"In the City by the Bay"
18" x18" magazine collage on canvas
Expect a few more refinements
Seems that I get a lot of art energy from being around other artists. Between my trip to Murphy's for the Artist Getaway and my all-day plein air session with the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society (SCVWS), I can't stop creating art. Friend Joan had been fascinated by my magazine collage work, done after taking a wonderful workshop from Derek Gores. After Joan left for home, I cropped an image of my granddaughter hanging off a parked cable car in San Francisco on a family visit to California in 2010 when Kelly was 14. Her hair was flying in the strong summer wind and I liked the angle of her head and shoulders.
I have been wanting to create this piece for a while. I spent several hours playing with the image and free-hand drawing it on tissue paper. Then I transferred the image to a canvas, using a broad Sharpie to go over the lines that would guide the collage work. You can see it does not require much detail.
The drawing on canvas
I set myself up in the garage. This work is too messy for my upstairs studio that is just a side extension of my bedroom. Basically I tear lots of magazine pages into bits and apply pieces of them to the canvas with glossy acrylic liquid gel medium.
The first day's work
I settled on a color scheme of fuschia, white and black, with some related colors for the hair. After a few hours, I had a good beginning. I knew that I wanted the hair to be ambiguous on the right, and darker to indicate some shadow there. Where does the hair end? That's part of the mystery.
The second day's work
I spent the afternoon in the garage tackling the face, always the biggest challenge for me. I know at this point that I will likely eliminate the watch face on her cheek and the lines of her neck are too defined and straight. The beauty of collage is it's easy to change my mind. Gerald Brommer, a famous artist who first taught me to use collage said, "Just keep adding paper until it's so heavy the painting will fall off the wall." I like the ambiguity that's developing. Is that the back of a woman forming some of her hair. Oh, I see a high heel and some flowers in her clothing. There is the San Francisco skyline.... (rescued from the newspaper a month ago as I thought about this collage).
The third day's work
Now that the canvas is covered, I can begin to refine the image. I eliminate the watch face, modify the neck, and put some white flowers on either side of her. Nope -- don't like those gardenias - too regular and fussy for suggesting a sophisticated city.
The fourth day's work
Gotta get rid of the white flowers. How about a cable car image? Try some black under the city. I don't like the long diagonal that the black creates.
Final day's work
Will it help to break up the black a bit? Better, but I still don't like it. Time to revert back to white.
A repeated photo of the finished (?) piece
I kept the text, added some white with text, broke the long line at the top of her head, created some ambiguity in her hair on the lighted side, both on the outer and inner edges. Derek Gores would probably tell me that I need to vary the edges more, so this piece will likely change a bit yet as I contemplate how to make this piece more interesting.
Meanwhile, I was able to show one collage piece, at an SCVWS exhibit in the spring. The committee was pretty open-minded to include an all-collage piece as the society focuses on watermedia. My watermedia is the acrylic for the glue. That event got me an invitation to show that piece and one other at the Rengstorf House in Mountain View during the month of August.