Blue Poppy by Doris Charest
Using Mixed Media and Collage - Flowers
Doris Charest - Posted on 13 Aug 2007
Blue poppy still life
You will need
• Acrylic colours:
any basic colours and colours you particularly like
• White gesso
• Black gesso
• Acrylic medium or acrylic gel
• 2in. brush and any of your favourite brushes
• White tissue paper – the cheap kind will do well
• Acetone-free nail polish remover
• Q-tips (cotton buds)
• A spoon or a brayer
• Photocopies (high contrast) of subjects that you like – small, large or both
• Containers for water
• Rags or paper towels
• Plastic to cover the table
• Large white plastic bin bags
The best way to learn how to make mixed-media collages is to experiment. Follow my techniques, but don’t be afraid to experiment, too!
Step 1 Make your own collage papers
Shop-bought tissue papers are not always archival and lightfast, which is a problem of the collage medium. And as beautiful as handmade papers from other countries are, they can fade, so try making your own collage papers instead. Here’s my method:
1 Cut a white plastic bin bag in half so that it is a large rectangle.
2 Lay tissue paper on top of the plastic.
3 With a 2in. brush, gently apply watered-down acrylics (to the consistency of skimmed milk) to the tissue. Be careful, as the tissue paper will tear if you press down too hard with your brush.
4 Paint the tissue papers one or multiple colours. Spattering paint of a different colour on the tissue creates wonderful effects. The papers take about half an hour to dry.
Once the papers are dry, they will lift off the plastic. Notice how the front of the paper is different from the back. Wonderful surprises come out of this! So, unlike bought papers, you get two for one – two surfaces from the same paper!
Step 2 Choose your colours
Now that you have a surface and these wonderful handpainted papers, what do you do? First, choose three different colours, a black and a light colour. No more than that, especially if you are a beginner. Generally, I would suggest you pick one colour, its complement and a neutral. For example: orange, its complement – purple, and a neutral would be a greypurple or a grey-orange. Notice that I have not mentioned white. Sometimes, beige is light enough depending on the colours you pick. The black could be a dark purple.
Step 3 Make shapes
Tear or cut the papers into basic shapes. Make sure the shapes are different sizes. For every colour I use, I have three different sizes: small, medium and large.
Arrange the shapes into a pleasing design. Only when you are happy with the design should you start to glue the pieces to the surface. To make it easy for yourself, have two boards. Arrange the pieces on one board.
When you are ready to glue them down, take one piece at a time and glue them in the same location on the second board. This saves you having to remember where everything went.
Step 4 Image transfer
When the background is dry, you are ready to add the photo-transfer. Decide what image (or images) you would like to incorporate into the collage. You may not want to add any images at all and leave the collage as it is – an abstract.
Alternatively, add images by drawing or painting them on top of the collage or by photo-transfer. I often do both. I photocopy my drawings then photo-transfer them onto my collages.
1 Take a fresh photocopy (old photocopies do not transfer well), and place it carbon side down on the painting.
2 Dip a Q-tip (cotton bud) into some acetone-free nail polish remover and gently rub the paper until it is soaked with the remover. Rub only a very small area at a time. Take a spoon or hard object and rub this dampened area. Press hard.
3 When you have repeated this process over the entire image, lift the paper and the image should have transferred itself onto your painting. If the paper sticks, dampen the area again and lift. Remember that you will get the image in reverse because it is face down.
Step 5 Add the colour
Now, I add colour to my drawing or my photo-transfer using acrylics. I do not completely finish the subject because I like the image to blend with the background. I want the work to fade in some places and stand out in others. People who have bought my work say that every time they look at it they see something different. Aim for this and, above all, experiment and have fun with your collage making.