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Friday, March 16, 2012

How to paint Abstract Collage and Mixed Media - The Process of Laden with Shadow

For me the process begins with establishing value contrast using black mark-making graphite, ink, watersoluble crayons, collage elements (newspaper, corrugated paper, grasscloth wallpaper, candy box tissue paper, etc.). This is followed with a tactile process of applying colour using pastels, graphite, powdered pigments, anything that can be applied dry and blended. This is playtime. Gestures are drawn, marks are made and papers are selected by appeal - I go through my stash and pull out what appeals to me at that moment. Put the stash away, otherwise I'll get bogged down with too much choice. I start tearing and cutting and placing papers, not really thinking of anything but the vessel and tying it to the substrate by overlapping paper to emphasize a very shallow picture plane. As the painting progresses, choices with regard to depth and movement in and out of the picture plane can then be altered or reinforced.

Now the process moves into wet (paint, ink, whatever) and I concentrate on negative space. Image 1.


At this point I usually need to assert emotions with regard to the content that is developing and gestural linework, drawings, stream-of-consciousness wording become the focus. Image 2.


Strengthening  colour choices and partially (or majorly) obliterating recognizable imagery or wordage is next. Image 3.


Time for the critic. What works - what doesn't work? Design decisions are made and adjustments follow so the work "reads" well to me and a feeling of completion results. In this piece the right vertical feels too strong and needs to be lessened. Gesso veils accomplish that. The gestural linework on the upper right is too strong and too definite so it needs to be broken up in spots and partly knocked back with veiling. Image 4.


Notice how the emphasis (focus) has shifted from the upper left quadrant in image 1 to the upper right quadrant in image 4, and there feels to be a greater feeling of energy because of the diagonal thrust from the lower left to the upper right in the final image.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Laden with Shadows

A vessel suggests many things merely by its existence - movement, direction, support, purpose, mystery, time, history....... it's been there for quite a while now, but I couldn't see the trees for the woods! The void was always in my work, along with the question of crossing that void - how? safely? when? why? I put my work up around me and looked, and looked, and .... saw! The vessel! Not just a gesture but a "thing"! But I don't paint "things"!!! This "thing" demands to be addressed! I need to study it, from all angles. I recognize it. It is comfortable. It has been with me always. I cannot recall a time when it was absent. It surprises me that I feel so close to it yet so unfamiliar with it, like a part of your body you always have with you but never really notice. I need to spend some time with it and see if it has me figured out! Here is the first conscious approach.

Laden with Shadows