8x10 inches, mixed media collage
It's almost the equinox, almost autumn, and summer is running, or in my case, limping, out. I'm limping because I did what I swore I would never do again. I stubbed my pinkie toe and probably broke it a week ago. I did this once before and for years remembered to wear shoes in the house, because the truth is I am a semi-blind klutz. I run into things. Shoes protect my tender toes. I was busy ordering something I probably didn't need online, and I couldn't make out the security code, which is tiny and wearing off the plastic credit card because of constant use. So I ran, barefoot, for magnifying glass, and crashed into the wooden leg of the couch. So, I have been not-so-graciously dealing with a foot that has been swelling and turning more colors than autumn leaves. It will eventually heal, but in the meantime I am morbidly fascinated with examining the bruises.
What I should be doing more of is assembling materials and beginning to pack for an upcoming workshop at Dillman's Resort, five hours north, with acrylic artist and teacher Robert Burridge. I went to Dillman's when I first returned to painting in 1997, but alone. Besides being frustrated at my lack of skill compared to everyone else in class, I was lonely. This time my dear husband is coming along so the loneliness issue is covered. As for skill, I am more philosophical about workshops than I was when I started out, and more experienced. I go to classes be inspired, to experiment, to have a real good time, but I don't go expecting to either create a masterpiece or compete with other artists. I'm hoping to see eagles and trees turning colors, which brings me to today's project.
I learned about altering National Geographic pages with Citra Solv from Burridge's Artsy Fartsy Newsletter a couple years ago. The process in short is to get a National Geographic magazine from the last ten years or so (it has to do with the ink they use), then paint the pages with Citra Solv cleaner. The cleaner smells like oranges, and it cleans just about anything, just in case you buy some and don't want to make funky collage papers. After a half hour or so you put on rubber gloves, tear out the damp pages and lay them on plastic or newspapers to dry. The images dissolve and make beautiful textured colors that work in collage.
I did something different here. I chose some pages, or parts of pages, for the colors they featured, then I adhered the National Geographic pages to a sturdy canvas board with acrylic gel medium. When that was dry I painted the mounted papers with Citra Solve, and covered the whole thing with crinkled plastic wrap. After it dried the textures and colors were rich and lovely and organic, and looked nothing like the original photography. To keep the inks stable I coated the altered surface with a coat of gel medium. Then I deepened the golds and turquoise areas with a sheer wash of liquid acrylic paint. I let that dry, then added birch trunk, which are actually just strips of text from NG pages with no photos. When I was playing around with arranging the trunks I decided the ones further back should be darker, so I added a wash of a charcoal color before I glued then down with more gel medium.
I'm not sure if it's completely finished. I'm toying with adding more suggestions of branches, but I'm going to wait to decide. When I decide it is done, I'll give the whole piece a coat of gloss gel medium to unify the surface and intensify the colors. It's my first celebration of autumn.