Oliver’s Roses (Mixed Media Art)

We were so taken with the possibilities of tissue paper based on our experiments with the spider plants that we decided to make a large mixed media work exclusively with tissue alone. And the subject matter choice was obvious—we had to make our big experiment from Oliver’s roses. Oliver is a guy we know who has devoted himself to the invention of new kinds of roses. Such an experiment is ripe for many artistic investigations, and this is our first. We began by washing the entire canvas in a thinned out, bright green acrylic paint, pasting in torn sheets of crumpled tissue as we went. Acrylic is a great glue. Once that was dry and we had our garden backdrop, all work proceeded spontaneously, from intuition alone. We prepared many colors of tissue, all very bright. Some were crumpled and crackled and some flat, some double painted, some cut and some torn. We glued down random shapes and we cut shapes intentionally. We began to build up blocks within the work, color on color and paper on paper. Some preparations went unused and some things applied were ripped off again. We scratched in and overpainted and scraped away. We tested and retested the positioning of individual flowers, and the ones that were to be left ‘fluffy’ were spot glued on last. But then even those got some extra touches of paints on their petals to enhance their looks. And then a few other shapes of tissue were added to unify the different zones of the painting. And finally, we had one small section of Oliver’s imagination—a rose garden filled with crazy blooms and trellises and insects and mysterious signs.

We built the frame for this piece from tulip poplar and painted it with acrylics. Again we opted for a bit of the shadow box depth to enhance all of those wild blooms protruding outward from the surface of the canvas. This painting measures 31” wide x 41” tall x 2” deep, including the frame.