Ever since I stumbled into success with Sound Bites and it's mix of big white shapes and collage work, I've wanted to reproduce that winning combination. So what does it take?
First I started looking for a simple story between people. They needed to connect in some way and have an intriguing shape to float across the page, as the sailors did in Sound Bites. I remembered a photo I took in Roatan ten years ago. I loved the two women sitting on the porch, one braiding the hair of the other.
The first challenge of this was to draw an accurate depiction of the two figures. Their unusual positions are interesting, but easily misinterpreted if not rendered correctly. It's not my usual way of doing things, but for this I enlarged the photo, traced the figures and then used a grid to draw them on a large piece of watercolor paper. I eliminated the male figure and used the white lawn chair to complete the large white shape I wanted for this piece.
I added diamond shapes in a pattern to cross the page, joining one side to another, as I had done with the sailors. I also continued the white shape to the top of the page utilizing the window shape in the photo. To connect the white to the bottom of the page, I planned to leave white connectors with extensions of the chair legs and human legs.
Since this is a tropical scene, I wanted to use hot colors, so I next started gathering up old paintings with reds, yellows and browns.
When I created Sound Bites I fell into the creation of the collaged area by accident. I cut and glued without any planning ahead. Luckily it worked. This time I took my time choosing and sorting and taped all parts to the paper before gluing. This gave me a chance to make alterations if a piece didn't work, or an area became too busy or dominant.
Only after having all the pieces selected and attached by tape, did I move on to the permanence of gluing the pieces down.
I was very happy with the vibrancy of the collage pieces and the great color combinations. Next was the tricky part. How would I use paint and collage to finish the figures and have them settle into the painting? I used cutouts of different colors and patterns to determine what colors would work best for their shirts. I cut out the folds of the skirt in one color, then tossed them out for a more pastel combination. The pattern work at the bottom made me nervous. I had drawn in ink a pattern of larger diamonds, so was committed to doing something with them. In the end, I painted the diamond shapes in earthy tones. Then I eliminated most of the white by painting over the diamonds once they were dry. This created a more unified look to the bottom of the painting.
And here's the result...
Caribbean Cornrows 19 x 22