Saturday, February 26, 2011

Four at once + a little extra

As I already stated in my last post I have been working on four collages at the same time. This was a little experiment for me. (Yes, I love my little experiments.) I am usually a person who likes to do one piece of art at a time. But I'm always reading and hearing about artists who take on several canvases at once, so I thought I'd try something similar, but then on paper.

So I sat down at my desk and got out four different color pieces of cardstock sized 30x30 cm (12x12 inch). I took my paints and some other things like pens and pencils and I got to working on four backgrounds at once. This was quite fun, because I would use some left over paint from one piece on the next one or would try a similar technique with a different color on the next piece. Anyway, after a while I had four backgrounds that looked like this:

After this it was time to add some paper and do some background collage. I took out my stack of pretty papers, opened my tub of gel medium and pasted away. After this the four pieces looked like this and I was quite pleased with myself ;-) 

Until here the process of making anything is easy for me. I have no problem throwing on paints, arranging shapes, putting on different elements, just as long as it's a background. When it's time to start thinking about the foreground is where the trouble starts. Maybe that trouble is indeed about the fact that now I have to start thinking a little. What do I want to do, what would work well? And the real trouble is: I hardly ever know the answer to these questions. I never set out with an idea of what this piece is supposed to be about. I just kind of wing it and see what happens. Here's the part where I really have to trust the process and not start thinking I'm a sucky artist because I don't know what I'm doing, will never know what I'm doing and therefore will never amount to anything (aren't I nice to me?).

The good part is that when you do this kind of thing often enough experience tells you to stick with it. This sucky part of not knowing what it's all about is just part of the process. I have encountered it enough now to know this, so am not too discouraged, but it still is a tough thing for me to really believe that, yes, this time I will also overcome the doubts halfway any piece of art. And of course one always does. Here's the trick: try to focus only on the next little step, not on the end result. You may not know what the end result will be, but you may know that you want to take up your pencil and make some marks in that top left corner or that there is a stamp that will fill that void somewhere on the right of the paper. And after that step is done another one will come to you out of nowhere and if you keep going like that at some point the whole point of the work will make itself clear to you. If you have no faith in yourself, have faith in the process. That's what works for me anyway.

So, after some babysteps towards the end products I ended up with four different pieces that all have some elements in them that I wanted to try in my collages. For instance the use of my own drawings or the use of a self portrait. Here they are in the same order as above so you can compare the before and after:

Again I used element from one piece on the next, so they all are connected and yet completely different. I also found that I found it more difficult to work in darker earthier colors than in the bright ones and that I have some reservations about using my foam stamp images as focal points as I did in the second piece. Using them for backgrounds is no problem to me, but when I start using them as focal images I feel like a cheater. Isn't that interesting? What I loved was using my own drawings as a focal point, that I will definitely try again.

While working on these pieces I used a piece of paper to scrub of my brushes or to remove the paint from the stamps and that formed a background in itself for a little bonus piece that I finished today.

The size of this one is 30x21 cm, which is A4 size. The paper is fabriano, which is beautiful paper that will take just about any media. The focal picture is from a magazine cover and I altered it a little. The whole piece is a little joke on Eve. ;-)

I hope you enjoyed looking at these. It was an interesting way to work and it made me feel really productive!

I would love to hear you thoughts on the artistic process or on working on one piece at the time or several. I'm always curious how other people work.