I get a lot of comments about my post Late Night Musings on the Value of Art…

I open the blog with a review of the book $12 Million Stuffed Shark – The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art (2008) by Don Thompson.

Damien Hirst, shark in formaldehyde

Damien Hirst, shark in formaldehyde

The $12 million refers to the price for a dead shark in formaldehyde by the contemporary artist Damien Hirst (British, born 1965). He was considered the most important member of a group known as the Young British Artists who dominated the art scene in the UK in the 1990s. Critics are now very dismissive of Damien Hirst.

The image above is by Damien Hirst and titled The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. All images are courtesy the Internet.

Contemporary art is always about controversy

Bad Boy by Eric Fischl, co written with Michael Stone

Bad Boy by Eric Fischl, co written with Michael Stone

I just finished a new book titled Bad Boy: My Life On and Off the Canvas, by Eric Fischl (co-written with Michael Stone, 2013).

It’s an excellent read. I recommend it to everyone who wants a glimpse inside the art world in the 1980s.

The book is a narrative in Eric Fischl’s voice about his childhood (1948-1965), growing up in a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic mother, and about his career in the hyper-charged and competitive NY art scene in the 1970s and 1980s. That art world was a world of fashion, fame, cocaine and booze.

The narrative is excellent. Fischl has a gift for conversation. The book includes images of his paintings and commentaries from artists, friends and collectors (including David Salle, Steve Martin and John McEnroe).

The first page of  the book is a bizarre recounting of a car chase, following Fischl’s opening night reception at the Whitney Museum of American Art for his retrospective (1986). He admits he was high on cocaine.

The story tracks back and tells us about his childhood, how he got accepted at CalArts (a very prestigeous and selective art school), the intense competition among the students at CalArts, and how he struggled, post graduation, to find his style and become an important contemporary artist. His resume is a stunning list.

Bad Boy (the book) is named after an infamous painting Fischl did titled Bad Boy (oil on canvas, 1981, 66×96 inches). The painting propelled Fischl to art-world stardom. I choose not to show the painting but you can see it online.

Fischl writes about his style and concept. He chose figurative painting with bold, brushy strokes. His subjects refer to his life and biographical details.

John Seed interviewed the artist in the Huffpost, Arts & Culture (August 30, 2013). Fischl told him: “Almost all of my early art dealt with the fallout from middle-class taboos, the messy, the ambivalent emotions couples felt, the inherent racism, the sexual tensions and the unhappiness roiling below the surface of our prim suburban lives. Meanwhile I was a suburban bad boy – cynical, sarcastic, contemptuous of all authority.”

I took notes when Fischl discussed the ways he approached his works. Fischl said he made split paintings (multiple panels) to explore the connections between time and memory and between physical and psychological space. He said he split the paintings to keep his creative juices flowing.  He added: “I have consciously tried to make work that took fragments and put them back together – impressions and bits of memories collaged into foreign lands or suburban settings, all with the purpose of making them appear seamless.

He said he was reliving his experiences as he was painting them, always at the point just before things fall apart.

Fischl describes his life with the artist April Gornik, who he married. The book includes comments by relatives, artist friends and collectors that are interesting additions to the book. They give their insight and compliment Fischl’s commentary.

The introduction says Fischl rebelled against conceptual and minimalist art that was in fashion in the time he started his career. He said his paintings became portraits that expressed angst and tension.

Eric Fischl, Self Portrait Unfinished Work, 2011

Eric Fischl, Self Portrait Unfinished Work, 2011

The large oil on canvas (above) is dated 2011 and titled Self Portrait – An Unfinished Painting. Many paintings by Fischl are large group portraits of friends at the beach.

Fischl wrote: My whole career I’ve been trying to make paintings that people can relate to, respond to emotionally and not stand in front of scratching their heads. He doesn’t love contemporary, non representational art.

He is sad that his work has been eclipsed by younger artists and new styles.

I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars as a review. It’s a really good book – I do recommend it – but I didn’t like the way it ended.

Delphine Barguidjian reviewed Bad Boy (see Scene, May 6, 2013). She asked Fischl: Do you think the art world has changed much since the 1980s? He responded: These days the institutions and galleries are less important, art fairs are more important. Short term, short hit, sensational aspect. That’s how people buy art nowadays – buy it fast and it doesn’t even leave their storage warehouse before they sell it off again.

Fischl said he was uncomfortable with the fragmentation and meaninglessness in contemporary art, and singles out Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst as examples.

Please add your comments if you’ve read the book and about whether or not you think Fischl’s art is (or was) controversial.

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COLOR – THAT’S IT

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.

Nancy Egol, Nikkal, Musical Notes 1 and 2, 2011

Nikkal, Musical Notes 1 and 2, 2011

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.

1 and 2 installation Color Game collages

Nikkal, Color Game 1 and 2, 2012

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.

Nikkal, DNA, 2012

Nikkal, DNA, 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.

DNA image the Internet

DNA image the Internet

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.

Nikkal, Random Squares in a Grid 2

Nikkal, Random Squares in a Grid 2

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.

Nikkal, Random Squares Grid 7, 2012

Nikkal, Random Squares Grid 7, 2012

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.

Nikkal, Colors by Chance, 2013

Nikkal, Colors by Chance, 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.

Nikkal, Colors by Chance 4, 2013

Nikkal, Colors by Chance 4, 2013

Nikkal, Colors by Chance 3, 2013

Nikkal, Colors by Chance 3, 2013

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.

Small Scale Collage

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.

Nancy Egol Nikkal, collage on a card 1, 6x4, 2013

Nancy Egol Nikkal, collage on a card 1, 6×4, 2013

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.

Nancy Egol Nikkal, card with collage 2, 4x5, 2013

Nancy Egol Nikkal, collage on a card 2, 4×5, 2013

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.

Nancy Egol Nikkal, collage on a card 3, 4x6, 2013

Nancy Egol Nikkal, collage on a card 3, 4×6, 2013

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.

Nancy Egol Nikkal, collage on card 4, 4"x6", 2013

Nancy Egol Nikkal, collage on card 4, 4×6, 2013

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.”

Read more…

Thanks for reading. Please let me know how you recycle papers into art with collage.

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.

Nikkal studio worktable view

Nikkal studio worktable view

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.

Antique Wood Flat Files

Antique Wood Flat Files

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.

metal storage boxes

Metal Storage Boxes

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?

Vintage Storage Bin

Vintage Storage Bin

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.

Storage Boxes

Storage Boxes

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.

What Did You Do In 2012?

January 11, 2013

I subscribe to Alyson B Stanfield’s artbizblog.

The December 19, 2012 post at Art Biz Blog, titled Year End Review  opens with:

You probably did more in 2012 that you are giving yourself credit for.

I immediately followed Stanfield’s suggestion to take time and outline my own accomplishments for the year 2012.

It was a wonderful exercise, both supportive (I got to see that I accomplished goals I set) and encouraging (I got to put in writing my goals for 2013).

Categories in the year-end review include:

How did you promote your art and what did you do to enhance your online presence? (Marketing Triumphs)

How did you strategize and track your growth, what books did you read to help your career, what grants/honors/awards did you receive (Business Growth)

Creative Challenges (how did you improve your studio habits)

Personal Happiness

Nancy Nikkal at Art Basel Miami Beach 2012

Nancy Nikkal at Art Basel Miami Beach 2012

Getting to see contemporary art in a setting like Art Basel Miami Beach makes me happy. I was there for 5 days December 4-8, 2012.

It’s an incredible experience, because the art you see ranges from museum quality blue chip art – to independent fine art dealer’s inventory from every country – to experimental and funky art that surely expands our understanding of what contemporary art is and can be. You get to see it all at Art Basel Miami. It’s an opportunity to meet and network with artists, gallery people (who were very friendly and accessible), and collectors. I attended programs, openings and free events. It was non-stop.

In the image above, I am standing in front of what I call a dimensional collage.  The image was taken at one of the large art fairs. The image is courtesy of Mary Hunter (my artist friend who met me in Miami, FL for 5 days to see all the shows).  I will write about the fairs, the program Conversations (with artist Richard Tuttle in dialog with Chris Dercon, Director of Tate Modern, London), and a visit to the Rubell Family Collection in upcoming blogs.

The final category in the Year End Review at Art Biz Blog was:

What was the single best thing that happened to your art career in 2012?

I will write about that in an upcoming blog. Hint: it was a huge undertaking and it was worth it.

I recommend you do your own Year-End Review at the Art Biz blog site.

Here’s a link to a pdf with more career advice especially for artists that includes:

Fail-Proof Business Advice from 10 Years of Art Biz Coach

Top 10 Marketing Advice from 10 Years of Art Biz Coach

I include the final 5 here because they are so important. I think you will agree.

(5) Start blogging: Write regularly and consistently. My goal in 2013 is to write blogs about collage that will become content for a book. Alyson Stanfield recommends artists blog about their art to establish their credentials as an expert. That sounds good to me (no matter what the subject)  – because it helps you understand your subject in a deeper way, and the blog provides a place for dialogue with your fans, and makes you more search-engine friendly.

(4) Find ways to get your work out there. It’s critical for you to exhibit your art.

(3) Find ways to communicate about your art. Words can connect your art to more art viewers.

(2) Your contact list is your most valuable asset (keep it current and active).

(1) Get into the studio and make art!

I have a copy of Stanfield’s book I’d rather be in the studio.  It’s an excellent book that is perfectly titled for the dilemma studio artists face – because we are always juggling studio time (what we want to do and where we want to be) with the need to devote time to being out of the studio (marketing, seeing art at museums and openings, networking, writing, updating career and contact information, etc.).

New Goal: In 2013, I plan to send out my newsletter Notes from the Studio more regularly. Its focus will change and be more about what I do in the studio (maybe show works in progress), about juggling time, marketing triumphs, and improving social media skills.  I will always include links to my blog Art of Collage because my studio practice is collage and I teach collage classes and workshops. They are always related. My studio practice keeps my life centered. I teach collage because my purpose is to help people enrich their lives with art (and through making art).  I hope you will sign up to receive the news.

Thank you for reading this post. Let me know how you did in 2012.

Planning

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).

Gavin Jantjes, Untitled, Acrylic

Gavin Jantjes, Untitled, Acrylic

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.

Pleiades Seven Sisters, NASA

Pleiades Seven Sisters, NASA

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).

Nancy Egol Nikkal, Dancing With the Stars, Collage, 2012

Dancing With the Stars, Collage, 2012

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.

Green Painted Paper

Green Painted Paper

Black Painted Paper

Black Painted Paper

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.

Red Painted Paper

Red Painted Paper

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.

Red Painted Paper with Crosshatch Pattern

Red Painted Paper with Crosshatch Pattern

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.

food for collage

food for collage

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.

Magazine Papers

Magazine Papers

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.

Assorted Striped Magazine Papers

Assorted Striped Magazine Papers

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.

HOW TO:

Drawing as Plan

Drawing as Plan

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

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.

See more images at my website.

Nancy Egol Nikkal, Strata 13

Nancy Egol Nikkal, Strata 13

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.

Painted Paper collage by Marlene Furtick

Painted Paper collage by Marlene Furtick

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.

Joyce Dutka collage

Painted Paper Collage by Joyce Dutka

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.

Fabric and Paper Collage by Carol Frank

Fabric and Paper Collage by Carol Frank

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.