This body of work began sometime in the mid 1990's, as an experiment, seeing if I could adhere a dress to a canvas and create a painting over all the textures. "Dress painting" is a term I came up with to explain these when I simply couldn't think of anything better. Over the years they have evolved, with new elements of collage being added. Dress patterns, photographs, and embroidery all appear from time to time, as well as lino block prints, rubber stamps and gold leaf. I will use this space to explore the beginnings of this series, as well as showing my latest work. If the piece is available for sale you'll find the price at the bottom. Free shipping in the U.S. Contact me at kallencole@aol.com to purchase.

Would you like to see my full website? Head over to KathrineAllenColeman.com

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A week of experiments

I have to admit, I've been feeling a little "stuck" lately. New ideas have been slow to come, and I've found myself, more often than not, spinning my wheels and reworking past ideas. I couldn't manage to keep myself in the studio for any length of time. I needed a serious kick start, but wasn't sure how to begin.

So I started a little self analysis, always a dangerous thing.

One of the issues I discovered was that supplies were becoming scarce, tubes were wrung dry, and there were only a couple empty canvases around, big expensive canvases. It is a difficult thing to take a leap of faith and start something fresh when resources are low, what if I mess up one of those big canvases? So this all meant I needed to do a little shopping.

In the art supply store I told myself I was going to get at least one new thing that I hadn't tried before, or at least not in several years. I ended up checking out with a tub of powdered graphite, three inexpensive canvases, and replacements for some of those empty paint tubes. And some really pretty papers, those still haven't been touched!

Then I simply convinced myself that this was a week off, a week of experiments. I wasn't going to try to complete anything, just start mucking around and see what happens. I grabbed some paper and tried different transfer processes, using oil of wintergreen and lacquer thinner. The oil of wintergreen works much better, and is less flammable, a good thing. But being an oily process I wasn't so sure that water based acrylic paints were going to work well on top. So I picked up a canvas and started a different transfer process using acrylic. While that was drying I was in the powdered graphite, and chalk, and pastels, and pencil, simply making marks, with no thought of a finished product.

Papers were collaged, silver leaf was added, I found some stencils, and just kept going. I ended up with a canvas that was simply full, and thanks to the graphite, quite dark. So I started cutting back in with paint, highlighting favorite parts, blocking out the bits that didn't work, by the end of the day I had this...

Now I know some of you aren't going to be thrilled with this direction, but bear with me. I have always loved abstract work, and have dabbled with it from time to time. And this just felt so fresh, and full of life that I decided to keep going. But my next piece was started with a little more deliberation.

A few photo transfers, a little graphite, some mucky brushwork...

Then more photos, silver leaf, and you can see a rough pencil drawing of one of my latest studio finds, an old birdcage. Add to this some color, reworking the cage with a little more precision, map bits, old stamps, more, more more...

I was a little slower, this one took a couple days to complete, a little less experimenting, letting things dry properly before moving on. Learning from the process. I finally decided this one was done. Time to move on to the last canvas, and the week was coming to a close.

So the last one started like the others, with very little idea of where it was going (I am a planner, so this was a breakthrough and a relief in itself.) The nest was transferred to the right hand side. The "nest" on the left was collaged using old patterns. I like drawing parallels between humans and birds and our building abilities. Rubber stamps are repeated in the background, and the gauzy thin glove attached on top, I love how transparent it is, allowing the viewer to see what is going on underneath. The bird was painted, the three little eggs are stitched with little glass beads.

What I am enjoying about this process is how it started being so random, yet became more and more symmetrical. But still keeps the visual richness. And I know this week is going to influence my new work. I am looking forward to seeing where I go from here!

All three of these pieces are 20" square, I still have to fuss over them for a while to decide if I will bring them to shows. But I am happy to be on the other side of that case of "painters block" and looking forward to my next canvas!

1 comment:

  1. I like the new series! Sometimes, I think, it is easy to get set in an artistic way or method or look and go with what we know (and what we have on hand/in supply). I recently started doodling for the first time in many years, and have come up with some great images/characters that I plan to work with this year - screen printings, photo copy booklets, etc.
    Keep up the good (new) work!