Mixed Media Work on Paper: A Closer View

 "The street light a full forest moon."


I wanted to share the details of the mixed media work on paper from my exhibition, Still Time for Us Together in the Woods. Many of you have asked about the techniques of the mixed media work so I wanted to give you a closer view. Actually, I'm going to tell you about the entire "hybrid photo making" process so grab your tea, get comfortable, and settle in for the detailed scoop.

 "Tall beige grass beyond the outer distance."

I started creating the mixed media pieces by selecting 10 vintage photographs from my collection--some of these images are from my family's photo album and some are images I've found at flea markets or thrift stores. I chose images that included two or three people, usually touching, or showing intimacy/ familiarity, but also images that would technically work for the process. Their entire bodies had to be free of any obstruction, they were usually standing, usually facing forward, and not holding any objects in their hands. Amazingly, this quickly limited the photos that I could select.

"Wing, branch, string, paper, blue, and song." 

Then I went to my local library (with the 10 photos in an envelope in my bag) to look for images of North American woodland animals and found the children's educational books to be the best source. I used a similar criteria to assess these images--they had to be free of obstruction (this greatly limited certain animals such as birds as so many had a worm in the mouth, a leaf somewhere obstructing the head, or the mother birds were too close to the babies, etc).
I also selected images that were high contrast so they would still be recognizable when reduced to such a small size to match the original bodies in the vintage photographs. I didn't want any angry animals, fighting animals, cuddling animals, etc so this also reduced my pool as I wanted animals that were somewhat "neutral" or staring blanking at the camera.

"Speaking in lilacs and lilies and pines."

Once I found the animal images I saddled up to the library's photocopier where I made the vintage human image and the textbook animal image align. This included several trips to a nearby library table where I would estimate if the images were sized to match, debate if the animal worked with the corresponding human, and then I'd go back to the photocopier to make changes.

I wanted to use analog and digital technology in my process, so the photocopier was key. Then I cut each image from the photocopy paper and taped them together to make a new image. This is where I could better align head and torso by making alterations with my very small, very sharp paper scissors.

"Your head tucked into my wing."

Then I brought the new paper hybrids to my home studio. I scanned this new image into my scanner and reprinted it on photography paper as a new singular hybrid image. Then I used cotton embroidery thread and flowers from Liberty London to add the details to the work--the fabric and thread are stitched directly into the new hybrid photos making them originals. I titled each piece with one line from my manuscript of poetry--so each hybrid photo is secured to printmaking paper and the title is written in pencil beneath.

"Avenues of freeways forests gardens."

I write this here as if there were no technical hiccups along the way--of course that is not true! Aligning the animal heads to the human bodies took hours until they lined up the way I wanted. And reprinting the new images so that the contrast and exposure of the head looked natural with the contrast and exposure of the body was also quite a feat.

But in the end, the process is so much a part of the product. I wanted the mixed media works to be one-of-a-kinds and that was achieved through the applique and embroidery. I used these final images to make the masks, soft sculptures, etc because I wanted them to be exact replicas of the mixed media work.

"Love in a different shapely wing."

The mixed media pieces are dated 2013 because I finished them last spring--when the work was supposed to be on view at a different gallery but that space flooded the week of our opening. Fortunately, my work was not damaged and I was thrilled to secure another beautiful gallery for the show this May.

The bigger space allowed me to expand the original prints into a multidisciplinary installation complete with performers, video, soft sculpture, a reading station, and an interactive photo booth! So sometimes it all works out the way it should in the end. Sometimes, it just takes more time.

"Love, let's call that something."

Thank you (so much) to those of you who have purchased work, seen the work in-person, or otherwise supported the show. I am crazy grateful. The exhibition is up at Rise Above Gallery through May 31 and the gallery is open Wednesdays from 1-3 and Saturdays from 11-5. The work is for sale through the gallery while the exhibition is open and I'll add any remaining work to my Etsy shop when the show closes. For now, it's best to contact the gallery directly for sales and she can process credit cards by phone or payments via Paypal. Thank you for inquiring!

"What else but a summertime?"

Lastly, I'll be meeting a few different groups of folks in the gallery during open hours for private tours--please let me know if you'd like to join me. I'm happy to meet folks at the gallery so long as my schedule can accommodate our meet-up. I do believe that a thriving arts community depends on sharing resources, techniques, and inspiration so I'm happy to keep the proverbial circle turning.

A few people have asked if there is anywhere they can read the poetry online--for now the poetry can only be read in the gallery but maybe I'll return to my poetry roots and publish some work in the future. You can read lines from the poems in the titles of the pieces I've shown here. Consider this a mini version of the 300 page manuscript I wrote nearly seven years ago. Yes, 300.

"But they are made of flowers."

That's all for now, friends. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 



  1. love.these.so.much. love. dying. aaagggghhh...

    1. thank you!!! best compliment ever. xoxo


Thank you for your comments, friends. I like to think we are creating a dialogue in this space--building a virtual community.