How the artwork is made...
I choose to fabricate my own collage materials. My process begins with painting and printing in a variety of methods on fine quality papers and fabrics.
I choose techniques which can result in a wide range of textural effects and moods with varying degrees of transparency and depth.
My preferred techniques and tools include: paste paper printing, gelatin plate printing, sun printing with Setacolor fabric paints, stenciling (using my hand-cut and purchased stencils), stamp-printing with individually made foam utensils, and painting with acrylic paints and texture-enhancing mediums.
Each method has its unique properties and advantages. The pigments, paints, and inks I use are compatible so I can overlay the media at different stages and thereby achieve more enriched surfaces.
Sometimes I incorporate digital prints (from my original photographs or reproductions of my handprints) in the collages; these I print with archival inks.
Often colored pencil is used to further enhance the composition, to push and pull the color, create shadow, enhance values, etc.
The collages are carefully and thoughtfully composed as I explore various combinations and juxtapositions of forms, colors, and textures.
I begin by gathering a group of elements from my vast supply of prints. As I play with compositional possibilities, I observe how these elements interact with each other. Sometimes they have obvious connections, sometimes particularly surprising ones.
Much rearranging takes place. There are many visits and revisits. Some elements will be removed and others introduced. Throughout this stage of the process there are 'conversations' happening, and I am listening, reacting, and participating.
back to some technical details...
The elements are eventually glued to a base paper surface and pressed with weight as the glue dries.
I machine stitch through the layers, thereby incorporating another design element and expressing my passion for textiles and quilts.
Lastly the pieces are mounted on either a high-quality stretched canvas or a cradled panel. These are approx. 1.5 inches in depth and when the piece is hung this allows for it to have a considerable 'presence' on the wall.
The sides of the canvas or panel are painted in a tone which is compatible with the piece, usually a dark tone.
The canvas or panel is slightly larger than the actual piece (usually 1/8th inch for smaller, or 1/4 inch on larger works). This is done for aesthetic and practical purposes; it results in a thin border/outline appearing around the outer edges of the piece, and it also protects the edges and corners of the collage.
After mounting, the works are treated with a series of protective layers to help keep out dust and dirt, to help prevent fading, and to assist in their overall longevity. Most materials used are also acid-free whenever feasible.
The mounted collages are ready for hanging as they are (wire is strung along the back surface). They can also be framed, if that is desired. The pieces sold from this site are unframed, unless otherwise noted.
Karen L. McCarthy