Home Magazine A Journey to the Exciting World of Paper. Tour Guide: Ken Prescott

Ken Prescott, born in 1938 in the province of Ontario, Canada, is an artist who has identified “collage” as his medium of choice. In fact, it would only be fair to say that he has mastered how to engineer pieces of paper, that come in a myriad of colors, patterns, and textures, to unlock the possibilities that collage offers. With the ways he transforms bits and pieces into compositions, the artist shows his viewers a glimpse of what could be. 

Related articles: An Introduction into the universe of Scottish artist Pamela Tait"Intimity" by Frederique TristantThe influence of Thora Jona's humour on her artworks.

When Ken Prescott entered the world of collage, he wasn’t aware that it would become his passion and livelihood. Around the early 1970s, he was in Africa where he went to travel and work. Without any proper art supplies in reach, he resorted to paper that he cut out from old magazines as well as materials that could be found in a hardware store. As he began cutting out colorful papers and layering them on a canvas, he realized that the palette of papers gave him much more joy and freedom than pigments on a palette could ever give.

Prescott graduated from the Danforth Technical School in Toronto and used to work as an advertising designer, art director, and freelance graphic designer in his earlier life. Meanwhile, he would travel throughout the Far East, Southeast Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa, and the South Pacific which have most certainly helped him in envisioning and creating his works.

Watching Ken Prescott's work in the making would most certainly be a captivating experience as he uses methods that are unfamiliar to many when assembling his works. From the way he applies paint to the tactile presentation of the subject, the artist breaks free of conventional painting methods. Sometimes he uses brushes to apply paint while some other times he can be found using even kitchen utensils. However, the pleasure of the art of collage isn’t only in the paint and the color for Prescott. As he says himself, "A quality I find intriguing about collage is its pentimento. This is the layering or underpinning of papers laid down before. The overlapping and building up of surface is what I call the bones or the skeleton of the work that shows through the flesh, or in this case, through the paper. It imparts a dimension found only in collage."

The way he utilizes the intricacies of paper can be explored while looking at his works. As a point of departure for this journey one of his landscape works, “Lake & Mountain Winter”, can be explored. One can see how a variety of textures and colors come together to form a serene scenery. Prescott usually begins with sketches that he does on a different piece of paper than his medium, although not abiding by it line by line. After working out his color palette and painting the sky, now comes the time to create a variety of effects. Sometimes it’s done by crinkling or blotting a paper while the paint is still wet, sometimes it stems from the material itself such as using a leaf to make a tree. In this work, the crinkles in the ranges of mountain and the striking texture of the moon can be noticed. On the other hand, the color palette comes together perfectly with the precise positioning of the cut-out shapes.

Ken Prescott, Lake & Mountain, 2022, Courtesy of Art Works Gallery

The next stop of the journey would be viewing his process of composing a “garden” which is immensely different than a landscape. As it can be seen in one of his works called “Red Garden”, the composition requires a great attention to detail to carve out the right shapes and colors while paying attention to the collage’s pentimento. Laid on a purple background, the vivid combination of reds and oranges and greens brings out a brilliant piece. The texture of the petals, leaves, and stalks of the flower are perfectly designed and brought together in a way that neither leaves room for any denial that a harmony was achieved nor lessens the effect of the layers on top of layers.

Ken Prescott, Red Garden, Courtesy of Art Works Gallery

Today, his works are exhibited in more than 100 elite corporate and private collections throughout Canada and the US. By now, he has been displaying his works for over 40 years whether it be solo or group exhibitions. 

Cover image: Ken Prescott, Mountain Landscape, Courtesy of Art Works Gallery

Written by Naz Akgun

Stay Tuned on Kooness Art Magazine for more exciting news from the art world.

In this Article