Creative process: mixed media painting

posted in: Art, Genealogy | 0
mixed media painting
Hillcrest Cottage – mixed media on canvas

I just picked up this canvas that has been gathering dust downstairs, and again wondered, “Is this finished or not?”

To give a little background on this piece, it actually disguises a painting underneath that I gave up on, and turned it upside down to try to salvage it. Hillcrest Cottage is the theme of the painting: the house where my great grandparents raised my grandpa and his sister. During our childhood, we walked over to visit my great aunt–who lived there her whole life–almost weekly, so I have a lot of memories associated with the house.

old photograph collaged onto a canvas
Detail of farmers standing in front of Hillcrest Cottage in the early 20th century.

Collaged onto the textured surface, I’ve included copies of a picture of the house with farmers standing in front of it, and a photo from the 80s of my sister, my cousin, and I standing by the sign that says “Hillcrest Cottage.” Perhaps the most exciting element for me is the letter from my Great Grandmother in about 1909 when she decided to name the house.

What I love about mixed media is the opportunity to build interesting surfaces using texture and all sorts of found objects. Adding artifacts or meaningful items to a collage is a great way to display them–otherwise all this stuff is just sitting in boxes–but it also puts a wrench in my creative process. If I’ve already gelled a letter or scrap into the painting, I am hesitant to cover it up. Perhaps this painting still needs another element (or to lose something), but chances are I won’t take the risk to find out because I’m attached to everything I’ve put into it.

detail of mixed media collage
Small detail showing texture of mixed media painting.

I first started working with mixed media painting in 2004 at Emily Carr with Diana Kubicek, which I would definitely recommend to anyone! I loved how it freed me up from doing realistic watercolours, which was the style I had taught myself in my early 20s. But mixed media presents me with a whole new series of challenges – a totally different way of thinking and many decisions that constantly need to be made. You have to take risks, be bold, and at the same time be contemplative.

I was very excited to see that Emily Carr University has now added Advanced Certificate programs, including Illustration! I will definitely add this to my future wishlist!

0 Responses

  1. I love that you took an unsatisfying piece, turned it upside down, and gave it new life. Sometimes we just have to look at things from a different perspective 🙂 I’m drawn to your art because you, too, find inspiration in nature and family. Looking forward to hearing more.

  2. […] versions of a painting featuring this house and its history, and I blogged about it back in 2011 on my art website here. and again the night before my first art […]

  3. It has always been to my understanding, that the people in this photograph weren’t just farmers. Rather relatives, and fairly close ones at that. The woman I’m fairly sure of, as being our Great Grandmother! 🙂 With her side of the family. At least it sure looks like her compared to the portrait I have of her from that time period. Sure hope that you didn’t use the original photograph for it but rather a copy. From a historians point of view anyways. (and a cousins)

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