So for this assignment we stretched into montage and collage. I’d just created this for my drawing unit so it was good to have had some prior experience. I also liked that we had any subject matter – unlike the drawing one, which had to be still life. So I decided to focus on texture. Collage and montage stand apart from other artwork because they entice the viewer to touch and explore – not only the message but the canvas itself. So I wanted a montage that really drew on different textures.
Blending from my face theme discovered by my tutor with Assignment 1, I explored taking the face further and making a message about the disparity between technology, ideas and our world. I wanted to explore the new texture that technology has had on our lives, including the ethical dilemmas, the sense of time and speed coalescing.
I also wanted to draw attention to our cyber world, the wider world and emphasise the impact of technology upon it.
so here is my completed artwork, with dangling tag and on stiff cardboard. This forms part one of the assignment.
Next up, I needed to paint, using oils, a concept created from the ideas spawned from the montage I’d just made. I had hoped we’d be able to actually make a montage on the canvas, but we had to ‘paint it’ only. This was far more difficult than I imagined.
Then I worked in my background colours and added impasto gel for texture. Proof of texture was going to be important, even if I had to paint it in. This was my first time working with impasto. It goes on white and dries clear.
I used a knife to apply the impasto (I had to watch youtube videos to know how to do it) and then for the bottom piece, I used the end of a paint brush and the end of a ruler as a loose guide to create the corrugations.
I waited until the impasto dried (about 24 hours) and then painted over it. The impasto gives it a softer, rubbery feel and I definitely enjoyed working with it.
I also added some more definition to my face marks and then added some gold foil. The foil had the effect of making my nose too small so that required some further work.
The gold foil was very hard to use. Surprisingly so. It was hard to get it smooth so in the end, I embraced all the rough bits and then tried to add more. You start by applying a special leafing glue and waiting for it to get tacky. Then you lay the foil down and using a paintbrush you paint it into place.
It is incredibly fragile. My dog sneezed nearby and a piece broke in half. Little tiny pieces of foil we used over and over to avoid wastage.
The eye proved problematic. The paint was still slightly wet, and so the gold stuck to it very easily. I then needed to wait for everything to dry so I could try and create smooth lines. You can see the gold dust on the left of the line, where it was really hard to work with because of the texture of the impasto.
The final part was to add print to my papers on the left and polish the last little bits up, including the tears (and world), the size of the nose, the stray gold leaf etc.
Here’s the finished product!
So for this assignment, I submitted two pieces, the paper collage and the painted collage.
Thank-you, I have received in good condition your resolved painting, Weeping for the World. In addition to this work, I have also received your collage work on card which explores this theme of Panic, Excess, Addiction, Retail, Consumer Consumption. From these two related works, it is apparent you well understand the medium of collage and it is apparent that you greatly enjoyed the medium and the personal challenge it presented. Moreover, it appears that this particular style and technique spoke in part to your way of thinking and in turn working.
If you have not already done so, please head to your nearest National Gallery or small artists run space and investigate further the world of collage, photomontage, works on paper, and paintings connected to the diverse medium of collage. Look at the works of other artists practicing today who employ elements of collage in their work, either as process or resolved artwork. Or both. Look at the works of artists from long ago. Just as this medium asks you to be inventive when working, look at many artists over a long period that have dealt solely with or dabbled with collage, paper play, photomontage, and the like. It would be impossible to delve further into this rich area and not be inspired.
By now, you will be settled into the course’s rhythm, and your own, and I trust you are enjoying the process. Through this introduction to the world of both collage and photomontage, you have been able to learn more of colour. You have been able to refine how you go about planning an effective composition, albeit in a different way to the two previous assessment tasks. You have used the ideas explored in the collage to inform and inspire the painting in which the world is shown as one overcrowded bombardment.
Headlines clutter the canvas. They litter the surface and are clearly legible. “Press”, “New Ideas”, “Conversation vs. Connections” are but a few of the headlines we can read. The message is clear yet also open ended in the sense that these are general. One could read into them what they choose, but where you stand is clear, on the side of the world weeping. There is indeed much to “Panic” about. There is little relief, little quiet, little of nature. Looking at the collage, social media noise appears in the form of printed text: “Whenever something exciting happens, I post it on Facebook or Tweet or put it on the blog”. And from this, you have created a sound finished work on canvas employing a dark and moody palette with accents of gold. A Midas touch, perhaps, with the ass’s ears. “Greek mythology has many legends about Midas, the son of Gordius. According to one myth, the god Dionysus endowed Midas with the ability to turn anything he touched into gold; since even food turned to gold, Midas had to free himself from this gift by bathing in the Pactolus River, which then became gold-bearing. In another myth, the ignorant and opinionated Midas expressed a preference for the music of Pan over that of Apollo (hence the expression “the judgment of Midas”—the judgment of an ignoramus). Apollo punished him by giving him ass’s ears, which Midas carefully concealed under a Phrygian cap (hence the expression “Midas ears”).
It appears as though you took your time with this painting and enjoyed the process, playing with tonal shifts in the area of the globe’s face and juxtaposing this with the graphic text on the left hand side of the composition. Your awareness of colour, your knowledge, it underpins the painted scene. The composition is true to the theme you wished to explore. The world is shown weeping at the mad confusion of the human race.
A visual divide within the composition is effective in conveying this sentiment. Yes, as referred to earlier this composition is open-ended in the sense that one could look at this and disagree, and this is very encouraging. To provoke or bring about discussion is something you may wish to further explore. Experiment with quieter approaches and louder ones. Look at the work of artists who you first think of when you think of political art. See where you might fit in, and where you might not. Will you make the pieces that follow even more personal or will you run the other way? There are no right or wrongs here, just experiment and keep working. From practice and refinement good things come.
Read broadly on themes you are interested in, and, as the saying goes, read deeply. Always seek to explore your subject/theme/idea fully. Flesh it out as much as you can. Decide if you will be subtle with it or ambiguous. Perhaps obvious. Again, it is up to you. Do you think you would have been able to dream up such a composition without collage? It may prove the perfect way for you to organise your thoughts or opinions. It may be like a working drawing. Many paintings could be made from your original collage and all of them could be different. Some paintings derived from this could focus upon particular element. Some may become abstracted; some may look at the point of contrast between a noisy and a quiet world. In short, this is fertile ground and where you run with it from here is up to you. The theme is vast and the options many: enjoy!
Looking at the collage, it appears you have discovered this to be an effective means for generating new and dynamic painting compositions that allow you to express an idea, tell a story, set a scene, and this is something to embrace. I hope you continue to make similar works with card (on whatever support you choose, be it paper, timber, canvas even) for such ends. Equally, I hope you continue to make future collage, and photomontage works too, as finished works in themselves. There are no limitations to collage and photomontage, save for your imagination. So, with that in mind, take greater care and time when working on the collage, even if it is only to serve as an idea piece for you. Sometimes it helps if you cut out a host of various collage pieces in advance to the making. Here, I refer to the world cut into the shape of an eye. This approach may not suit your way of working or thinking. Find a method that suits your style and follow it. Make this a smooth cut with a larger pair of scissors that enable you to glide. Your scissors are like a brush.
If you are interested in the refuse of our day-to-day lives consider what else could suggest this other than sad and raffia. Perhaps old envelopes will feature alongside orchestrated rubbish. Perhaps some parts will be torn at the edges.
Looking at this painting before me, it seems that it would be of benefit for you to continue to collect various imagery you feel you could use in future works. It has taken you in a new direction, and though areas need working (re-establish smudged edges of text etc.), the impact and feel is felt. So, collect your source material from a wide variety of places that will enable you to create the world as you see it. Perhaps you will play with the Twitter bird’s artificial appearance in contrast to nature. Having a generous bundle of material at the ready will prove invaluable to your working process; when next you feel like working in this manner you will have all you need at your fingertips, awaiting only yourself and a pot of fresh glue and a clean brush. It may be that collage is the perfect means to help you generate a new body of self-directed work. Consider saving time by grouping your raw source material according to size or colour or finish or theme.
National Geographic’s are a great source of source material you might like to consider, and may fit in well with the packaging you have used. But, again, this is up to you and the message you wish to convey, whisper or shout. Always consider the longevity of your artwork when gluing all elements. Use a brush to coat evenly the reverse side of your intended image. Press the piece down gently and smooth out any creases or ripples. Allow for the work to dry and then press it under a weight. You can make your own press out a few heavy art books or atlases. Phonebooks are equally handy for this, or bricks wrapped in paper (but they need to be completely dry in order to avoid the moisture meeting the paper) and stacked in a tower-like formation. Tins of house paint, too, make good makeshift weights. You can press more sculptural works, such as yours, too, if the weight comes down on the flat areas rather than the raised (pipe cleaners and sand etc.). I like that you have sewn elements in place and the crudeness in which you have done so. Perhaps you will roughly stitch your canvases too, in time. Many artists employ what some regard as ‘craft’ to brilliant effect. Who knows, perhaps this will lead you to assemblage?
The division works well in this painting compositionally, but you need to keep the palette clean, even when trying to frenzy. The lines of text need to be crisp, the river of gold also. The scale suits the subject, and there is a strong sense that collage enabled you to create a composition upon canvas possible through no other means owing to the ideas it sparked, and thus I hope you continue to employ it as a means for making. Giving a title to the finished work serves as added clue. I appreciate the extra effort you have gone to here. Many leave this area as Untitled or give little importance to it. Personally, I find it a rich area to play with. Words can add so much.
I look forward to receiving your next and final body of work and wish you luck with it.