Friday, September 10, 2010

Playing Around With Gesso

I'll be honest. I hadn't used gesso since my college oil painting class years ago and didn't realize it's utility in collage art until I opened Bee Shay's Collage Lab and read the table of contents. Today, I did Lab 1 "Basic Gesso Surface." Here are my results, along with notes on what I enjoyed or did not with each technique. The base is watercolor paper. I tinted the gesso using acrylic colors.

I used masking tape to mask off some shapes and lines. Then I painted a light yellow tinted gesso thickly over everything. Once the gesso dried, I experimented with some washes using ink and watercolor. I like the depth created by the texture of the gesso and washes here. Since I normally do not use masking or hard edge, I enjoyed experimenting with straight lines in my composition.

I started with a rosy tinted gesso as the base. Next I painted some blue gesso on corrugated cardboard and pressed that on the gesso coated paper. Peeling the cardboard away led to the interesting vertical lines you see. Using the wrong edge of a paintbrush, I doodled over the background, creating a lighter line. Interesting effect that I will definitely use again!!

In this experiment, I began by stamping the blue tinted gesso shapes with a small glass candle holder. I next sponged some orange tinted gesso in and around the shapes. Once the gesso dried, I went back in with an ink wash to tie the color scheme together. 

I quickly sponged a thick, blue tinted gesso on the paper, following with sponged red tinted gesso shapes over the blue. I used the wrong end of a paint brush to draw some lines to allow the blue to show through the red and suggest more of a composition. 

Conclusion: Gesso is fun! I hadn't used so freely before and enjoyed trying it out today. I will definitely find ways to incorporate it into future collage projects.

Collage Lab: Experiments, Investigations, and Exploratory Projects by Bee Shay

I discovered this gem of a book recently while browsing in a local bookstore. As its title suggests, it is a book full of projects to help artists learn more about collage while experimenting with a wide variety of techniques. The author, Bee Shay has a blog entitled, CollageLab Companion. The book is perfect for a beginning collage artist, or anyone who is looking for new ideas and techniques that inspire and stretch their creativity. Find more information about the book here.

Tissue Paper Collage with Flowers

In this tissue paper collage, I used tissue paper and some patterned wrapping paper. I used paper more sparingly than in my first attempts and played around a bit more with texture and transparency.

Collage First Attempt

Last spring, I had the opportunity to teach a lesson on making collages in my son's 4th grade class. I was so inspired during the lesson, watching the children's enthusiasm as they made their collages, that I came home and immediately made some collages. Here are two of my first collages.

In this abstract collage, I used a combination of paper and fabric, combining images and text with visual and tactile texture. To emphasize linear elements in the composition, I added some black yarn. My second attempt below is a more recognizable abstract landscape composition. I layered tissue paper along with a combination of fabric and plain paper.

Collage SourceBook: Exploring the Art and Techniques of Collage

This book is a great resource for anyone interested in collage techniques including paper, fabric and found object collage as well as collagraphy. It has many photographs of collage by many different artists throughout the book that provide examples of many types of collage art. In addition to providing the basics for each type of collage, there are chapters on project ideas such as chronicling relationships and inspired by nature. If you are interested in collage, this is a great resource book.