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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Forest Guides

After doing the collage with the young woman and ermine both wearing fascinators, I found that I enjoyed drawing people - something new for me.  So I decided to do a series of three such pieces, each with a young woman and an animal.  For this one, I chose a rabbit and wanted to make the woman a red head in a very green setting, suggestive of Ireland.  After completing theawings separately, I began the collage.

I had a beautiful magazine page with a mystical looking landscape and decided to use it as the first layer in the upper background.  As I always do, in an effort to avoid wrinkle when gluing coated papers such as magazine pages, I dampened both the front and back of the page before gluing it down.  But despite my careful preparation, it began wrinkling anyway so I kept smoothing it out with a brush.  I was completely focused on the wrinkle and missed the fact that the ink was beginning to smear, leaving the image that I liked so much largely obscured.  The lesson I learned was to spray these images with workable fixative before glueing them down.

I was discouraged, but continued with the first few layers of the collage. 

At this point I decided that her right eye looked wrong and tried to fix it.  In the process I pretty much messed it up.  I nearly threw the piece away.  I can't remember ever doing that before.  But I decided that I wouldn't learn anything that way and determined to finish it and hope for the best.

Next I began to apply color.  One of my priorities was to eliminate the white halo around the rabbit ears.  This halo is a result of tearing out the rabbit drawing then gluing it against the dark background.  I also added more collage elements to soften the bottom edge of the drawing of the woman.

At this stage I really didn't like the piece and once more almost threw it away.  I also thought that I probably should give up on drawing people and stick to animals.  I also didn't like her looking straight ahead at the viewer - it felt sort of creepy.

Nonetheless, I pushed ahead.  I decided to push the characters back and add an element to compete with them visually, namely the collaged leaf spray in front of her.  I deepened the color in her hair and stenciled a few leaves over the top of her head.  Basically, I just kept fooling with it and added more color washes, widening the color range of the background.  I was also careful to add a few subtle areas of Burnt Sienna washes to repeat the color of her hair elsewhere in the piece.

I added a few bronze paint spirals - the beginning of the final decorations which are my favorite part of the collage process.

I decided to add something of interest at her forehead and, since this piece is supposed to suggest Ireland with all the greens, the red hair, and the rabbit, I decided on a Celtic knot.  I drew the knot on a piece of tracing paper then inked the lines and painted it with gold and bronze metallic paints.  I carefully ripped the motif out of the piece of tracing paper and glued it in place.  I was expecting to see a bit of the edges of the tracing paper as a translucent blur but, surprisingly, the tracing paper completely disappeared.  

By the way, I've had trouble in the past with tracing paper wrinkling when glued, so I brushed it with water first.  After dampening the front side, it spontaneously transformed into a tight roll.  I unrolled it and dampened the back at which point it flattened out and I could glue it down.

I got the vintage green glass jewel from the Etsy shop Yummy Treasures.  I originally was going to glue it in the center of the Celtic knot but then decided to place it where you see it.  I added more little decorations including the shards of foil (from various types of chocolates) and then was done.

In the end, I'm pretty happy with it and am glad I kept going.  But I still wish I had chosen a less startling pose for her.  Next time...