I just submitted to a locally famous, heavily juried open studio tour that I will call Art Paths. Continue reading
My Desert Vacation 2: Petroglyphs and Premonitions
Premonitions, by definition, come first. But, like ancient oracles, you never know what they really mean until you get there.
In hindsight, this little painting foretold our desert trip. I did this in October as a collage painting demo. Now it strikes me how much it is like the petroglyphs we saw at Painted Rock State Park, just outside of Gila Bend, Arizona, in late November. In fact, there’s a lizard spirit slithering gila-like through it.
Petroglyphs are the abstractions of the ancients. Were they a semi-precise writing or language, like heiroglyphs? Religious spirit encounters: “Hey, the Deer Dancer possessed me here!” Maps?
It’s interesting how there seems no real distinction between realism and abstraction in petroglyphs. The deer with bulging belly seems so obviously pregnant, but the squared-off labyrinth delights in the design-play of geometric abstraction.
Petroglyphs are vigorous and melancholy at once. Here people met, prayed, danced, hunted, ate, and spent days and weeks creating with what they had– stone and imagination.
5 Tips for Painting with Collage
What’s collage painting, mixed media painting, or combined media painting? How does it differ from collage?
How can you use collage elements in painting without being highjacked or overwhelmed by the collage image?
Here’s a simple rule of thumb: A collage painting is more paint than collage elements. The paint is 60% or more of the painting. The collaged parts merge and meld seamlessly into the whole.
How to do it? Here are 5 tips. All paintings shown here are acrylic paint on paper or canvas. I affix collage pieces to the surface with glossy acrylic gel medium.
1. Use only your own images whenever possible, including photographs, text, and your own sketches and handwriting. You can also use copyright-free black and white images. Copy and recopy the same images in larger and smaller sizes at a copy store or using a laser printer. Black and white is easier to incorporate, and leaves the color elements to the painter and paints. I prefer to avoid colored magazine images, as tempting as they are. The more you play with a single image by altering size, color, dimension, the more freedom you will gain in painting. You’ll own the image, rather than the image “owning” you.
2. Choose a theme. I used non-copyrighted Dover deer. Avoid themes that are intensely personal, like pictures of your dog, your mom, or your child. You need to have a bit of distance to use images effectively, or to rip one up. Eventually you’ll develop image banks of differing themes that become your private visual language.
3. Paint first. Put color on the surface, or paint a very sketchy painting, then affix images, then paint some more. Painting first, before applying images, establishes that it is more a painting than a collage. For all of these I chose a crucifix composition and applied paint first. Then I put down ripped black and white collage images. A warm background is good, as it can glow up through layers of paint.
4.Be willing to sacrifice the image. Let go of the image you love and let it disappear, if the painting demands it. Show only a part of it. If you want to keep it perfect, do regular collage, not collage painting. This is one of the hardest parts of using collage elements in paintings.
5. Cover your images with glossy gel medium or UVLS varnish as you apply them. Then you can pile on coats of paint and still wipe back to find them.
Toss the collage boxes and go back to only a few images. Use them thoughtfully in series of paintings. And have fun!
Please use the comment section for questions on the collages or techniques. I’m happy to share what I know. If you’re one of my student who gets the blog, please share something about your experience with collage painting.
Mythic news: Deer are symbols of sacrifice and purity, often used in Christian iconography. It was said that deer gathered at the foot of the cross where Jesus hung. I used them here in these three works floating up and down through a penetrable horizon of birth and death, ancestor souls. Collage itself belongs to the realm of Kali: dismembering of paper , appropriation of image, rebirth of pieces into a new whole. The goddess of Necessity wields the scissors and snips the thread of life– or the image.