Monday, 27 May 2013

These collages were made in the summer of 2011.  I wanted some newer collages to scan and print as part of the project.  These are again handmade and book-page size and made from the same kinds of materials as earlier collages.  I still have a lot of materials that I’ve been collecting and saving for years and at this point was assuming I’d continue to make the handmade collages alongside learning to make them digitally. 

While I once made a collage a day, I am now tending to work in spurts – producing a few that I like before hitting a wall.  It’s easy to be repetitive or fall into too predictable patterns.  Also easy to cling to the types of things you’ve been using.  I’m aware now of my ‘affectations’ for certain kinds of materials.  I’m still using old or stained papers and newsprint, historical imagery, print culture stuff from travelling etc.  I found some brown packing tape with lettering that I liked and used that in many of the new ones.

A bricoleur works with what they have on hand but my collection of on-hand stuff has all been selected and collected by me over the years.  Certain kinds of printed materials such as glossy photographic images by professional photographers have been avoided.  I still like photographic images to be on soft paper and printed using half-tones etc.  I use photographic images from sources such as old Pravda or other newspapers printed in coarse half-tones and like them more for their texture and mundane nature than their aesthetic content. 

I’m a history buff and read a lot of histories.  The collages don’t reflect the materials that I read but do have the affectations of historical themes and images.  I think of collage as always addressing ideas about memory in a way but history and memory have a loose connection at best.  How accurate or encompassing is either?

I tried, in these collages, to introduce more of my own indirect history by including things that were saved from travelling.

I’ve started asking any visitors to my studio whether they find the collages too nostalgic looking or worn out aesthetically, too habitual, too pointless and uninteresting.  I’ve been trying to add other kinds of content and break up patterns and ask people which collages and which kind of collages they like best.  Everyone answers differently. 

Monday, 20 May 2013

First Prints

These are the first digital prints I made based on pre-existing collages in 2009/2010.

I had originally talked to Patrick Bulas, who is the printmaking technician at the University of Saskatchewan and an accomplished printmaker, about perhaps scanning and converting some smaller collages into larger digital prints on rag paper and asked for his assistance and the use of the printmaking studio’s large Epson printer.  Patrick agreed to scan the collages I gave him and to my surprise went ahead and printed one on a sheet of rag paper as a test.  He printed Collage #73 and I was happy to see it pinned to the wall of the digital lab one day when I went in.  I was really pleased with the results, as was Patrick.

In the Spring of 2011, again with Patrick’s help, we printed the collages seen here on 22X30” BFK Rives rag printmaking paper.  The BFK has decaled edges so had a few problems with the edges picking up black ink smudges from the printing heads.  The Epson printer in the printmaking area had seen a lot of use from students by then so was getting a bit finicky.  Also the BFK Rives is not coated and I later had an Epson technician assure me that I would get much better color results if I used the coated rag paper developed for the printers although I was pleased with the color and the print quality.




Tuesday, 14 May 2013

First Handmade Collages

Collage #1

These collages are handmade collages, approximately book-page size, which I made in the early to mid1990s. They are made primarily from scrap paper such as old prints of mine; old geographical maps, foreign newspapers, colored/marbled papers, old books and old documents which I Xeroxed and cut up. They are glued to a stiff background of watercolor paper or Stonehenge. In some collages are contained more personal scraps such as my old study notes, ticket stubs etc. and various types of printed stuff picked up on travels so there is an odd indirect sense of autobiography. 

It is obvious, especially in retrospect, that I, like all collage artists, have had my ‘affectations’.  Most collage artists, for example, like vintage papers and other ‘old’ materials that sometimes cause the work to seem a bit too ‘nostalgic’ while many other collages I have seen have struck me as too decorative.   I have my affectations too – I like old papers, stains, textures, old text and illustrations.  I like the coarse borders and half-tone patterns in old Pravda photographs and all sorts of detritus from print culture, especially on soft or old paper – tickets, maps, newspapers, packing tape etc. I like things such as letters, words, numbers etc. that imply an information system but are meaningless out of context.  I have always avoided glossy magazine photographs as material for collage and have avoided images that still carry the weight of cultural currency – brand names, advertisements etc.

The more successful of these are the basis for originally wanting to do something further with the collages - such as convert them into prints. The collages included here are some of my favorites that I kept and did not mail or give to people. Converting many of these collages, I knew, would be too difficult to translate into handmade prints in the traditional ways, involving a number of different techniques and plates or steps required to capture all the various colors, textures etc.

For years, I thought of converting the images to prints in a larger format but in the early 90s the only options (such as Iris printing) were expensive and prohibitive and not always produced the desired results. That has all changed with the reasonable affordable new lines of Epson digital printers, graphic scanners and archival acid-free rag papers designed for use in the printers.  I purchased a new Epson 9900 Inkjet printer in 2012 and haven’t looked back.  

#69 - 28/III/95

#11 - 6/X/93

#54 - VIII/94