Words of late artist Frank Howell...I totally relate!

"There are few days off and no retirement from this entanglement of knowledge, passion and vision that will be molded and converted into creative expression. There are no guarantees of acceptance, understanding or reward, but...the noise inside the mind never ceases. I will paint today, tonight and for as many tomorrows as I am given..." Words of the late artist Frank Howell...

Friday, May 30, 2014

Paper Mosaic and Paper Doll Memories

For most of the week, I have been sick- not sure if it was allergy troubles or a viral thing, but I just haven't been my normal perky self.  Since I didn't feel like doing any serious house work or projects, I decided to do something fun and easy that didn't require a whole bunch of energy. Something that I could sit and work on...and that something turned out to be a *paper mosaic.  I am still so inspired by my trip to the daylily farm (if you missed that post, click here), and I'm loving the frilly one that I purchased.  So, using the actual plant and the photographs from my last post (if you missed it, click here), I decided to do a daylily. It was so much fun that it took me back to my childhood days of sitting in the floor with scissors and paper dolls!  I'll have to admit, it made me feel a little better...

The entire project took about six hours, give or take...I did it in two sessions, over two days.

Session One

I first sketched the composition onto a primed stretched canvas-It's really hard to see the drawing here, but that's because I did it with a really light touch...I don't want all of that pencil showing in the finished piece.

Then, I painted the background a grey mix (just black and white acrylic paint), which I thought would be a nice neutral color and would be a good contrast to the orange flowers.  I let the background dry.

I then used tracing paper to trace the entire drawing.  Once I was finished, I cut it apart (like paper dolls!), so that I had individual little pattern pieces.  I then double checked each little piece to make sure that it would be a good fit before I cut the actual piece that would be glued there.

Once I had all pattern pieces cut from the tracing paper, I gathered together some old magazines that I could cut apart.  I went through the pages cutting everything that could possibly work...orange pieces, greens, and tans.  I even cut out text pieces if the backgrounds were the right color.  Then, I grouped the colors into little piles on the table where I was working.

I used my Gloss Medium & Varnish as glue.  You could use any decoupage medium, or for children,  Elmer's glue would work.  Just be aware that you will probably be wearing glue on your fingers for a couple of days !!!  I think mine finally all came off after two days.  I've tried to do things like this with gloves, but it just doesn't work.  You have to be able to feel what you're doing.  Tweezers don't really work for me either...they tend to stick when and where I don't need them to stick, and I just have the best control when using my fingers.

So, the fun begins!  I started with the green leaves...Using your patterns, lay them out on appropriate pieces of colored paper and cut.

Try to cut the pieces so that any pattern goes with the natural lines of the piece that you are cutting...Example: You want any obvious pattern running down the length of a leaf, not across it. See the leaves in the photos below.  

Check pieces for fit before applying glue.  Work an area at a time, that way you don't have to worry about getting pieces into glue accidentally when "dry" fitting.  Then, glue down several pieces in the area and move to another area to give that one a chance to dry. You will need to brush glue down onto the canvas surface first, then quickly press the colored paper down into the glue, rubbing gently with your finger to smooth out bubbles; then brush a coat of glue over the top of the piece.  Since I was using a stretched canvas, it has the space between the back of the canvas and the table.  I found it helpful to put a book behind there to level out the canvas, so that when I pressed down, it didn't "give" quite as much.  Ideally, a canvas board, or other hard surface would probably work better for this project.

That was the end of the first session of "painting" with paper...I propped it up in this chair to get a look from a distance and a photograph, and that's where I left it overnight. 

Session Two

I worked on the second flower, which is not as detailed as the "focal point" flower.  I then added this adorable bee that I found in one of the magazines!  And, from there, it was just adding more details.

...more greenery down on left front...and, some vintage lace.  This is when the art piece becomes a "mixed-media" work, rather than simply a paper mosaic.  I also added blue slick puff paint on the front of the crock for the crown and "3".  I can't help myself...I always have to add something more...

When I was satisfied with the way everything looked, I gave it one all over coat of the same product that I had used as glue.  This seals and varnishes the piece, so that it can now be cleaned with a damp cloth, if needed.

...and, here are the photographs that I used as inspiration...

I now have this whimsical art piece...and a mess of little tiny pieces of paper all over the studio floor!  It was a very enjoyable project, and I'm sure I will find myself playing in the floor with my scissors and paper again soon.


*  Note regarding the term, paper mosaic, which is sometimes confused with collage. A collage contains many different "pictures", while a paper mosaic is many bits that are put together to form a single "picture."

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