Thursday 7 July 2016

A tale of two halves

Flodigarry Island
This week a post of two halves.
To begin, a mixed media collage made for my pieces of skye exhibition at Skyeworks.
This was one of my largest pieces, and one of the first to sell. It has gone to a lovely new home very near this wonderful view!
Mixed media is a very broad term and encompasses so many styles and mediums. My tale of two halves begins in my comfort zone, making mixed media collages in my own, rather messy and multi layered technique.
I'm not really happy unless covered in glue and paint splatters!

The canvas early stages begin roughly painted then collaged with various papers. Then I gesso over the paper edges. (I hate to see paper edges and when dry use a power sander to blend the paper into the gesso and paint) Most people who see me begin to take a power sander to my canvas visibly wince in disbelief, but it gives it the right surface for further layers.

The surface becomes multi layered and very textured, I add gold metallic pieces too which make the surface difficult to photograph well!


Anyway.....I did say this was a tale of two halves....

My blog usually shows things I'm happy with, but as an artist much of my time is spent messing about and experimenting...some of these go wrong and end up in the bin or covered over and begun again...tha'ts life. ;)  Well I thought I would share a little of this side of the coin.

Last weekend I went to a mixed media workshop run my Emma Louise Wilson. I particularly like Emmas ceramics so when I found out she had a course I thought I would go try it out.

Emma Louise Wilson beautiful delicate ceramic pieces

The appealing thing about it was that she works so differently to me. I often find that to learn best you need to step out your comfort zone. 

Emma louise wilson mixed media piece

As you can see Emmas work is very different from mine both in both style and in subject matter. The day was going to be challenging! No paint splattering or power sanding here!

Challenge 1 - I found It difficult to not draw flowers.....we were meant to draw free unrealistic flower style shapes. In retrospect I should have done this with my non dominant hand, or blind drawn them. Mine look far to real and fussy. Strange because I normally am very free in my drawing style. 

I also found it difficult not yo use my favourite colours, I think we all develop a favourite colour pallete, and it isn't a bad thing to try something I kept going... 

And then I found it difficult not to paint in a painterly style... I should have been trying to make it more stylised and flat instead of worrying about shadow and form. 

 Oh no that yellow is wrong!!! At this stage I would probably have start covering it in paper, but instead it was more paint, monoprinting and using a pen to draw into it......eeeeeeeekkkk!

By the end I can safely say that if I was at home I would have covered it all in gesso and started again!....I found it ridiculously difficult to change my style during the process, It was a bit like trying to copy someones handwriting, I had to concentrate really hard and when it is was done it didn't look like me at all!  Infact when I showed the photo below to my daughter she couldn't tell which was my painting.
But regardless of my  failed attempt at a stylised still life I did enjoy the day and Emma was a great teacher, and very generous in explaining her techniques which as you can see all the other talented ladies were able to follow beautifully.

And I did learn to do this....

making little strips of collaged paper on the top of masking tape. Now this is something which I can already see as a future development in my wild sewing, I think I may be able to sew through the masking tape! Watch this space....

Think I'll stick to what I know best....

;) splattering, gluing and power sanding.


  1. I can see what you mean about fighting against your own style but you can just see it coming through but I love it. It may not be the style your were looking for but non the less it turned out beautifully. I went to take a look at more of Emma's work I love her delicate style.

  2. I loved this post. Your painting is stunning and I'm not surprised it was one of the first to sell. It was really interesting reading more able your processs as well as I have wondered about little bits of paper sticking up on mixed media-now you've explained it and I love that you power sand it to merge the layers together!
    I can totally relate to you feeling out if your comfort zone in the workshop-it's great to try new things I'd only to confirm that they aren't something we want to do! I did that with pastels in a workshop that was run by a fantastic pastel artist but I realised that was never going to be my medium for any number of reasons. I think it's always best to give your own style free reign as the limitations seen to spear of you are trying to do it the way someone else does (which is why I'm not a fan of art classes where everyone paints exactly the same picture) at least with that one you all used your own individuality while still doing what Emma was showing you.

  3. I wish i could see your art in person and look at it up close--so rich!! I loved your class description--I enjoy learning new things but I have never liked in person workshops when I don't have all my stuff with me--however I always learn something new even though it might not be my style there is usually something i can incorporate into mine as I'm sure you will too!!

  4. Power sander, who knew. But for blending you can't beat that I suppose. The masking tape trick sounds great for collaged papers to sew onto other things. Great tidbit, thanks for sharing. Funny how we freeze up and fall out of our style when trying to do what someone else does. I still like your piece. xox

  5. Just read over my comment and saw just how many auto-corrections my phone put in - I hope it makes sense to you as it looks like gibberish!!

  6. Love all the texture you created with all the papers it looks awesome.
    Happy PPF
    Vicki-Ann :)

  7. Your painting is stunning, I love the colours and all the details. How interesting to read about your process, thanks for sharing! The edges always annoy me too when using paper in a painting, and you never quite manage to cover and blend them completely just with paint. I'd never have thought about a power sander, though! But I might try with some some sandpaper in my art journal..
    Sounds like a great workshop, and I like your flowers. It's always good to step out of your comfort zone, and try something different. There's always something to learn - even if it's just the insight that something really isn't your thing.

  8. Your art is always fabulous but that new style you tried is also very beautiful and delicate. I think your piece is very fine and has a delicate beauty. I love that you try out so many new things, still stick with what gives you the most pleasure, that's what's important and I know you have a ball at what you love! As for Flodigarry Island, that's another master piece, such texture and fresh wildness, rich and full of wild freedom, I love it!

  9. Not only did I enjoy your beautiful work, but I also got a peek into your process. As far as the new class goes, I like your flowers better than any of the others.

  10. I smiled reading this Morag. I know the frustration of trying out someone else's wonderful technique only to discover (especially in a one day workshop) that I could not come up with anything like what was demonstrated. But I love going and trying! Thanks for sharing your experience.

  11. I loved reading this post. It can be so hard to let go what we know and try something new. You did great and you found something in the lesson to use in your own work. Yay you learned!
    I love your own style mixed media piece. All those colors and textures, it makes me happy.

  12. Such an interesting post Morag. You must be thrilled to know that your beautiful painting
    has gone home. I was fascinated to read and see your different technique. I always think it's amazing when you can recognise someone's artwork just by looking. I have yet to feel comfortable with a definite style. I really hope I find one soon!
    No matter what workshop or class you attend I always think you gain something from attending. I can't wait to see what you create with the little strips of collaged paper on the top of masking tape.
    Happy PPF to you

  13. Excellent post in patience! However I do see your style popping out in the lesson. The bottom of the painting emulates a bit of collage in that pattern. I asked myself honestly if I would have been able to pick yours out of the group had I not known...and I still see your style even with the change of colours. I am still trying to figure out why I knew! I think it might be the delicate placement of details. How you build small forms to get larger you mesh colours in your own special way. It's good to be on the student side of the fence to understand when you're teaching how others use and view your own lessons! Your Flodigary island is stunning beyond words.. so is your process which I'm in awe of! Thanks for sharing this astute post! We can all take several lessons from you!

    Hugs Giggles

  14. I must say I like your painting the best. It still looks like you somehow.... But I much prefer the brightness and fullness of colours you usually use in your art. Thanks for explaining your process! You did so a few times already but I still can't get my head around how you get to the end result. Didn't know about the power sander .... Very interesting! But surely you can't use that on canvas, can you? Don't you usually paint on wood? I also hate paper edges when I do collage, that's why I always use very thin paper so it's almost invisible.

  15. Love those layers in your collage art!

  16. What an interesting two halves blogpost.
    I agree with others that your style came through in the classwork piece, something about not being too definite, a certain way you have with colour and mixtures and design perhaps?
    I was advised recently that if one goes to a class one should copy what the teacher is teaching and then use this knowledge to make something in one's own style later. Possibly good advice but the copying bit I would find difficult to follow.
    The Flodigarry piece is magnificent, and fascinating, again, to see how you started off making this painting with collaged papers.

  17. What an interesting post! I love your first piece, but I also love your second piece. It may not have been entirely in the teacher's style, but it was definitely lovely.

  18. It's always nice to try new things, even if we feel we've messed it up. It kind of reinforces our own style that we're going in the right direction. I really like the second photo. It looks like an iceberg. Very relevant with the concern for the arctic and the polar bears.

  19. Your work is beautiful and the procedures you show and tell. Wow!


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