In an effort to share, explore and expand upon the myriad studio practices found here at ISACA, please consider using this forum to post images and descriptions of the process you use to create your collage and assemblage work. 

Additive, subtractive, virtual, what does your process look like?

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The ink sits OK on the gel medium, doesn't just rub off when it's dry?
Of course, I can answer my own question by doing some tests.

In any case, I am inspired to try it again. Thank ya, ma'am.

 

Diane Dellicarpini said:

Ken, it gets really dark on paper that isn't sealed. I use it over paint or over pieces that have been coated with gel medium.

I'm working on a series using spray paint on glass and adding collage elements to the front. I'm seeing some interesting textures and solarizations while mingling the paint that guides the selection and placement of the collage bits. I also have accumulated a nice size collection of glass panes with crappy looking paint jobs.

Jeff, it's nice to see the results of the spray painting process in JR Cosmic Windmills.

Jeff Roberts said:

I'm working on a series using spray paint on glass and adding collage elements to the front. I'm seeing some interesting textures and solarizations while mingling the paint that guides the selection and placement of the collage bits. I also have accumulated a nice size collection of glass panes with crappy looking paint jobs.

Thanks Ken. On Cosmic Windmills I placed a dried cat tail on the glass before painting. That left the shape in the center that I then over-painted in jade. I also ended up with a half-painted dried cat tail. Hmmmmm...
ken coleman said:

Jeff, it's nice to see the results of the spray painting process in JR Cosmic Windmills.

Jeff Roberts said:

I'm working on a series using spray paint on glass and adding collage elements to the front. I'm seeing some interesting textures and solarizations while mingling the paint that guides the selection and placement of the collage bits. I also have accumulated a nice size collection of glass panes with crappy looking paint jobs.

Todd I really like the texture in this piece. You mention glue wash as a part of the process, could you describe what that is. Sorry the picture didn't come up . I'll try again.


Diane Dellicarpini said:

Todd I really like the texture in this piece [Waters from the Waters]. You mention glue wash as a part of the process, could you describe what that is. Sorry the picture didn't come up . I'll try again.

Todd Bartel, Waters from the Waters, 1985

I first discovered the glue wash technique from working too sloppily and too hastily. Essentially, I put glue down in the exact area where I wanted it to receive an item—having previously traced the item with light pencil markings and carefully painted glue within the designated shape—and then I ironed the item with the still wet glue. It hissed, bubbled and boiled instantly and the glue squeezed out from under the image being glued, and it spilled out on the sides and was fused in a very rough and rugged textured surface from the heat and evaporation of the ironing. The non-hasty way to do this gluing technique is to put glue on the back of the item being pasted as well as painting glue exactly in the shape of the pasted item. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly on both surfaces and then heat-fuse the item in place using an iron. This method gives a very clean and desirably flat appearance to the gluing process and is quite beautiful. I was in a rush when I tried the method while the glue was still wet at one time early in my collage career. But, I love the accidental textures it produces. So, I began just adding glue to the surfaces of my collages and just boiling wet glue until it dries, thus intentionally creating the textures in unexpected areas and shapes. It is pretty subtle, since it is clear once it is dry, but you can detect the texture on close inspection. You can also tint glue any color you want so it has lots of applications. It tends to unify the piece. I also like ironing wax paper over finished collages, as that tends to look like foxing. But I always do the wax stage last because wax is not a good surface to glue on top of for obvious reasons. I call it a glue wash because I just wash the glue solution in what ever area needs texture. There is also a considerable amount of scorching that can occur when you use an iron and I like the aging that all these related methods provide. I keep two irons—one for clean ironing, and one for glue-wash ironing. I use dry-mount press release paper to protect the iron and the art for clean or  dry-gluing and I do not use release paper for glue-wash ironing. I liken glue-wash ironing to Neanderthal-style gluing and I liken the dry-ironing method to classical-style gluing.

 



Todd, Thank you for the explanation. Lots of good information for those of us who like texture.  Is there a particular type of glue that you use and what is foxing? I agree that those accidental textures are wonderful. I love when they show up in my work, I think that's my favorite part of the process.  Using the wax paper as a finish is interesting.  I just  did a piece with oil and cold wax, waiting to see if the images that were  embedded in the wax will hold.

I used use Elmer's glue although I'm frustrated with the company because they changed the formula and it is now more elastic and less brittle. I prefer the older  brittle glue. PVA also works. Foxing is a kind of mold that happens to old books, and literally means "discolored with brown spots." I like faking foxing with citrus juice--any citrus will do--when heated, citrus turns a beautiful yellow brown. You can  achieve a pretty good degree of control if you use a heat gun to heat citrus. I sometimes use squeezed lemon juice, dip an old tooth brush in the juice and then flick-splatter the juice on old papers and then heat up the juice to a desired color. If you over do it, it turns a deep umber, but that too is beautiful.

So foxing is what I love about old papers, good to know. Never heard about the citrus juice, will have to give that a try . Thanks Todd!

Great discussion and info Diane and Todd!

I have a question about finishing with wax paper, Todd. Do you do it because it looks like foxing or because it finishes/protects the work as a final step? Then a more general question becomes how do you (or anyone) finish a piece? I think this question came up before about varnishing collages.

One of the reasons I use wax paper on certain of my collages is that it adds an aged look to the work. If it were not a problem to put wax onto a work that is in progress, still needing elements to be glued down, I'd use the iron/wax paper technique all throughout the process. But, wax repels water-soluble glue, so I wait until the end of the gluing/drawing/painting process before I apply the wax paper transfer. Some papers are visually unaffected by this technique; the wax is surely transferred, but it does not deepen the color of the paper. So there is a bit of experimentation that needs to happen before I apply the wax to certain papers. I would suggest that it is paper that has yellowed or will yellow in time is most susceptible to the coloring shift. My guess is because such paper is not acid free. Anyway, the iron makes the wax paper pucker, shrink and shrivel unevenly, creating peaks and valleys and that is why the wax gets transferred unevenly and looks a bit like foxing. I don't use wax paper as a way of protecting the collage; I just use it as a way of aging the collage. I have often used acrylic Krylon Spray, not so much to protect a collage, as much as to unify it and give it a luster. Wax tends to visually unify a piece because of the "all over treatment," but it rarely if ever has a luster to it. It just tends to deepen the color of the paper in speckled and otherwise rhythmically shaped areas.

As far as how I finish a work that really depends on which series I am working on. I'm fairly disciplined as per the rules I set up for each series I develop. For one series I will work very conceptually and have very clear parameters to work within whereas other series are far more intuitive. I'll confine this response to the intuitive-based working methods. I like the way Gerhard Richter says it: "I work a painting until I can't make a move without ruining something." That is true for me as well. I also love how a former professor thought about it: "I start a painting not knowing where i'll end up and I finish a painting when the painting tells me that I've gotten there." For me, I am not happy with a work until I have discovered or allowed a certain relationship to stay that I did not anticipate, so I am essentially not content until I am surprised. I usually start with one or two things I know I want to work with and add an element, image, object that i really have no clue how to deal with. That combination brings me to unexpected conclusions. When a work ends in an unexpected way that always seems to point toward the next work that needs to be made, which keeps me open, alert and playful.

Somehow I missed this conversation when it was happening. Really interesting. Ken, your schematic of the collage is something I've never thought of, very instructive, if a bit "naked"! :)

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