Mixed Media Artist Maya Brym | Building Layers for Collage

Using collage techniques to structure paintings layered with acrylic and oil, Maya Brym creates still lifes as spatial experiences that shift between two and three dimensions. The following is an excerpt from the feature article “Natural Synthesis” by Judith Fairly in the April 2012 issue of The Artist’s Magazine.

Cellar Light oil and acrylic painting by Maya Brym artist | mixed media collage painting

Cellar Light (oil and acrylic, 40x28) is based on a paper collage Brym created from several printed photographs. “I wanted,” she says, “to create a feeling of compression in a starkly lit interior space that’s offset by the wilder energy of the vines growing in the dark space just outside.” The interior elements were made in acrylic, while the outside space and the forms that move from outside to inside were painted in oil. This is the first painting in a body of work she started following her first solo show in December 2010, and for her it “evokes that transitional space of ending and re-beginning that we continually experience.”

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Building Layers

Brym chooses her surface based on the idea she has in mind—sometimes she begins with a drawing, sometimes with a paper or digital collage. On occasion she uses Photoshop to experiment with photos she’s taken, or she might recombine an image with others in a collage. Her canvas is primed with white acrylic gesso, then covered with a poured wash of acrylic paint. “The ratio of water to pigment is pretty high,” she says. “It’s a way for me to splash color and texture onto the surface that’s fun and not precious, like jumping into a pool. I usually lay the painting flat on the floor and apply several layers of wash, tilting the canvas so that the water flows around and stains the surface in an interesting way.”

When the acrylic wash has dried, Brym applies a layer of thinned-out polymer medium to seal it. She sketches the foundation for the image onto the surface, blocking in different areas with quick passes of acrylic paint. “I find that acrylic lends itself to deliberate, structural moves,” she says. “I don’t worry about getting the color or edges right; it’s more about creating a sense of the whole early on, even if there’s a lot I still don’t know about what’s going to happen.”

Brym says she’s a slow painter and acrylic forces her to work more quickly. “I start paintings in acrylic and take them as far as I can before bringing in oil paint,” she says. “Depending on the piece, a good part of the surface might be painted with oil by the end, but the initial moves made in acrylic are always essential to how the painting turns out and often show through. I like the wateriness, crispness and speed of acrylic, and I like oil paint for its color, texture and malleability.”

Once she brings in oil paint, different concerns take over. “I’m focused more on color, gesture, texture and edge quality,” she says. “Things slow down and the process becomes more exploratory and more specific at the same time.” Brym paints in stages, allowing areas of the canvas to remain spontaneous and unfinished-looking to provide relief. “Those areas have a different speed from the more layered and worked aspects of the painting,” she notes.

Read the full story about Maya Brym and her paintings in oil and acrylic in the April 2012 issue of The Artist’s Magazine. Visit her website at www.mayabrym.com.


Collage Art Techniques with Nita Leland
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