Toning It Down

The first four objectives from “Collage Lab” deal with creating the foundation, or substrate on which the collage will be developed.  Clearly I had a problem keeping my experiments simple, without focal points and without strong colors.  The gesso pages were fun since I like working with texture and color.  Combining exercises complicated the surface, but allowed me to work on a small table.  The paper pages were my favorite.  Working quickly with matte medium as the adhering agent allowed me to make more spontaneous decisions.  Still a little more controlled than I would like, but it can be difficult to teach an old dog new tricks.  The next exercise dealt with diffusing imagery by layering repeated, thin washes of gesso on the images until they lost their intensity.  I finally got some pages that can actually be used as backgrounds.  Since some of these pages are of more muted tones and lighter in value, the scanner refused to acknowledge them as color photographs.  They scanned instead as black and white images and lost most of the subtle color variations that I liked.  Those will not be posted until I inject them with a little more personality.  I may take a break from the hands on activities in the book and try some of the resource exercises.  One is to collect a large variety of images with a color palette that is appealing to my personal preference.  I like that the instructions don’t limit quantity for the future color chips.  Instead the author directs you to create a pile.  I am good at creating piles.  There is quite a growing pile of art stuff in the sun room by my drafting table.  My husband is also working a ‘pile’ of index cards, books and loose notes on papers.  This pile sits on our kitchen island.  I want to move it to a less conspicuous place, but feel this would be unfair since my mess is considerably larger.  Maybe I will resort to my Aunt Julie’s trick.  She was known to collect things belonging to her son-in-law and corral them in a box.  I may opt for a nice basket for the island objects.  It will confine them and also make them more transportable.  How nice of me!

The next objective that I might tackle directs me to look for inspiration in the everyday surroundings.  I will have camera in hand and will be walking in and around my home to take photographs of anything I find interesting.  My computer picture file already has a large number of these images collected in files called ‘seasonal.’ This is a comfortable exercise for me since I have always felt that utilizing elements from your life to create your art is a good idea.  It works for me if only as a spring board for ideas.  I fondly remember a special student of mine named Aaron, who seemed to spend many more class periods in the art area than most.  He could be found sitting on the steps across from my classroom door.  There he would draw whatever was in his viewing area.  This included doors, steps, floors, ceilings, windows, etc.  His drawings were full of energy and wildly composed of lines and strokes made from conte crayons and charcoal.  My husband bought one of Aaron’s drawings done in my classroom.  The image consisted of easels, boxes and piles of stuff.  Sound familiar?  Aaron went on to receive his BFA at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.  He was a painting major before changing to a sculpture major and possibly back to painting.  He was good at everything, so his major really didn’t matter.  Anyway, back to the exercise.  I only wish there was a little more color outside.  We have been looking at snow on the ground for quite a while.  I must admit that the spots of yellow on the white, compliments of my dogs, are not exactly the color splashes I was hoping to find.

About circuitousjourney

Retired Art Teacher
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