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.
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.
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.
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.