Actually, the semi-transparent areas are where I removed a layer of paper.
The image above is collage on paper.
The image below is collage on wood panel. Notice the strip of paper that looks orange and blue located near the bottom. That is actually the reverse side of the painted paper. It’s the supermarket bag side. I like the texture and mottled effect.
Paper is a huge category. Handmade papers can be very expensive.
There are many choices for paper collage that are not too expensive. You can use construction paper, sandpaper, copier paper, tissue paper, wrapping paper, wallpaper, paper bags, junk mail, papers you collect (letters, postcards, receipts), photographs, and more.
You can use books and book covers.
Don’t throw anything away!
I often recycle papers, and use my own drawings, paintings and prints. Best, for me, is to create my own papers for collage.
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.
July 19, 2012
When projects are unfinished, it’s good to continue.
So we continued with Collage All Mixed Up – the previous class project at the Pelham Art Center where I teach Thursday evenings.
The class is titled Embellish An Image: Play with Collage. We have a project each week, sometimes determined by me, sometimes suggested by one of the class members. Sometimes we don’t finish the project during the class.
We cut and tear. We glue. We layer. We play. We experiment. We embellish. We get very involved and forget about time. Then we finish the project at home or we continue the following week.
Here’s a bit of information: when you make art over a period of time, when there’s a break and you return to the work, the second sweep will often change the look of the work. It can become a new work (different from the earlier work) and that’s ok.
MIX IT UP MULTI MEDIA
The image below shows a work that includes drawing and collage that was completed over 2 weeks. It was embellished with drawing.
The central figure is in 3 parts all mixed up: the feet are male athlete’s feet. The body is a fashion figure in a pink jacket. The face is a lovable white dog (a poodle?).
The drawn lines connect everything, including a connection to the trailing flower stems in the paper collage piece at the bottom. There is a wonderful sense of white space and hand drawing.
This image truly expresses the charm and personality of the person who created it.
The project Collage All Mixed Up (the Exquisite Corpse) is really my attempt to introduce my students to Surrealism, an art movement that began in the early 1920s.
Surrealism includes collage. Many famous artists of the 20th century were Surrealists, including Max Ernst, Joan Miro, Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte and Andre Breton (a poet known as the founder of Surrealism).
The Surrealist writers and artists met in cafes, played collaborative drawings games, and developed automatic drawing as a means to express the subconscious. Works included unexpected visual (or literary) juxtapositions or materials and imagery via collage. Read about surrealism.
LAYERS LAYERS LAYERS
The image below shows another work that was completed over 2 weeks. The first week the student spent her time locating papers and cutting them out precisely. She never got to gluing things down – which served her well, because she added papers the second week, and found new ways to use the papers, and the work changed dramatically.
I talked to the students about how collage can be multi-layered. I think placing a background collage layer is a good way to start a collage. The background can be a large single piece or multiple pieces of paper. The papers can be found in books, prints or magazines, can be fabric, can be photographs or photocopies, can be painted papers, drawings or prints.
The main image that sits on top of the background collage will be more interesting and seem to have more depth.
Notice the image above. Papers were collected from art and fashion magazines. The images are layered. Notice the yellow and black papers that sit under the model’s legs – to create contrast so you see the figure. Notice how the student cut diagonal patterns along the edge of the background papers and tore edges on other papers to move your eye around. The colors are all related, and there’s a lot of energy in the design.
The image below shows another work that was completed over 2 weeks. Some of the collage was glued down the first week, but most of the time the first week was spent finding the right magazine papers.
I like to stress design principles in the class – like repeating shapes in various sizes (scale) and finding papers in a range of colors that show different hues and values. The variations make the composition much more interesting. Finding papers with pattern and drawing adds more interest.
COLLAGE TO TELL A STORY
We talked in the fist class about a narrative approach to collage. I suggested students pick a word or a phrase and find text and images, then create a story collage. It’s another good way to begin.
Notice how the blues and reds range from subdued to saturated color, from opaque to gradient and patterned color. The round objects, the wheel in red and blue, the fish and the sunlit water (see the tilted blue square on the left) lead your eye around and through the composition. Like the neon orange fish, you are traveling through the space. That’s good. There is a wonderful juxtaposition of the various elements, lots of layering, and many words to tell the STORY.
THE POWER OF ONE COLOR
The image below shows a work that was completed in a single class session.
The collage was made with magazine papers, hand made black and white striped paper and text. It’s multi-layered and includes a lot of different paper elements. This student especially likes to make abstract art with bold color, high contrast, and geometric design. I told her I liked the juxtaposition of cut and torn papers, curved and straight shapes. There’s a lot of movement under, over, around, across, off the edge and back in again. Stripes make it work even better.
The image below is a voyage to an exotic place. The student found papers that suited her green sensibility (at the time of the class) as well as papers that included patterns and stripes to go with the hand-made black and white striped paper I brought to the class. This collage has multiple layers of paper. The striped paper is part of the under layer of the collage. The cut and torn magazine papers create geometric abstraction, suggest natural landscape and also include peekaboo graphic images that surprise.
Did you notice that everyone did a different work? I love that. In my next blog (for the next project) I will include images by more class members.
Please post you questions, if you want to know more about the papers, resources or projects.
July 5, 2012
The summer class I teach at the Pelham Art Center: Embellish An Image: Play with Collage includes a mix of new students and returning students, ranging in ages from younger than 20 to seventies and above. It’s a great group. They are all creative and many are very experienced with art and collage.
Because it was the first class for the summer session, I asked the students to introduce themselves and say what they wanted to accomplish in the 8 classes. I wanted them to learn about each other and what they each expected. It’s important for the students to hear about each other’s goals, and sharing is important for the group experience.
COLLAGE and JEAN ARP
I planned the first class with a learning-to-see project that would be simple and also challenging: a geometric abstraction.
I brought individual sandwich-sized Baggies filled with tiny pre-cut papers, one Baggie for each person. See the image below with the papers, a metal ruler, a pair of scissors, a pencil and an eraser. You can see how small the papers are in relation to the ruler and pencil.
IT LOOKS EASY…LOOKS ARE DECEIVING
The collage project is inspired by a work of art titled Rectangles Arranged According to the Laws of Chance by Jean (Hans) Arp. Arp’s collage includes 22 papers. Arp (French, born Germany – Alsace, 1886-1966) created many collages titled Squares (Rectangles) Arranged According to the Laws of Chance. See more images.
I wanted the class to pay attention the different shapes and sizes of the papers. If the papers were different, they would create a totally different work of art.
I showed a sample (reproduction) of Art’s collage. See image below. The original collage, completed in 1916, is about 10 x 5 inches.
We discussed a little bit about Arp and the art movement called Dada. They all knew something about it. I suggested that Arp didn’t arrange his papers by chance even though the title of his work says so (and Arp did multiple collages with that title).
I tossed a few loose papers onto the table to demonstrate that the papers didn’t – couldn’t – land in the same order as the sample collage I showed them.
We talked about how to begin placing the papers. I created a sample collage with the same papers that were included in the Baggies. See the image below.
I said the class project would be fun and challenging and test their ability to look carefully (it really was all about developing that skill).
I showed them the gluing technique I use: white PVA glue applied with a bristle brush, papers pressed flat with a plastic squeegee. I showed them how I applied the glue and used a piece of waxed paper as a barrier sheet between the collage and the squeegee as the papers are glued down.
I said they should study the collage by Arp and notice the spaces between the papers, the angles if they varied, where the papers touch, and if they overlap.
The papers in the Baggies ranged in color from white to warm grey and green grey to black, representing 5 different tonal values. Each person got a watercolor-weight paper substrate in a contrasting white. The substrate is the bottom collage layer.
I showed the students that some of the papers in my sample collage were shaded with a pencil and some of the pencil markings were lightened with the eraser – all to create texture and tonal variations.
I brought artists pencils – 3B, 4B, 5B, and 7B. They tried out the different pencils and selected the pencil they wanted to use. B is a soft lead pencil. The higher the number, the softer the lead and darker the line. I also brought pencils H and HB, which are harder lead and make lighter lines. Nobody wanted to use these.
See samples of the collages created in the class below. Each collage is inspired by Arp’s collage, but each one is unique because each student decided to be original as they finished assembling the papers. Many took the collage to the next level and cut and pasted extra papers to embellish their image.
The images above include extra papers, curvy, cut shaped papers, and 3 dimensional cut papers.
We all need creative time. The collage class is about play (it’s titled Play With Collage), but it’s really about personal expression, developing an eye, and building confidence with each success.
I believe PLAY IS SERIOUS WORK.
I checked out “Adults Need to Play, Too (online) and found a link to many articles, including an article in Scientific American magazine titled The Serious Need for Play.
They say life flows with greater ease if we allow ourselves some time for play every day.
They say it makes us better adjusted, smarter and less stressed. Read more…
June 21, 2012
I teach an 8 week collage class – Embellish An Image: Play with Collage at the Pelham Art Center (Pelham, NY), scheduled for June 28-August 16, 2012. Each time I lead the classes, I think about how to create the best collage class experience for each person.
Some people will be new this session. Some people are returning a second time. For the new people, I need to find out what their skill level is and what they want to learn. For the people who are returning. I need to expand what we cover.
I thought about how to make the repeat (basic) projects fresh and how to introduce new projects, techniques and information.
Take My Survey
I have a survey with 38 questions about classes and workshops (see the survey nearby) I ask people to answer yes or no to statements like: I like classes where projects are unique every week. I like workshops that introduce experimental techniques. I like workshops that include portrait collage/landscape collage/narrative collage. I like workshops that include geometric abstraction…
The survey asks if people like to work with imported, exotic papers, if they like to work with natural materials, if they like to work with recycled and repurposed materials. Do they like workshops that focus on drawing and collage? Do they want to make collage with acrylic or water media? And more.
I get the responses and get a picture of what different people want to do.
At the first class I will ask everyone to talk about themselves and their experience with art and collage. I want to learn what they want to learn.
I want to teach the collage classes so that each person has collage success.
I’ll tell them what I planned for the classes. I’ll ask what they want to add or subtract.
A Quickie Collage Project for the 1st Class
I’ll bring papers for a quickie collage project and I’ll do a demonstration on how to glue papers. Everyone will make a collage.
The project will be based on the work of Jean Arp, a geometric collage titled Rectangles Arranged According to the Laws of Chance. See an earlier post about Arp’s collage and the laws of chance. I think chance in Arp’s collage is about the way the papers were selected (and not the way the papers were placed).
Arp’s collage (above) includes papers in black, white and grey. He like to work in black and white.
I hope nobody in the class hates abstraction.
This collage project asks people to notice the way the papers are organized and the spaces within. The project is really about learning to see. It’s a good challenge. See an earlier post for more about this project.
I will propose projects for future weeks that include gluing techniques (fabric and paper collage), expressive drawing (to add a personal touch), learning to mix paints to achieve the colors you want, working with different paint brushes (we’ll create decorated papers), and pin press printmaking (printmaking without a press) to explore mixed media in collage. Each week will include a different technique and explore a range of media.
I’ll bring a variety of lead pencils to the class when we explore drawing. Basic drawing pencils are graded by the softness or hardness of their lead. The softer the lead, the darker the mark you make. The harder the lead, the lighter the mark will be. I’ll bring pastels to add soft color. I’ll bring a variety of paint brushes so people can determine what they like.
I will write about the class projects in the coming weeks.
Please take my survey.