5-3-2 Exercise: Themed collage and painting

Choose images (photographs and studies) that you don’t mind tearing up. Cut or tear out parts of them which you think are most characteristic of the place as you remember it.  Some fragments could be pieces of colour or texture, or perhaps abstract shapes which seem to you to have something of the quality of the place. will be your preliminary image – a collage study – for a painting.

Next arrange your fragments into a composition.  The idea behind it can be based upon a subject or even purely abstract – a design made of textural contrasts, colour relationships or tonal patterns, whatever seems to you to make a good picture.

Take a sheet of watercolour paper of up to A3 size and on it outline the main elements of your collage composition. Start to build up the painting, you can add drawing.

Assess this exercise and the work you have produced and think about what you have learned and any possible future application of these ideas.  Write this up in your learning log.

Where possible in this section I have based each exercise on the main theme which I will use for the final assignment – the series of five paintings.  This theme is my holiday to Wales in the summer.  There are many aspects to this theme and it will be based upon my recollections from the time, my visual diary and sketchbook and photos etc. In this exercise I am using the subject of the seashore and sailing.


Sailing in Cardigan Bay

Cardigan Bay is full of sails in the summer months as the locals and tourists alike enjoy the calm seas and warm weather to take to the waves.  Seeing the sails flash left and right as the helmsmen angle their boats to gain advantage of the wind is the subject of this collage.

The waves of the sea have been stylised in a manner reminiscent of how Ravilious textures his expansive washes.  The flat pale wash of the sea has been overlaid by a darker blue in a ‘wave’ form which provides both recession and form to the waves.  The sky is also blue showing recession from the deep blue at the top to the faded blue of the horizon.

The yachts were drawn on paper and then overlaid onto newsprint, outlined and then cut out.  The various seaside objects – shell fish etc. were derived in a similar manner.  The yachts and other cut outs were stuck down allowed to dry and then coloured using watercolour paints.  The hue – ‘yellow’ was selected as it was a near complimentary of the blues in the painting.














Various sketches, tests and development pieces for the seashore painting below


The next subject I tackled was the ‘seashore’.  The area we visited on holiday was the Cardigan (Ceredigion) coast.  This area around Aberaeron is right in the middle of beaches ranging from large rocks to pebbles to sand and a mixture of all.

Using found objects from the shore such as crab carapace, legs and claws as well as driftwood, flat stone and various shells along with a section of local map and newspaper I used it to develop the subject.

The view of the seashore I choose was a low viewpoint showing some large rocks (boulders) and some posts set into the beach.  These were set in the near ground with the distance hills and sea as the middle and background.


The early stages of the painting


Starting with a series of drawings and test ink sprays to get the correct silhouettes I worked on the various elements of the picture.  The first of these was a detailed pen drawing.  I then ‘broke’ this into various materials and textures to be used in the picture.   The wooden posts are wood found on the beach and shaved to give a thin profile.  The stone is an ink stamp using a stone found on the beach.  The crab and shells were also used first as stamps and then as an outline of the crab derived from spraying ink from a toothbrush over the paper.  The tests for these are also shown above with the various sketches.

Once I was happy I could achieve the various textures required I did a light pencil drawing and then applied the first washes.  Then the ink stamps and outlines were depicted using the various elements found on the shore.  Once this had dried I then drew out the paper cut out elements of the hills etc.  this was cut from a local map where the beach is located.

Once the various paints and glues had dried I then applied the last of the various washes for the hills, rocks beach and crab etc.  in the middle of this I applied pieces of wood to the paper and glued in place.  This had a washed out appearance as it was drift woods I added some colour to this to lift it from the pale tones it was initially.

This exercise brought the warm bright days of summer back for a short while as I did the work.  It also suggested many other pieces of work which could be developed from similar or much more diverse themes.

One big realisation I had during this exercise was that developing a painting – picture does not have to be in apure form of only watercolour but can contain as many media and elements / materials as your imagination and picture making takes you.

Future ideas for work could be using a local map to base all the work upon rather than just a section it.  That was an initial idea in this piece but as it was on quite light paper it would not take either the glues elements or the wet washes of paint.  Possibly mounting it first may have worked.  Or using coloured inks the map could be initially drawn and painted onto decent watercolour paper and then used as the base for the work.

Other ideas for future work would be to use some pieces of flat stone to be used as the base.  Several pieces were chosen from the shore as they were quite flat and sized at least the size of a hand.  Ideas for these included drawing or painting onto the flat pieces of stone.  The colour of the stone along with the texture could be utilised in a similar manner to using a coloured ground to do a painting.


Finalised painting of “The Seashore at Aberaeron”