Collage Plein Air? What?

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – – you’re right.” I wish I had said that but it was Henry Ford and it makes me think of a person who thought she could. My friend and fellow artist Elizabeth St Hilaire, who hosts numerous workshops that can be viewed at Paper Paintings Collage Artwork, started something new and exciting last year. Elizabeth combined her paper painting collage method with plein air painting and the result was amazing!

So where do I fit in this whole endeavor?  Managing and organizing torn paper media, water, collage glue and other items outside, especially when it is breezy, can be a challenge. Realizing that, last year I offered to help Elizabeth develop a portable easel system suitable for collage plein air painting. In fact I built and Elizabeth tested a prototype easel that met with her approval. Then it was time to introduce the St Hilaire System  easel.  Game on folks!

The easel factory otherwise known as Elizabeth’s garage
5 days and several cups of coffee later


While I was busy building easels Elizabeth participated in the Wekiva plein air paint out in Florida using the St Hilaire System and it was a great success. So much so that a week later the system was introduced in a three day workshop at Wekiva Island, Florida taught by Elizabeth.

All of the St Hialaire System components laid out
The system is very portable for plein air or studio vacation relocation

Day one of the the plein air workshop and everyone was anxious to set up and try out the St Hilaire easel system.

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The St Hilaire System set up and ready to use

And then it was time to do collage in plein air! I produced two pieces using the new system and my paper, glue water, brushes, panel and coffee were all under control.  So here are the results of my efforts. First I did a quick underpainting as a guide.

First a quick underpainting to guide me in the collage process.

Then the application of paper! It was exciting to try and make a painting come to life using torn paper.

The Canoe Launch
The Canoe Launch, 9 x 12 in. torn paper collage painting
The EmptyCanoe
The Empty Canoe, 9 x 12 in. torn paper collage painting

Elizabeth produced a few pieces also and this is one of my favorites in progress. Notice the 9 bins of color that she uses to organize her palette.

Elizabeth St Hilaire’s work in progress, notice the 9 bin organization.

It was a very exciting workshop! I didn’t realize how much could be done using torn paper collage media.  The color and texture combinations are endless and bound only by your imagination. I will be doing more collage paper painting work, both studio and plein air, using the St Hilaire System.






4 thoughts on “Collage Plein Air? What?

    1. Thank you Linda! I designed this system for a fellow artist and good friend . Elizabeth St Hilaire at:

      I know she has one easel system in stock and she also does wonderful workshops that helped me a lot with artwork. I of course use the system myself for both collage and my oil painting. It is versatile and i use it in studio and in plein aire. The whole system is lightweight, under 10 lbs and I carry it outdoors all the time with and additional small backpack for other art supplies

      Liked by 1 person

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