(Oonagh Catchpole – detail)
It has been a long time since I offered a full day’s mixed media workshop but on Saturday I had a studio (and kitchen!) full of artists armed with not only the traditional painting and drawing materials but also glue, newsprint, magazines, string, beads, lace, feathers, scrim, rusty nails, foliage, old uncle Tom Cobly and all!
The brief was to bring a piece of own work to rethink in mixed media or to work from an old or modern masterpiece and to transcribe.
First decision to be made was the support – texture or no texture, underpainting or possibly painting straight onto newsprint, fabric, wood, slate…. Next – how many or how few materials to use and which would suit the subject matter? Important to remember is that the materials should work together – that could mean repeating marks made in one medium into another or echoing the colour of one medium by another
Below are examples of some of the work produced and it should be noted that many are either works in progress or details.
Janet usually works in inks and for this piece, based on genealogy, she laid down photocopies of old birth certificates and photos of ancestors before loosely adding marks and areas of colour in inks to start representing an old celtic fairy tree (work in progress)
Oonagh loves her still lifes (and so do I!) and this piece is a reworking of a previous watercolour. It couldn’t be more different from the original with powdered pigments, beads, fabric and impasto acrylic forming thick encrusted areas.
Roberta’s theme was of the present recession and she based her piece around an iconic sculpture of two angels fixed on the side of a Belfast bank nicknamed, in true Belfast humour, Draft and Overdraft! (we have names for all our public sculptures here!) Her materials were mainly collaged newsprint with acrylic and charcoal – simple but very effective!
An exotic bird painted by Aileen in watercolour with dry pigments and fabric additions (work in progress)
Amanda’s plan was to rework an acrylic painting of a bridge in a Monet-type setting which she didn’t think had worked. After an initial setback she resolved her problems and produced a remarkable 4 pieces- none of which contained a bridge! Always important to remain flexible!
Pat decided to take a detail from a contemporary masterpiece and transcribe it. Having had a selection of handmade paper for some years she finally found the perfect use for them in this detail showing collaged paper and acrylic paint (work in progress)
Finally the romantic of the group! Shirley took some of her old paintings and experiments on Japan paper and some handmade paper and collaged and painted this image which I think is reminiscent of the lady of the lake or perhaps a demure geisha. Shirley’s work often has a lovely stained glass effect.
Of course mixed media just means using more than one medium in a piece of work and can be as straightforward as watercolour and pencil or oils and charcoal. This impressive list of materials, however, was taken from a description of a Robert Rauschenberg piece, “Monogram”, 1955: oil, paper, fabric, printed paper, printed reproductions, metal, wood, rubber shoe heel, tennis ball on canvas, oil on angora goat and rubber tyre, all on a wood platform mounted on four casters! Phew! I saw a retrospective of Rauschenberg many years ago in Dusseldorf and found these early “combine” pieces exciting and inspirational, more so than his later prints.
Saturday was a busy, productive day and it is always interesting to see how, given the same brief, a group of people can end up with such diverse work. Thank you to everyone for allowing me to post these images.