Collages and uncertainty

I mentioned last week (or the week before?) that I’ve been working on collages since Susy and Sarajo’s workshop at Teahouse. I’d originally taken the class to learn how to introduce some complexity into my silkscreen work but found that I got so much more from the weekend.

For starters, I learned to play around with texture. Because of the nature of the medium, printing is so flat. I like the two-dimensionalness of screenprinting, but it often causes me to think flat. It’s really not the medium’s fault, but as a printmaker, it’s easy to think first about how to convey an image, rather than work from an image and figure out how you’re going to print it.

And then there’s the issue of plasticity. By the time I print, I’ve made a lot of little decisions about layers and color and composition. If I make a mistake, I often have to throw a print away. If my medium were, say, oil paints, I could just paint over my errors until I got something I liked.

But I think the biggest change for me is that I’m learning to work with uncertainty. I don’t know what the finished product is going to look like. I don’t sketch anything ahead of time. I start gluing a base, then another layer, then a layer after that. I can cover up things I don’t like – or I can learn to live with them until they turn into something beautiful. I’ve learned to stop working on something, to put it aside, to return to it a day or two later. There is no troubleshooting in collaging. There is just glue.

I have a few more collages in the mix. I already have a few ideas about how to translate them into prints – but first, I must get through my show this spring!

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