Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Life Landscape (Part 1)

It feels like I've been living in a whirlwind for the past month. Finals, moving out of my dorm room, and getting into a routine back at home have taken up all my time!

However, in the midst of all the chaos of moving back home for the summer, I've managed to find a little time to work on an exciting new collage.

Planning the composition. 

All of my collages start out the same way. I arrange everything on the canvas and photograph it. On some, I get everything positioned exactly how I want it. In those cases, I take a few things off at a time and take pictures throughout the process so I know exactly where to glue everything, and in what order. On other collages, like this one, I figure out the general placement of things, photograph it, and leave the details for later.

The first stage of layering

After the planning, I glue everything on. The collage layers of this piece are pretty simple, but on more complex pieces with more layers, I spend a lot of time gluing on each "level" of materials and letting them dry.

Continuing the layering process

At this point, I'm about a third of the way through the gluing portion of this collage. Doesn't look like much, does it?

The collage layer is complete!

I was tempted to just leave it like this, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't bring myself to leave this little landscape so incomplete.

First ink layer

Unsure what to do, I took up my ink and pen and started making little squiggly river-things leading to the mountain. 

I strongly suggest that everyone try using a dip pen at least once in their life. Drawing with one can be unnerving at first, since you can't erase or undo anything. You're forced to think about mark you make, and it makes for a much deeper, more intentional drawing. And besides that, it feels very historic. You can pretend you're a 19th century heiress, a general in the Civil War, or even a young witch or wizard at Hogwarts. 

Smudged all the ink and added white paint

After the ink dried, I went in with a small paintbrush and acrylic gel medium and smudged the ink. Acrylic gel medium is basically paint without color. There are various different kinds that give different finishes and textures, and can be mixed with paints to get different effects, used as collage adhesive (that's what I use it for the most), or used like a varnish to seal a collage or drawing. With india ink, I've discovered, the gel medium smudges and softens the lines a little bit. It's a really lovely effect, in my opinion.

After the gel medium, I used white paint to enhance those little squiggly river-y things. 

Continuing to add details in paint and colored pencils

In this one, you may be able to see some of the colored pencil details I added into the ground, mountains, and cloud. 

I'll be honest. I'm not sure where to go from here. It doesn't feel finished, but I'm just not sure what to do at this point. I keep going back to look at it and think about it, but I don't know. 

I didn't have much of a plan for it when I started, but I think it's sort of becoming landscape of my life, if that makes any sense. Light spots, dark spots, rays of light, areas of grey and streaks of bright color, all symbolically representing different aspects and events in my life. I don't know how it will end, like my life. I can't go back and change anything I've done to it, though if I chose to I could glue or paint on more to cover what I have. But even then, the layers underneath will always be there, and they'll always have some effect on anything I add to it. All I intended to do when I started this was to enjoy the freedom of having all my art things in one place, and no homework or studying to prevent me from enjoying them. Freedom was my only constraint. So I guess my goal is to live a life of freedom?

However it ends up, I'm becoming more fond of this collage every time I add to it. And don't worry, I will definitely show you the finished product!

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