Alexandra Sheldon

Nice Textures

Alexandra SheldonComment
Example of miniatures cards (5x5")

Example of miniatures cards (5x5")

Dear Marsha,

Ok I need to catch up on two classes. I would have written this Friday morning but Charley Pearl had her yearly check up first thing in the morning and then I had to get to the studio to mix up over 50 colors for my Saturday workshop ("The Sky is the Limit").

Save packaging, like cracker, tea and cereal boxes. Save any weird packaging and open it up and unfold it. Collage this stuff down. I like to use it blank side up, another words so you don't see any words or colors. It can be stubborn to get flat but keep at it with your Matt medium and your scraper and it will get flat. Collage a bunch of different papers and packaging materials down to whatever size substrate (Bristol paper or cardstock - a good strong surface for collage). Do a couple of these and maybe even more. Lately I really encourage people to work in a series.

When you have a few of these then take sandpaper (I like a medium to rough sandpaper) and rough up the surface. Next: take an Xacto blade and score the surface of the collage. You can either do long drawing-type lines or slashes. Mix up a dark color. I had mixed up some really pretty darks: black and blue to make an indigo. Alizarin Crimson and Pthalo Blue to make a deep purple and my favorite: Sepia (any dark brown mixed with black). Water down the acrylic paint considerably and cover each collage with paint. Then wipe it off or use a brayer or a scraper. What is nice is that the paint will go into the Xacto marks and stay there and will also look cool on the sanded areas. I have these old letter presses and we played around with hammering marks and numbers and letters into the collages before putting on the dark washes. I also got out my cardboard letter stencils and letter stamps and we played with those. So far, what is created is a series of backgrounds. Now time to collage into them. Add grid elements. Stencil letters and numbers into the collages using paint. Start adding cut shapes and images. We began using some fabrics - I like to put a thin coat of medium down and gently pat the fabric down (I'm not so crazy about glue over fabric, I find it rigid looking although I have seen it work, like in Rauschenberg's combines).

Remember: If you do the dark washes then introduce light back into the pieces. Stencil pastel turquoise letters onto a sepia toned piece for a pop. Introduce grid elements like thin strips of paper in a light color, maybe the color of honey.

Lately, I have been handing out miniatures cards (5x5") in class. It can be fun to do a series of little pieces and then blow up the scale and do them bigger later. Do whatever it takes to relax and have fun.

To get ready for my sky workshop, I sat down and collected pictures of the sky in a stack of magazines and it was so totally fun. Today, during the workshop, I found myself using these little chunks of sky pictures in my collages along with my painted papers. Whatever floats your boat.  

Example of miniatures cards (5x5")

Example of miniatures cards (5x5")

Recently I spent the day teaching kids over at Maud Morgan Art Center and these two girls asked me, toward the end of the day, if they could make drawings and NOT take them home. So I said "Not only do you NOT have to take them home - you can rip them up and throw them away!" The girls got SO excited and they made drawings for the last 45 minutes of a very long vacation art day, drawing with gusto and enthusiasm, and then there were peels of giggles when they could rip up the art and throw it away. I learned something (as always do around kids): that it is tiring to always be so invested in the finished product and that what we are really after is a sense of freedom and abandon. So make stuff and see if you can have fun doing it, regardless of the finished object.