Tag Archives: collage

Looking at the negative space

I recently took a class that reminded me of a watercolor painting that I did years ago. I was working on Arches 100% rag paper and learned if I had a really awful painting, I could scrub most of the paint off with a toothbrush under running water. So I did that, and ended up with a muted background. I learned to paint around shapes with a dark color and pull out stems and leaves by leaving them the muted underpainting. classes006

Fast forward many years and Elaine Pierce presented a class she said was inspired by me. I didn’t see how, until I took the class and she gave me credit for teaching her how to use napkins in collage. As often happens with my teaching, I present a little technique and my students come up with amazing art. This is why I often brag that although I’m not that great an artist, I must be a great teacher as my students often surpass me with inspired, beautiful art.

In the class, we did a light brush-blend background using colors suited to our chosen napkin color palette. Mine was yellow, gold and white. Then we penciled in our tablecloth, vase and where our leaves would mostly be. We covered these places with bits of our separated napkins. (When using napkins in collage, you separate the white background layer(s) from the colorful top). We used mod podge. We then mixed our background color and painted around our tablecloth, vase and leaves. I had trouble seeing where to put my leaves and covering some up, so I resorted to outlining them with a black sharpie. I added some shadows and white ferns. I finished with 3 coats of varnish.Class pictures008

For the book page spread, I simplified the process. I skipped the underpainting and started with drawing the 3 trees with a black pen. Then I took a variety of napkins and tissue papers to make the trees distinctly different colors in the foliage. I tore the papers into tiny pieces and adhered them with mod podge. You don’t have to be careful to stay within the lines you’ve drawn as you will be redrawing them later. The tree trunks were covered with bits of the inside of a business envelope and a little napkin. We then adhered some dark green tissue at the roots of the trees to pull out some grasses. We took our black pens and redrew the trees taking advantage of the out-of-the-line bits to add a little more interesting shapes to them. We also drew in simple grass shapes. Then we poured out some acrylic paint using a big puddle of turquoise and a little dark blue to make it darker than some tissue we used. We loaded a brush with mostly turquoise and a swish of the dark to create a little variation in the painted surface (though I’m not sure it shows!). We painted around all our drawn shapes. I used the dark blue paint and an angle shader brush to float in some shadows along one side of the trunks, the bottom of the foliage and some in the middle of the leaves.

It is a fun process and you could do this with any kind of background. So go and play!


Mixed Media Canvas

Today I’ll be teaching an inspiresdstudio class on a mixed media canvas. So I’ll share a brief description of the process.  We will work on a stretched canvas. I will demo on 8×10, but the class will work on 11×14.  The first step is a brush blended background. I always use a lot of warm white plus 2 or 3 other colors. It is good to keep the background light at this stage so tissue papers and napkin patterns show up. Load a large flat brush with the warm white and tip a corner in another color. Start in one corner and do criss-cross strokes covering the area and sides. Each time you re-load the brush (without adding water or rinsing in between)start with more warm white and pick up some color. Work quickly so the applications blend with each other. (When I do this at home, I just pour the paint on the canvas, but students often use waaaay too much paint. If i have too much paint, I just smoosh the excess on an altered book page spread.)

Next step is to choose an image and napkins, papers, text in your color scheme. I get my images from the book pictured below. I copy and cut them all out in advance.  Then tear and  arrange the papers, balancing the color, having the patterns in more than one place and including your image placement. Once you have them arranged, you can start to mod podge them in place, beginning with the papers that will be underneath others.

The last steps are to float color on the edges, float a shadow around the image and ground it if necessary, use punchinella to connect shapes and other texture if desired. I sometimes paint in the flesh with a mix of red, yellow and white. Sometimes I just float some burnt sienna in the shadows. I usually add some of my background color to her clothing in washes. You can finish with several coats of mod podge or varnish.ImageImageImage  These canvas’ can have further embellishments that are dimensional. I’ve made them with silk flowers and wood pieces.

The canvas’ pictured above are early stage and finished. Now go make art!