The other day I was looking at the horrific news reports out of Haiti, and I saw a news photo of two women sitting awaiting help. What struck me was their posture, and the wonderful colors of their dresses and headscarves. I cropped the photo, simplified it on Photoshop, then graphed out the results on newsprint, which I then taped to a piece of illustration board. In some ways the results look a little like a paint by number kit.
I dug into my files of colored papers, mostly clipped from fashion magazines, catalogs, paper bags, and pages from old dictionaries. I even had some colored paper I stripped from old matting. I selected some colors to use, and put them into stacks by color.
After I transferred the design to the illustration board I quickly added some watercolor to help me see where the pieces of prepared colored paper would go.
At this point I use tracing paper to make a pattern for each shape as it is placed. Then the pattern goes over the selected scrap of paper and is carefully cut out and attache with a glue stick. I do all my gluing on an old telephone book, turning the pages as they become sticky. I find that using a little embroidery scissors works best for the little curvy pieces. I cut out the biggest shapes first, then layer in smaller details.
This is the final result, 12x12 inches. I let some of the illustration board show because I like the little flashes of white and watercolor. I also try to cut the larger areas, like the black into smaller shapes so that these blocks of color are broken up a little.
I like the whole process, simplifying shapes, selecting papers, layering on of pieces. The end result reminds me of a colorful quilt - only much quicker and easier to do. I also like the fact that the image appears somewhat abstract at first glance, and then the shapes begin to make sense.
I'll live with this a few days, decide if I want to make any additions, then I will coat the front and back with matt medium, which will secure all the pieces and prevent the picture from warping.