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Acclaimed artist Soraya French is renowned for her vivid semi-abstract contemporary landscape paintings. In Contemporary Landscapes in Mixed Media, Soraya gives a valuable insight into the way she works and where she finds inspiration. Here she shares her tips for working with collage to add an additional dimension to your paintings.

by Soraya French

Collage Materials

The kind of materials used for collage always depends on the artist’s personal approach. However, the most common items are tissue paper, exotic Indian handmade paper or Japanese rice paper, found objects and pieces of text cut from books, magazines or newspapers. Materials such as scrim, cheesecloth, netting from fruit packaging and similar items can all create quite interesting passages in the painting.

Working with collage is perhaps one of the best ways to lose your inhibitions and bring out your inner child. I use it quite moderately in my work as I like the interaction of washes of colour on the surface of the paper with the collaged parts. I feel that this creates a more exciting and chaotic surface that I can then manipulate to whatever shapes I need in my painting.

In the fun ‘Boat Race’ piece above all the sails and bodies of the boats are made up of pieces of handmade paper, magazine cuttings and tissue paper. The colours are reinforced with inks to protect them from fading. I applied the collage pieces first before adding washes of inks followed by heavy body acrylics to paint the sea.

I collect every type of exotic paper I come across in art shops and other outlets. Each one adds something unique and quirky to the painting – in fact sometimes it is the joy of using these fabulous papers that makes me start a painting.

Here I used a roller to colour my tissue paper with diluted Manganese Blue and Cobalt Teal heavy body acrylics. When it dried I applied a thick layer of gold mica flakes to add a real sparkle to the otherwise quite ordinary coloured tissue paper.

For this piece of customized tissue paper I applied a layer of gel on a double layer of the paper and allowed it to form its natural creases. When it dried I applied Fluid and heavy body colours in pink, red and bright aqua green. Finally I added gold and bronze on top. This makes a very beautiful and exotic looking paper.

It is great fun to make your own handpainted collage pieces. I like to use white tissue or good-quality cartridge paper as a base and then add my colours by roller, drips, drizzles, drawing and spraying. These unique pieces are great to add to the paper or canvas as the starting point for an abstract or semi-representational painting.

Extracted from Contemporary Landscapes in Mixed Media by Soraya French, published by Batsford.