“One Thing Leads to Another”

One thing leads to another:  watercolor transforms into collage; watercolors become linoleum prints then collaged to become neither a print nor just a college but…  “mixed media” does not capture the result.  “Mixed media” is a technical term, really just an abbreviation to condense what would be a long list into short hand that takes up only a few typed spaces and in no way reveals the magic of the result.

A summer of working in transparent watercolor often leaves me with one, two or three if I am lucky, pieces of unspeakable beauty and maybe twenty “nice” paintings and an equal number or more of “failed” paintings often found on the back of a nice painting or on the back of another failed painting.  I began by discarding these, secretly holding onto a few that might contain a single passage of luminosity I could not part with.  In recent years I have begun to bag these “unacceptables” and mine them later as resources for torn collages.

This collage work has become a favorite winter occupation.  I begin with a resource painting—probably a painting or sketch that doesn’t stand on its own or could be taken to another place.  One of my first collages began as a watercolor sketch, “Hallman with New Necklace and became “Girl in Gold Necklace”.

hallman-w-new-necklace-wc               The Gold Necklace

                “Hallman …                                                ” Girl in Gold Necklace”

The above collage was my earliest attempt and the pieces were cut with sissors or a knife.  Arches 140lb watercolor paper, my usual medium, is heavy.  I have found that Modge Podge is strong enough to hold the pieces down.  I work slowly and take care to weight the glued pieces until they adhere.  Small pieces are weighted with a ruler topped with a heavy can and heavy pieces may require a board or sheet of plexi with full gallon paint cans on top.  The large pieces may require waiting until the next day to proceed.

I soon moved from the sharp, hard edges created by sissors or a knife to hand torn shapes.  (This loose, uncontrolable result is one I prefer in my watercolor paintings also.)

setting-sun-on-lake-wawaka

“Sun Setting on Lake Wawaka”, wc college, private collection

I have since created a series of collages based on a plein air painting of a shotgun house in New Orleans.  The original painting was painted curbside on handmade paper, 8×9.5 inches.  “Shotgun House, New Orleans”, wc on handmade paper, private collection

 

new-orleans-shotgun-house

I used the little painting as the subject of four paintings depicting the transformations of a New Orleans house at night, in Mardi Gras season and finely in spring bloom.  For these works I painted long sheets of watercolor in needed colors instead of using “failed” watercolors from a summer of painting.  I tore the required sheets using my knowledge of tearing:  Watercolor paper is thick and seemingly made up of layers; a tear from top down, with my left hand stable and the right hand taking the paper to the back leaves an edge of the colored paper on top.  With the left hand stable and the right hand tearing the paper toward me leaves a loose line of white all along the edge.  If this line needs to be shaped beyond what my fingers alone can do I sand it with rough sandpaper.  In this series I also used newspaper, shiny origami paper, paper grocery bags, paper napkins and candy wrappers.  All of this was glued to a ground of 300lb elephant sheet of Arches watercolor paper, halved.  The issue for me in working with collage and especially this large is that I am unable to step back and get a view.  While the work was in progress I climbed onto my work table with the camera and photographed the day’s progress and looked at it on the computer that evening.

 

new-orleans-group_sm

“Shotgun Houses, New Orleans”, 1-4, watercolor w other media, private collection

 

Surely you have noticed the several pieces of this work go “off the page”.  I have a hard time being contained to some arbitrary boundaries that I set at the conception and now I must abandon them to follow my artistic muse.  I have begun carrying my creations outside the box:

night-illumined-by-street-lamp-final

                                                                       “Street Illuminated by Street Light”,wc collage, 24×23.5 in.

Last winter, using my the Commons Gallery as a winter studio I completed a collaged lenolium block print in my “Catskill Life, Flora and Fauna”, series.  “Railroad Garden, Fall, Mullein” resulted from an early Fall morning walk along the railroad tracks just when the sun popped over the mountains to reveal that each dried mullein spear was draped to others by the webs of the Orb spider.  The dew was still clining to the webs and it was a sight to see.  I printed, collaged and finally strung beads from my mother’s costume jewelry to capture the jeweled looks of the sun illuminated dew.

railroad-garden-fall-mullein-sml

“Railroad Garden Mullein, Fall”, lenolium block print w watercolor collage and beads, 23.5×60 in.

railroad-garden-fall-mullein-detail

detail

 

Through print, wc collage and real “jewels” (beads) draped between the dead stalks of mullein I have attempted to depict the spirit of the spider webs glistening with dew in the early fall morning.  The draped jeweled webs fall from the collaged “web”.  I have created an artistic memory of a lovely fall morning and woven into that memory artifacts from my beloved mother’s life.  The three dimensionality of the work allows the light to play off the piece as the morning sunlight danced through the beads of dew.  Around all I have added block prints of railroad tracks to complete “Railroad Garden; Mullein, Fall”.

Now on to winter, 2017!

 

 

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Posted in Collage, prints, studio, watercolor

Medium Combinations, no. 2

Rail Road Garden, Mullein, Fall

As I had written in the previous blog entry, I was dissatisfied with all my attempts to “paint” dew sprinkled over cob webs.    Then  I determined to drape real “jewels” (beads from my mother’s old costume jewelry) between the dead stalks of mullein to better express the excitement and surprise I had felt when I found the dew soaked webs that early fall morning.

First I collaged the water colored print with pieces torn from “failed” watercolor paintings, adding at least 1/8 of an inch between the support and the surface of the collage.  Now the “webs” of beads fall loosely as they festoon from plant to plant.  The different levels of the painting’s surface please me immensely.

I have created an artistic memory of a lovely fall morning and woven into that memory articles from my beloved mother’s life. The three dimensionality of the work allows the light to play off the pieces as the morning sunlight had danced through the beads of dew.  Around all I have added block prints of railroad tracks to complete “Railroad Garden; Mullein, Fall”, about 24×40 in.

Posted in Collage, prints, watercolor | Tagged ,

Medium Combinations

In my seasonal rhythm of working the time for watercolor collage is again in ascendency. I began though, not with collage but with printmaking, specifically block printing or stamping that grew to include collage. 

I have been attracted by the shape of the wildflower, mullein, that grows along the railroad track in my area. These wild plants are found almost exclusively along the railroad  because they are mowed down by cutting crews along the roadsides or weeded from our yards during their summer growth period. I have painted them growing from their emergence in the late spring through their yellow blooms in the summer.

Last year in the fall I was taking an early morning walk along the railroad track beside my studio just as the sun was topping the mountains but before its strength had dried the dew. I was astonished to see that the tall, skinny, dried mullein plants were festooned with webs of the orb spider, heavy and drooping with glistening drops of dew. I just had to add this reality to my mullein depictions. I would make block prints and watercolor them as I had in the summer.

Mullen along Railroad Tracks

Mullein along the Rail Road Tracks, block print, watercolor, 42×15″, private collection

Village, July

           Village, July, oil on canvas, 48×36″

I am so excited about the development of my new “Mullein” piece that I want to share my journey .  I began with the design of the linoleum blocks for printing.  As in image no. 1 above, I designed and cut several blocks and combined them in different ways to create mullein plants of different shapes and sizes.   Then I water colored three different versions.

000_4125         2. Print,1          2. Print, 3

2. Print, 2

The issue at this point was how to depict the spider webs. Immediately I decided not to print or paint. In the first I sewed the web pattern with metallic thread and pearls; in the second  I negatively painted around the web design and sewed the metallic thread and a few pearls on the painting.  In the third (long horizontal) I scoured the paper with a blade in a more or less accurate reflection of the spider web patten.  I painted around the scouring then sewed an approximate pattern with metallic thread and pearls over the scared paper.

Mullein, Fall, 2 in progress                  000_4212Mullein, Fall, 1 in progress

3. Mullein, fall painted. 1

No result satisfied me. How to treat the final vertical print above? The big breakthrough came at this point and I have been working to execute my vision since then.  I will finally finish in the next few days–keep posted!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in In progress, prints, watercolor

Just published! Catskill Coloring Book

As is my usual habit when I went south in the Winter, 2014 I determined to try some new art medium; this time with an objective in mind–to produce a coloring book inspired by my own original watercolor plein air paintings.  I enrolled at the New Orleans School of Arts and Crafts to learn the art and craft of pen and ink drawing.  I have used commercial, loaded pens to sketch for years.  But my need here was different; I needed to deliberately reproduce the images depicted in my watercolor paintings.  These paintings, themselves had involved NO DRAWING.

In class I mastered the tools, i.e. the different pens, quill, inks and practiced.  Plus I got a lot of good advice when I explained my goal.

Initially, I used the computer to reduce the painted images to a semblance of line drawings.  From these computer “line” drawings under tracing paper I eliminated lines until I had twisted them into an image I liked.  From there I used old fashioned transfer paper under the tracing paper images to get the image to drawing paper suitable for ink.  I used a thin nib to make the first ink drawing and had it scanned so that I could work and work until I had a drawing I approved of.  From there I eventually used 2 additional nibs, each producing a thicker line than the one before.

You can view a selection from the coloring book by clicking Catskill Coloring Book in the Blogroll below and to the right.

 

Posted in Coloring Book, watercolor

Ariodante Gallery, New Orleans

New Orleans-group_sm

        For the month of April, 2014 I was flattered to hang a show of my most recent New Orleans inspired watercolor collages at the Ariodante Gallery, Julia Street, New Orleans.  I had been creating watercolor collages from “failed” watercolors for several years.  In 2013 I rented a studio in the city and from one of my plein air Curbside Studio watercolors took a theme for the paintings above.

In New Orleans I paint from the street curb, which I call my “Curbside Studio”. I walk the streets with a bag filled with brushes, paint and paper and when I am struck by a shape or the light I just stop and sit down on the curb.  This ground level seat gives a common low viewpoint to my NOLA paintings.

From one such painting, “Old House, no. 2” I worked on elephantine sized Arches watercolor paper cut in half lengthwise.  I tore sheets of paper from a roll of Arches watercolor paper and randomly painted the paper colors that appealed to me and that I had an idea would be useful in the paintings I was imagining.  This paper I tore into shapes and began to fashion the finished paintings above.  I secured all with acrylic adhesive.

The four paintings above:  1. left, “Old New Orleans House”, 2. “Crape Myrtle”, 3.   “Shotgun House at Mardi Gras” and 4.  “New Orleans Shotgun House at Nigh”t, formed the basis of the collection at the Ariodante Gallery and was augmented by plein air paintings made of the streets of my New Orleans neighborhood and the French Quarter.

A collector recently purchased “Crepe Myrtle” and had it framed on a dark background.  The effect was stunning.  All the places where the collage extended beyond the edges of the painting became even more dramatic!

 

                                                      

 

    

Posted in Curbside Studio, en plein air, Events, New Orleans

Andes Margaretville Roxbury Open Studios, 2014

I again agreed to coordinate the Andes Margaretville Roxbury Open Studios tour for 2014. This time I elected not to open my studio but instead visited studios. It was a most interesting event and one we have decided to repeat in 2015 only this time with a new coordinator. All such continuing events benefit from new blood with brand new ideas. Everything I have heard has convinced 2015 will be expanded to new visitors and exciting new events associated with the two day affair.amrOS_Ad2aDS

Studio Tour, 2013

Andes Margaretville Roxbury Open Studios 2013

Andes Margaretville Roxbury Open Studios 2013

Posted in Events