I’ve made a few more bird collages – there’s over 30 of these things now populating a sketchbook. I think of making them as a tool for playing with images, starting points, visual notes for a group of new paintings. I don’t think of them as completed images by any means, although I confess I’m enjoying some of them on their own.
I’m having quite a bit of fun with this approach. It is as if I’ve created a box of puzzle pieces of my own invention, all unified in that they come from photos I’ve snapped of birds and plants. I can mix and match, play with scale, reassemble the original experiences in a quick, stream of consciousness kind of way. Stick a piece of bird here or a branch or a chunk of landscape over there. I can try out lots of arrangements before I open up the glue stick and commit to any one.
When I say these are starting points, I mean that once I go into the studio with this sketchbook full of images, anything can happen. I don’t know what the paintings will look like or even if these images will in fact lead to new paintings (although I’d like to think they will). My next step will be to prepare some canvases of various sizes.
I like to work on paintings in groups, and I like to work on them more or less at once. That is to say, I’ll start work on one, then after a while, move onto another and another and another after that. Along the way I can take canvases out of the group for a while, and turn them to the wall, and add in new ones at different points. I can let the paintings feed off one another. An idea which might have been unsuccessful in one painting may stick in another, or alternatively, I might repeat motifs I like in different contexts from canvas to canvas. There is always something to work on.
After cutting and pasting, arranging and rearranging my imaginary birdscapes, I’m left with a box of scraps. Perhaps these will lead to something else again, something starker or more mysterious. These have less specific information or rather smaller bits of information, taken further out of context. Maybe there is something to find in there, or maybe sometimes a box of scraps is just a box of scraps.