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Nov. 13: Finishing my test collage for the Workshop In Nice.

During the Workshop In Nice we had a lively conversation about how to complete our projects once we returned home from the trip. Each artist had developed a plan for a large work that would be created using the smaller works that we created during the workshop as we traveled about. A couple of artists planned to adhere their small collages to a larger canvas and then keep working on the piece to bring it all together into a cohesive whole. Others were going to create books. One planned to create greeting cards. Another, working on gourds, planned to arrange them all together into a 3-dimensional piece.

Prior to the trip, I began 3 test projects: one is a work on canvas and the other two are books, one accordion book and one with regular pages. Then, while on the trip, I began a third book, a smaller one, with regular pages. My first week home I was completely useless and only wanted to sleep. But my energy returned this weekend and on Monday and Tuesday I spent all day in my studio. Today is Wednesday and I spent the morning in the studio and am now, in the afternoon, creating this blog post. I completed my work on canvas and took photos of it at various stages along the way. I am posting it here so that the other artists in the group can see what I did. And can comment on it. Critique it, that is. Is it finished? Is it resolved? I am hoping that seeing the process and the results will encourage everyone to get in there and work on those projects!

I am also working everyday on my books, but none are finished yet. It is more challenging to take developmental photos of those, since I don’t work any one page to completion, I work the whole book at once, doing a little on several pages at each sitting. But I will take some photos and attempt to document those, too. The Workshop In Nice students all received photos from me of the beginnings of all these projects, but I won’t be repeating those here. What I will begin with here is photos of how things looked when I returned home and began to work on them again.

I look forward to your comments!!

Here is how the piece looked when I glued all the smaller works (15 minute collages done separately) onto a larger canvas, 18" x 36." Notice that I added "blank" spaces - colored rectangles and squares with no collage. This began to add some simplification to the overall chaos of too much stuff.

Here is how the piece looked when I glued all the smaller works (15 minute collages done separately) onto a larger canvas, 18″ x 36.” Notice that I added “blank” spaces – colored rectangles and squares with no collage. This began to add some simplification to the overall chaos of too much stuff.

My next step was to "erase" some of the individual collages by painting over them with white gesso. This was no easy task. I had the uncomfortable job of giving up some works that I liked a lot. Notice that I have already started to paint some of the whited-out rectangles with blue. I forgot to take a photo of the white-out stage...oops.

My next step was to “erase” some of the individual collages by painting over them with white gesso. This was no easy task. I had the uncomfortable job of giving up some works that I liked a lot. Notice that I have already started to paint some of the whited-out rectangles with blue. I forgot to take a photo of the white-out stage…oops.

I painted some of the whited-out areas blue and others green. My aim was to simplify. But now everything is separated into busy and plain and there is no cohesion. The separate bits aren't all talking to each other - although a few of them are, and that is the place to start. What is talking to what and how can that be spread throughout the work. How do I create harmony, yet still offer variation and surprise?

I painted some of the whited-out areas blue and others green. My aim was to simplify. But now everything is separated into busy and plain and there is no cohesion. The separate bits aren’t all talking to each other – although a few of them are, and that is the place to start. What is talking to what and how can that be spread throughout the work. How do I create harmony, yet still offer variation and surprise?

I felt the blue was too strong and was taking over the work, so I went over it with zinc white. The green didn't seem right, so I painted over it with yellow plus zinc white. There is also a cut-out taped on - one that never made it into the final work.

I felt the blue was too strong and was taking over the work, so I went over it with zinc white. The green didn’t seem right, so I painted over it with yellow plus zinc white. There is also a cut-out taped on – one that never made it into the final work.

I used the correction tape to add some more fat white lines - around the blue circle at the top and then diagonally down about 3/4 of the height. Other additions are just taped on: I gave up a collage that I liked just to the right of the middle and put in the dark blue rectangle with the circle and two half vases; I added several other cut-outs throughout the piece, see if you can find them; and I added the large green plant forms.

I used the correction tape to add some more fat white lines – around the blue circle at the top and then diagonally down about 3/4 of the height. Other additions are just taped on: I gave up a collage that I liked just to the right of the middle and put in the dark blue rectangle with the circle and two half vases; I added several other cut-outs throughout the piece, see if you can find them; and I added the large green plant forms.

I liked all the small additions, so I glued them in. But I wasn't ready to glue on the large green plant forms. The underneath layer still felt too disjointed, so I decided to glaze over the whole thing with a thin yellow glaze. This made me very nervous because I loved some of the colors and was afraid that they would change in ways I didn't like. And I was right, they did. The glaze united everything, but it made some of the hues rather ugly.

I liked all the small additions, so I glued them in. But I wasn’t ready to glue on the large green plant forms. The underneath layer still felt too disjointed, so I decided to glaze over the whole thing with a thin yellow glaze. This made me very nervous because I loved some of the colors and was afraid that they would change in ways I didn’t like. And I was right, they did. The glaze united everything, but it made some of the hues rather ugly.

Whoa, what a leap! I should have taken a photo of at least one more in-between stage, but I got caught up in the fever and forgot. So, let me see if I can point out what I did. I was very unhappy with the blue and decided to get rid of it altogether, so I replaced it with a violet hue in some places and a yellow hue in other places and a textured peach and green in other places (all done with collage). There was a very definite and pronounced vertical split that needed crossing, so I added the large vase. Then I used the negative cut-out of that same vase over on the left. Then I glued on all the large green plant forms. There may also be some other small additions that I can't see right now. At this stage I thought it might be finished.

Whoa, what a leap! I should have taken a photo of at least one more in-between stage, but I got caught up in the fever and forgot. So, let me see if I can point out what I did. I was very unhappy with the blue and decided to get rid of it altogether, so I replaced it with a violet hue in some places and a yellow hue in other places and a textured peach and green in other places (all done with collage). There was a very definite and pronounced vertical split that needed crossing, so I added the large vase. Then I used the negative cut-out of that same vase over on the left. Then I glued on all the large green plant forms. There may also be some other small additions that I can’t see right now. At this stage I thought it might be finished.

The change here is minor, but important. Perhaps you can't see it in the photo, but it can be seen in person. The violet and yellow squares felt too blank, so I drew pencil lines on some of them: horizontal on most, vertical on one. I felt that the work could be finished at this point.

The change here is minor, but important. Perhaps you can’t see it in the photo, but it can be seen in person. The violet and yellow squares felt too blank, so I drew pencil lines on some of them: horizontal on most, vertical on one. I felt that the work could be finished at this point.

But there was a ridge at the bottom of the large vase caused by the collage overlapping. It made a line through the vase even with the bottom edge of the dark blue rectangle to the right of the vase. It kept bothering me. So I took the white-out tape and drew thick white lines with it, one of which hid the physical ridge. Then I mixed up some paint and painted over the vase. Because it then stood out as too different from everything else, I painted the same orange in three other places: a rectangle on the far left, a rectangle above and to the right of the vase and a rectangle to the right and a little below the vase. But the large vase still wasn't quite right, so I took alcohol and took some of the paint off and mixed up some transparent yellow and painted over it again. Now I feel the work is finished. I invite critique. Is it finished? Is it resolved?

But there was a ridge at the bottom of the large vase caused by the collage overlapping. It made a line through the vase even with the bottom edge of the dark blue rectangle to the right of the vase. It kept bothering me. So I took the white-out tape and drew thick white lines with it, one of which hid the physical ridge. Then I mixed up some paint and painted over the vase. Because it then stood out as too different from everything else, I painted the same orange in three other places: a rectangle on the far left, a rectangle above and to the right of the vase and a rectangle to the right and a little below the vase. But the large vase still wasn’t quite right, so I took alcohol and took some of the paint off and mixed up some transparent yellow and painted over it again. Now I feel the work is finished. I invite critique. Is it finished? Is it resolved?

Ellie
December 10th, 2013 at 1:47 am

Debi:
I can’t get over your color pallet. Maybe I missed something along the way, but it is lovely and so different for you.
It was great to see the evolution of your little 15 min. pieces into a wall of art. And for me it was a revolution of what you can do to get it right.
Well done, E.

margaret thompson
November 18th, 2013 at 5:57 pm

It’s very interesting to see what you did. I’m working on mine at the moment, and it’s really helpful to see how you resolved it.
My first concern was that I couldn’t recognise any of the first 15min collages – not a single one! And I thought I knew what you were doing.
I liked number 4, where you had toned down the blue and the green. At that point I would have tried to dissipate the grid effect by extending those 2 colours more in to the background, and simplifying it. I struggle with the “busy” effect…..every day!

Marie Fortin
November 16th, 2013 at 9:45 pm

I like how you shared the different stages in resolving the composition. From the photo it looks like you’ve succeeded in bringing together the original small collages into a cohesive whole.
The eye has many areas to visit and when I zoom in I can see more hidden surprises.
Varying scale by introducing the larger green plant forms helps bring the work to a whole along with the lovely color palette. I get a sense of where you’ve been without any indication of it being a travel log. Great resolution.

Laura
November 16th, 2013 at 2:25 pm

I was curious how you were going to integrate a bunch of smaller pieces into one cohesive piece that didn’t look like a patchwork quilt, but it really works!

This piece reminds me of your gardening experience in Bormes les Mimosas.

gretchen
November 14th, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Thanks for sharing this Debi. I particularly love the part to the right of the large vase. Based on the photo – – – the one thing that I am getting caught up in is the straight line that goes across 2/3 of the piece – it is behind the bottom portion of the vase. If something just broke it slightly, perhaps a smidge of the red-violet on the left to break the straightness of that part of the grid. Lovely.

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Debi Pendell Artist by debipendell.com