The aim of this technique is to re-purpose the kind of paper and plastic which come to me without me having to go looking for it at all. It’s really just a matter of collecting up this stuff. Preparation involves cutting up the plastic into a variety of shapes and sizes, and tearing up the paper material. Then, as i go, I cut up some useful shapes for facial features as I see fit. This technique is very easy on the hands, and incredibly cost effective, so I expect to be doing more of these in the colder months.
I glue it all down with mod podge glue, and once dry I paint over them with acrylic gel medium.
Collaged Face #1
Collage with newsprint, coupons and plastic bags on 600gsm paper.
Sure, there’s worry,
there’s the inevitable fate
of pain, disfigurement
the weight of numbers
and of future shame to bear.
However, when I wear
this cloak of art,
to my mind’s eye
it’s all so beautifully
a constrained palette.
Cold and discomfort
become chisel and hammer
with which to sculpt character.
Idleness becomes a delicacy
best consumed slowly
to inform the taste.
This cloak of art
is what Otis was wearing
on the dock of the bay.
it offers a different
kind of warmth,
not by keeping
the weather out,
but by inviting it
to focus one’s intent
on rubbing together
of complex longing
and simple play
over the paltry kindling
of an audience
which is yet
to catch on.
The orange squares have been cut from a used plastic bag.
These squares were then stuck onto strips cut to the appropriate width. These strips were from and A5 piece of paper, onto which I had painted a simple repeating pattern of vertical brush strokes done with a chisel edge brush. Painting these strokes is calming and meditative, and doesn’t tense the hand muscles, because I have wrapped sponge around the brush and slid a used toilet roll over the sponge, so that I have a very wide handle.
The other piece of paper was the one that I was cleaning my brush on. I cut the strips with my paper trimmer to ensure that they would sit flush against the other strips.
The fact that the paper thickness is the same for each strip, means I can then collage over top of them without having to worry about visible dips and rises on the collaged element.
I envisage these works as mainly decorative, which being small, and having subdued colour, should go well with most interior colour shemes in people’s homes.
With this technique I am attempting to minimalise detail, and use the graphic power of intense lighting in black and white. It is very inspired by the expressions on Byzantine mosaic portraits. Also you will notice the enlarged eyes and the closeness to the eyebrows.
Left hand #1
Acrylic on Panel
This is my first try at using a palette knife. I did end up using a little brush work as well. The idea is that it will be easier on my rheumatism, and strain the hand less than using a brush. Also, it should allow me to incorporate a more expressionistic style. My left hand was the obvious subject matter.
The etymology of the the word Heal, as posted in the online etymology dictionary reads as follows:
heal (v.)Old English hælan “cure; save; make whole, sound and well,” from Proto-Germanic *hailjan (cognates: Old Saxon helian, Old Norse heila, Old Frisian hela, Dutch helen, German heilen, Gothic ga-hailjan “to heal, cure”), literally “to make whole,” from PIE *kailo- “whole” (see health). Intransitive sense from late 14c. Related: Healed; healing
It’s important to consider that many healing methodologies pit the person against their illness, which enforces duality:
I have been wanting to be a bit more expressive in style, and to loosen up a bit. However, when you get RA, it’s not a good idea to have the hands tense for a period of time, which can happen easily when using pencil, pastel, etc, since you need to press harder to get that thinker and darker line.
I have been doing these studies with a light grey, mid-grey and black. So I just dilute the ink for the grey tones, and store it in little screw top containers. The top image was done with a number 3 brush, while the self portrait was done with a Chinese sable brush.The nice thing about the Chinese brush is the variety of kinds of stroke that it allows.
I guess you could think of these as drawings done in a painterly way, where there is an initial layer, or ground, just made up of free brush strokes, and from there I build up tones with density of strokes. Contour lines and little details are left to the final phase. The tricky thing to keep in mind is you don’t have any white to do highlights, so you have to be careful to dodge the lightest areas.
There are many old picture frames, which in their day would have been expensive, but which, over time succumbed to scratch marks and dents. The trouble is that you can’t really restore most of them, and you can’t just paint over them, as they have a shiny varnish which the paint won’t stick to.
I purchased a rotary power tool with sanding bits especially to get into all the difficult areas where my rheumatoid hands don’t want to go. My idea was basically to give these frames a whole bunch of dents while sanding the varnish off, and to then make a DIY crackle effect to give the frames an “antique chic” look.
The undercoat of this frame was black, which, once dry, I painted PVA glue onto, and straight away applied white acrylic which I had previously mixed with some cornstarch to give it a slightly coarse texture. I took a few snapshots with my phone to give you all a glimpse at how it turned out:
I was born in 1975, and when I was a kid, Star Wars was huge. The other B-movie kind of saga which had a big impact on me in the eighties was the original Karate Kid trilogy. I started doing Seido Karate when I was about eight, and made my way to yellow belt, but I stopped there, because it really wasn’t providing me with that something sacred which I hoped it might.
All of these years later, I think of when I was diagnosed with Sjogrens Syndrome as the chaotic factor in my life which was out of balance in a big way. Then, one day, a friend told me about a Chigong master who was coming to town and doing individual healings. He advised me that Zhineng Chigong was what I needed, and so I committed to learning it. My teacher told me that Chigong was the original martial art, because healing and consciousness precede the need to learn to fight. The blissful feelings it brought about, along with the positive culture, and techniques I could incorporate into my daily life were providing the disciplined sacred space that I needed.
Fear, worry and self-doubt are all part and parcel of being diagnosed with any disease (especially when Western medicine tells you there is no known cure!). Michio Kushi, in his Macrobiotic theory, talks of there being a background and a foreground, and that usually our preoccupation is with the foreground, which is occupied by our fears, vices, and perceived flaws. The background is the positive things which are going on in our lives, often brought about by our efforts to remedy the negative.
So I don’t think my aim is to become a Pollyanna, brimming with positivity no matter what, but to develop something like dialectic reasoning, as Mr Miyagi does effectively in this scene where Daniel is focusing on the foreground of the Karate tournament (the object of his fear). Mr Miyagi reminds Daniel of the lesson about balance, and shows him the photo of Ali (the object of his love and happiness).
I like to think of the Cobra Kai as being the disease, as its credo seems to be ‘No Mercy”.
Sketching with brush and ink has been relatively easier on my arthritic knuckles than sketching with pencil, so I thought it would be even better for me to minimalise the work required from the fingers. The solution I thought of was lyrical line drawing, the like of which Henri Matisse became well known for.
I did a search for “female dancer”, found some that I liked, and picked one out to firstly do a regular line drawing of in pencil, and then translate into the thicks and thins of brush and ink:
This small scale flatters me a bit, as there are really some hesitant lines, but my hope is that with continual practice, I will figure out the best schemata of brush strokes, and will then be able to play with the image a bit more.