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Danielle Vaughan - Portraits in Collage 

13 June 2023

At the start of the session, Danielle told us a bit about her time on series 4 of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year, where she had to do a picture of Noel Fielding. She said that she thought she had been selected due to her different way of working. She was lucky to forge a connection with Noel due to having previously done a portrait of one of his friends, but was mortified at having asked one of the judges that she didn’t recognise whether they were an artist. 


Danielle has worked on collages for eight years. Her interest in collage comes from a mindset of sustainability and having come from a frugal background. She says we should all be taking clothes in and letting them out as we used to. 


At the start of the demonstration, Danielle was part way through a picture of John Calvin, one of a series of portraits of puritans that she is working on as a commission. 


From an image on her iPad, Danielle works with 6 x 8 squares to transfer her image. The base is cardboard. She works from back to front. The background is pages from a hymn book and his clothing formed of a quirky use of designer clothing. 


Danielle showed us a portrait of Frieda Carlo Black and white stripes had been  used around the face to create movement. Lines of an article about her had been used in the background. 


A portrait of Twiggy was all about sewing  and used 1970s magazines. After a discussion about how faces don’t necessarily follow set rules about distance between eyes and mouth etc., we also saw a portrait of the Queen featuring stamps.


Danielle has favourite magazines to use. They tend to be high end rather than Sunday supplements. In the end a UV varnish is used that brings everything in line and takes away any gloss. Occasionally Danielle likes to leave some board showing through. This once caused an issue where a customer purchased a picture from a gallery and thought they had lost a piece! 


Watered down PVA glue is used to stick ripped pieces to the image. To lose the white edge, rip all the way round. Apparently your nails have to be just the right length! Danielle looks for pieces that will have the right shading or indicate things like wrinkles and sticks as she goes. She looks for similar tones across the face where she can use more of the same colour/tone. Danielle told us she often uses blue for flesh tones, either highlights or low lights. 


Danielle says it’s important to get rid of your preconceived ideas and instead concentrate on shapes that you can see. Often the pattern at the end of a Chesterfield armchair works well for a mouth! She likes using patterns and enjoys finding a place for what she finds pleasing.


Danielle was asked how she can be so decisive about what and where to stick things. She described it as teetering on the brink and then pulling it back. For this purpose she will use a more neutral colour. 


Asked what the most unusual thing was that she had used, Danielle said that she had used chicken nuggets encased in resin as trees in a portrait of Colonel Sanders. This was one of a series of ‘angry’ portraits that included pictures of dictators as children. 


We thoroughly enjoyed this demo with this approachable and humorous artist and we are hoping that Danielle will return to run some classes for us in the autumn. 

Meg Grant

Danielle Vaughan #1.jpg
At the end of the demonstration
D_V Finished Port.jpg
The finished picture
D_V Final Port.jpg
The finished framed picture

Danielle's "Time Lapse Intro'"
Click Here to view it

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