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Paper cutting is an extremely rare art form today.

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Scissors clark britton biography

[Biography] [Gallery] [Blog]

Lived: 19XX - present
GAP Member Since: 2003-11-28
Type: Papercuttings

8307 Peach Tree Lane
Wichita KS 67207-1145
USA

cbritjr@yahoo.com

Entering Peabody
Entering Peabody

I am a retired college art teacher — 74+ years old. As a child I enjoyed drawing, building with wooden blocks, and simple papercutting activities: snowflakes, cut and paste (collage), and three-dimensional paper construction. The focus of my basic art education at the time of my professional education was development of hand skills in drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture. My professional training was focused on graphic design application of art skills to layout, typography, lettering, promotional & communication design and packaging.

While my current interests in art making includes the computer as a tool, the foundation of my Image making is still based on hand skills. I prefer to use an x-acto knife for papercutting rather than scissors, although I have made papercuts with scissors. The quality of form produced by using the knife as a drawing tool is different than that produced with scissors. I use origami and fadeless paper since the fibers of the two papers are tight and do not tear easily when “drawing” with the knife.

Reflections in a Gutter Pool
Reflections in a Gutter Pool
Men at Coffee
Men at Coffee

I visualize in my mind’s eye or sometimes in a quick loose sketch on the white side of the paper. Then I begin to cut on the white side of the sheet with the knife, always keeping in mind that what I cut away is a (void or white) shape that leaves a black shape. I work slowly, turning the paper over against a white sheet so that I can observe the black field against the white shape areas that are emerging. I keep in mind shapes must not be detached completely or the papercut will fall apart. I am guided by my idea or intent and intuition.

Sometimes if I get in a difficult area where I do not know what to do I will make tracing paper studies before proceeding. The improvisational process allows for a freely developed image and sometimes flights of fancy not unlike a jazz musician who might start with a known melody and then proceeding to improvise on that melody driven by emotion, instinct, or mastery of the instrument. The result is dependent on my dexterity with tools, focus and concentration on the visualized idea and the emerging image. Sometimes they all come together and sometimes they don’t. When they don’t, they go in the trash.

Self Portrait with Cat
Self Portrait with Cat
Untitled
Untitled

I have often been asked, Why not make a drawing as opposed to a papercut? The answer I give is a papercut image made by either knife or scissors has a particular quality different than the image produced by drawing with pencil or brush. Many artists conceive their papercuts by making careful outline drawings and then transfer them to the paper for cutting out. The results are merely a reproduction of an image created in a different medium. Obviously the design of the drawing must be limited to areas touching so the paper cut will hold together.

While I do use drawing from time to time as a starting point, it is most often confined to a freely sketched image that allows for improvisational development. Most of my images are improvisational. I start with an idea or subject I want to make such as a winter landscape. Often I start with a random size sheet of paper and let the paper influence the design of the subject matter and image.

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled

I have used paper and papercutting processes for teaching art/design making all my life. When I started seriously looking at papercutting as an end in itself, I was influenced by Chinese and Japanese examples found in THE PAPERCUT-OUT DESIGN BOOK by Ramona Jablonsky and by the work of a Mongolian artist named Norovsmbuugiin Baatartsog. Since I have a background in printmaking and experience in woodcuts and lino cuts, it was a natural progression. It is more enjoyable than the labor intensive woodcut and printing process. Now that I use the computer to reproduce the final image in black and white and color using the process I discussed earlier I find it a very stimulating medium of artistic expression.

 

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Many thanks to Silhouette Portraits and Silhouettes of You for their support and inspiration.


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