|Precious by Russell Irwin, paper mosaic.
Okay, that might have been a little too Gollum from Lord of
the Rings, but Russell Irwin's latest mixed media collage titled Precious is certainly mesmerizing
because of the unusual creative process that goes into making it as well as its
dazzling final form.
||Irwin applying paper to the surface of his mixed media
artwork (top) and sanding it (bottom).
Irwin's latest work in his Gem
series, which features works that are almost like abstract paintings made with paper that
depict the gleaming facets and glints of gemstones and jewels. The artist terms
all of these works "paper mosaics," attesting to the fact that they are created
by layering torn pieces of paper on a surface, gluing them down, and then
sanding into them with an electric sander to reveal bits and pieces of them.
What really left a lasting impression on me about Irwin's
process is, ironically, that it isn't a "precious" process at all. There's
nothing delicate about it. It looks like Irwin is building the artwork more than
anything else. That kind of relationship with your mixed
media painting materials can really give an artist a better sense of what those
materials can do. I for one would never have thought paper could be so
resilient and end up looking so painterly and have such depth. The end results
are lovely but still give a real sense of the materials that the artist started
with and how he produced the work—and that's something many of us can identify
with and appreciate.
The thrill of the out-of-the-box artistry that excited me
about Irwin's work is the kind of response I usually have to every issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, our sister
magazine devoted to mixed media art. Artists take all kinds of materials and
manipulate them, combine them, build them up, and break them down. If you want
to broaden your artistic horizons and learn new and fun ways to incorporate
novel process into your drawing or painting practice, Cloth Paper Scissors could be your answer! Enjoy!