Prairie Cathedral (Elevator Icon #1)
Lately I have been working on a variety of Iowa-themed work in preparation of my joint exhibition next year with Deb Baughman, to be held at Indian Hills College in Ottumwa. This collage is a design of an old grain elevator in Chariton, Iowa. The structure was interesting with its many jutting pieces stacked on top of each other. It was quite weathered with no evident color.
Beginning with no preliminary drawing or color choices, I sort through my pile of palette colors. These have been painted with Golden brand heavy body acrylics and are full of bright, textured hues. The main colors are Diarylide Yellow (one of my favorites), Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Magenta, Violet, White, Black, Burnt Sienna, Light Cadmium Red, and Interference Orange and Violet. Once I have chosen the colors, the photograph is next to me for reference. I work on the floor so all my acrylic papers can be spread out and I have plenty of room to work. A self-healing rubber mat is used to cut the shapes with an X-Acto knife. The largest shapes are cut first and I use a ruler to get the edges neat. I begin arranging the shapes on my support, which is Arches cold-pressed 300# watercolor paper. Other supports have been used in the past, such as archival foamboard or tempered hardboard. A glue stick is used to temporarily adhere the pieces of collage papers down.
The process continues in this way until the design is acceptable to me. I usually lay a matboard over the collage to view it as a finished, framed piece. At this point more pieces can be added or subtracted. I usually start gluing the pieces underneath first and work up to the top layers. While gluing, I usually notice that additional small details can be added. Paper towels are used to blot off excess acrylic gel medium while gluing. I feel a flat surface gives my collages a painterly quality. Most viewers are surprised it is a collage consisting of many layers of cut paper shapes and not an actual “painting.” I was pleased with the finished result and plan to continue this series of Iowa icons.
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