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Staten Island, New York, United States

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Collaborative Art Process: Painting Large, Playing with Photos

©2013 Bruce Cohn     Denise in her studio
Bruce wearing a leather
mask he brought back from
It's been awhile since I've written a blog post. That's because Bruce Cohn and I have been hard at work on our collaborative project!*  As we had hoped, we are both going to new places with our art, pushing each other into the studio and darkroom and inspiring each other.

I've been enjoying the pleasure of working on large canvas. Why haven't I done this before? Being enveloped by the painting, the dance of pulling back to look and making large gestures with my paintbrush, taking BIG chances - it's all exhilarating! I have been doing a little more painting and incorporating a little less of my prints in the large canvas pieces.
©2013 Bruce Cohn

Bruce's process is very different from mine. He has already printed out, matted and framed 5 photos. Done! The creative part for him happened in the camera when he was in Argentina in February. When he looks at his photo program on the computer he is adding the finishing touches to the image, determining the best size and what kind of matrix he wants to print on. He says "My process is selective and subtractive, with me responding to those images that speak, sometimes having to listen again."

 I've only finished 1 piece (at least I think it's finished). Of course
Working in the print studio
at the Noble Maritime Collection,
pulling a big paper lithograph
to be used as a collage
I had to start with a couple dancing tango for my first collage.  
The photo above shows me working on it. Working at this scale proved challenging when I was gluing large printed pieces down. It's taking a little time to perfect my technique. My creative process is quite different from Bruce's. I never know where a piece will end up. I only have a vague idea of theme and components when I start out, but that's the fun of it for me, being surprised by the process and following what interests me in the development. Bruce's photos serve as a reference, and sometimes a component, in the form of a print.

Even though the bulk of our work is done separate from each other, we look at each other's work when we have doubts or just want input. Bruce has helped me place the light falling on tango dancers in my painting. I have helped him choose the most dynamic shot of a bandoneon player and the right color tone for a paddler on the Rio de la Plata. We made a collage together so that Bruce could understand my process. He chose the colors, photos and composition. I acted as his assistant, mixing paints and gluing everything down. I tweaked the collage a bit after we finished. It's not bad!
©2013 Bruce Cohn/Denise Mumm  
Collage 15"x22 1/2"

Last weekend we were in the darkroom working on a photogram of a wine (malbec, of course) bottle. I can relate to this more painterly  photographic technique. Bruce finished the photogram, finessing it  and "burning in" areas that needed more exposure time.  I plan to use the resulting photogram to make a BIG print and incorporate that into a horizontal collage about Buenos Aires cafe culture. I'll start that one next, but before I can, I will have to clear a wall in my studio and move a couple of these 4'x6' pieces into Bruce's house. He has more wall space than me.

*This project is made possible (in part) by an Encore Grant from the Council on the Arts & Humanities for Staten Island, with public funding from the New York State Council on the Arts.


  1. Looking forward to seeing the finished art.