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   “Me Visiting YOU!”

This portrait was done in response to Linda Halcomb’s challenge to do a self portrait. Thank-you Linda! If you would like to view the other artists’ self portraits that accepted this challenge click here and go to the comments section. Other artists, who participated, have left their links there.

I was intrigued with a post of Carol King’s on using Citra Solv to texture National Geographic photos to make  collage papers. I followed her directions and treated many photos from this magazine by brushing or spraying on the CitraSolv and then applying saran wrap to the surface and shutting the magazine on the photo and saran wrap. After about 20 to 30 minutes, I reopened the magazine, removed the saran wrap and gently removed the wet and treated photo from the magazine. I laid the pages out to dry on some newspaper.  I may have treated about 15 pictures per magazine this way. After that, it became a little messy to deal with. I found the pages needed to be removed immediately or they picked up ink from the facing page. Before beginning the above portrait, I prepared about 50 pages this way. I wanted a wide variety of colors to work with.

I drew a line drawing of my portrait on a piece of 140lb coldpress watercolor paper and began filling in my face and arms. I tried to select papers that were several different tones. I did not have many flesh tones so improvised and tried to describe the values. The tricky part was cutting the value tones in the shapes I needed. I would trace the shape from my drawing and then cut it out and use it as a pattern to cut my textured piece of paper. I used two thirds acrylic matte medium with one third water to make a glue and applied it to the papers with a brush.  I had read in Nita Leland’s book, Creative Collage Techniques, that this would leave a nice non-shiny surface to the work and protect the paper support from the possible acidity of the papers used.  Once I finished the collage and allowed it to dry, I brushed one layer of acrylic matte medium over the surface.  I learned that careful attention needs to be paid to the values of the papers you choose when creating something like this.  Another thing I learned is that collage takes patience!

September 22 news brief on the above post:  🙂

In talking with Melissa at Citra-Solv  I learned they were surprised I achieved much of a result with the spray form of the product. There is a concentrate that only takes about 10 minutes to work. I had to wait about 20 minutes using the spray. I think the concentrate is going to work better. I will let you know. There is art posted on their website and they have art competitions if you are interested, also!

Another blogger, Isabelle, is working on a self portrait with these papers made from Citra Solv! Good job, Isabelle!

Isabelle’s finished portrait here.


  1. Leslie this is gorgeous. Thanks so much for the thorough explanation. I really want to try this technique some time.

    • I put it off and put it off, Kirsty. I don’t know what I was afraid of. I guess the time it would take to create it, because it takes loads of time. I decided that I could always have one going in the background and place a few papers a day while working on other things. Thank-you so much for the comment!

  2. OMG, OMG, OMG! This is stunning. A huge BRAVA for your self portrait using the citra-solv technique.

    You are so creative! I bow to your creativity.

    • Had it not been for your post on CitraSolv, I would never have tried this! Thank-you for inspiring me through your workshop and your collages that you have posted from time-to-time. Thank-you!

  3. Oh WOW!!! How very creative of you! You jumped in there and got your hands sticky!! This is really wonderful, Leslie!!! How fun!!! 🙂

    • Hands sticky is right as well as ink stained! Forgot to mention that it was easy to peel the matte fixative off the fingers with warm water. Thank-you, Beth! 🙂

  4. Wow, that’s great!

    I love the texture and the color. I also admire (and envy!)the patience that technique must require.

    Very nice!

    • Thank-you, Steve! Oh how patient. It really, really takes that. I will say it becomes easier and more fun the furthur you get into it!

  5. Absolutely brilliant Leslie! I love it! pretty exciting collage! it must have taken a bit of time? I also like the excellent self portrait drawing too! Another great piece of work from you:)

    • Thank-you, Lynda. You were one of the inspirations, through your creative artists you post on your blog, that caused me to stretch and do something different. Thank-you for your continued art posts!

  6. I love this drawing. I hope I can be as good as you someday.

    • Thank-you, Noel! You know, you are, already. As you draw and draw, the images that you create will just reflect more that you “see”. Some of the great artists first works are treasured today. Never under estimate these wonderful lines and images that you are creating, now. I envy your beginnings in drawing. 🙂

  7. Hey Leslie, haven’t been here for a while, you have been busy! I really like this one. I’m glad to see this technique you were telling me about with magazines, it worked very well for you, nice job.

    • And I owe you a big thank-you for the donation of your National Geopgraphics for future work! This was so time consuming, but I will do more. Thank-you for visiting and dropping a comment. Appreciated for sure, Tracey!!!

  8. Oh, what a delightful way to do a self-portrait! Bravo. There is something about describing one’s self in terms of some of the best photography has to offer out of National Geographic that just so appeals to me! Great job, Leslie!

    • This is the second time this week you have me chuckling, Kate. 🙂 I never thought of that about the fantastic photos from National Geographic Magazine. Of course you would notice that right off! Thank-you so much!

  9. Great to look at the portraits. Love them. I posted mine to-day hope it was not to late.

    • Your portrait was not too late at all. And a wonderful portrait it is. Thank-you, Richard, for visiting and commenting.

  10. Incredible! Wish we had time to do this last summer 🙂 Definitely you have a gift at choosing the color and shape. Such an abstract and modern effect.

    • Hi Nancy,
      Oh, believe me, the color part was easy but finding the lights and darks in the colors so it would show up was soooo hard! I agree with you that it is rather modern looking. And thank-you for saying abstract! Have wanted to improve and venture into things abstract!

  11. Wow! You never stop surprising me! This is fantastically good. And clever! And original! And quirky! Thank you for explaining the technique!

    If you don’t mine, please explain the white mouse, I am very much intrigued by the symbolism of it.

    • Can you see me grinning, Alex? I was wondering when someone would ask me about that mouse. I was flipping through some Geographics and happened on the self portrait type you see on the side of the laptop. This mouse was in the same magazine. Mind you, I was exhausted from tieing this up after many an evening of glueing and looking at it and must have been a little punchy. He is, of course, the mouse that came with my lap top! He gets to hang out most of the time because I use the keypad. 🙂 I like animals so it is fitting a little white mouse came to visit. Thank-you for the comment, Alex!

  12. Wow Leslie! This is incredible. I had to check out this Citra Solv, as I’d never heard of it. It’s not something you get over here, except in a few specialised online stores. I did find the link on Carol’s page for the Citra Solv gallery and it’s incredible. I see so much potential in it. I’m in complete admiration of your willingness to try new things, and I completely agree, collage takes a LOT of patience. You did a fantastic job here. I love it! I’m going to order some of this product as soon as possible, as I can’t wait to try it.

    • I had to order the CitraSolv, also. They don’t have it in stores, here. Be forewarned that it is messy! I had to make up a whole batch of papers before I had enough colors and patterns to freely choose from so this was like make papers, let them dry and then make more papers! Thank-you for the comments, especially the one about my willingness to try new things.

  13. This is really stunning ! I hope you frame it !! I love the colors and the effect! You know, Leslie, I should just quit my job to have enough time to follow all your fabulous ideas !! 🙂

    • I may. I just may frame this one because of the uniqueness of it (for me, anyway). See? Your musings and playing with color and form have not gone unnoticed by me. I have always struggled with collage. You, Carol, Linda and others make it look so easy! It certainly isn’t. Thank-you, Isabelle! 🙂

  14. Wow, this is fabulous.. the technique seems to be tricky and tough for me, but you seemed to handle it with so much of ease.. love it very much Leslie!

  15. that’s an amazing process you’ve used Leslie. you’ve achieved incredible detail and yet made it feel simple (which it is not!) at the same time. cool.

    …and the mouse? bwahahahaha fun. it’s way cool to see your explorations like this. it’s a great self-portrait. outstanding.

    • 🙂 I just enjoy those bwahahas so much! I Thank-you for your comment about detail and, yet, looking simple. That is a huge compliment I’m grateful for.

  16. Crazy! This is Crazy Cool! I’m on the floor along side of Carol, bowing to your talent and creativity.

    • Ryan! Where were you on this one? Missed you! Thank-you for your generous words. Have you ever collaged in your art explorations? I could not believe how “in tune” to values the collage artist has to be. Your ability to manipulate values would fit this art form very well.

  17. Hi Leslie,
    We ran across your blog post – and wow; we were blown away! What an amazing collage you have created! We would love to share this with others on our Facebook if you don’t mind (it is too good to not show it off.) Please email us at and let us know if that is ok. Once again, this is truly wonderful, Melissa and the Citra Solv gang. PS. We have a new Art Contest starting tomorrow – you may want to enter it. You can find the details on our website.

    • Thank-you so much for taking interest in my collage, Melissa. I am honored that you include it on your Facebook! I will also add your link to the above post and share what I learned from you today about the spray that I used and the concentrate you recommend.

  18. WOW! Fantastic! This is amazing Leslie. I love the portrait – you seem so relaxed and natural. I’m also fascinated by the citra-solv technique. I am SO going to have to try that. Thanks!

    • Thank-you, Kathleen! Oh you will love this. If you read my post before the addition at the bottom, make sure you purchase the concentrated form of Citra-Solv. I learned it is easier to get the textures and effects with it. I will be making more papers and creating more collages with this.

  19. Oh no, was going to take this challenge.
    lol. i should have been paying more attention.
    Oh well.
    this is great.
    Very different to the style we usually see from you

    • I wondered about you not entering but just assumed you were so busy with your other creations that you couldn’t fit it in. Thank-you for the comment, Richard!

  20. Wonderful image Leslie! I had never heard of Citra-Solv before. I like what BigSurKate suggests that we are in part a reflection of what we read and see. I like that you experimented with an unfamiliar material.

    • Thank-you, Al. I hadn’t heard of Citra-Solv before Carol mentioned it on one of her posts after attending a workshop. This technique will find a home in my Watercolor Plus class this fall I think. It is a way to use a household product and re-use old National Geographics and I feel pretty good about that. Kate is perceptive, isn’t she?

  21. Leslie, This is an incredibly exciting and creative piece of art. Very unusual and really well done. I love blogging because I learn so much and always find something to inspire me!

    • Thanks to you for offering the challenge, Linda, as well as posting so much about collage that I finally took the plunge with Citra-Solv that Carol introduced us to. I am only sorry you had computer trouble.

  22. O Leslie, you look so pensive and relaxed in this self portrait. I’m trying to reconcile that with all your artistic energy and creating. It is a lovely piece.
    Like Tart aka Richard, I forgot about this challenge. So sorry my brainpan was adled regarding the 21st. Grins.

    • I should have thought to remind you about it. I’ll bet a self portrait by you would have been much more creative! 🙂 Thank-you for this comment, Eva. I usually am pretty relaxed. When not, I get a crinkle to the brow and a “real” scowl on the face. Oh. …and I begin forgetting things. I tried to make this look like what I must look like visiting all of you out there in blogland, the coffee cup never far from reach.

      • LOL–I like that–“the coffee cup never far from reach.” Nice line, Leslie. Oh I don’t know about being more creative with a self portrait. Ha. Maybe a tad ‘odd’ would be more like it. LOL.

  23. Amazing, Leslie! I was directed from Stephen Kellogg’s blog, no surprise, he thinks you are awesome 🙂
    I am by no means a critic of art(here paintings), but my 5 year old is super interested in drawings and paintings, so that is the extent of my knowledge. As a matter of fact, his first paint class was last Thursday evening.
    Good luck to you, you are a gifted painter!! On my blog roll now!

    • Thank-you, Rachana! Oh please don’t think you have to be an art critic to come here! I’d rather have viewers who just enjoy seeing images created by another. Encourage and support your son as drawing and painting is a wonderful way for him to express himself. Thanks for your wonderful comment and making your blog known to me!

      • First, thanks so much for dropping by my blog!! Your detailed comments made me feel special 🙂 Next, can we change the profile picture for your blog now, because so many of us like this one too much?? 😉 And I have been eavesdropping a little bit too, it seems to me, both your paintings and words are equally good.. good enough to steal all the writers’ thunder… He he.. Your mouse hanging out with you idea was hilarious, ha ha..

      • I really enjoy visiting your blog. You are very creative! Maybe it is time for a switch if I can figure out how I did that one so long ago. 🙂 Thank-you for your comment on my writing but so many others top me on that. I am not a writer, for sure. I am an avid reader. I was getting totally punchy by the time I decided on the mouse. Ha!

  24. This is really good, Leslie! I am impressed, it sounds like a lot of work and you pulled it off beautifully. Gotta go and look at the portrait challenge now
    See you soon

    • Thank-you, Frank! It did take forever but was rather interesting trying to build it. It felt like using my art skills to fit a puzzle of me together.

  25. This is super great well done, man your good! Great self portrait I like the style.

    • Thank-you, Alonso. I want to devote some time to trying to figure out how to create effective watercolor and collage with these papers.

  26. The more I look at this collage the more I am truly amazed at the final result it is just brilliant.

    • I have to tell you, Richard, I was as amazed that I could even do something like this. I had read about artists that have created portraits from torn or cut paper and been intrigued by it. I do want to find some way to effectively use this with watercolor, also. Thank-you for coming back to comment. You have made my day!

  27. You are so creative because you are an artist 🙂

  28. Leslie – this has to be one your best works – you have made the technique work and the portrait has such a nonchalant presence – well done.

    • Thank-you, Stephen! Collage is another “ballgame” altogether.

  29. You never fail to inspire me! I’m going to send this link to my daughter, she studied fashion and textiles at the Herriot Watt university in Edinburgh and she would love this! Very clever and creative.

  30. I just realized you have a MOUSE walking on your arm !! he he he 🙂

    • Ha! I found him in the National Geographic I was working with and had to include him as the mouse that came with my laptop that I never use. I always use the keypad. The mouse just hangs out! 🙂

  31. Wow..this is creativity at work, it’s amazing. I can’t imagine how much effort in putting the picture together. Really amazing art work. Bravo Leslie.

    • Hi Francis! Thank-you for this comment.Yes. This was hard, especially at the beginning. After I got the face and arms in, I was relieved enough to begin having fun putting all the rest of it together.

  32. A work of patience but the result is stunning. I never heard of that technique before.

    • I think this is a fairly new technique, Benedicte. Thank-you for the comment!

  33. So many comments, couldn’t read them all, so know this has been said before.THIS IS SPECTACULAR!!

    I went back and looked at Carol’s (also spectacular in its abstract way) and looked at YOUTUBE videos and yesterday went out and bought me some Citra-Solv. Have to use the issue of National Geo on stands..Universe. Am so excited to try it! Have to go and do a 5K walk today and if I don’t end up on IV fluids, I’ll try tomorrow!!

    You creative ladies are a gift to the ol’ girl!! Thank you.

  34. great result Leslie, you look very relaxed and dreamy. IN fact the background could be your imagined thoughts coming to being. My vivid imagination working overtime methinks..xPenx

    • You guessed it, Pen. That is what I think the background looks like, also. I tried to make it look that way because it is me visiting all my fellow bloggers. Thank you!

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. By Citrasolv Collage: Camouflage « Leslie White on 20 Apr 2011 at 10:22 am

    […] I have used these papers once previously to create a selfportrait, found here. […]

  2. […] I love working with papers made with Citrasolv.  Thank you to Carol King’s post of three years ago, found here, I was introduced to what Citrasolv, a natural cleaner and degreaser concentrate, can do to transform National Geographic photos into beautiful collage papers. My two previous posts on this are found here and here. […]

  3. […] and found this. He is a red-slider turtle. I have also done two collages, without paint,  here and here. When I use them this way, I call it drawing with paper.  I never set aside time to keep one of […]

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