A number of years ago, just after New Years Day, I decided I needed a unique image for a window display in the gallery, one specifically for Valentine’s Day. I had been doing some watercolor collage which included drawing, watercolor and stained paper collage after taking an inspirational workshop from Jerry Brommer. We had gathered all sorts of collage materials which would be a support for the image in the top third of the page. I found it a creative use of the ephemera collected on trips and sketching days and had done several paintings using this interesting combination. One is even the subject of a previous blog entitled “Everything But the Kitchen Sink,” written in August 2010. I wanted to attack this new project in a different way so I made a list of what I wanted to include: the aforementioned materials, a heart shape used in an abstract way, images of my town of Orange, California and finally little bits of historical notations to add interest.
I chose a square for the format for no other reason than that I like designing in that shape. Then I made what I came to refer to as “postcards” within the page – various shapes of squares and rectangles that would be openings for small paintings of the historic plaza area.
I drew the contours of the wee watercolors in lightly with a pencil and then added the large heart shape in the background. Then came the collaged bits of watercolor stained rice paper which was affixed with matte medium – I was careful to keep the medium away from the opening for the images. Also added were photos from maps of the area, pictures of oranges and roses which are the city flower. Then came the small paintings which were of various views of the plaza square which is the center of the historic district. Some of the collaged found papers were veiled with transparent rice papers and others masked by the addition of drawings using white gouache. Finally I added little bits of history by writing on a sheet of typewriter correction paper which had been given to me by an artist friend. I used every inch of that sheet and carefully! I recently found a white pen which works since typewriter correction paper has been impossible to find.
When I began I had no idea how this would turn out but knew that it would be a pleasure to find out. This is a good example of working on a “problem” rather than setting out to do a “wonderful painting.” Setting a limited goal and working toward that end has always been a better way to work for me. I’m concentrating on the problem at hand rather than the final product. You might ask if I’d set myself a lofty goal by wanting something to put in the window and that would be a fair question. However I knew if it didn’t work I could always do it again and or if it really tanked, I just wouldn’t put it up. That desire to have something specifically for Valentine’s Day turned out to be the prompt that opened up a new way to use mixed media and most especially it was such fun to do!