Friday, 27 February 2015

At night, when the sea had quietened down...

Just finished another of my story collages.  

(20 x 20 x 3.5 cm)

Her story is:

'At night, when the sea had quietened down, she would listen to the stories told to her by the souls of the lost and drowned fishermen whom she had collected since she was a girl and kept safe in nests of shell and phials filled with sand.'

It was inspired by a short story I wrote after visiting Brighton two Novembers back, which was in turn, inspired by the tale 'The Soul Cages' which I came across in W. B. Yeats' collection 'Irish Fairy and Folk Tales.'  I highly recommend the collection.  

My collages always start with a photograph.  I buy these from a stall at London's Spitalfields Antiques Market.  They date from the second half of the nineteenth century.  That's also where I purchase the antique letters I use in many of the collages.

Then I slowly build up the collage / assemblage around the woman in the photo.  It's mostly photos of women that I tend to buy and use.  Occasionally a man or child, but these are the ones which usually speak to me.

I try different ideas out.  Laying on different papers, pressed flowers, pieces of pottery, pebbles, beads.  I have a small collection of porcelain doll limbs and torsos dating back to the eighteenth century from a now defunct German doll factory.

(These are certainly not made in a pet-free studio)

Items get moved around, discarded, brought back.  It's a process that takes place over a number of days as I usually have to let things sit for a while and return to them with fresh eyes to know whether they're working or not.

Once I have - more or less - the design I want, I start to jot down notes about the woman's story in a journal for this purpose.  I have an initial brainstorming session, then usually have to leave it and return a couple more times until I have the fragment of story figured out. 

I type it, print it out, paint it with watercolours to match the collage, and attach it.  

Some of my recent ones have had mini journals included.  I make the journals, then either attach them permanently, or in a way that they can be taken off and even used if wished.  

This is one of my smallest ones.  About 2.5 x 2.5 cm, with hand torn, tea stained pages, Florentine marbled endpapers, leather cover and tie, and mini collage of pressed flower and scrap of antique letter on the front. 

Here she is on a wall.  

She can be seen in my Etsy shop:

Monday, 9 February 2015

Little works framed.

(10 x 10 x 3.5 cm. Oil and cold wax with fragment of antique letter and pressed flower on oil paint paper adhered to wood panel.)

In trying to solve the problem of how to frame these tiny, new paintings, I at first wondered whether I ought to frame them before offering them for sale, or simply mat them.  That brought up the problem of how to mat them.  What size and for what format of frame?   

Deciding against those options, I chose to adhere them to the wood panels I use for my collages using acrylic medium.  I've painted the edges black and signed and dated them on the back.  They can hang on a nail or sit on a desk or shelf.    

Three of them are now available in my Etsy shop:

Friday, 6 February 2015

Small pieces.

I've been working on some very small paintings (10 cm x 10 cm) on paper.  They're oil and cold wax with collage elements: fragments of antique letters, gold leaf, pressed flowers.  

 (oil and cold wax with antique letter fragment on paper)

As I was working, I rather lost sight of what was happening with the individual pieces.  Paint and pigments spilled over the edges of the tape creating a rather alarming visual mess.  

When I took off the tape off, however, I was pleased with the results.  Then I used more cold wax to adhere the collage elements.  

I finished two of them today.  The rest are for the weekend.  

(oil and cold wax with antique letter fragment and pressed flower on paper.)