PAINTING WITH PAPER
As a collagist and painter, over the years I have rejected the typical assemblage of pulp/fiber artists’ work; thus choosing to create my own papers and “paint” with them. Because of the tactile nature of this medium, working differently from many collagists, who mount colored papers and then add paint or color them, I work backwards, which liberates me and enables the painting to invite the viewer to enter a “mindscape”- to find their own space inside that world of color. Paint with paper? Integrity of the work is important to me, and as labor intensive as this technique may be, having the artist’s hand literally involved in every step of the process of creation is key.
Inspiration comes from the grace of the bare limb of a tree, the color of music, lyrics from a song, a line from poetry or prose, the way the sky changes from cerulean blue to paler hues as you near the sea, sea glass found on a walk along the shore: it is color that sparks that burst of energy to explore what may come next.
Starting with ephemera and sheets of different papers: tracing paper, tissue and rice paper, watercolor papers, canvas or fabric, I use various mediums to hand color and give each sheet texture and a more sculptural plane through a variety of methods. Sometimes using incompatible materials like oil paint to hand marble papers, but then going back into that paper with pastel or even acrylic paint, the struggle of 2 or 3 clashing mediums is exciting, often unpredictable and opens a pathway to the next paper to be made. I will sometimes transfer an image of my own creation to an acrylic emulsion, either from a 35 mm slide transfer or a drawing and it becomes gossamer thin, allowing other colored layers of the collage to peek through changing the perspective and lending itself to the serendipitous nature of the medium.
Texture is achieved through various methods of rubbing, tearing versus cutting, crumbling or folding the paper, braying them so that each one has a life of its own. After layering several pieces of colored tissue, a new color and paper with new texture has evolved. Each painted, marbled or pastel colored paper, transfer or drawing is then rendered compatible and archival by bathing them in another emulsion and hung to dry on a “laundry line” of color, texture, shape, line and design. This riot of color takes on a life of its own, and upon entering my studio, the energy and excitement of the juxtaposition of these very different papers as they dry starts the creative juices flowing. I then will choose 5 or 6 hand-painted papers as my palette and begin to “paint”- cutting and tearing like brush strokes to mount on Arches or Rives paper until the completed work compels you to come inside and find solace.
Collage is a lot like life experiences: each layer has a color, texture and personality of its own, influencing the choice of the next layer, and changing the way the viewer perceives the completed work. As we grow, each of our life experiences influences the way we interpret the next turn of events, just like the layers of my collages.
These works serve to open up a dialogue between us. They are but a record of observations, reactions, inspirations- emotional landscapes which hopefully will touch a part of you, the viewer. Then they will allow you to experience your own thoughts, observations, and emotions about each collage; so that it may continue the dialogue.”
Stacey Clarfield Newman