Around the turn of the century, Picasso and Braque coined the term “collage” for mixed-media art, but artists have been adding unexpected objects to their work practically as long as art has been created. A number of the Vineyard’s artists are contemporizing the tradition of collage or mixed media by gluing, nailing, or otherwise assembling unusual things in their paintings.
For Kara Taylor, owner of Vineyard Haven’s Kara Taylor Fine Art, mixed media work flows naturally out of her sculpture major at Maine College of Art.
Many of her large paintings utilize precious metals like the gold leaf in “Arch” or the palladium (a silvery white metal) in “Tree With Pond.” While these metals don’t give the paintings three dimensions of “Totem II” with its attached metal ring, they add a reflective elegance that implies a third dimension.
“I don’t like having glass over my paintings,” Ms. Taylor says. Instead she applies a coat of wax, called encaustic, sometimes scratching words onto the surface. “Encaustic is pretty archival,” she says, explaining it preserves and protects the work.
In her geometrical painting “North Node South Node” Ms Taylor uses metal, nails, and gold leaf wire. In “Home,” she combined multiple photographs of the Vineyard and painted an American flag over them. An accomplished photographer as well as a painter, she will have a show at Thanksgiving of photographic self-portraits incorporating mixed-media techniques.
Newspapers, string, and books have found their way into the paintings of Traeger diPietro. Mr. diPietro, who exhibits at PIKNIK Fine Art & Apparel and Dragonfly galleries in the Oak Bluffs Art District, finds that objects from his day job as a deliveryman, including bar codes and crate strapping, work their way into his art. An item as unlikely as a gleaming oil spill on the floor of the warehouse where he works can become inspirational. “It literally finds me,” he says. “It’s very exciting… If a friend hands me a piece of paper, it can have meaning for me,” he says, and he may add the paper or other random items to his work. “I paint over it, but it still is powerful to me. I know it’s there,” he says.
He applies glues designed for artists to hold down the added objects or surfaces in his paintings. In one of his mixed media, “Two-faced or Blue in the Face?” Mr. diPietro uses pieces of newspaper to create the faces and other parts of the three women portrayed.
Like Ms. Taylor, he thinks it’s important that his mixed media work be of archival quality. “They should last,” he says, “and not fall apart. It’s all science.”
Artist Don McKillop, who with his wife Susan Davy, owns Dragonfly Gallery, incorporated easy-to-tear canvas-coated paper as a collage element in his abstract series, “Metaphors of Place: The Coastal Landscape” displayed in corporate offices as part of a DeCordova loan program.
Mr. McKillop turned to mixed media when he developed an interest in abstraction. “I wanted to break out of what I was doing at the time — landscape oils,” he says.
His first mixed media works were monotypes, using an acrylic plate and applying paint, ink, or even watercolor, along with other objects. The paper used to make the monotype — so called because only one is produced — is soaked in a water box and then sponged off. The result is always a surprise, since the last color or object applied to the plate is the first one transferred onto the paper.
After creating monotypes in the early 2000s, Mr. McKillop created a series of smaller mixed-media abstracts on board with paper, pencil, and encaustic (beeswax), including his “New Visions” series. “It’s just another stretch,” he says, “taking your work to another level and adding a third dimension… I’m just following where my hand takes me in the medium.”