SWAA Presentation 10-7-2020

I was asked by Margaret Rangel in August to explain how I made my collages.  So this is my answer to that question.

How does she do that?! A peek into Natasha's process...


It starts with an idea:

I was chatting with a friend in Central Texas and she mentioned that she had painted buntings that visit her every spring and hang out in the bush in her front yard.

Painted Buntings!  I’d love to see Painted Buntings in person!  But doing a painting of a bird I’ve never seen is a challenge…. So I checked out several bird sites online to get information and ideas.  And my friend sent me photos as well…

From the Cornell Bird Lab:

Basic Description
With their vivid fusion of blue, green, yellow, and red, male Painted Buntings seem to have flown straight out of a child’s coloring book. Females and immatures are a distinctive bright green with a pale eyering. These fairly common songbirds breed in the coastal Southeast and in the south-central U.S., where they often come to feeders. They are often caught and sold illegally as cage birds, particularly in Mexico and the Caribbean, a practice that puts pressure on their breeding populations.

I found some photos on Unsplash, a royalty free photo site and she sent me photos of her bush and after checking it out with iNaturalist, I discovered that the plant she called “Soapwort” is actually St. John’s Wort… a shrubby bush with glorious yellow flowers…

close up of St. Johns Wort flowers

I did a sketch and color study to see what kind of composition would work and to play around with color families.

I love working on cradled wood panels.  They are hard enough to take the pushing of collage without bending/warping, and once done, you can just put a wire on the back for hanging.  No need for a frame: I love that!

At the Golden workshop we had earlier this year, the rep mentioned that  wood panels need to be sealed before using to prevent the oils from the wood from migrating through the work over time….and she recommended Golden GAC 100 for that purpose. (apparently Gel Medium will also do the trick, but I found that out after I bought a bottle of GAC 100)

Then I created a collage ground with found paper.  I included a map of San Antonio, TX, near my friend’s home, and various odd items: bits from a textbook on Jungian Dream analysis, a Spanish language textbook, a recipe sent by a friend, a scrap of campaign literature, a stamp and notes I took in grad school…basically a hodge podge of stuff that will be the underpinning of the collaged images on top.

After I sponged some paint on the background, I thought a layer of a stencil of St. John’s Wort leaves might look interesting, so I sketched one out and had the Cricut machine cut it… I like the effect…

I decided to do an underpainting of the branch and flowers by themselves and then add the birds afterwards.
I covered the underpainting with ripped up pieces of paper. I already had an abundance of browns and yellows so there was no need to paint/print any at this point.
A close-up of the flowers. I used thread for the stamens and tried to make sure each petal was a slightly different color from its neighbor.
I made underpaintings of the birds and cut them out to play with placement.
It took awhile to get them to look like I wanted and I had to repaint Mrs. Bunting because my original one had been proportionally a bit too big.

Then it was time to paint some paper.  I like to use at least 3 layers of color and pattern on found paper.  Sometimes I will use rice paper or mulberry paper if I think I’ll need that texture.

Almost done! This is not a neat and tidy process!
Finally done! The piece is 8in x 10in, completed while sitting in Studio 23