Fresh Cuts: a spring grass pop up

I’ve added 18 new paper cuts to my series of paintings titled Yes, there was beer. In my artwork grasses used to be small pieces of a whole. Now they’re the foundation of finished paintings. Letting my techniques grow and change is what’s so exciting about painting.

mixed media artwork in context with natural inspiration

I set up these paintings on a warm sunny morning. The weeks of rain in May was all the spring grass needed to begin growing wildly. The wildflowers are in full force. The light on this morning was so warm and strong it made the new blades of grass look almost neon green. Thankfully the grass was also dry so I could prop up my new paper cuts.

mixed media artwork on paper
art practice blogs

Clumps of grass roll down the hillside like waves. I tucked each painting into the long blades. I like the contrast between the softly falling grass and rigid metallic coated paper shapes. The paper is stiff with layers of acrylic, gouache, and spray paint. The blades of paper grass stuck straight up or folded over mimicking the natural surroundings. Figures peek out here and there. Horse shapes, ball caps, and denim covered legs.

mixed media artwork with Oregon wildflowers

Hidden in the wildflowers, the subjects on my paper cuts are riding through a meadow full of yellow petals. It seems like an exact scene from my memories. Looking around and riding through, these characters are hopping from one natural wonder to the next.

Oregon landscapes

The final place I set up was around a big boulder. The paper cuts looked like gathered riders chatting about the day so far and what’s to come. The only things missing from these arrangements are the packs of friendly dogs that were always milling around the group.

Oregon mixed media artist Hillery Lay
Oregon mixed media artist Hillery Lay

Jumping off points from my series Yes, there was beer gave me momentum to move forward with new techniques. My tall grass paper cuts have grown from this place. Using a tall grass shape as the foundation for a painting replaces a stretched canvas, letting me work with paper in a new way. I’ve been translating grasses into stencils I freehand cut for many years. I use some sort of grass shape in almost all of my paintings.

art practice blogs

When I cut stencils from different types of paper I get handmade objects to spray through, trace, reuse, or modify. I like how the paper cuts are bringing my interests in collage, symbol development, and paper work forward into finished paintings.

If you’re curious to know more about how my paintings progress, please sign up for my Studio Notes newsletter.

This month I wrote about one of my very favorite art books and the glory that was the North Light Book Club!