Joyce Elias is a mixed-media artist who has shifted her media and project focus throughout her career. 

Evanston artist Joyce Elias in her studio. Credit: Timothy Steinman

For instance, over the past eight years, she created her wide-ranging Artist’s Weather project. It is based on a nature photo she takes daily – no matter the weather or where she is located – and a color of the day she chooses. From this basis, she creates the project’s artworks.

For another project, Elias decorated and enhanced cigar boxes using collections of items, colors and patterns to create multimedia 3D collages. 

The Evanston artist develops her projects in her coach house studio on the alley behind her house. The studio is packed with her inventory of materials for her projects.

Each morning, Elias walks her two cherished dogs to the lake and back. The walk is an important part of her creative process, as she counts on seeing something new and useful each day. Then she usually settles into creating art around midday or early afternoon. 

The subject of this article is the process Elias is using for her current project: building collage images on watercolor paper using painted paper cut into shapes. Her materials and tools for the project are watercolor paper, paints, scissors, paint brushes, glues, and X-Acto knives.

Mixed media/cigar box. Credit: Joyce Elias

To start new works, Elias first thinks of colors. Maybe colors from her Artist Weather project or another color set she has been intrigued by recently. She then mixes eight to 10 different acrylic paint colors and stores these colors in yogurt containers with lids, which keeps the paint from drying out during the project. 

She paints the various acrylic colors on large, approximately 18-by-20-inch pieces of paper using one color per sheet. Some sheets show paint texture, others have visible brush strokes, and some are painted smooth. After the papers dry, Elias might pull some previously painted paper from her stock to add to the group, and then she sorts or pairs up the painted sheets based on effective color combinations. 

Mixed media/cigar box. Credit: Joyce Elias

Next, she starts cutting the painted sheets. The color might influence the shape she cuts. For instance, she might cut a color she calls “garden” into organic-esque shapes. As she cuts, Elias also begins to place each shape on one of two large white background watercolor paper sheets.

She continues cutting and placing somewhat like an artist using a brush, but it is the cut pieces of painted paper that create her image rather than brush strokes. Elias does not sketch out the shapes or their placement in advance. She lets the image evolve as she cuts, arranges and layers the pieces. Matisse called this “painting with scissors.”

Painted paper collage. Credit: Joyce Elias

Some images might be in the center with lots of white edges showing. Other images might stop at the edge, and others might go over the edge. Elias does not have any hard rules for herself when creating the composition. 

When Elias is confident of the placement and layering of a given piece, she glues it to the watercolor paper. When the images are fully developed, she allows time for the glue to dry, with each work weighted down with heavy books.

If she is working toward an upcoming show, she will store the new works. If not, she will photograph each and post them online. She belongs to an artist collaboration group which she utilizes to gain feedback on her new works. In Evanston, she has many artist friends who create a broad array of artistic products.

To learn more, visit, or on Instagram @krinklebein. Joyce is also an active member of Evanston Made and participates in open studio events and Shop Evanston Made.

Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham retired from the business world and is now enjoying the next phase, including writing about local artists to increase awareness of Evanston’s amazing art community.

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