Keeping the Creative Juices Flowing

I’ve recently become interested in collage. My interest came about as a result of teaching it in my workshops, giving my students another way to add interest and texture to a cold wax painting. I surprised myself by becoming fascinated with it and wanting to explore further.

My new series, Of Women, uses collage extensively. So here I am exploring two new ideas in this series — collage elements as well as figurative work. Nothing like keeping the creative juices flowing!

Unlike some collage artists, my goal isn’t to create collage pieces per se, but to incorporate elements that enrich the painting and help carry out my vision. Using collage allows me to add decorative details without having to painstakingly draw or paint every little line or flower. I’m not interested in working the fine detail, but rather in getting across my idea in the most efficient way possible. Collage is ideal for me in that regard.

Black Lace Hat

I envisioned a black lace hat for this woman, but hesitated to paint all that detail. Collage to the rescue! It amazed me how many people on the recent studio tour thought this was painted detail, even viewing it up close. Painting over it and adding shadows and more detail helped it blend into the rest of the painting.

However, I’ve found I really enjoy the process. First, I source the material. I use decorative papers I’ve purchased and also keep copyright-free source material on my computer that I’ve either purchased or found online. I frequently digitally manipulate the computer files in Photoshop, changing colours, sizes and so on, personalizing it. I then print out the files. Cutting out or tearing the material is a tactile experience I enjoy. Arranging and pasting is the next stage.

Scissors for Collage

I’m enjoying the collage process so much I purchased a pair of Italian-made, hot-forged steel scissors. Sharp! I like them much better than those cheap, plastic-handled, titanium scissors from China.

I use cold wax medium to stick the elements down. While not as sticky or glue-like as acrylic medium, it does work if you’re patient and don’t try to stick material that is too heavy or textured. I often have to return to the work and add more wax, sticking down edges that have come away from the background. Eventually, I get it all adhered. At this point I paint over the collage, mostly using oil sticks, adding my own details, colours, highlights and shadows. Sometimes it’s even difficult to see that there is collage in the piece by the time I’m done. I feel that this not only makes it “my own” but helps the collage blend into the style of the painting and not stand out like a sore thumb.

Flowers Collage

There are a lot of collage elements in this dream-like painting.

We’ll see where this process takes me in the next few months. Right now my studio is awash in bits of paper. I like it that way.

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4 Responses to Keeping the Creative Juices Flowing

  1. Hanna McCown September 13, 2017 at 10:48 am #

    This is excellent. I love how you experiment and play your way into a new burst of growth and I love how you shared the experience in a blog post.

    • Dorothy Siemens September 13, 2017 at 12:12 pm #

      Thank you, Hanna! I’m so glad my post struck a chord with you!

  2. Tina Siemens September 13, 2017 at 12:15 pm #

    It’s imaginative and beautiful. I like the expressive eyes on the top picture.

    • Dorothy Siemens September 13, 2017 at 1:24 pm #

      Thanks so much! Eyes are definitely NOT collage! 🙂