Faces of the shard

A deconstruction and reconstruction demonstration by Professional Artist Denise Allen

I started using this technique after seeing a friend discarding some pieces from a watercolour she had torn up for collaging material. The pieces she had discarded had structures on them like windows and walls. I really wanted to grab these pieces and stick them down and extend them together. The idea was born.

In this instance I had 3 separate paintings of the Shard. There was nothing wrong with any of the paintings, but they were fairly conventional, and dare I say it, a little boring.

You do not have to paint specifically for this process. It is an ideal way to make use of those watercolours where you like elements within the painting, but perhaps the composition has not totally worked. Or perhaps a painting you were really happy with until you put in a background, or something in the foreground. In other words any of those paintings you like to much to discard, but not enough to frame (I know I have plenty of these). I would just suggest you chose paintings on a theme to make the finished work have cohesion.

Now comes the fun part. Deconstruction. Be brave, take the painting and tear it in half! You can now tear elements out if you want a specific part, or randomly tear the picture up. I try to get pieces of different sizes. When you tear, one side will be a cleaner edge, and one will have a white edge. This is scary to start with but is liberating when you get used to it!

The next stage is to arrange some of the pieces on a fresh piece of paper. You will not be able to use all of the pieces. I am using A2, 140lb Not Bockingford, a paper I use quite a lot.

I usually move the pieces around a few times until I am happy with the arrangement. I look to balance the colours, sizes and scales of the paintings. I want to make sure there is a reasonable amount of white paper left too. When you are happy, stick the pieces down with either PVA or a glue stick.

The next step is to extend the drawing of the pieces and join them up. The scales will not match, the light will come from different directions and you will end up with people walking out of windows. There is no right or wrong way to do this, just go with your gut.

Once you have extended the drawing across the whole piece, it is time to start painting. As here you can join sections of sky across several pieces. You will have to be aware that sometimes the sea will blend into the sky, and blue sky into soft peach.

The finished painting joins all of these pieces together, showing aspects of the Shard in one exciting painting. It is definitely not boring! I find these paintings are different every time you look at them. You never see everything in one look, and consequently are a revelation each time you see them.
I hope you have enjoyed this example of a different way of working, and will have a go.

Denise is a SAA Professional Artist (PA). To find out more about Denise, her art, studio and tuition - visit her SAA webpage http://www.saa.co.uk/art/deniseallen or her website http://www.deniseallen.co.uk/

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