Like most of us I suspect, I am forever saying I will make time to play and experiment, but then work that needs doing and has deadlines attached takes over, and it never happens. So this year I am determined to make some time to try out some new things and mess about. It is important for health and I am certain helps you grow as an artist. So ... I watched a DVD featuring collage artist Jane Davies last week, and I was fascinated with one of her processes for making an abstract piece. She started with an under painting and then used both papers and paint to produce her work. I really fancied giving that a go, so yesterday afternoon, I made myself stop 'proper' work and have an hour or so to play.
Hadn't got time to wait for a canvas to dry, so I found one I had wiped some old yellow and green paint from a roller on to (very much like I do in my sketchbooks - blank canvas can be just as intimidating). Horrid colours, but I just filled in the gaps with some blue and white - which gave me this (below).
Then I chose a few painted and dyed papers and started collaging them down with matt medium.
Typically for me I worked with rectangles, squares and line in a fairly grid-ish pattern
As per Jane's advice I simply tried to focus on values and contrasts and 'go with the flow' .. probably should have broken out the gin ... I am no more comfy with that kind of instruction than I imagine most of you are - but I was on my own, no-one could see and my materials were cheap and abundant - so I just tried to imagine being 5years old and got on with it
I also followed the movement of the under painting - which was very up and down in straight lines - very logical - so I threw both a couple of doughnuts and some high contrast black at things
Jane suggests getting the paint out before you finish the collage - so like a good girl I did. I chose colours already in the piece and filled in spaces a bit. Firstly deepening and brightening the blue at the bottom and covering some of that awful green
Covering the awful green seemed like a good plan - so I did some more of that top right and then got out some glorious red and splobbed it about
I wanted some pure white back - and my brushes were all contaminated .. so fingers in and some nice white fingerprints and rubbings
I liked the softening with my fingers - so did some more and then printed a few red circles with the matt medium lid
dipped end of paintbrush in red paint and put a line of small dots top to bottom
thought I had reached some sort of stopping point .. so I stopped - here is the piece so far ..
Interestingly it looks different, but still OK in all four orientations ..
I put these images on to facebook yesterday and asked what (if anything) these collages suggested to others. By this stage - they were definitely suggesting something to me. I was fascinated by peoples thoughts - how they differed and yet I could see the germ of all of them in my mind on the day it was done. Some saw Paris/France - in the light of the weekends awful events there - not my intention or in my conscious mind - but like most, I was appalled by what occurred, so maybe my seemingly random choice of colours was not so random after all? Someone else suggested bustle and play .. not conscious but almost certainly ever present with me. Transport and trains was another suggestion - which I can see, although hadn't ... but I am very drawn to 1950's poster art and have a couple of books of transport posters - so maybe an influence there? City Life and a bicycle in the city - I can see both and love them .. although not what I found. What I love is all the different things seen. I have always felt a bit inadequate viewing abstract art, as I so often just don't see what the artist sees and feel I am letting them down by seeing something different. This has made me feel quite differently. I love that people all see what means something to them .. and as I had nothing in mind when I started - that's fine. If everyone saw it the same - then maybe I would have been veering back towards representational art? Interesting isn't it?
I saw boats - specifically fishing boats at Whitby- some glossy and new ... some peeling and battered.. maybe predictably as that theme is on my mind. Although I had determined in my mind that this would NOT be a coast piece - as that would add pressure and stop it being play ... it obviously felt differently.
I don't think it is finished yet - and I am intrigued with trying to work forwards with all four orientations ..
More about that another time - for now - this is the way up it was assembled ... with a nice clean mat surround. I hope I've encouraged some of you to do something similar - just have a go at something you fancy and see where it takes you. As long as you enjoy the time and process - you can;t lose - Hilary xx