Photo Album Ten
The Art of Tissue Paper: (more non-tissue ones added at bottom)
In 1976, Dolores, the woman who was then my best friend, showed me how to do a whole new kind of art. I had started out in college as an art major and had a tendency to go for very realistic portrayals in my work. My mother had always been that way with hers and it was what I knew. Dolores was a free spirit and everything she did reflected that. This whole tissue paper thing was an entirely new ballgame for me and I became quite intrigued by it. First you took a piece of brown masonite, usually fairly large, and covered it with a thick layer of white gesso. When that dried you could, if you were in the mood at the time, spray a bit of different colored spray paint on it here and there...or you could wait and do that after the tissue...or both. You mixed yourself a pot of Elmer's white glue and water and set about ripping up crumpled tissue paper, slapping some of the glue mixture on the board and splopping the tissue paper atop that. Then while it was all still wet and preferably dripping all over the place, you spray painted here and there, getting nice splatterings and drips. You could hardly get MORE different from the way I had always painted! Then, when that was dry, you took chalk and pastels and drew your picture atop it all. Then you stood back and looked and saw what appeared there that you had not deliberately put there. There was always that top picture you'd done on purpose, but it was much like finding shapes in clouds and the pictures were always and ever FULL of delightful things that just...appeared. I still find new things to this day in paintings I did 30 years ago. This is what a board looked like with the tissue on and before anything had been drawn:
This is the foundation for one of mine, but below is one Dolores did as a gift for me of some trees. It is just filled with scenes of people and places, but they are harder to see in a photo than when standing near the actual four foot tall painting.
Close-up of upper right corner. I know what to look for, so it's easy for me to see things in it.
This is the one of mine I used to illustrate "The Staff of God". It's quite full of things, but what I like the best is that his staff has a shadow in the shape of a cross and that cross lies across the top of the head of a lamb. The lamb is look toward the bottom left corner if that helps find it. Touching the lamb's cheek on the right is a profile.
This is probably my favorite of mine and is, on its surface, a simple drawing of the Dove sitting on a branch watching the distant baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan, with a couple of future apostles sitting by. But what it REALLY is when you know where to look is a Roman soldier looking up at Jesus on the cross. Both the soldier and Jesus are just heads, the soldier being in green in the lower right and Jesus in the exact center of the painting. The soldier's head is tipped up, his helmet made of the white and green from the Jordan. He's in a slightly turned away profile and his nose is the light green triangle that you can find if you locate the lower bud on the bottom fork of the branch and go straight down past the twigs that come out below that branch. Jesus' lower face is hidden behind the dove, his mouth coming down from just below the main branch where it crosses the doves wing. His nose is also green and the left-most branch with buds curves up, its tiny twigs forming his closed eye. He is extremely peaceful. Once you've seen him, you can't not see him. So, for me, that's what I see when I look at this...not the baptism, but his face.
This was one I did of John 23rd for Carl before we were married.
This is Carl's brother, Tommy.
This one is really big and done for Doug's office. He still has it over his dining room table. Is of a scene from a bridge in Strasbourg and is just loaded with men's heads. When I got to Strasbourg in 1977, he took me to the exact spot where I could see this view in person. He'd gone to school for a year there as a Fulbright Scholar.
The stripes are in the photo, not on the painting. This was my tissue version, four feet tall, of the Maxfield Parrish painting.
This is Mary and Jesus by firelight, camping on their way to Egypt. Between his legs you can see one of the Kings in profile facing left.
This was just a simple one I did for a friend. Most of my tissue paintings have been given away.
This doesn't show well, but was done as a wedding present for a couple of friends who actually got married in a church standing on my rug (see "The Rug" album). This is, well, the Godhead. Yep.
This also doesn't show the colors right, but is of St. Dunstan's Church in London not far from the Tower. I'd seen it from the bus and another day Doug and I walked back to it. Is a ruined Christopher Wren church, no roof, but was completely covered in blooming ceanothus vines. While he sat on a cement bench at the back reading, I spent some of the happiest moments of my life bopping all about the place, photographing every bit of it. This painting came out absolutely filled with all sorts of monks.
This one was the top of the ark.
This was just a simple garden pergola one.
Stepping stones across a pond.
An English cottage.
This, of course, isn't tissue, but I hadn't done a watercolor in many, many years and tried one out all in sepia.
Nor is this one tissue, but it's still hanging on a wall because the kids like it. Is acrylic and painted in a deliberate attempt to get the feel of a storybook illustration and to capture the essence of the coming of spring.
This one, however, IS tissue and is hanging on the wall to my back as I type this. It's 4 feet wide and was done in the late 80's. I can't move the menorah to take the picture as, if you look closely, the base of it is quite firmly attached to the top of the shelf with candle drippings. I deliberately leave them there and let them build up. I have, um, certain small papers folded and under the base of the menorah that I like to keep there. I had, for some time, wanted to have a menorah and have it be the seven-branched and not the more usual nine that you see, as it was the seven-branched lampstand that was the light in the Holy Place (see "My Rug" photo album). Then one day in the late 80's, while in that brick rented house (also where I painted this and made the rug...see "Past Paragraphed"), Allan and Evan were both home from college on a break and were heading out in Allan's car to a friend's house and I asked them to drop me off up the hill where I'd noticed a sign for a garage sale. I hadn't been to one for a long time and for some reason just felt like going to this one. It was actually a porch sale and not in a garage at all, but as I went up their steps, my eyes immediately lit on this old menorah on a table. Is very old and quite heavy and she only wanted $15 for it. I like it because, for me, it represents the Holy Spirit and was the only light in the room with the showbread, which represents the Word, and, therefore, the only way the Word can actually truly be seen. So, when I have something especially earnest to talk to God about, I light it...hence the build up of wax. I really must write a poem about candle drippings!
The drawings themselves atop the tissue are just the simplest of sketches as that is the way of this and somehow leaves the door open for the freedom of the tissue itself.
These are the angels in the lower, left corner and you can see how simply they are done.
And these are the ones in the upper, right corner...some of them barely suggestions of form.
Tissue for the background of a new picture Laura asked me to do of all 6 kids for her as part of her Christmas 2006.
It's just simple partial sketches of the kids. Emily top left, Joey bottom left. Kimberly in the middle holding Meri. Stephen top right, Melanie just below, Isabella between Kimberly and Melanie. I ended up spraying more blue paint on when it was done. Just sorta seemed to need it. December 21, 2006
I'm going to see what I can do with Russell on this one.
I recently scanned a few more pictures of some older ones.
This was a watercolor I did for a girl. Wanted to make it look story-bookish.
This was another watercolor. I wonder where this one ever got to? Hmmm. Was a house in San Francisco.
This isn't going to show up at all well. I had to darken it hugely to even get the lines to indicate they existed. Is just a pencil sketch I call "Portrait of Jerusalem." I wasn't sure what it would be, but it turned out to be...people...all the sorts that came to mind in relation to the topic.
This was one of my earlier tissues. It used to have several more birds in it and then a few years after I did it, I took all but the one out and like it much better.
This is art as a chair. Many years ago I'd painted it white with violets on it for Carl's niece, Victoria, then when she got too big for it, it was given back. I painted it blue when Kimberly was tiny and made grass and flowers on the legs and rockers, then sky and stars and the angel up higher.
In August of 2011, my friend Jackie in Alaska, sent me an e-mail with the picture on the left, asking if I remembered
it. I had sketched the statue many, MANY years ago and mailed it to her and had completely forgotten about it. I just
now cleaned it up on the computer, on the right, so it looks somewhat restored. The paper it was done on was white
at the time I drew it, just to show how old it's getting.
I might as well put this here, too...my Maximus sketch from July 2003. And on the right is a print-out of it
Russell Crowe signed for me in New York City in May of 2006.
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