Paper Mosaic Portraits, Landscapes, Abstracts, Concepts

Junk Mail Collage

Papier Colles

 

The work I have been doing for the past 20 years was created in order to solve a number of problems; 

  1. Develop an original process and technique that would transform my “anybody can paint” portraits into something unique.

  2. Blend my fascination of ancient mosaics, intricate stained glass with my colorful, contemporary portraiture aesthetics and obsession with “tiny things” into one art form. Since I created the art form, I don’t have to follow any set rules.

  3. Be ecologically responsible by finding a use for the ever growing stockpile of greeting cards, postcards, photographs, calendars, menus, packaging, and other “junk” mail, and paper ephemera. By using only non-toxic, water based paints, adhesives and lacquers. By reducing waste through upcycling of paper, canvas, frames and other materials  

 

I have long been a painter, particularly intrigued with faces. Although some of my subjects may have been famous, I am just as interested in the every day, mundane. Each face is enchanting in its own shapes, planes, forms and textures. My fairly simple paintings attempt to capture one split second of a life with an image I hope is beautiful. 

 

Each piece of paper, in itself, is inconsequential. The source of material is immaterial. The color schemes used are imaginary. 

 

The work is seen and experienced differently from near, where the viewer investigates the seeming clutter of disparate pieces, to far; where the brain consolidates the miscellanea and forms a cohesive and recognizable likeness. 

 

In my process, I draw and then paint an original portrait, usually using a photo as a source. I rarely use color at this stage, or only as a guide to delineate one shadow from another. The color comes from the paper, a collection which has grown enormously over the years. 

 

I spend a good amount of time with the paper, even saving some of it, based on color or imagery for “another day.” Hours are spent sorting it, hand cutting it into chunks, then strips then squares and then cut again when on the easel to fit a specific area. One piece of paper may be cut at least five times if not more.

 

Because I create my portraits from a huge assortment of paper sources, the colors, typography, weight and texture differ. As I sort each piece for color, they do not match exactly, the nuances make the composition more interesting. Each small piece is a separate building block, and no element alone represents anything specific to the subject; not one is a facial feature, or a component of a landscape or abstract piece. 

 

I build gradually, fitting one piece to the next, in a very controlled manner. No amount of canvas is left uncovered, except for the eyes. 

 

A tiny piece of paper may be glued, removed and replaced several times. A small portrait usually takes at least 40 hours of work, to draw, paint, sort, cut glue, and lacquer.

 

Depending on my mood, vision or inspiration, other components may be added; dimensional embellishments, textures, or a bit of sparkle. I am not hemmed in by anyone else’s expectations or any outcomes I may have planned. And although the process is extremely calculated, every decision is improvisational; the impulse is the action.

 

Over the years, many other artists have adopted this technique and style. In response, I am always moving on, moving ahead and exploring other options, techniques and art forms, just for the experience, or perhaps to imbue future work with something I have crafted. Textured photographs, beads, yarn, tiny crystals, gems, braids, vinyl and other mediums have found there way incorporated into recent work.

 

I took a year off to deal with COVID, with cancer and with the closing my gallery/studio space. During that time, many other concepts, ideas and philosophies have filled my days. I have begun writing stories, both memoir and fiction, exploring all things creative is my mantra. So, you never know what I’ll be up to next.

 

As I begin to get back into full time art creation, I have a new found appreciation for the beauty in daily life and the wonders of the universe that we live in and are made of. Expect a little stardust, a little magic, a few tales of wonder and beautiful things to come.