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!
I have been ruminating on this alphabet concept for almost a year. 26 letters; 52 weeks. There is a beautiful symmetry there. I have lists of inspirational words, topics, and the like in my journal. So I am going to begin, on this first Friday of the first month to wend my way through the alphabet, from A to Z.
A is for…
art? artistic? No. A is for amulet:a charm (as an ornament) often inscribed with a magic incantation or symbol to aid the wearer or protect against evil (as disease or witchcraft) From the Latin amuletum; first known Use: 1584 Synonyms: charm, fetish, mascot, mojo,periapt, phylactery, talisman (Thank you Merriam Webster online.)
My personal amulet; my “Mojo” pendant. When I started it – I wasn’t even sure if I would end up wearing it, but I wanted to experiment a bit. It started with the bone game piece, altered with antique paper, and aged. It was a paper-centric class I took with my friend Keith at the Shepherdess. I tend to focus on trying a new technique and creating samples to take back to my studio – as opposed to manically attempting an entire piece of art in a class scenario. Doesn’t that sound logical? You would be surprised…
Anyway – it reads “Happy in her studio” found text from a turn-of-the-century art book. It is drilled and adorned with three garnets. The paintbrush, sacrificed, cut short and topped with a copper bail. (The component missing in this picture is a ceramic shard from Marsha Neal Studio. It needs to be replaced.) A delightful woman met me at a show (Artsfest at Annmarie Garden) and offered me antique doll parts. A treasure to have, for sure, but this one is the first I have incorporated into a wearable piece. The sea glass and river stone were drilled through by me, another skill accumulated in a class with Keith. The copper “trapeze” shape is simply forged wire.
This piece reads on many different levels for me. It is a compilation of the materials I love to work with: clay, paint, paper, metal, found objects. It represents all these materials unified in a mixed media piece. I have been gravitating more and more to mixed media, and think that is a strength and source of creative inspiration for me. I am so fortunate to be able to work with my hands, at what I love, every day. I felt that needed to be honored, and appreciated – with the hand itself. There is a magic to creating an object of beauty and/or meaning out of seemingly insignifigent and disparate objects. Something from ‘nothing’. It is my idea, my intention, my creative spark that brings the parts together into a whole. My intention was clearly to create a piece that embodied my personal artistic journey, and would act as an amulet to attract creativity, happiness, success…
Many of my wearable pieces have a deeper meaning. A symbolism behind the image, an inspirational word, the properties of a certain gemstone. Yet others are simply a harmonious arrangement of elements, pleasing to the eye. I think the jewelry we wear speaks volumes about us. Our histories, likes and dislikes, our passions, our choices, our culture. What piece do you wear that speaks out, a self portrait of sorts? What piece has a strong personal meaning? (Of course – I am thinking beyond rings – they are the most potently symbolic piece that many of us wear daily. Wedding rings, engagement rings, even school rings.) I would love to hear…
* Please forgive the delay. This type of post – longer, more thoughtful and hopefully thought provoking – is new to me. I wrote and edited it for a couple days, although I had wanted it up on Friday. Please stay tuned for a related “amulet” post this week as well as the second “A” post on Friday.*