Monday, January 25, 2010

Experiments and Getting it Done

I found this poster in Galway, Ireland several years ago. When I travel, I like to find stuff to use in my artwork.

There is nothing like teaching a class to inspire some quick work in the studio. Tomorrow is Week 3 of my class Unraveling the Stories: Narrative Fiber Collage. Each week, I like to present a few new approaches in addition to the creativity exercises I hand out as 'homework.' I also like to develop a new artwork over the course of the class, so that students can see my process. In addition to giving me something to work on while the students are engrossed in their own projects, making an artwork "live" also provides an easy opening for shyer students to get their questions answered. For all the students, it helps to alleviate any fears they might have about experimenting and just starting to work.

Anyway, I have wanted to do something with this circus poster ever since I found it in a shop window in Galway. To bring it home, I packed in the bottom of my suitcase, covered top and bottom with the large sheets of paper and mat board that I always travel with. When I got home, knowing I would want to attach it to another surface, (and that would require strengthening the paper,) I fused the poster to Heat-n-bond lite.

In these two pictures, you can see the iron on adhesive on the back of the posted, with the still unremoved protective paper behind it.

The next step was to prepare a surface for the poster. Since my students are working with the same unprimed canvas that I like to use, I decided it would be great to show them what can be done with a couple applications of gesso and paint to create a background surface for other artwork.

I cut a hunk of pre-washed and pre-shrunk unprimed canvas, then positioned the poster where I wanted it, off center vertically. With a pencil, I quickly traced the edges of the poster, then removed it. I applied a layer of gesso and let it dry. Yesterday, I added another layer of gesso, and this time, I added textures to it with a bamboo skewer and a comb from my bathroom drawer.

I still have not adhered the poster to the canvas, because I want to paint it in class tomorrow. I will also want to sandpaper, draw on, collage and paint the poster itself. After that, I will finish the composition, and likely add a lot of stitching, which is something I love to do at night while watching PBS or the news.
More to come as the piece moves along. I have another experiment to show you later, too: hand coloring lace. Stay tuned.


  1. I am also a "magpie woman" when I travel...I can not wait to see how this make me smile when I come to your blogspot. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

  2. Why did I know that would be the case? That is part of what connects me to all the people I enjoy so much : ) Oh, and thanks for the smile. It makes my day...

  3. Circus posters and imagery are just ripe with possibilities. Can't wait to see how this turns out!

  4. I like your observation, Terry. What is it about circus images? I have added a coat of paint to the gesso, and have prepared some images for transfer to begin developing the background. Will add pix as I can. Thanks for following the progress.