Notes for teachers
We’re going to create a background for the portrait to sit in. We’re going to be using collage, ink, and paint. We’re also going to start to add elements of our narrative hidden within the imagery. I’m a musician as well as an artist, so I’m going to base my narrative on music. So, Step 2 – the background!
I start by using an A3 piece of card, placing my illustration in the centre of it and where it will sit in my finished piece, and then I’m going to create around it. You can put your image wherever you want – down at the bottom, off to the side, at an angle. You can do it landscape, or you can do something completely abstract. It’s entirely up to you – absolutely anything goes.
Next, I’m going to use some collage relief for the background. So I’m going to cut some things out of a newspaper. I’m going to use these crossword squares to cut strips out of them. These will be used to stick to the paper, and eventually I’ll write little messages in the squares.
I’m also tearing strips out of coloured card and brown envelopes, and these strips will be used to create an exploding feature out from the centre of the canvas – I want it to be high energy.
I’ve decided to use a limited colour palette on this image as well, so I’m going to go for reds, oranges, and browns to keep it quite warm. The reason I do this is to keep it quite stylized.
Next, I’m going to use some watered down inks to go over everything that I’ve made with the collage strips, and then let it dry a little bit. Then I’m going to go over it again with some darker ink, watering it down as I go. I don’t want that ink to soak into all of the collage relief that I’ve put on the page, so I’m just putting some dabs and splits of ink straight from the jar. The ink is very dark, so it gets more texture in there and creates some more interest. Finally, I’m just dabbing off the excess water so that the card will dry properly – taking it off bit by bit, making sure it’s all gone.
Now I can pop the illustration of my face back, to see how it’s looking. I’m quite happy with that! That’s fairly good, but I think I need a few more elements of texture…
So I’m going to use a cork to add extra detail. Dabbing the bottom of the cork in some acrylic paint, I’m going to splodge it over the canvas and then blend it in with my hand a little bit, just adding a bit more texture. Then I’m going to use a bit of Posca pen as well, just bringing it all together.
I’m quite happy with that as a textured background – it has some good texture, strong marks and interesting graphic elements, and it’s a good background to place my portrait illustration on to move to the next stage. You could do yours any way you please – it’s just about experimenting with collage elements. You can use paints, inks, acrylics, poster paint… absolutely anything.
Hope you enjoyed that. That was really good fun, putting that together. I love building textures and layering things up on top of each other and see how they turn out. The next stage will be putting all these elements together – introducing our portrait to our background and putting the final touches to our artwork.