On a recommendation from Melissa, my friend who is an artist and art teacher, I purchased the book “Collage Lab” by Bee Shay. I decided it would be fun, and maybe visually liberating, to do all the exercises in the book. The first one deals with basic gesso surface. It involves tinting the gesso (usually used to prime canvas before painting) with acrylic paint so that it you can see what is happening to the surface. Gesso is white, although as I learned today at the art supply store, you can also find clear gesso. The next step involves applying it to heavy watercolor paper and experimenting with manipulating the surfaces of color. Fearful that I really had a limited space on which to investigate the material and four cats who at any time might decide to help me, I decided to combine suggested experiments on the page so that I would have four instead of eight. I must admit, this whole process really needs a nice big table, which is not what I used. Our kitchen island would be perfect, but, again, the cats would be likely visitors. There is also a nice desk my brother gave us in the basement, but it presently holds five big boxes of a collection of Franklin Mint 100 Best Classical Recordings and a few boxes of toys belonging to our children that for some reason are still in our house. Once I can clear those away, I would consider working there for the messy experimentation. It is now very cold in the basement, dark, uninviting and not really conducive to creating anything. Maybe it won’t bother me as much during the summer, when the cool temperature will be more welcoming.
I did manage to come up with four similar, but different gesso pages. I can see where this would create a great background for collage, giving it depth and layers of color and texture. Unit One in the book is about building foundations. My explorations may have gone beyond that and my next attempt will be to simplify the applications. Basic paper surface is the next lab, followed by diffusing imagery and washes. I am really looking forward to the second unit which is about texture. The corrugated cardboard is cut and waiting for me. Adding organic materials, fabric and paper will be a challenge that should spark my creativity.