I can’t say when I started to love drawing but I don’t remember ever not drawing. It seemed that I was always drawing people. In elementary school I drew pictures to go with stories I told my classmates. Later in high school and college I studied watercolor and oils but never felt like embracing them as ‘my medium’.
Several years into teaching I developed a mosaic-collage technique when doing a sample to introduce my students to mosaics. Thinking that tiny pieces would be too frustrating for the kids I developed a sample using larger pieces. This technique involves cut paper inlayed in mosaic fashion to create realistic images. The kids used their own drawings or ones supplied to them
I was so enthused by the technique that I continued working this way after the project was over doing increasingly more intricate Mosaic-Collages. It became ‘my medium’.
I use photo references then develop very detailed drawings. It is a unique and different approach to the art of collage. Working this way is relaxing although it may look impossibly complicated. With oils or watercolor you are compelled by the medium to continue to a good stopping point. With collage you can stop after any given piece is applied. You can be driven by the passion for the piece rather than by the time constraints and the limitations of the liquid medium.
My favorite subjects are people, children, faces, collages that convey some emotion, interactions between people and pieces that make statements. Addressing our past as AfricanAmericans, as families, as parents are central themes. Beginning to integrate technology into the creative process has eased the tediousness of the backgrounds. Photographic images are sometimes used as part of the backgrounds.
The nature of the process is slow, but I find it to be gratifying, exciting and relaxing. 'Waiting', a recent piece, was inspired by the compelling look on the little girl’s face. I was half way through the piece before I thought to get permission from the photographer to use it as resource material. 'Joy', an older piece, speaks for itself. 'Trailblazers' is a powerful statement piece. All of the elements in this collage are Trailblazers.
After recently revising my technique it has evolved to the point where I can finish three to five pieces a month instead of one or two a year. I love doing the skin areas. The hair, clothing and backgrounds have been simplified which makes the process faster.
I hope that the viewers will connect with each of the pieces on some internalized level.