This piece was created for the DERELICTE group show put on by the Arts Council of Doom, October 2015. I took many different shots of broken glass cups and a broken Christmas ornament and combined them to form this image of a ragged rose.
So! You got caught with an ugly mat. (Well how ’bout that.)
Well babies, don’t you panic, because I am going to show you three ways to AWESOME-FY your hideous or damaged mat.
1. DUCT TAPE
Yes. Evenly wrap your mat in duct tape, leaving the beveled edge on the inside window uncovered. Sounds crazy, right? But if you use an appropriate color and evenly apply the tape in pleasing, straight lines, no one will even know it’s duct tape. It looks like some really cool, textured mat with a light sheen. Of course, this is merely what I did…all you duct-tape wizards out there can no doubt find ways of creating criss-cross and plaid patterns, or using a busy duct tape pattern that somehow goes with your art piece and makes the overall framed piece more complete and fabulous. The possibilities are endless.
A caveat: this approach may be better suited for “edgy” shows and venues. In my own experience, I used this approach in a cyberpunk-type solo show and I found that telling customers about the duct tape was a selling point, not a drawback. Both of these pieces are gone now.
2. TISSUE PAPER
That cute, crinkly green mat you see there is a mat wrapped in tissue paper, then gone over several times with mod podge. Again, something that people liked and appreciated when they came across it. Tissue paper comes in all kinds of colors, so you can have a field day with this. As with the duct tape tip, just make sure your crazy, unique textured mat is appropriate for the piece inside it! This one is also “cute” enough to merit most venues.
An alternate version of this would be to creatively cover your matboard with attractive paper (origami paper, etc), like beautifying a damaged or ugly wall with wallpaper. Just make sure everything is straight and glued down perfectly, no bubbles.
3. EXTEND THE ART PAST THE WINDOW
I’ve done this plenty of times with perfectly intact mats. It’s a great approach to take with many pieces that just can’t be contained in that rectangular little window alone! But as you can probably guess, this approach can be ideal when you have an unsightly gouge or scratch on your otherwise pristine mat. If my matboard here had a nasty gouge underneath that origami pine there, you’d never know it.
Collages lend themselves well to this technique. You already have tons of interesting elements in your picture, and some of them may extend past the main body of the image and have graceful or interesting forms that you just cant bear to cover up. Don’t!!
My only caveat with this technique would be to make sure you take an even and consistent approach. If you just have one little element pasted onto your mat in an odd place, people are likely to guess why it’s there. But if you artistically extend your composition past the mat in a way that is visually pleasing and improves the picture, “making sense” to you and the viewer, you will not only have covered your mat’s damaged spot but you will have made a better piece of art! This should always be the goal regardless of what you are doing to your picture.
I hope these 3 little tips have given you some ideas of how you can stretch out your money and use those “unusable” mats moldering in the back of your art cabinet. Do you have any tricks you employ to get more mileage out of your matboards? I’d love to hear them in the Comments section!
Back in the days before I had an easier-to-use phone camera, the occasional odd work of traditional art would slip by me without getting fully documented. Such is the case with Phosphate, a piece I was actually quite proud of. I made it as a challenge to myself for last year’s Earth Day Art Crawl.
That year, the inaugural year of the art crawl, we participating artists were challenged to make art which was either environmentally themed, made from recycled materials, or both. I responded by making a phosphate-polluted pond with lovely koi-like fish below the scummy surface, digging out some neglected mod podge and a frame from an old piece of art. Little did I know that mod podge would soon become a frequent element in my traditional art pieces! At the time I just wanted a good way to seal up the old frame and effectively represent the uneven surface of a pond. Here are the progress shots I did manage to get of the piece:
You can see something of the finished piece in the last image, but alas! It is partially covered up by the next pieces I was working on, my “Fleurs du Mal” collage series. I was in something of a rush and I barely finished Phosphate before it was time to run it over to the gallery. Comforting myself that I would be able to document it once the show came down, my hopes were dashed when I discovered it had sold. (Certainly a piece of art being sold is something of a nice consolation prize though.)
I hope you’re happy with your new owner, Phosphate!
This collage was originally intended for the December 2012 “Doomsday” show on that same date in the Mayan Calender, but another traditional piece depicting Fenris the wolf devouring the sun from the Ragnarok of Norse Mythology got in instead. (Look for Fenris coming up!) Road’s End went on to debut at the PG Gallery and Cafe soft opening in early 2013.
If you took a look through my 2010 Sketchbook Down My Street, you will have seen this same car in a less polished form. I was happy to be able to expand on my idea and do a more finished piece starring the car. I still intend to do a lineart version.
I envisioned a car with a human set of internal organs for my story “Sacrifice” examining the emotions I feel whenever I drive past a cross by the side of the road. The car is full of meat and organs which are of course, very vulnerable and subject to injury and destruction in a car wreck. Thinking of these tragic circumstances always reminds me of a passage from the Maya Origin Legend the Popol Vuh, about the death gods (Wing and Packstrap I believe) who determine that some people should die upon the road. I end the story by comparing the sad little road crosses with their touching floral tributes and stuffed animal offerings to a Maya totem containing the road (depicted in Maya art as a ribbon with footprints on it).
And this is their domain: that people should die in the road. Then there is death in the road and suffering whether one is coming or going. And this is their domain. -Popol Vuh
The next story in the book, “R_VE_ _” also opens with the theme of the road demanding a sacrifice, this time an accident with a dog I witnessed in my childhood.
I plan to do “R_VE_ _” properly as a black and white comic for an upcoming collection of one-shots including The Ruby Machine and The Stone Squirrel!
This piece is one of many versions of this linoleum block print I did for the 2012 Hand Prints show:
A friend of mine had a lot of fun taking it and coloring on it to create three collaborative pieces as well:
And lastly, I recently used them in different pieces for my December 2013 solo show:
In other words, those mudpuppies really got around! I’m not sure when I first hit upon the idea of using my own art as collage to make new pieces, but I’m currently using the same approach on my Kaguya Hime piece in progress. Part of a totally unrelated piece (Moonlit Night, in fact!) is supplying the huge swollen moon behind the princess.
I personally like finding new ways to use different elements I’ve made that lend themselves to replication (mainly my digital and block prints) because that way, as an artist I still have the option of finding a better way to finish a work of art. If something I made doesn’t stand out in its original setting but later becomes much more successful in a completely different context, I feel very gratified. I have also done this with very old art, using amateur monoprints as effective and vibrant backgrounds for newer, more skilled block prints or incorporating crude paintings from my youth into new collage art.
How do you feel about re-using a piece of art or making series based on many variations of an element you’ve created?
I did this piece of the Ha-Adam for a 2013 show on collective mythmaking at PG Gallery in Evansville. It depicts a variation on the Jewish origin legend where “the Adam” was originally a person composed of a man and woman back to back, which would be split into Adam and Lilith.
This is a recent 2013 work from my last solo show! I named it after Kazuo Umezu’s amazing comic because his story dealt with a machine becoming sentient. For some reason my monstrous floating daisy achieving a sympathetic connection with a huge machine reminded me of reading this comic.
Sketch which I’m going to be turning into collage/decoupage on a wood panel for an upcoming show on Mythmaking! Kaguya Hime is a celestial princess who was a refugee from the moon in the early Japanese narrative, “The Bamboo Cutter’s Tale.”
I realize Sailor Moon and other more light-hearted stories have their genesis in this legend, but I tried to make my Moon Princess more sinister and enigmatic!