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This is a collage to honor the music of Dr. John (aka Mac Rebbenack). It’s art I created for the Homage to Music card deck exchange hosted by Red Dog Scott.
Dr. John is among my favorite musicians, since I first heard his music around 1970. On an early album, Gumbo, he described his sound as “a combination of Dixieland, Rock & Roll, and Funk.” Add a little Mardi Gras and gris-gris, and you’ll get the idea.
Not everyone understands his music; I do, and it inspires much of my art.
This collage was over a month in preparation. Here’s how I made it.
The first step: gesso and paint the canvas
I started with a stretched canvas that I’d primed with gesso, and then painted metallic gold (spray paint).
Then, I began layering Burnt Sienna, Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine Blue, and finally a black that I mixed using French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber.
Because I use oil paints for their depth of color, each layer had to dry for at least ten days.
(In workshops, I use acrylics because the layers dry in minutes, not weeks.)
Then, I sanded it down for added texture
After the layers were dry, I began sanding them down for texture. Beneath the canvas, I place a wooden block just inside the stretcher bars, so the canvas was evenly supported.
I sanded down different amounts in different areas.
Then, I began the collage.
Next, I added mixed-media collage elements
My first layer was tissue paper, crumpled and “painted on” with Golden brand Soft Gel Medium.
Next, I “painted on” a piece of antique lace. Over that, I glued three strips of teal chenille yarn.
For small pieces, I use the Golden Medium as glue; for larger pieces, I use hot glue.
Then, I added feathers. Some were gathered at the beach, others were purchased.
Sealing the canvas was next
Next, I coated the entire canvas with more Golden Medium, and waited for it to dry until tacky. At that point, I began applying Gildenglitz. For the larger areas, I increased the adhesion with pieces of double-sided tape.
Embellishments and ephemera took it to the next level
Almost finished, I glued on a dollhouse Parcheesi board, a plastic lizard, and a heart milagros that I had sprayed gold and highlighted with Dr. Martin’s calligraphy ink, in copper.
And finally, gold leaf highlights
The final step—when everything else had fully dried—was to add highlights with Rub N Buf gold leaf, in antique gold.
When I teach related workshops, I encourage students to work with rich & deep colors, gold leaf or glitter, and found objects.
Sometimes, found objects — natural ones like leaves and feathers, or bit of metal found by the roadside and in parking lots — can take this kind of collage to the magpie level, too. I love the whimsy of that.
This tribute to Dr. John remains one of my favorite collages.