Mixed Messages

It never ceases to amaze me how we all view the world in such different ways.  Usually, every time I am taking a photo I am practising composition as well as looking in depth at detail, colour and textures.   There are exceptions........ There was no time for planning this image when I was on the  motorway travelling near Brussels back from teaching recently.... (no I wasn’t’ driving).  Photographs of wonderful ‘marks’ -  images in the night with colour and energy as the cars were racing past. -         I love when this happens.
The workshop in Maasbracht, in Southern Holland, was
‘Mixed Messages’, and we concentrated on words and messages on a personal theme.  One of the first exercises was a collage composition in black and white.  when colour is eliminated, we have a better chance of seeing simple design shapes, tonal values and the overall composition more easily.  When black and white photos are edited by  lightening and increasing the contrast, they will become more abstract.  New detail and information emerges.  This enhanced image can be easier to work with for drawing and sketching as you see more ‘design’ possibilities.  When colour does not get in the way, it is surprising how different the images will look.

       Don’t forget to isolate these areas further with a simple template or 'L' apertures to see the new design.... the essence of the original image will always be there.

       Any black and white images printed as photocopies can be creatively collaged together with interesting results. 
Subtle colour can be added to black and white paper with coloured pencil, or a light brusho or watercolour wash. Always include a bit of personal writing and words for added interest in the composition.  Later simple colour can be added with stitch by machine or by hand.  Perhaps a layer of lightly dyed sheer could be included.  These mixed media paper compositions, kept small are good practise for ‘free machine’quilting (stitching using a darning foot) -  it is only paper after all!!     
      Remember these collages are lightly glued together and backed with a thin wadding (batting) or a piece of interfacing with a backing fabric before machine stitching. 
      In the class, the students brought a variety of themes offering a wonderful array of subjects, colour inspiration and reference design material.  It is always exciting for me to be allowed to learn about these topics whether it is to do with local history, distant travels or the recent effects of the weather and flooding in many places both here and abroad.    Here are a few of the colour collages done in class.
For the workshop we worked with a variety of different compositions and the results were amazing. Here are just a small sample of some of the final stitched pieces. They also include disperse transfer dyed fabrics, dyed, stamped and painted fabrics, sheers and net.  This ' collage and stitch' approach could create a new way of 'looking' at a subject or prompt a change of direction in one's own work.
My thanks to the ladies for allowing me to show their creative and inspired work.   
....'Mixed media with a message.'  
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Thanks for reading.... watch this space.