Posted by: bluelanternstudio | October 30, 2012

Miniature stories

About a decade ago, I was fortunate enough to take a master class with one of my heroes, artist and writer Nick Bantock. A brilliant artist, he is also tremendously skilled as a teacher and many of the ways he shared of how to approach creative work still inform my art making.

One of the exercises Nick had us work through that week was to create a tiny, one inch by one inch collage entirely out of cut up postage stamps. My first attempt was messy and cluttered, but I fell in love with the scale and limited materials and have kept coming back to that concept over and over again.

“Anybody home?” (Postage stamp collage; Artist: Robi Smith)

What I’ve discovered is that you can pack a whole lot of story into an inch or two, especially when the source material is so tiny.  The pattern I’ve settled into is to find a stamp with a particular character, human or animal, that really speaks to me. I then look at other stamps to find elements that relate to that character. Together, a story is suggested, which I embellish in the title of each piece. Sometimes, the titles end up longer than the collage!

“It’s a little bigger than I imagined.” (Postage stamp collage; artist: Robi Smith)

For this one (above) I started with the woman, who in my mind was clearly in the pose of critically reviewing something. What fun to find the red bird and then a blue shell that the bird could be delivering. I imagined the castle in the background as the woman’s home. They’re standing on a piece of boreal forest. You can do that with collage.

The New Deal (Postage stamp collage; artist: Robi Smith)

If you’re in BC’s Lower Mainland, you can see these and more of my postage stamp collages at a miniatures show which opens November 15 at Place des Arts in Coquitlam. The exhibition, Positively Petite, runs until December 21.

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