Vintage Visages Meet Modern Materials

So after spending a fair amount of time drawing from yearbook photos in the last few weeks, I wondered where to go next. To see how far I can take this idea, I want to experiment with many different mediums and techniques. If you can't tell, I've fallen head over heels for yearbook photos and it is going to be hard to tear myself away from those vintage visages to focus on painting for my October show. (I might need to find a way to include them in that event if I can't push "pause" on this obsession.)

For this latest iteration of my yearbook series, I turned to Dura-Lar which is a fantastic clear film that is specially treated to accept water-based media without beading up or flaking off. I have used & reviewed Dura-Lar before but I put it aside at the completion of that "Scraps" journal and the product got lost in my stash. However, Grafix Arts, the company that makes Dura-Lar, posted my review to their Instagram account just a few weeks ago and that reminded me to pull the stuff out and play some more.  In the following pieces, I am also using some lovely vintage index cards I found at my local creative reuse center as well as awesome photos from a 1925 high school yearbook. Such an inspiring combination!

When using Dura-Lar, I play with the front and back of the film as well as the front of the index card the film will be mounted on. It is an interesting challenge to work on transparent material as you have to plan ahead, keeping in mind that each layer will be visible in some way. This photo shows the film near the beginning of the process as I start with some watercolors and stamping.

Once dry, I add layers of print transfers using vintage papers and semi-gloss gel medium. I will also add more stamping, watercolor, and mark-making, trying to keep the center of the piece relatively simple. These are the same films as before but with bits of book pages transferred and then removed in places to ensure natural edges and varying levels of transparency. Look at how luscious and intricate those layers are!

I work on the front of the films with waterproof Sumi ink in a water brush. I freehand the figure based on my photo reference; if I make a mistake, I can wipe the ink off and start again. Once the ink dries, it is relatively permanent. It can be scratched off with some force but will not simply rub off if touched. After the portrait is dry, I begin coloring and embellishing the character using wash tape, ephemera, rub-ons, markers, paint, and collaged paper bits. Things get really fun at this point and it is hard to stop. However, I do eventually reach a conclusion and finish up by gluing the film to the index card.

As you can see, I have done several of these and I have more lined up waiting to worked on. I may mount these in a small book I made; I am also contemplating offering some for sale, mounted on mat board. Each portrait represents someone I "met" in the yearbook. I'm not sure yet how best to tell their stories so right now, I am building up my pile of portraits and waiting for a great idea to emerge.

This special acetate comes in a package of 12, 9x12-inch sheets or a package of 12, 11x14-inch sheets or a roll that's 25 inches high by 12 feet long.  Each sheet in the pad is interleaved with a piece of tissue.  I mark my desired measurement on the tissue and then cut both tissue and film with my paper trimmer.


Anonymous said…
Gorgeous work with the Dura-Lar! Collaging still eludes me but I am inspired to try some of this and see how it turns out. If only my results could be like yours...... Also, I really hope that some of your yearbook friends make it into this years show. They are fantastic.
gretchen said…
wow - i love these! i tend to be a fan of "busy" art - so much to look at and for. i, for one, wouldn't mind an entire exhibit of these little jewels!!
Ryusho said…

These are such a delight. They draw my attention ever deeper as I weave a 'story' from the pieces included in the representation of each of these yearbook friends. They easily captivate and entrance. It is not easy to go rapidly from one to the other.

I appreciate your detailed outline of how they were constructed, or rather how their story became revealed in your creation process. Thanks also for posting the photos as they are tremendously helpful in illustrating what you explain in your blog text.

I agree with both of the previous two comments (as of when I wrote this). While I'm not privy to the October show which is percolating and steeping in the special space of your mind, I think it would be nice, as Ellie says which I paraphrased, to 'invite' some of these yearbook friends into the show in some manner. And I concur with Gretchen when she says these could be a show of their own.

Any time you wanted to show more of your Yearbook Friends I know I would enjoy meeting them. Thanks again for taking the time to write your blog posts.

Journaler said…
Love these! Can you tell me what size they are?
Michelle Remy said…
These are standard index card size, 3x5-inches...
Miss Iowa said…
Oh my gosh! These are fab! A friend of mine does abstract collage paintings on Dura-Lar; the transparency is perfect for keeping all of that mark-making visible.
Loulou in Texas said…
How fun! I look forward to meeting more yearbook friends.