I've been doing more "construction" lately (building cradled hardboard panels for future collages) than creation, but I did steal away from sawing, gluing, and sanding to throw together another collage.
Here it is--"Yesterday's Alien"--a 6 X 8" collage on hardboard.
After my latest project, I decided to take a brief respite from my assemblage work to play around with some collages. To get started, I chopped up a half-sheet of masonite/hardboard the other day into manageable pieces. In case I need to frame some collages at a future date, I made sure, by the way, to cut the hardboard into "standard" framing sizes.
Here's my first piece, just finished today. Once again, I've included some heart imagery--something I'm, for whatever reason, drawn to. I'm calling it "Roots," and it's 10 X 13".
I've really been on a roll this summer, cranking out over a dozen assemblage and collage pieces. It's so amazing to be able to have time to do something I love. This summer I've awakened most mornings with ideas stacking up in my head, just waiting to be brought to life.
And here's yet another piece to add to this summer's body of work. I just finished up it this afternoon, and I love the way it turned out. There are lots of found objects in this one--everything from a compass to an ornate bookend to a wooden box that codfish came in. The dimensions are as follows: 19 X 9.5 X 4". The title "Follow" refers to the adage follow your heart, and the box can be opened to reveal a heart.
Here's a collage I just completed. It's on a 12 X 12" piece of hardboard with 3" cradled sides. The piece includes an Iowa map background, an vintage heart image (transferred over the map using a gel medium transfer technique), and some acrylic paint and ink. Central Iowa, where I reside, appears beneath the heart. The red "rays" are the result of a simple stencil and some spray paint. This was definitely a fun departure from my usual assemblage work. In fact, playing with this medium has been so fun, I may keep my assemblages on the back burner for a few more days so that I can just play with collages.
Today I took a brief respite from my assemblage stuff to work on a pair of small (6 X 6" and 5 X 6") collages on hardboard that incorporate a transfer technique. Basically a "transfer" is just what it sounds like; an image is transferred onto a substrate. There are dozens of ways to transfer images, but I like to use a gel medium process, which essentially embeds an image (the toner) into the gel medium (a kind of white glue that dries transparent).
Basically, after gluing down a background (I used a map and a piece of sheet music), the gel medium transfer process is simple. One, brush a layer gel medium on the background. Two, lay the image you want to transfer--image-side down--into the wet gel and use a brayer to push it down and squeeze out air bubbles. Three, allow the gel medium to dry completely. Four, rough-up the back of the transfer image paper (I just use sand paper). Five, wet the paper and gently rub it away; this takes awhile because you have to move slowly and take away the layers a little at a time. If everything goes well, all that should be left is your image.
Here are my two example from today. For the first one, I layered a black-and-white image of a heart over a map of the Midwest; later I went back and edged the heart in red ink. For the second collage, I layered a color heart image over sheet music.
I'll admit it--I'm a tightwad. More often than not I find myself thinking Hmm, I really need [insert obscure tool, doo-dad, or widget]. I should go to the hardware store and buy one. Nah, probably too expensive. Invariably I then proceed to cobble something together in the meantime to (sort-of) fit the bill. Now that I think of it, maybe it's not that I'm a tightwad; maybe it's that I'm too damned lazy to leave my "studio" and go to the hardware store. Anyway, yesterday I had another one of those I-really-need-this moments.
I often create frames around my works--usually using pieces cut from vintage picture frames that I find tucked away in junk shops. I have a chop-saw to cut my framing material to the necessary 45 degree angles. The problem I always run into, though, is gluing up and holding the pieces together so that they maintain a nice 90 degree corner.
Yesterday I was in the process of cutting frames for a hardboard panel (more on that later), and I knew that my corners had to line up as close to perfect as is possible for me. Needless to say, I had my typical I-really-need-this moment; in this case, my "need" was a corner clamp. After a quick price check on-line, I (once again) reverted to cobbling something together--in this case, a jig that I can clamp framing material into while it dries. Below is what I came up with; it's made from scrap MDF and if I may say so, it worked quite well.
Next is a pic showing how a couple of framing pieces can be clamped in place, holding them into the 90 degree corner while the glue dries.
Now on to project #2 from yesterday--a hardboard panel. For my next art project I'm going to step away from my assemblage work and create a piece of 2-D wall art. At this point I'm thinking a collage using a map with an overlay of an old-school heart image (think: an illustration from, for example, an old Gray's Anatomy text), with some acrylic painting effects thrown in.
Of course, hardboard panels can be purchased at any art supply store, but they're kind of pricey--and remember, I'm a tightwad. So now that I've made my corner clamping jig, I slapped some clear pine stock together to form a 12" x 12" frame. The frame is 3" deep, which if you look on an art supply site for a hardwood panel (the Ampersand Company, for example, sells them) it would be called a "deep cradled hardboard panel." A 3" deep cradled hardboard panel is not typical, by the way; most are made with a 2" max cradle--but what the heck, I tend to go overboard anyway. Last fall I had purchased a 4' X 8' sheet of masonite (AKA: hardboard) to cut a couple of drawing boards out of it for my daughter, who's an art and design student; I had plenty of masonite left over, so I used a chunk of it for the surface of this project. Sidenote: the pine framing pieces are dumpster-diving treasures (whoop-whoop), so other than the masonite--which was, I think, about $13 for a 4 X 8' sheet--this hardboard panel was done on the cheap!
Here are a couple of pics (front and back) showing the finished product. Notice that on the back of the panel I added some corner support pieces; this is probably unnecessary (none of the comparable hardboard products I saw on-line included corner supports) but, again, I do go overboard.
So not much art getting done yesterday--just a couple of D.I.Y. projects. Check back the next few days--I'll try and post pics of the collage-on-the-panel's progress.
Here are a few seemingly disparate objects--including a wooden jewelry box, a boot brush, a plexiglas letter, and a cabinet card photo of an obviously fun-loving lady--that I included (plus some other stuff) in my latest assemblage.
Back in the early 1980s Prince came out with a song called "1999," which included the lyric "so tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1999." I doubt the stone-faced woman in the cabinet card photo let her hair down much, but if she did, I'd like to think she partied like it's 1899.
Below are some shots of the finished piece. The 9 X 5 X 2.5" jewelry box, which is stamped "India" on the bottom, probably isn't too vintage; I have a sneaking suspicion it's one of those gift-shop items manufactured to appear old and hand-made. The handle's been lopped off the boot brush, and I swapped out the "A" for a "P." In addition, I recently purchased a couple of colorful old game boards, one of which appears as the graphics in this piece.
I believe I mentioned in a previous post that I have a small show this September, so I've been pushing hard to get a body-of-work together. My goal is to have at least a dozen pieces ready to go by then. Today, my 33rd day of freedom since school dismissed for the summer, I finished my tenth piece. I believe I'll easily reach my goal--and then some.
Below are a few shots of the piece I finished today. It's called "Flight Plan." It's a fairly simple piece (although it took me much longer than it should have to complete) featuring three portals. The top portal includes a resin reproduction of a starling's skull; the middle portal is an image of a (surprise!) starling; and the bottom portal includes a wooden egg that I painted to look like a starling's egg. The piece also includes a 1950s Nebraska flight map.
Today's time in the dungeon "studio" was--if I may say so--quite productive. I completed this assemblage, which is housed in a 16 X 5 X 4" sewing cabinet drawer. Rarely do I complete an entire project in one day, so this is indeed a banner occasion.
The focal point of this assemblage is a tintype photo. The photo's subject, to me, has the look of someone who's seen the inside of quite a few saloons. So the piece's title is sort of tongue-in-cheek, celebrating his life of drinkin', smokin', and carousin'.
As with most of my work, this one also includes a fair share of found objects, such as strips I cut from various cigar boxes, an old medicine bottle, some .22 shells, and a metal Marbo heel plate.
This little deer skull (found in the woods by my brother-in-law Jamie) has been staring at me for weeks from the corner of my "studio." I finally came to the decision that he needed a place to call his own--which in my world means an assemblage. So here it is, a piece I'm calling "inevitable Decay." Frankly, to me, nothing pairs better than rusty iron and bone.
The (sometimes mad) ramblings of a mixed media artist.