Stained-glass that is made of paper

What if you have artwork with the brightness of stained-glass on an interior wall? And what if it could be made with lightweight paper instead of heavy glass? My monoprint collage Cosmos has the look of a modern stained-glass window, with blues and oranges that make me think of Marc Chagall.

Vertical monoprint collage globe transformation blues orange stained glass cyanotype vintage maps Elizabeth Busey 36 x 24 inch
Cosmos. Monoprint collage with cyanotypes and vintage maps, 36 x 24 in, $900 ($1,300 framed)

This collage was inspired by stained-glass.

To create Cosmos, I modified a huge 36 x 24  inch monoprint plate I had used for other collages. I took away half of the lines, allowing large pieces of my collage elements to be viewed. I limited myself to three tones of blue, plus some white and a hint of orange. The pattern is a global projection that is usually viewed horizontally, but I decided to place it vertically, as with most stained-glass windows.

Large-scale work needs careful planning

I used a tonal study and a full-sized cartoon to plan for Cosmos.

Planning for such a large work is different from smaller collages. What looks good at 24 x 18 inches might look uninteresting at 36 x 24 inches. And mistakes mean you sacrifice your favorite monotypes, cyanotypes or maps. You can see from the multiple layers of colored pencil that I changed my mind several times when planning Cosmos.

Getting everything bright

Getting a glow from paper takes some planning as well. Dark cyanotypes were often placed directly next to white maps in a method I usually don’t employ in my collages. In this case, I wanted to trick the eye into seeing brightness and contrast that you might see in a stained-glass window between the glass itself and the lead outlines.

I also have discovered a method of making all of my papers glow. I find that the oil-based inks I use render the printed papers slightly translucent — even the cyanotypes and maps. So after the ink has dried, I paint the back side of everything with a coat of titanium white acrylic paint. This allows for everything to be as vivid as possible, even if I am putting it against a dark blue background. My own version of sunshine.

Love stained-glass windows?

Do you love stained-glass windows? Check out this article from Architectural Digest: The World’s Most Breathtaking Stained-Glass Windows. 

Where did you see your most memorable stained-glass windows?

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