Tuesday, January 22, 2008
One good thing about all the snow and cold we've had here in southern Wisconsin is that I have had no inclination to go outside. That has left me time to play with my idea for using an old almanac for collage projects. These are not the moody abstract sorts of things I've seen in books and online, but something closer to puzzles. The first one of the three young men was my first try. I had a photo I took at Christmas of my nephews, and I liked the shapes their hoodies and legs made, so I decided to experiment. I used a large piece of 140 pound Arches watercolor paper, coated with gesso. I hoped that would keep the piece from buckling, but it didn't. After I applied that last piece of map, I coated the whole picture in matte acrylic varnish, let it dry, then flattened it the best I could between sheets of cardboard weighted with stacks of art books.
The self-portrait is smaller, but took longer, about four days. Instead of watercolor paper, I used a sheet of foamcore, coated with acrylic gel medium. This was a much more satisfactory base. It didn't warp, and is light. I played with a picture I took of myself on Photoshop Elements, bumping up the contrast so I could see the shadows and highlights more easily. All the little curvy shapes nearly drove me crazy. If I had to do it again, I'd make a bigger contrast between the skin tone shadows and the light brown hair. There were times when I became really and truly lost in the dark shapes near the jaw. I'm not sure I want to do a whole series of these collages, but these projects were interesting, even obsessive, and a nice change from watercolor.