Oct 29, 2010

New mixed-media experience

So I am somewhat addicted to the internet. I have spent so much time in my past-life of digital design goddess researching and communicating online that I find it a hard habit to break (cue Chicago song). But the positive side of my internet rambling is that I come across lots of great info for creating, marketing and experimenting with art.

Four  9 1/2"x4" mixed-media

detail - the rag paper I used picked up a lot of texture from the pastel

The latest cool idea I came across was for a collage teleclass by artist Sarah Bush called The Creative Breakthroughs Technique. Honestly, I've done a lot of exploring of the art world and this was a format I've never seen before. So MAJOR kudos to her for creating a class in this way. Basically if you purchase the teleclass, you get information to join a conference call and participate in a group of artists working on collage. The class is 90 minutes long, and you work on several pieces.

Fly  6"x6" mixed-media

detail - I painted around a butterfly cutout to include negative space in the piece

Thinking this would be a great way to get inspired with some mixed-media, I signed up for a free trial class last Wednesday. In preparation I cleaned up the studio, set up a workspace and materials for three small pieces, and called in at 7:30 pm. I placed the call on speakerphone near my workspace so that I could have both hands free. We started with a brief meditation, and then jumped right in.

Summertime  10 1/4"x 6" mixed-media

Sarah has a nice manner and a soothing voice that was good for leading us through the process -  she would call out a technique picked randomly, then give us a solid block of time to work it into our art. We worked on several pieces at once, which I found helpful in that I couldn't obsess over any one piece and try to make it too "perfect". As we worked, Sarah described lots of ideas and ways each technique could be explored. She checked in with us during the call, and again at the end of the teleclass.

Summertime detail - pattern of swirls in metallic ink

As you can see, I wound up with three very different works of art. My media setup included watercolor, soft pastel, various old papers, stamps, metallic pens and some natural found objects. I tried to let each piece have it's own identity. You can see most of the ideas/techniques incorporated in all three works:

  • pattern
  • the number four
  • a negative shape
  • text
  • a conversation (very challenging - and brilliant!)

The most abstract one - a conversation, was tough at first. Eventually I tried to relate areas within each piece. In Fly, I added swirling shapes that seemed to interact with the butterflies, like an indication of their movement. In Four, I repeated the line pattern that I had created on the right side with another on the left, but changed the placement and direction, to unite both edges. In Summertime, I tore another piece of print and layered it over the background text, a counterpart or contrast to the original. There was no right answer, just inspiration.

Summertime detail - dried flowers and acrylic I added later to complete the piece

An hour and a half was a decent amount of time to make the three pieces, but Sarah encouraged us to live with them and see if they needed any more work. I did go back into Summertime and add some opaque acrylic and the dried branches. This was my least favorite piece initially, but after tweaking it, I'm really happy with the results.

Overall this was a great experience, and helped me to loosen up a bit. I'd recommend trying Sarah's teleclass as her process surprises you and challenges you to create without overthinking. And you might come out with a new masterpiece!