In the final quarter of the series of 100 small paintings ‘Inspired by Greece’ – possibly for a little break from the line drawings, I found myself reaching for my lovely stash of hand-decorated, painted papers. The process of making them is rather therapeutic and they tend to be done at the end of a studio session when I am tired, or when my brain seems incapable of design or decision. They are also a handy way of using up left over paint from the pallete with a range of techniques including stamping, rollering, printing, incising, reduction painting and so on.
It is these variously decorated, textured and coloured papers which are used in creating this next series of what I rather obviously call ‘cut and torn paper collages’. It’s a highly addictive process. Sometimes an entire artwork will be made out of cut and torn paper – created either on a canvas background, or on wood or paper. At other times, I’ll paint or draw some of the background and combine it with the cut/torn/decorated paper motifs. Or, I’ll introduce more texture by using modelling paste or may paint over a collage of newsprint scraps.
Working in layers takes a certain amount of planning, although it’s best not to be too rigid about it. Almost always the finished collage-painting doesn’t match the image which was in my head at the start of the process. Sometimes the end result is disappointing and frustrating but sometimes it’s a pleasant surprise and is quite exciting. I was trying to base this next group of paintings roughly on the image in my old business card. I wanted to re-create the rough textures and naive look this image has. I started by applying some modelling paste to my watercolour card and then added strips of the hand-decorated papers…
Here’s the same set of paintings a little further down the line – they’ve been built up by adding more detailed collage imagery, colour and layers. Near the end, I adjust the colour balance with a wash or two of translucent colour and scribble a few bits of texture with something like Inktense pencils – a beautifully intense coloured pencil made of highly pigmented ink, which is colourfast once wet and then dried. The white of the walls has been given more texture and aged here and there by shading with paint and Inktense.
Florals seem to lend themselves very well to this technique, along with other still life subjects. Using decorated papers with Greek text peeping out under the paint is quite effective and adds to the depth plus gives a little more Greekness! Near the end of the process I tend to add a glaze or two of paint to the collage and apply some opaque paint here and there using a sponge or other stamping tool to give some added texture. Again, the collage is completely sealed and finished with a coat or two of archival matte medium.