Excerpts from “Painting with Paper” by Michelle Taute for “The Artists Magazine”, April 2006
There’s a painterly quality to Deborah Claxton’s work, and from a few feet away it’s easy to surmise that her pieces are straightforward oil paintings. A closer look, however, reveals that they are created entirely from cut paper.
The story behind these paper paintings dates back at least a decade. While the 55 year old has been creating artwork for most of her life, she didn’t focus her efforts exclusively on paper until 1995. She felt the need for a medium that would allow her to achieve truly vivid colors and also to be able to come into direct contact with her materials.
While experimenting with ways to combine all of her artistic tendencies: drawing, sculpture and color, Claxton pioneered her cut paper technique. She likes the tactile, hands on aspect of handling the materials and loves that she can produce bright, unaltered color. Since there’s not the kind of blending normally done with paint, her colors maintain their pure, rich quality
Once she’s found her subject, she’ll start with a line drawing, Next she does a second, more detailed drawing, mapping out sections of color. A palette board with small color samples helps the design process. The individual shapes from the design are then transferred onto the appropriately colored papers. Adhesive has been applied to the back of the paper beforehand, so when the shapes are cut out, they are ready to apply to the backing board, At last, the cut pieces are put together on the board, changes being made as needed. Once a piece is complete, she applies several layers of protective varnish.
A single work might take Claxton a couple of months, so she completes roughly 3-5 in a year. The originals are shown and sold through Woodward Gallery in New York City. In addition, the Claxtons make giclee prints of the images in their own studio. The vivid areas of color lend themselves well to the print medium, while the artwork is made available to more people than otherwise would be possible.