1. a : an artistic composition made of various materials (as paper, cloth, or wood) glued on a surface b : a creative work that resembles such a composition in incorporating various materials or elements
: the art of making collages
: hodgepodge <a collage of ideas>
Collage. From the French “coller” – meaning glue.
Braques. Picasso. Schwitters. Matisse. Rauschemburg. Bearden. Nick Bantock. Joseph Cornell. Lenore Tawney. Kara Walker.
When I was teaching middle school – I always taught a Matisse inspired collage project, it was one of my favorites. In poor health, and advancing years – Matisse leapt artistically into collage – “drawing with scissors” as he called it. And while my style of working with “various materials glued to a surface” is very different – this picture brings me happiness and inspiration without fail!
So I am working on new collages for an upcoming show… and began documenting the process this (oops. last) week. Before I begin the actual collage, there are sketches, research, reading, themes, symbols… I am currently doing a series of 9 small (8″ ) pieces. They will hang as a unit – and are thematically related – the Muses of Classical myth. During the research phase, I hunted for images of each Muse. I like to incorporate found images – providing they are free of copyright restrictions… I want to work with the Muses as they have come down to me through art, history, and culture. They are not my original construct, and I want to acknowledge their classical context via found images. I am one of a long line of artists representing the Muses – for thousands of years…
The images have been photocopied, and transferred to canvas or paper. While I like to use found images I always alter them to make them my own. I feel they need to have the marks of my process on them; and I find a copied image too perfect; sterile. The transfer process is by its very nature imperfect, and I work back into the image with ink, paint, pencil…
So starting out, I create a composition with large background sections of paper/color. This series is unusual for me. I am trying to create a cohesive composition overall, yet have each small canvas read well individually.
When I am happy with the interplay of color, texture and pattern, I trim the papers and tweak the arrangements. I will be collaging the sides of the canvases to cover the canvas and eliminate the need for frames. The canvas transfers are very hazy with paper residue at this point; they will be cleared up and enhanced soon.
The following shots show the series at approximately 65% complete. I have glued the base layers down. I use a mix of 50% PVA archival glue and 50% Jo-Sonja’s medium. The Jo-Sonja’s is very thin and permeates the paper well. I have glued down the focal images of the Muses. The canvas images have been accented with washed of ink and/or acrylic. I deepen the background with color to create interest and more contrast on the image. I have also begun to add additional papers into the compositions – fibers, patterns… and supplemental images transferred on as well.
The next picture shows you a detail of one 8″ collage. The yellow cording is antique, and will be stitched through the canvas where you see it tacked down now. The lyre image was transferred into mulberry paper – which goes almost transparent when collaged on with Jo Sonja’s medium. Allows me to “print” right on the collage surface.
Another detail: stitching to be done, antique lace medallion affixed with gel medium.
The process takes up the whole of the studio. The 9 canvases alone cover the main work table, and need to remain together. I want to work on them simultaneously to maintain continuity. The small bare space of table showing is where I actually work.
The table behind me is a catch-all. Coffee, water, lace, ribbons, inks, extra photocopies… When I am working on collages there is very little room for anything else!
Note: this “C” entry was supposed to be Feb. 18th. Hmm. It is currently the 22nd. Sigh. Will try to get the alphabet caught up. But I was busy collaging!