Friday, March 4, 2011

Day Sixty-One: Paste Paper Birds

Making Paste Paper is a way of adding random color and surface design to a piece of paper. Somehow paste is involved, hence the name. I don't really know the proper way to do it, so I just took a lot of scraps of dampened watercolor paper and brushed on very diluted gouache in a totally haphazard way. I kept spraying the paper with water, and then I spatterered with an old toothbrush and used various other tools such as a plastic comb and an old sponge to add more texture and color. The whole idea was to just let the paint and the water do its thing; when I found myself starting to plan what the paper looked like, I'd move on to a new piece. It was very messy and a lot of fun, but I would like to find out the 'real' way to do it. A good place to look would be in Jane Davies' book, Collage with Color. I had a booth next door to Jane at Surtex years ago, and I remember her friendly personality and her bold use of color in her art. You can see her work at

Back to my project: After making a big mess, I left everything to dry. Now, here's the important part as far as I'm concerned: I knew I wanted to cut out very simple, silhouetted bird shapes, but I had the brilliant (ok, maybe just bright) idea to turn the papers over so I couldn't see what I'd just painted. I was cutting out on the white, unpainted side. The real fun came when I turned each bird over and it came alive with glorious color and texture. It was remarkable how often there'd be just the right blob or blur for a wing, a beak, or a tail.
All this was very exciting, but I still didn't know quite what to do with these cutouts. So I scanned them using a variety of backgrounds from books or from my own painted paper. I'll leave you to decide what you like the best.
This was such fun, I can't wait to do it again. I'm off to now, to buy Jane's book.

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