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Saturday, April 4, 2020

A White Cat


I used one of my favorite techniques on this piece - collage background with painted subject.

As I scan through old magazines and catalogs looking for collage elements a color palette begins to form. In this case, I was taken by photos of some blue and white ceramics as well as a bouquet of white hydrangeas.

Once I had my collage elements selected, I applied them to an 8" x 10" board to which I had previously applied two coats of gesso. I use Liquitex matt medium as an adhesive. One of my most critical tools for collage is - surprisingly - an old magazine or catalog that I won't be using for collage elements. Here's how I use it:

To get a smooth application of the paper pieces, I apply a coat of slightly thinned medium to the board, then lay the piece I'm going to collage upside down on the catalog and apply a slightly thinned coat of medium to the back side. I brush it in really good so that the paper becomes saturated, then I can flip it over and lay it in place. I brush more matt medium over the collage element, brushing from the center outwards to force out any air bubbles trapped underneath it. (But be careful to not brush so hard that you tear the paper - tissue paper is particularly susceptible to tearing.) Brushing the back of the collage element with the medium is important because the moisture stretches the paper. That way, it won't wrinkle on you!

Sometimes I apply multiple layers of collage, letting each dry before adding the next. Sometimes I add transparent washes, or a thin coat of gesso. These paint or gesso layers somewhat obscure the images in the collage elements, and also unifies them. That done, I may want to "bring back" parts of the images as I did in this piece with the hydrangea blossoms. I accomplished this by side-loading a wide flat brush with white and redefining the edges of some of the petals.

I also enjoy embellishing the collage background with painted elements using acrylics. Examples are the leaves and linear spirals.

Finally, I'm ready for the subject. I draw the outline then paint within it with gesso. This will hide the background behind the subject. Very often, I'll need to use two coats. After it's dry, I'm ready to paint my subject. This one is painted more loosely than I usually do, and I like it!

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