Cutting and Gluing
I have been painting and drawing since I was a pre-teen, maybe earlier. Art is more than a form of expression for me; it is my voice. Watercolor is something I picked up some years ago because the oil paint smell sent my dear husband right out of the house. I don't understand that, really. I LOVE the smell. But I also love him and don't want him to leave, so I switched over to the less toxic watercolor.
I have loved playing with collage for some time. The process of cutting and gluing paper together to make art intrigues me and gives me satisfaction to know I'm recycling at the same time. One day I came across the book, Three-Dimensional Papercraft by Dawn Allen, which shows how to take cards or other printed heavy-weight paper, cut and form, then layer them to create a great collaged, raised art. As I read this book, I thought how great that would be with my watercolor. It is painted on heavy paper. I often do several versions of the same picture using stencils. I started creating stencils of my work for teaching purposes. This meant that all the students would be learning a technique starting with the same drawing. It also meant that I often had 6 or 7 (sometimes 10) of the same painting.
Photo credit: All photos were taken by me of my own work. The Washer Woman is an award-winning watercolor collage created using this process by me, Denise McGill.
I used some of my own work to experiment. I immediately pulled out some of my duplicates to see what would happen if I tried this technique on my own work. The results were fun and fabulous. Some of them have won awards in art shows. Plus I have the added benefit of downsizing rather large stack of paintings, all of the same picture.
Then I pulled out some of my flower paintings. These were the most fun because they really lend themselves to the three-dimensional process.
1. To start, you will need at least 5 of the same picture. Six or seven are best but 5 will do. Next, arrange them. Pick out the painting you want to be on top. It should be the one with the best detail and best technique showing. Also pick the one you want to be on bottom: the one with the least detail or added details like the blue rectangles shown here.
2. Start cutting out the flowers for the layers. I labeled the backside of mine so that I wouldn’t get mixed up and glue them in the wrong order. Cut carefully around each of the petals and details.
3. You can use Silicone glue or those cushioned squares they sell for scrapbooking. I find both works very well, although the book suggests silicone glue.
4. Using a bone creasing tool or even a Popsicle stick, rub the backside of the paper to cause a bulge or bend. You are rounding the paper. This gives the three-dimensional look.
5. Begin layering the pieces of the flowers and stems deciding which would be sticking out the most and layering it last. In this way, you are creating a relief sculpture. So some places will have only two or three layers of paper and others may have 5 or 6 layers.
There you have it: A work of art ready for box framing. The matting will have to be cushioned to leave room for the raised work. You do not want the glass to touch the paper. This will cause sweating and discoloration of the paper after time. That is why matting is used on all paper art, to keep it from touching the glass.