POETIC PASTIMES: THE CHERRY BLOSSOM COLLAGE WITH CUT PAPERS
My workshop – Cherry Blossom Collage with Cut Papers is scheduled for Sunday, April 15, 2012 (10-4) at the Newark Museum, Newark, NJ. Think PINK. The workshop is all about delicate pink flowers and spring.
The timing is perfect. In Metro New York/New Jersey and the surrounding suburbs, the trees are in flower. The colors of spring are all around us.
In preparation for the workshop, I visited NY Central Art Supply at 62 Third Ave., NYC to buy hand made papers from Japan (and Thailand), bark paper, and delicate pink papers for the workshop. NY Central has a world-famous paper department.
I think collage always starts with the paper. Some people like to work with natural papers. Some like to work with decorated papers. I like to paint papers and create a custom palette for collage. I like to work with papers that are hand-made and natural, and also work with papers that are machine made, printed and textured.
I will bring papers, paints and a sample collage to the workshop. I will bring cherry blossom images to inspire. I will bring a sample collage that shows a stylized Japanese landscape with a winding river and trees in blossom (see the image further down this post).
We will build a collage in paper with color, texture and pattern.
The vintage image above shows a courtesan strolling in the garden in spring. It is included in the exhibition titled Poetic Pastimes: Japan and the Art of Leisure that is currently installed at the Newark Museum, Newark, NJ (through May 6, 2012). The exhibition is the inspiration for the workshop. Image: courtesy the Newark Museum.
Poetic Pastimes is a celebration of the seasons. As you enter the exhibition, you see spring, followed by summer, autumn and winter. The exhibition includes over 150 masterworks from the Museum collection, including prints, paintings, lacquer, textiles, ceramics and more.
SYMBOLISM OF THE CHERRY BLOSSOM TREE
In Japan, from the time of the Heian Period (794-1185), poets, singers, aristocrats and members of ordinary households would gather around cherry blossom trees to appreciate their beauty. It became a national pastime in spring, and the cherry blossom tree became a highly revered species in Japan.
Cherry blossoms are the national flower of Japan.
Newark NJ has the largest and most diverse collection of cherry blossom varieties in the U S – bigger than the national display in Washington, DC.
Here’s a link to the Essex County Cherry Blossom festival in Newark, NJ.
There are cherry blossom trolley tours at Branch Brook Park (admission $5) Saturday to Saturday, April 14-21. Meet at the Welcome Center. More information…
The Workshop POETIC PASTIMES:
THE CHERRY BLOSSOM COLLAGE WITH CUT PAPERS
The image (above) shows the sample collage I created for the workshop. The horizontal background is 11×14 inches ledger paper painted a light spring green. The meandering stream is a collage element in bright blue and the 5 flowering trees with pink cherry blossoms are more cut painted papers. The top and bottom strips are the reverse side of painted papers with additional brown and pink collage elements.
The image (above) shows step one in painting papers. I used Golden Paints “open” acrylics in green gold mixed with Atelier “interactive” transparent yellow. I used Golden satin glaze medium to thin the paints and make them more transparent (you can use any brand of acrylic medium). I used an ordinary plastic disposable plate and a plastic palette knife. I painted papers in multiple layers.
I cut 2 long, thin strips from the top and bottom of the background paper and painted them deeper green for a border.
Painting papers with a palette knife, and mixing layers of color is fun and easy to do. You can experiment as you paint. If you don’t like a color, paint over it with a lighter or darker color. Leave areas uncovered as you add a new color, or scratch (etch) into the color as you paint. Paint as thick or thin as you like. Acrylic colors dry darker so you will always be surprised.
CLOSE UP VIEW OF THE STREAM
The image above shows a closer view of the stream with fish, overhanging trees and flowers. I drew the outline of the stream on an 8.5×11 inch piece of Crane’s cotton rag paper. I used a soft lead pencil (4B) and drew and erased several versions until the curved shape of the stream seemed right.
I tore the paper along the curved line by hand with a steady motion (slowly). The cotton paper is easy to tear. As I painted, I etched waves into the blue paint with the tip and side of the palette knife.
The nice part of painting the stream on a separate piece of paper is you can see how the dried color looks against the background color, and if you don’t like the color relationship, you can repaint. You also have the ability to move the paper stream around on the background to exactly the place you want – and can create the best design when you are ready to glue down the papers.
The image above is my line drawing for trees in the collage. I reduced and reversed the image from one tree to make 5 trees, produced a single sheet of paper with all the images and glued the drawings to the back of a sheet of painted rice paper to make it easier to see and cut out trees.
I will bring a stream template and the tree templates to the workshop and people who don’t want to make drawings can use my templates.
FINDING THE RIGHT COLORS
The image above shows 4 sheets of painted papers in different colors ranging from yellow green to brown to black. On the top row the yellow green is nickel azo yellow mixed with a small amount of raw umber. The darker green includes the addition of chromium oxide green. The bottom row black is a thin layer of Mars black. The brown is raw umber over nickel azo yellow.
I painted over ordinary copier papers printed in black toner ink. I planned to use the papers for the trees in the collage, but didn’t like the paper and I didn’t like the colors.
The image below shows Golden nickel azo yellow acrylic painted over Japanese rice paper. I like the way the paper accepts the paint and I like the size of the text that shows through.
Here’s a link to the color chart for Golden Paints heavy body acrylics. You can see how many different colors are available.
The image below shows the tree patterns I created. I glued them to the reverse side of the painted Japanese rice paper. I was careful as I cut around each tree. Some of the little branches got chopped, but I was able to piece them back together.
CUTTING AND GLUING
The image below shows my bristle brush (for gluing), a tiny plastic cup with white PVA glue, and a cut paper tree – all sitting on a piece of waxed paper. I use the waxy paper as waste paper and as a barrier sheet when gluing. The size of the brush will vary with the size of the papers I glue. The type of glue will vary depending on the type of papers in the collage. For thin paper, I use acrylic medium. For medium weight paper, I use PVA white glue. For thick paper, I use carpenter’s glue.
Notice the multiple pieces in brown and white papers left over from cutting out the tree. Matisse used every piece of paper in his cut paper collages, and I found a way to use the snippets in the cherry blossom collage.
PAPER FOR PINK CHERRY BLOSSOMS
The image below is pink painted paper (painted on imported Indian paper). The pinks are made with white and deep pink acrylic paint. On the same table is the sample collage with assembled painted papers. Everything is sitting loose, ready to be glued.
Notice the horizontal strips at the top and the bottom of the collage. These are the reverse side of the same paper strips that are painted green (seen in an image above).
I planned to use the green strips but liked the reverse side better. I call it “serendipity” when you find something unexpected that you like better than what you planned. The final plan for the collage includes leftovers from cutting the trees and flowers. I wanted to bring these papers into the borders. Nothing goes to waste.
I will bring hand-outs about the history of Japanese papers – called Washi – to the workshop.
I will bring pink, white, blue, green and yellow acrylic paint and plastic palette knives to the workshop.
I will bring color copies of contemporary cherry blossom designs (simple flowers in an overall pattern like the sample below) for people who want to make a collage that is abstract.
I will bring color images of tree branches in bloom for people who want to make a collage that is naturalistic. Some participants will want to paint background and branches and add cut paper cherry blossoms.
I will bring copies of a courtesan for people who want to include these images.
If you take the workshop, all tools, glue, water media paints and papers are provided so you can create a colorful collage painting. Participants can bring their own decorative papers and make their collage more personal.
The workshop is 6 hours and there is ample time to finish a collage.
Your comments are always welcome.