Sunday, April 19, 2015

On-line class with Jane Davies

I've been pursuing an on-line class, Keys to Dynamic Composition, with Jane Davies, who works with collage and acrylic paint in an abstract style. The six weekly sessions each include a downloadable set of written instructions and one or two video demonstrations.

I'm enjoying the play with paint and collage, with colour, shape, and texture, and I am of the opinion that working outside of one's usual medium is a great learning experience. It's enlightening to see the assignments as posted by the other participants, and the feedback from the instructor. "What works well, and why?"

Lesson #1, one of two samples I made

The lessons build on each other nicely.

In Week One, the assignment was to make a collage using hand-painted papers in a variety of squares and rectangles, small, medium and large, in a grid pattern. We were challenged to use a narrow range of hue and value to create an interesting composition. So, unity is created by a sameness of colour, and variety is created with different-sized elements.

We were told to disregard such considerations as creating a focal point, having the eye travel around the piece, etc.

Lesson #2, one of four samples I made

In the second week, we were required to work in a "vertical landscape" mode.  We began by creating a background of collaged newspapers and pages torn from old books, which we then muted with a neutral-coloured paint. Then a busy central area of coloured, collaged shapes was created and sandwiched by two quieter areas, foreground and "sky".

Paint was applied with a brayer and a straight edge, and this allowed the edges of the base collage to be revealed. The paint was also used as a way of obscuring the central set of coloured shapes, creating a "veil" of semi-opaque colour to add mystery and ambiguity to the composition.

It was useful to keep in mind the strategy of using a variety of different-sized elements.

Lesson #3, one of four samples I made

The third assignment was to use the "cruciform" shape to make an interesting composition from collage and paint. We were encouraged to create painted texture by stamping, stencilling, and lifting paint, to obscure the borders between positive and negative shapes.

Working with these techniques is different from my work in cloth, because of the ambiguity and "lost edges" available to painters. On the other hand, there are some wonderful painters who didn't employ those techniques. Matisse? Picasso?

Mucking about with collage papers and paint is great fun, and I'm looking forward to the second half of the class. Stand by for Part 2.


Hilary said...

Great stuff, Heather. I think composition is so important. Often when you ask people what workshops would you like to take they say 'design' when in actual fact they mean composition. You are obviously enjoying the course. Looking forward Part 2 and seeing how you put these lessons to use in your textile work.


Maggi said...

Great compositions. I have seen work done by other students of Jane's and have been impressed. I can see how the pieces would translate to textiles.