This week I successfully transferred some nice big photos of trees onto muslin to incorporate into a textile collage which, so far, is just an idea percolating. (Notice the word “successfully.” Pretty important. I use gel medium transfers which are wonderfully detailed, but a bit fussy to get right each time.)
There are so many things that I like about this process.
First, I remember the original photo. Last week I was outdoors enjoying sun and warmth and saw this interesting group of trees in the yard. It contained complex tangled vines. There was bright green fungus growth in the trunks. There were shadows. I was just drawn to the image. So, now, when that image becomes part of an artwork, I will remember.
Second, I like the transfer process. As I mentioned, it’s fussy and fairly tedious. But there is a very nice hands-on quality of patiently peeling the paper of the fabric once the image has transferred. The way it appears is reminiscent of developing a photo image in the darkroom, coming to life floating in the developer liquid. And, the gel medium transfers have a nice smooth surface that can be painted or drawn on or stitched.
Finally, I like mixing up the realities in the finished work. In landscape images one of the concepts that interests me is that there is more going on in reality than what we easily see. Juxtaposing a realistic photographic with other images – stenciled shapes, stamped patterns, painted textures – is a way of getting at that concept. The viewer easily recognizes the tree. “Oh, I get it. A tree. I know what that it.” But it’s not a tree in a realistic setting. It’s a tree mixed in with other things. Now the viewer has to adjust a bit, to figure out what this mixed reality is about.
The next step will be to play with some mockups in Photoshop to get beyond a simmering idea and develop a composition. I look forward to giving these nice trees some new life.