Offcuts 1

Many collage artists use old magazine images or ephemera in their work. I prefer to create my own painted or printed papers so each collage is uniquely mine. Every new series means a LOT of paper preparation. Eventually, I have stacks of gorgeous papers left over from projects. When I cut out a shape for a collage, I will keep the paper remnant. These oddly shaped pieces are called off cuts. This series of off cut collages was inspired by all those weird and wonderful scraps.

After several gel plate printing sessions, I had a lot of extra 6″x 6″ background papers. This gave me a unifying element for the series. I divided these base pieces into colorways with six pieces each. Next, I sorted my scraps and off cuts by color and began pulling coordinating pieces for each colorway. This part of the process takes time and consideration. Should the colors blend or contrast? How will each of the six compositions relate to each other? Off cuts are the focal point of each piece, so how do other paper scraps complement them? This painstaking process is my favorite part. Each collage is a puzzle. Some come together quickly and beautifully. Many take dozens of changes, lots of trial and error and often end up nothing like the original concept. This is the challenge and joy of a series like this. Working within the design parameters stretches my artistic muscles and encourages me to think way outside the box. Any new techniques and design lessons become part of my growing artistic repertoire.

After all the decisions have been made, I adhere the pieces with PVA glue or acrylic matte medium. Then it’s time for final details to make the composition cohesive. Posca paint pens are a great way to add fine lines and dots. The larger blunt point markers create a big pop of color. Daler Rowney acrylic ink comes in small bottle with a dropper top. This dropper is great tool to get ink on the paper with a free and slightly out of control application. I often use this method when a design seems tight or I’m really stumped on how to complete it. For subtle blending and intense strokes of color I use Sennelier oil pastels. They were originally developed for Picasso and will work over paper, ink or acrylic medium. These pastel marks are often the very last perfect detail.

In this series of off cut collages I created over 40 pieces. Of course, not all were successful. A few went straight in the trash and some will get cut into bookmarks or Artist Trading Cards. About two dozen were good enough to get mounted to watercolor paper backgrounds. This step really elevates the collage. The white border showcases the colorful designs to perfection.

Creating these design challenges is a wonderful way to keep my artistic practice fresh. There are no expectations and it’s a given that some pieces will not be great. Beginning with that philosophy frees me to experiment with new color combos and mark making. And honestly, for me, it’s the best kind of fun!

Offcuts 2
Offcuts 3
Offcuts 4
Offcuts 7
Offcuts 5
Offcuts 8
Offcuts 10
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Offcuts 12
Offcuts 13
Offcuts 15
Offcuts 18