I have recently had the opportunity to reform a friendship with an artist I knew in Levittown, NY. Harold Garde was a subtle art influence in my early development. His daughter and I were high school friends which led to hanging out at each other’s homes. This of course put me in contact with her father Harold. After high school we again crossed paths in art classes he taught at the local community college.
I moved on with my life, he with his until both of us wandered into a gallery opening in central Florida. When I heard his name mentioned I introduced myself. After the fog of some 30 years was cleared away we found we liked each other’s art and enjoyed talking about of all things, art! This led to discussions about a technique that Harold developed and named “Strappo”. This technique is a printmaking monotype dry acrylic image transfer that has been recognized by the New York Metropolitan Museum. A sample of the strappo image is in the museum print library collection.
Specifically the Strappo technique is a combination of two procedures.
The initial process is developing an acrylic painting on a piece of clear glass. In my experience the glass used should be 8 x 10 inches or smaller to start off, my preference being 6 x 8 inches. If you have never painted this way there are a few things you should remember.
· You are painting in an opposite progression and in reverse
· So if you paint a background first and cover the entire surface, you will not be able to add any elements
· If you paint images with dark edges, you will want to do the edges first.
· Your paint will need to be thick and dry between layers.
I have found that keeping a wet cloth and a razor blade at hand for mistakes have helped in my compositions. Remember it will be easier if you plan out some of the elements of the images in your work. Once the work is completely developed and dried, to thicken the acrylic skin of the painting, additional layers of acrylic gesso should be added.
The second step is the image transfer process. Fresh coats of acrylic gesso are applied both to the back of the glass plate and on the sheet where the image will be placed. To avoid any undue frustration place the image to be transferred on a sheet of paper with extra space around the edges. Some artists like large white areas around their work while others prefer only enough to provide an edge before the matting. Make sure weight is applied to insure bonding of the gesso layers as they dry. Once dry, the glass can be peeled away from the image leaving the monotype transferred on the paper and the glass plate left clean. You might need a thin blade to remove any dry anchor that might have formed along the edge of the glass to help coaxed the process. The image having been developed on the glass surface will be exactly as it was painted and very smooth at once creating unique tactile and visual qualities.
Strappo lends itself to some interesting challenges as you work. Perspective and balance take on new meaning as you explore the picture plane. And I think I should mention that the finished art can at once stand alone or be introduced into another finished piece. Harold Garde has a significant body of Strappo work on display at MOFA, the Museum of Florida Art in Deland Fl. Also on display is a permanent installation of his piece Iconoclass that measures 8 feet by 24 feet. This is the 1st unveiling of the fully assembled original Iconoclass mural in 35 years.
- Harold Garde Iconoclass Mural at MOFA (donaldkolberg.com)