Northern Californian artist and writer Wayne H.W. Wolfson is completely self-taught and has had an expansive career. He has amassed a large body of work in a riot of colours and eclectic styles. This makes him one of the most striking, interesting and chameleon-like artists around. A Million Ways To Die Collage by Wayne HW […]Artists and Writers In Their Own Words: Wayne Wolfson
I like alternating my collages between the ones which offer the feeling of an open ended narrative and those whose goal is merely to convey a sense of lush beauty.
A key component in the creative process for me with the collages is that it feels fresh for me, otherwise it would be mere mannerism.
I seek to constantly evolve as a way to maintain my own sense of excitement. One way I do this is going outside my established methodology/mission/philosophy. As a new challenge I decided to make a piece which was beautiful but also programmatic. A work with program but which could be enjoyed by the viewer even if they were unaware of program. I have never been a fan of work that seems “blah” until you find out what’s behind it(program/meaning) and then this new gained knowledge makes one nod their head with comprehension as “Ohhh” is uttered.
This piece is 11×14. All the images are photos which I personally took. There is no digital magic worked, as always utilized my trusty scissors and adhesive applied with a brush.
Side note: I received so much positive feedback about my “In the Eights” series I decided to publicly continue it. Temporarily, I am seeking models for the series, send me an email (not through word press) for details.
I do not view one of my mediums as of greater importance than any other. Regardless of what I have done during the day, painting, collage et al at night I sketch. In rough estimation, I probably carry out my night time sketching 360 days a year with arriving in and returning from Europe being the only established days I don’t.
This nighttime sketching is in the parlance of musicians, termed “wood shedding”. It is the equivalent of when a musician practices scales. I am always surprised to hear some of my peers do not do this as even Coltrane continued to constantly practice.
With every collage I do, I learn something new and refine my process. Often I find that when I discover an easier way to do something, there is the feeling that it was so obvious, how had I not thought of it before?
A few nights ago the idea hit me, to wood shed with my collage too. I mulled over initial “rules” knowing that they would most likely be expanded upon as I go.
It’s very important to me that I use my own images from photos which I personally took in my collages. There is always a component of jazz like improvisation in my collages and I worried that using them to wood shed would take away some of that spontaneity and power.
As I had no intentions of showing the results of wood sheds to anyone, i would not be concerned with using images I did not photograph. The other factor of this is that with all the images I use, I do not want to have them appearing over and over again in my work (at least not without a long break in-between). Using other images will keep mine fresh for me. The other rule which immediately came to me is that they should all be small. Usually my collages are time consuming and it would not make sense to have practice work take days on end. Also working small was nice challenge. I do not have uniform size but none of these go much bigger than 3×5.
The few people who I showed these to were very enthusiastic. I must admit that I liked them too. After the first two I established an aesthetic which is beautiful but also slightly off putting. Despite the pleasure i get from even just practicing, I do not see myself putting these up to view too often, so enjoy the initial foray into establishing a new arrow in my quiver.
Pop Culture seems almost a misnomer. It’s offerings are discussed,debated and anticipated. Almost inseparable at this point from American culture is the concept of a spoiler alert. Binged watched shows masking so-so writing with the compulsion to see what happens next. To know ahead of time of a characters death or other plot developments is to take away a major component of a work’s strength.
This is a more recent phenomenon as with many books of the western cannon or the ones which have served as a template for countless other stories such as Romeo & Juliet, we know what will happen, has happened but still get enjoyment from the journey.
I find myself often returning to Homer. Of course the trajectory of the characters’ narratives are well known to me now at this point but it still manages to offer up delight, like revisiting a well known city held dear.
There is one scene in the second part (The Odyssey) where the (anti) hero Odysseus/Ulysses is going to talk to the shades of some of his fallen comrades. To do so he must follow a complicated ritual which involves spilling out of oil, incantations and spelling things out on the earth with a stick.
During my last rereading of the epic it occurred to me that most of us now can not even remember or know anyone in our lives phone numbers as our phones do all that kind of thing for us. (this includes myself too). Yet Ulysses was given the instructions and doesn’t even write it down, he remembers it and executes it perfectly.
I got to thinking, an idle stream of thoughts where i started transposing Homer and Ovid to our times and vice versa. In some versions of Orpheus’s tale he is merely allowed to wait at the gates of the underworld for Eurydice’s shade to follow. In other translations he does equivalent of in the front door out a close by side one.
If there is ever time travel then there is already time travel. The afterlife too would be a sort of loop, so I imagined it as a vast city not necessarily of the epic poet’s visual vernacular. A dense city which is one part crumbling metropolis from Blade Runner and also the dense urban pile ups from parts of Mumbai and Hong King.
Orpheus must make his way through all this chalking up the weird architecture as merely one more otherworldly phenomenon beyond his ken. The shades are all crying out for help, lamenting all that they have lost or are cut off from, bitterly laughing or trying to cajole him into watching.
My Orpheus isn’t seen though. Maybe he is coming out, alone. Maybe he already left. He could be one of the active silhouettes in the window, finally reunited with Eurydice after having met his savaged fate. She had been everything to him. His extreme joy at their prospect of their initial reuniting and then inconsolable grief at their second separation at Hades’ exit was a powerful cosmic force. Now, reunited, they are just two more silhouettes in a vast city of shades. We are all the main characters in the movie of our lives but longing remains a force to reckon with.
It has looked like mars around me so i have not been able to paint. I am fortunate that I can still draw and collage regardless of light conditions and burning eyes and sinus. This collage is 11×14. As usual there is no digital magic worked. I used scissors & adhesive applied with brush to images which I personally photographed.
For my last collage the emphasis was just on doing something lush & beautiful. With this one I wanted to return to my often achieved effect of an open ended narrative. I also have in mind the desire to collage when on the road. With my density achieved via so many small components the amount of time it takes to do the piece would mean that on a shorter trip I would only (if even) be able to do a collage and not also paintings, sculptures et al.
Right now I have two styles of collage. I have mainly been doing my denser mosaic style. The other style incorporates larger pieces and I achieve the density I prefer in my works via distortions of lines and parts. This style is perfect for on the road, while the challenge of getting my preferred density will keep me away from mere mannerisms.
As is always the case with my collages, there is no digital magic. I use my trusty scissors and adhesive applied with brush to photos which I personally took.
“All Night Music & Dance” 11×14
I have just finished my most labor intensive collage. Interestingly, it was far from the largest that I have ever done. I set aside my often used aesthetic of creating the feel of an open ended narrative for something that is just beautiful. I worked no digital magic on the piece, utilizing old school method of scissors and adhesive applied with a brush to photos which I personally took.
I was very pleased with the results of this piece and feel with every new work I learn something. My new camera was used for the photo which definitely helps to convey more of the intricacies of my works.
“For Trummy” (if we ever see each other again, I will look different, you will look the same) 11×14
For all my work regardless of medium, emotion is my main goal. One way to ensure this happens is fostering a constant evolution.
I received many great responses to my last collage and it is a personal favorite. For my next one, I knew that I wanted to do something as dense but also different.
I limited my color palette which I have done before but this time i went with darker, more somber colors. There is a return to a more outright sense of narrative in this piece too. The last piece was a beautiful scene but not story. To my core I will always be a city boy and now I have created another one to visit in my daydreams.
As with all my collages, there is no digital magic worked. I utilize the old school method of scissors & adhesive applied w/brush to photos which I personally took. (new camera for photo)
“A Million Ways To Die” 11×14 (the lines visible beneath pieces don’t mean anything , they were resting on piece scrap paper w/discarded sketch)
I finally had to bite the bullet and get a real camera to photograph my work. This coincides with a greater complexity in my collages. Gone now will be the caveat accompanying images of my work;
“I just used my phone to take the photo, it gives one the gist of the work but not all the dynamics.”
Being a complete luddite, it’s going to take a little bit to become proficient with my camera. The timing of getting it worked out perfectly though as I just completed my most complex work. Ideal thing with which to try out new camera.
As is always the case, the components of the piece are from photos which I personally took. I work no digital magic on the piece, utilizing old school method of scissors & adhesive applied with brush.
I try to alternate between doing my painting and collage. The idea for this one came to me during dinner (the original sketch on back of grocery list pad). I decided to change up my rhythm and do another collage before a painting. Going forward, it will be interesting to see what added vibrancy will be added to my collage as I will be using a far superior camera to photograph my source material.
“First Her Tears Were Purple, Then Blue” 11×17
I have greatly enjoyed upping my game with collage, refining my process. As is true with all my work, I do not want to be reduced down to the “..” guy. (i.e landscapes/nudes et al). With collage, when you find something that works, it is very tempting & easy to slip in what would be for a musician, pet-licks.
I would like to think all my works have an open ended narrative feel to them. For this piece, I wanted to try to maintain that feeling but with less easily identifiable components making up the piece. The color palette would once again be restricted but darker than what I have been using. As usual, I work no digital magic, only my trusty scissors and adhesive applied with brush to images which I personally took. The black atop I hand painted on, this being the first time I have tried painting combined with collage.
“You Know It’s True” 11×17
I greatly enjoyed creating my last collage “To the Sea”. I decided to further explore the use of a limited color palette.This piece is a companion piece to my last one in wanting to go by the same “rules”. (limited color palette, utilizing my two main techniques within one piece to equal degrees, smaller sized paper)
As usual I only used photos which I took, my trusty scissors and adhesive applied with a brush. The sort of Maxfield Parish coloring comes from the times of day that I took the photos, all Pre-Raphaelite luminescence playing upon the neighborhood but for a few minutes at a time.
For all my work regardless of medium I prefer a certain amount of density. Especially with my collages, I like the effect of the viewer being able to find new little things with each viewing. An open ended narrative which leads to one’s own personal daydreams.
“This Little Piggy” 11×14