February 19, 2013
Thursday, Feb 14 was Valentines Day. I hope everyone was able to share the love.
I was in NYC that day walking on Fifth and Madison Avenues from Grand Central Terminal to 34th Street. All the shops, department stores, and restaurants had red heart-shaped helium-filled balloons and red flowers in tubs in their windows or just outside on a sidewalk table.
People were walking hand in hand. Some were carrying flower bouquets to take to the office or home. I saw a little boy holding flowers wrapped in clear plastic. He held the flowers in one hand and held his father’s hand in another. I imagine he was bringing flowers home to his mother.
NYC was one big Valentine.
The image below is one of four collages I am sharing in this blog. All four images are titled Barneys because the collages exist in a Barneys New York shoe and boot catalog.
I received the catalog in the mail, and thought it was a perfect way to recycle consumer media with collage. The catalog is still a work in progress. I sometimes show the catalog to my students when I discuss how important it is to recycle postcards, catalogs, books and junk mail. It’s so easy to add images to existing backgrounds. And the paper is free.
Being in NYC on Valentines Day made me think about sharing the love, and that made me think about important blog advice from a great source – Alyson B. Stanfield and her Art Biz Blog. She offers great tips on marketing (and more).
I’m an expert at collage and want to share my ideas about the art of collage. In 2009 I started to write my blog. I was a newbie at blogs.
The 1st lesson was titled Who I am Writing For. I wrote about a friend (Sylvia) who loves design and creates jewelry. Sylvia says I should include more personal content. If you want to read the blog, here’s a link to that post…
The 6th lesson was titled “Cure Yourself of Blog Envy” and asked us to find blogs that inspire us – in my case – artist’s blogs where the content and images are presented beautifully.
I included a link to Gwyneth’s Full Brew. The artist writes “… I am documenting the intersection of art-making and art-seeing, daily life in New York City and…my drawing surface of choice since 2007 is the cardboard coffee cup.” Gwyneth Leech has had incredible exhibition success with her up-cycled coffee cup installations. She also takes wonderful photos of NYC and documents great places for a cup of tea or coffee.
At Blog Triage, I learned the best blogging serves your reader and includes links to useful information. The course included 20 assignments. Assignment #10 was titled “Show Some Link Love” – about including good links.
I always remind myself to share the links and share the love.
The image below is another one of four collages titled Barneys pasted inside the catalog. One page is about night and the other page is about day. The red lips are a huge kisser.
Sending comments is another way to share the love.
I got email recently (Feb 10, 2013) from Douglas Beaudry. He has a blog titled The Bearing Edge and designs and sells skate-influenced custom jewelry (wrist cuffs made with leather fashioned with recycled derby and skateboard bearings) – really cool.
He commented on an old blog that I posted November 30, 2010 in which I asked and answered a question.
Question: How Are the Best Blogs Like a Great Collage?
Answer: The best blogs are good looking, engaging, multi-media, explore new ideas, and like the best art, invite you to share the experience!
That’s my concept for really good collage. Collage is layered.
Douglas Beaudry commented: What a great blog post and certainly served to clear my brain a little bit.
I thanked him for the compliment. I don’t know how my post cleared his brain.
I re-read the blog How Are The Best Blogs…. Basically – it included a lot of links and was all about sharing links.
The original blog included a link to the artist Robert Rauschenberg who had an exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in NYC. I included a link to a Nov 26, 2010 NY Times Holland Cotter review of the exhibition. Both links are repeated here. The Gagosian Gallery link connects to works by Rauschenberg. The NY Times link is so well written it is still valuable to read. Robert Rauschenberg is one of the most important artists of the 20th century. He has influenced so many artists who followed.
The Barneys 4 collage seen below is in black and white and in color over a background that turned from amber yellow to bronze. I used magazine images that were printed in color and black and white. The models are a mix and match of men and women. I wanted the focus on the eyes. They are looking at me and you.
If you think you want to update or improve your blog (or want to start to blog), I recommend the self-study Blog Triage workshop. Check it out… There are so many ways to do a blog, depending on the audience you are writing for.
Following are comments about the media I use.
My substrate (background for the collage) in these 4 works was a high fashion Barneys New York catalog I got in the mail. I wish I could get more. I only got one.
I added text and line drawings because I love words, letters and graphic patterns and love to mix drawing, pencil, ink and printed media.
I thought about how to marry the old image with the new image and how the content changed with the overlays.
I thought about how the 2 pages had to work together and how all the pages had to work as you leafed through the catalog.
Collage is about juxtaposition.
I love juxtaposing images and making it into a commentary on our consumer culture. I wanted the images to become edgy.
Thanks for reading and thanks for your comments. If you have questions about collage, you can email me.
January 24, 2013
Next week I will teach a workshop in paper collage at Iona Collage in New Rochelle, NY.
I will be a substitute for their regular teacher, and I want the class project to be fun, quick and easy to do – and engage them in making a collage right there.
I will provide each student with a 6 x 9 inch exhibition postcard for them to work on.
They will use magazines for source media, and work with scissors and glue sticks to cut and paste papers. I will show sample postcards with collage that I prepare for them.
I will talk about the history of collage (and will not talk too much) while they are working on their project.
Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque are credited with the invention of modern collage (1912-1914). The English word collage comes from the French words papiers colle (glued paper), a term coined by the Cubists. People who paste paper may also paste photos, fabric and 3D materials like wood, plastic, metal etc.
Many books on contemporary art describe COLLAGE as a medium of surface planes that explore sub-surfaces. Many books also discuss collage as a medium that comments on waste and rampant consumer consumption. A lot of collage is about politics and identity. It’s always about narrative and media.
Basically, I want to say that there is so much potential collage media out there to recycle into art. I think the idea of recycling and consumer consumption will appeal to this age demographic.
How about creating cards with collage?
I think we all have too much paper in our lives. But, I also think every piece of junk mail is a potential substrate (base) for collage, or can serve as paper to cut and paste onto something else.
Do you get postcard announcements for consumer goods in the mail? Do you get glossy multi-page home goods and fashion catalogs in the mail? It’s all potential collage media.
In my collage classes, I talk about 3Rs – reuse, repurpose and recycle.
What about the holiday cards you received this year? Don’t throw them out. Recycle the castaways and use collage to create your own work of art. Cover the base with a little collage or cover it with a lot (but leave a little of the original card peeking through) to show the juxtaposition of the old with the new media.
Free Paper Bonanza
Last year I was gallery hopping in Chelsea (NYC). It was the closing day for the exhibition at one gallery, and I noticed a pile of really good, heavy weight exhibition announcement cards sitting on top of the counter where the gallery people sit. The cards were an elegant graphic (text) printed on lovely white stock.
As soon as I found out it was the last day for the exhibition, I asked if I could have the cards. They said yes.
Theme and Variation
I like the idea of theme and variation. I start with the same base image. It can be an exhibition postcard (from my exhibitions) or a greeting card I’ve reproduced from my collage paintings.
Do you make your own cards? Do you reproduce your images into cards? Use the cards as a base for multiple collages. The new little collages can become the inspiration for new large works.
All the images included in this post are my tiny collages made with magazine papers on top of my printed 2013 New Years card. The card is a reproduction of a large painted paper collage I did last year. The card is small, about 4×6 inches. I added up to 10 collage pieces (very tiny pieces) per card. The imagery on the original was very geometric, so I planned to use rounded shapes and circular lines as a counter-balance to the straight edges. I did about 20 collage on cards and sent the cards to people who send me hand-made cards.
I found a very interesting interview online titled “What’s New With Collage?” by Hrag Vartanian who interviewed Charles Wilkin at Hyperallergic.com (Oct. 25, 2011)
Wilkin curated an exhibition in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (NY) titled All That Remains, at the Picture Farm Gallery.
Vartanian asked: “What do you think is unique about collage today, if anything?”
Wilkin said: “One of the exciting things about collage is its primary use of discarded paper media which ultimately keeps it in motion, constantly changing like a chameleon. A quick look at the diversity of styles, concepts and technique found in contemporary collage proves it’s moved well beyond simply cut paper and glue.
He added: “I suspect many artists find it alluring for not only its immediacy but its unique and inherent nature to reinvent the familiar into something mysteriously new.”
Thanks for reading. Please let me know how you recycle papers into art with collage.
January 17, 2013
Making art is a habit you cultivate. It’s a good habit and very important for artists.
But you need a proper space that’s dedicated and a place that makes you feel inclined to work.
I’ve had studios in my home and outside my home. Sometimes it’s more convenient to work from your home. Sometimes it’s better to separate yourself from home and work in a space dedicated to just making art.
My current studio is a dedicated space with worktables, sink, bookshelves, storage cabinets, my easel, printing press and flat files in one room with overhead fluorescent lights, and an east-facing window. I’ve been in the studio, located in New Rochelle, NY at Media Loft for 5 years and I’ve improved my studio space over the years. Media Loft is a great space for artists. We organize open studio events and have a first floor lobby gallery.
The image above is my worktable covered with papers, paints and tools. When I’m working it gets messy.
Notice the paint jars in the center of the table. I bought the jars in a retail stores that sells everything you need for storage. I needed to store paints that I custom mixed. Notice the painted canvas sitting in front. It was a clean piece of canvas and I’m using it as a blotter for excess paint from my palette knife. I swipe the paint onto the canvas and I think this work surface will become a collage element in a future work.
My table gets cluttered with painted papers as I work, and then I clean it up and organize the materials to make room to continue or start over on a new project. When people visit for open studio events, the space gets cleaned up totally, and people think I work that way. You can see that I don’t.
See the painting and collages on the wall behind the worktable. I just had a hanging art system installed in the studio and hung my art as if my studio is a gallery. It looks good when people visit. I also want to look at the painting and collages on the walls. The hanging art is there to inspire me to continue to work on the Metro Series. I am exploring color and want to see the colors I’ve used in front of me. The Metro Series is about geometry. It’s constructed abstraction. Geometry is my reality.
Every artist needs a dedicated space – no matter how small.
It’s easy to get to work when you have a dedicated space where ongoing projects can be left in progress. It means you can leave at the end of the day and return the next day and everything is set out ready for work as soon as you arrive.
But, many artists work in improvised spaces. They make the space work for them.
In a recent class I teach at the Pelham Art Center, a gifted student who’s an artist brought up the subject of her studio space problem.
She is trying to decide the best place to work. She can set up a workspace in her home basement or in her kitchen. The basement is bigger, but is also a shared space for family and TV.
The kitchen would be a happier place – she said it felt right even though it was the kitchen.
I asked if she could find a way to store all her art materials, glue and collage tools in the kitchen.
I don’t know whether the kitchen is vintage or modern, but, no matter what the style, there are new or vintage pieces that could be used for storage (or maybe there is a piece of furniture somewhere in the house that could move into the kitchen).
I found the above image online. I asked for images of antique wood flat file cabinets. I got a huge number of images, including old metal flat files (probably less expensive than new).
Similar pieces can be found at ebay or etsy.com or go scout at a neighborhood antique shop, a tag sale or country auction. Maybe you already own something like this. It’s a beautiful piece to store your beautiful papers.
The image above is suitable for an office or contemporary styled room. It’s readily available if you look for metal storage files or boxes.
If there isn’t floor space, is there a place to set a portable writing desk or stack storage boxes on top?
The image above appeals to me. It’s vintage and could hold postcards and small booklets for projects in progress. I would leave it on top of a cabinet or counter in the kitchen as a constant reminder of your creative time.
I’ve seen portable desks (writing desks) with storage compartments. Everything is tucked away and safe.
The image above shows 2 storage boxes to store collage papers, scissors, pencils, pens, etc. The boxes come in so many sizes and range in prices and are available online and in retail stores. They look fine stacked and could be stashed in a cupboard, on top of a cabinet or counter. I would keep glue in an upright position inside a cabinet.
Taking Out and Putting Back Can be a Good Thing
There’s a benefit to taking out materials every time you begin to work on a project because you handle all the media and see things anew. When you return the materials to the storage container, you organize again, preparing for the next time you will work. You can write notes on what your next steps will be so you are ready to begin when you return.
I suggested to my student that she could organize her materials (papers) and place them into extra-large plastic zipper bags, sorted by project. Depending on how the kitchen is organized, the bags could be placed in a kitchen drawer, or into a freestanding stack of drawers on wheels, or into a crate.
I have stored papers in plastic page separators organized into 3-ring binders. I sorted the papers by color, texture, pattern and image. I place the binders on a shelf with art books (for reference) next to my stack of magazines that are a resource for more collage papers. My favorite magazines are ArtForum and Art News.
Check out ebay or etsy.com (storage and organization) for vintage storage pieces if that’s your taste. Or go online and locate sources for new types of storage – boxes, containers, flat files, storage drawers, etc.
It seems like everyone is into storage solutions today.
What solutions have you created? Please share how you’ve organized your personal art project space. Thanks for sharing.
January 11, 2013
I subscribe to Alyson B Stanfield’s artbizblog.
The December 19, 2012 post at Art Biz Blog, titled Year End Review opens with:
You probably did more in 2012 that you are giving yourself credit for.
I immediately followed Stanfield’s suggestion to take time and outline my own accomplishments for the year 2012.
It was a wonderful exercise, both supportive (I got to see that I accomplished goals I set) and encouraging (I got to put in writing my goals for 2013).
Categories in the year-end review include:
How did you promote your art and what did you do to enhance your online presence? (Marketing Triumphs)
How did you strategize and track your growth, what books did you read to help your career, what grants/honors/awards did you receive (Business Growth)
Creative Challenges (how did you improve your studio habits)
Getting to see contemporary art in a setting like Art Basel Miami Beach makes me happy. I was there for 5 days December 4-8, 2012.
It’s an incredible experience, because the art you see ranges from museum quality blue chip art – to independent fine art dealer’s inventory from every country – to experimental and funky art that surely expands our understanding of what contemporary art is and can be. You get to see it all at Art Basel Miami. It’s an opportunity to meet and network with artists, gallery people (who were very friendly and accessible), and collectors. I attended programs, openings and free events. It was non-stop.
In the image above, I am standing in front of what I call a dimensional collage. The image was taken at one of the large art fairs. The image is courtesy of Mary Hunter (my artist friend who met me in Miami, FL for 5 days to see all the shows). I will write about the fairs, the program Conversations (with artist Richard Tuttle in dialog with Chris Dercon, Director of Tate Modern, London), and a visit to the Rubell Family Collection in upcoming blogs.
The final category in the Year End Review at Art Biz Blog was:
What was the single best thing that happened to your art career in 2012?
I will write about that in an upcoming blog. Hint: it was a huge undertaking and it was worth it.
I recommend you do your own Year-End Review at the Art Biz blog site.
Here’s a link to a pdf with more career advice especially for artists that includes:
Fail-Proof Business Advice from 10 Years of Art Biz Coach
Top 10 Marketing Advice from 10 Years of Art Biz Coach
I include the final 5 here because they are so important. I think you will agree.
(5) Start blogging: Write regularly and consistently. My goal in 2013 is to write blogs about collage that will become content for a book. Alyson Stanfield recommends artists blog about their art to establish their credentials as an expert. That sounds good to me (no matter what the subject) – because it helps you understand your subject in a deeper way, and the blog provides a place for dialogue with your fans, and makes you more search-engine friendly.
(4) Find ways to get your work out there. It’s critical for you to exhibit your art.
(3) Find ways to communicate about your art. Words can connect your art to more art viewers.
(2) Your contact list is your most valuable asset (keep it current and active).
(1) Get into the studio and make art!
I have a copy of Stanfield’s book I’d rather be in the studio. It’s an excellent book that is perfectly titled for the dilemma studio artists face – because we are always juggling studio time (what we want to do and where we want to be) with the need to devote time to being out of the studio (marketing, seeing art at museums and openings, networking, writing, updating career and contact information, etc.).
New Goal: In 2013, I plan to send out my newsletter Notes from the Studio more regularly. Its focus will change and be more about what I do in the studio (maybe show works in progress), about juggling time, marketing triumphs, and improving social media skills. I will always include links to my blog Art of Collage because my studio practice is collage and I teach collage classes and workshops. They are always related. My studio practice keeps my life centered. I teach collage because my purpose is to help people enrich their lives with art (and through making art). I hope you will sign up to receive the news.
Thank you for reading this post. Let me know how you did in 2012.
December 21, 2012
I planned to post a blog about my 5-day trip to Art Basel Miami Beach (Dec. 5-9, 2012). It was an amazing opportunity to see contemporary art.
I couldn’t write about the wonderful art in Miami, because I am upset about the tragic events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT last week.
Because blogs need to be posted regularly, I found another way to get past my writer’s block – by going to my studio and making a sample collage for a workshop I will lead in April at the Newark Museum. It was something to do, and after I did it, I knew I could write about it.
Making art makes me feel happy (happier).
Stargazing, Collage and You
I painted papers and collected magazine papers in bright colors and geometric patterns for the sample collage. I wanted to create a palette of painted papers in green-blacks, reds, and red-blacks and coordinated magazine paper in red and black stripes.
The Newark Museum workshop is titled Stargazing, Collage and You. It’s scheduled for Saturday, April 27, 2013 from 10-4, and is offered in conjunction with the Museum exhibition African Cosmos: Stellar Arts (February 27-August 11, 2013).
The African Cosmos exhibition is currently at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Arts in Washington DC and will travel to the Newark Museum.
See the Smithsonian website for images and wonderful text about the exhibition.
The website introductory page shows an image of a painting by the artist Gavin Jantjes (b. 1948, South Africa). It’s acrylic on canvas and was purchased by the Museum with funds provided by the Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program (see image below, image courtesy: the Smithsonian National Museum of African Arts).
The artist rendered dancing figures in a style similar to ancient rock paintings from southern Africa.
The Smithsonian website includes many images, including the image below – the stars of the Pleiades cluster, also know as the Seven Sisters (seen from the Cassini spacecraft. Image: NASA). Only a few of the stars seen here are visible to the naked eye on earth.
The Smithsonian website also includes links to information about celestial deities in the time of the Pharaohs, cosmic models, celestial guidance, and more. You will also see African sculpture.
Sample Images: Pieces for a Collage
The image below is a sample collage I prepared with magazine and painted papers, titled Dancing With the Stars. The papers are glued onto 14×11 inch Bristol paper (the substrate).
Following are sample collage papers.
I plan to demonstrate different ways to organize, paint and embellish papers at the workshop. We will use ordinary materials that are inexpensive and easy to find. The image below is green construction paper painted with a mix of green and black acrylic paint applied with a palette knife.
I will bring additional samples to the workshop and demonstrate the process so that participants can create their own palette of papers for collage. Notice the texture in the painted papers, and makes the final collage much more interesting. We save a lot of money when we create our own papers. We also make our work more personal.
On the red image below, I made scribbled marks with 3 crayons (held together in my hand) on plain red construction paper and painted over the scribbles with acrylic. It’s a crayon resist process.
The image below is red construction paper painted with red acrylic paint and overpainted with a second coat of black acrylic paint that was scratched into while the black paint was still wet.
I will encourage people to bring their own magazines to the workshop, especially if they want to use specific imagery in their collage. I will discuss how to play with images, textures and patterns. Collage is about juxtaposition. Many times, people don’t see the potential of images until the images are cropped. I will demonstrate how to cut, tear and assemble the papers into new images.
I think the photo of food (below) came from Real Simple magazine. I’ve included it here to demonstrate that all images have possibilities.
The image below includes small pieces from several different magazines, including ArtForum and W. I planned to combine the triangles into points on a star to collage into the background. The funny face is assembled with about 5 pieces of paper and is only 2 inches high. It was going to be the head of the figure stargazing at the Pleiades Constellation.
The magazine images below are backgrounds papers cut form fashion photos from W magazine. I wanted stripes in reds and blacks. The fashion magazines now show a lot of geometric patterns.
The striped papers became the body, arms and legs of the figure in the collage. The black paper on the bottom of the image (above) was cut up into the small stars for the constellation.
In addition, I drew 5-pointed stars freehand and cut them out, cut out a crescent moon, and glued them around the figure onto the collage. It was a challenge to glue down the tiny white stars.
I planned the collage in advance and did 2 simple drawings to determine the size and shape of the figure, the placement and direction of the of the arms and legs. I wanted to know in advance how tall the figure would be in relation to the background paper, and the size of the sky in relation to the size of the figure. See the drawing above.
I planned to make the background in two sections and cut a piece of magazine paper for the top portion. It’s a section of an abstract painting reproduced in ArtForum magazine. The bottom section is painted paper. I created the figure from painted and magazine papers cut into circles, triangles and angled rectangles. The figure was placed in sections (arms first) and glued on top of the background papers. After the figure was in place, I added a crescent moon and 5 pointed stars onto the background around the figure. The tiny cutout shapes that became the Pleiades constellation were added last.
See the finished sample collage above.
I hope you check out and are inspired by the images at the National Museum of African Arts website or see the exhibition at the Newark Museum in NJ. It will be amazing. If you want to take this workshop, please contact the Newark Museum
December 5, 2012
What can you do with Collage?
Two weeks ago at the Pelham Art Center, I talked about collage projects during the fall term. Many of the projects included recycling and repurposing papers. The class is titled Embellish An Image – Play With Collage.
Almost every class project I teach involves working with paper. We also work with found media and fabric. Everyone likes the idea of recycling junk mail, catalogs, magazines and cards. We say – don’t throw anything out because you can find a way to use it.
I stress 3Rs: Recycle, Renew, Repurpose.
If you doodle, do drawings, paintings, or prints, you can use the drawing, painting or print in your collage, either as the base for the collage (it’s the substrate) or as collage papers on top. It’s easy to start a collage when you build on top of something else.
The image below is my collage with pen and ink drawing in a series titled Strata. It’s on 8×8 inch paper. I made 16 different drawings and added collage to each one. I showed the images to my class and explained that strata is about horizontal layers. In this case the layers are a drawing and papers on top.
I like to combine drawing with collage and I encourage students to add drawing.
A hand-drawn element makes the collage personal. Anyone can do drawing. Doodling is drawing. If you think you can’t draw, try tracing. Gather images and papers you like as inspiration. Do a copy of the image. You can start with a tracing on vellum paper. Draw with pencil, pen and ink, crayon and pastel onto small pieces of paper. Add your drawing to your collage..
Explore Theme and Variation
If you create your own greeting cards, you can use the cards as a base for a collage series.
If you don’t want to cut up the originals cards, take a digital photo or photocopy them if they are small. Make multiples and use the copies for collage media.
If you create a wonderful collage, don’t cut it up. Make multiple copies and use the copies as a base for more collage or as collage media.
Possibilities with Painted Papers
We used wallpaper from a donated book in a recent project. The paper was oversized, strong, and free. Some of the wallpaper was patterned and textured.
Each person painted a page with blue and green acrylic and created a background for a landscape collage that included an island surrounded by water and sky. Each person worked with a palette knife and used 2 greens, and mixed blue and white. The painted wallpaper became the substrate (the bottom layer). Some students added gloss acrylic medium to the paint. It made the paint more transparent and gave the colors depth in layers. After the painted wallpaper substrate was dry, students added various collage papers.
The image below is by Marlene Furtick. She added magazine papers and papers she painted in a previous class.
Many collage artists use heavyweight watercolor paper or museum board as a substrate. It’s expensive. Sometimes the paper warps or buckles because of the water in glue or in paint. Wallpaper is a good substrate because it is typically coated and will not absorb water and will not warp or buckle.
Everyone Loves Painting Papers for Collage
Painting papers is a way to create collage media. You can paint on magazine pages, scrap paper, fabric, newspaper and wallpaper You can photocopy or scan and print the painted papers and create multiples. You can also use the original painted papers as a substrate. I always encourage students to create a painted substrate. It’s a great way to begin a collage.
For another class project, we worked with medium weight scrap paper that was plain white, and painted it with gouache (opaque watercolor). Students used a 1 inch wide soft straight-edge (bright) brush and worked with diluted paint applied as a single color. Students painted more than one color on separate papers.
The image below is by Joyce Dutka, and shows the worktable and oil pastels nearby.
The papers are painted with gouache.
I encouraged Joyce to add drawing to her collage papers because doodles and drawing give the work more personality. It also added color, pattern and texture
Joyce cut her papers into shapes and embellished the papers with oil pastels. The project was inspired by the artist Henri Matisse, who worked in collage at the end of his career. Matisse called his collages paper cutouts.
We used fabric for collage in a recent class. The fabric was donated. Students cut up the fabric and glued it down onto canvas I supplied. We worked with carpenter’s wood glue because it is heavier than white PVA glue.
Carol Frank created the image below. It’s upholstery fabric and paper on natural unprimed canvas. The project is called Strata. Carol placed the horizontal strips so some edges were under and some edges were over others.
Here are more ideas for collage projects:
Explore black and white and red. Find magazine images and newspaper text. Play with shapes and line. Cut words into strips. Turn them upside down and on edge.
Find a large magazine image you like and glue it down on Bristol or another heavy paper. Select an image that is big enough to cover the paper substrate. Add collage elements all over to create something that looks new and different.
Explore a grid design. Cut up 6, 9 or 16 small blocks of medium weight paper. The blocks can be 2×2, 3×3 or 4×4 inches. Add drawing or collage to each block. Organize and glue the blocks on a heavy Bristol or watercolor substrate. When you rotate the blocks as you place them, you get different patterns.
Play with layers. Work with thin paper over thicker papers. Let the edges peep through. Cut and open out top layers to reveal layers beneath.
Cut out text from books and magazines. Draw or write on cut papers. Glue Japanese washi papers on top to reveal line and text underneath.
Play with colors and tone. Work with a selected palette of collage papers that you create, collect or purchase. Choose colors that show contrast in color saturation (pale to bright) and in value (dark to light).
Play with edges. Cut and tear collage papers. Overlayer so edges peek through. Cut papers into curved shapes. Glue papers to create rhythm and pattern.
Explore examples of art by artists you admire. Copy (interpret) a painting, but do it in collage.
Interpret the style of 2 artists. Do a collage that includes elements of both.
I will teach 10 classes on Monday evenings (7-9) at Pelham, starting in January 2013. Contact me if you want to join the class.
Thank you for your comments. Please take the survey nearby and tell me what you like.
November 15, 2012
I love to use text as a main element in collage. The text are lines and then I add drawing.
I find text in art magazine and also in books. I don’t like to tear pages from books, but don’t mind pulling pages from magazines. The magazines are a great resource for collage papers, and some art magazines have a lot of pages.
When I find text with a large typeface, I cut the text horizontally so the letters are split into long strips, and the words are not easy to read.
Recently the class I teach at the Pelham Art Center asked to explore using magazine pages with text for collage.
I brought the image (seen below) to the class. It’s a small collage. The horizontal strips are all split and layered magazine text.
The images below are 2 of my pen and ink drawings with collage from the Strata Series. See all 16 images in the series…
The Strata series is about layering, with a reference to landscape, and a little bit of play.
NOTES ON THE CLASS PROJECT
I suggested the class cut and tear the text into thin horizontal strips. Cutting would create hard edges. Tearing would create soft edges. I suggested they organize the papers into visually compatible groups in related colors. I suggested that some strips should touch or overlap.
I shared beautiful black, silver and white printed paper with wavy lines, and showed them how to create a soft, torn edge by using a brush dipped in water that made it easy to tear the paper. The reverse side of the hand-made paper is a beautiful dense black.
I shared pages of printed text and gave them copies of magazines to look for more text.
The images below are by the class members. It was a challenging project and I think everyone was pleased with the collages they created in one evening class session.
Do you think the collages look like landscape strata? Do you like the text they selected? Are you inspired t0 make collage with text?
November 8, 2012
How do you start a collage? It’s a question I’m asked a lot.
I say I like to create the background first. I also like to paint papers for collage.
The image below is by Bearden, titled Purple Eden (1987) 10.5×13 inches.
I wrote about Bearden and the workshop in a post titled Caribbean Fantasy Island Collage.
Materials for Painted Paper Collage
I brought paints, palette knives, and papers to the Pelham Art Center for the class to create a collage background (substrate). The papers were torn from a donated wallpaper book, and were perfect because they were sturdy, large, and FREE. The wallpaper had a pebbly surface that added a nice texture.
I demonstrated how to work with the palette knife. The acrylic paint was not mixed. It was right out of the tube. I showed them how handle the palette knife and apply the paint in varying thicknesses, to scrape paint into thinner layers, and overpaint layers to achieve depth.
We spent one class painting the background paper and painted additional papers for trees, plants, leaves and clouds. We created the media for the collage that would be assembled the following week.
The image below is my sample painted background.
The plan was to create an image of an island surrounded by water with a light blue sky above.
To start, I painted the entire paper with yellow green acrylic paint and let it dry. I painted a 2nd layer with blue acrylic directly over the green and created the shape of water surrounding the island. I scraped some of the paint thin to let the green underlayer show through. I mixed white acrylic paint with a tiny amount of blue and painted the horizon line above the island for the sky.
Everybody in the class did their own variation of the island, surrounding water, and sky. They took the painted papers home to dry. I asked them to collect and bring in magazine papers to add to their collage the following week.
The images below are the finished collages. Each one is unique. Each is 16 x 20 inches.
Carol added birds and fish and painted paper waves in the water. I said her palm trees were windswept.
Joyce added a mysterious, magical forest within her island landscape, plus many birds and critters she brought to class.
Sheila always does totally abstract collage and creates art books. For her project (seen above), I persuaded her to make her work more like a forest landscape with a hint of trees. The papers extend beyond the rectangle of the painted paper. I took the image on a brown masonite board.
The images below are by Marlene and Lorraine Furtick.
All the color variations in the painted papers were created by layering paint and scraping into underlayers.
I think the works are truly amazing, especially since the projects were completed in 2 class sessions and a total of 4 hours.
Does the idea of creating your own collage media inspire you? Romare Bearden painted collage papers with watercolor and called his works collage paintings. Henri Matisse had studio assistants paint his collage papere with gouache. I paint a palette of papers for each collage. You can too.
Please send me your comments.
October 25, 2012
I like to create my own media for collage with watercolor, gouache and acrylic paint. Painting allows me to create multiple sheets of paper in the colors, patterns and texture I want for each collage.
I apply paint to recycled magazine papers and other paper media. I like to work in mixed media collage, and include hand-made papers, decorative papers, my own drawings and prints to the painted papers, and often paint papers to match colors of other papers.
See my online tutorial on painting papers.
I told the class that two of my favorite collage artists – Romare Bearden and Henri Matisse – worked with painted papers. Bearden painted his own papers, typically in watercolor. Matisse had studio assistants paint his papers for him in gouache.
The image above is acrylic paint on drawing paper, done by one student in the Pelham collage class.
We worked with a plastic palette knife. Almost every student I meet has no experience or almost no experience painting with a palette knife. I tell them it’s so easy to get really good results with this technique.
It’s a simple technique
The image above is a selection of 9 papers done with palette knife and acrylic paints by one student in the Pelham collage class.
I did a simple class demonstration, showed them how to set up their palette of paint colors on a disposable paper plate (plastic coated), and very quickly the students started to paint with the palette knife to make their own painted papers. They created an amazing variety of colors, designs and textures.
I showed them how to apply paint over a film of acrylic medium I applied to white drawing paper. After that, I showed them how to apply acrylic paint directly with the palette knife onto magazine pages.
I like to paint on magazine papers – to recycle pages from art magazines like Artforum, and fashion magazines like W because the pages in those magazines are heavier than typical magazines. I don’t recommend using news magazines for painting papers, because the paper is thin and curls when you apply paint or glue, and is difficult to work with in collage.
How to work with acrylic paint:
Use any good brand of acrylic paint. The better brands are usually more expensive because they include more paint pigment. The colors are richer and the coverage is better. I recommend students work with gloss or satin acrylic medium to make the paint thinner. I tell students not to use water to thin the paint.
I often buy art supplies online from Jerry’s Artarama and NY Central Art Supply.
When I am in NYC, I stop by NY Central Artists Supply at 62 Third Avenue. Their paper department is incredible and they ship everywhere.
Dick Blick is another good resource for acrylic, gouache and other art supplies.
Tools for the Workshop
In the class demo, I tell students to squeeze out dots or small ½ inch strips of acrylic from the paint tube onto a plastic coated disposable paper plate, and leave some space in the center of the plate so colors can be mixed.
The image above shows a plastic and a metal palette knife, a 1 inch soft paint brush, a paper cup, tubes of gouache paint, a single tube of acrylic paint and the book titled Jazz (about the artist Henri Matisse).
When I paint papers with acrylic, I typically lay the colors down on a disposable paper palette and mix one color at a time. When I paint papers with gouache, I typically mix the paint with water in a small cup so it’s diluted to the proper consistency. For the class, I wanted everyone to be excited by the possibilities of working with different colors and with mixing colors as they painted.
I also mix colors directly on the paper. First, I squeeze acrylic gloss or satin medium from the container directly onto the paper and brush it across, then squeeze dots of acrylic paint out of the tube directly over the medium and move it around with the palette knife to create stripes, patterns and transparencies.
The swirly painted image above is by a student who tried that technique. She applied paint directly over gloss acrylic medium and moved the paint with the palette knife to create transparencies and pattern.
The palette knife can be made of plastic or metal. I supply plastic palette knives. I also work with a metal palette knife. It’s important to wipe the knife clean, especially when changing colors, and never allow the paint to dry onto the knife (acrylic paint can dry quickly).
I urge students to wipe the paint off the knife with a paper towel so that the paint on the knife doesn’t get mixed into water (it they dip the knife into a water container). It’s not good for the environment to pour paint dissolved in water down the drain.
The image above shows Matisse in his studio in Nice, France in 1952 (this image is included in the book titled the Cut-Outs of Henri Matisse, by John Elderfield, published by George Braziller, NY).
All of Matisse’s collages were created with painted papers. His studio assistants painted his papers for him with gouache.
Matisse said he painted with scissors. He called his works paper cut-outs (gouache decoupes). Read about the Technique of the Cut-Outs…
The image above, a collage in painted papers, is by Matisse and is titled Creole Dancer (image courtesy the Internet). Notice it is organized as pieced blocks of paper in the background, overlaid with cut out shapes. Notice the painted papers show variations in color saturation and paint density because they are hand-painted.
I tell my students that Matisse did not discard papers that were cut out and that landed on the floor. Notice the image above with Matisse in his studio and all the papers on the floor. Notice his cut-outs were typically curved and organic in shape and referenced nature.
The image above is by a student in the Pelham class. She painted papers, and while the paints were drying, she created a collage with colored papers I supplied. Before she glued the papers down, she embellished them with oil pastel drawing to make the surface richer and brighter. Notice the oil pastel sticks in boxes nearby.
The class explored many different techniques with painting papers. They layered colors, wet layer over dry layer, to see how the colors changed. They painted with transparent gouache paint over papers painted with acrylic in patterns. They scribbled wax crayon on white drawing paper (a resist process), and applied acrylic paint in both transparent and opaque layers over to see how the crayon showed through. They all liked that.
I told the class that all the papers they created were usable – nothing was a throwaway. Some were so good they were paintings that could get collage additions and be finished as mixed media works. Some were ideal as unique collage papers and could be reproduced if they wanted multiples for large collage projects.
One student created a palette of papers that coordinated with purchased hand-made papers she brought to class. How clever that she mixed colors to compliment other papers she already had (collage artists collect papers for the next collage).
I showed the class how to twirl wet paint on drawing paper as they painted, and create directional patterns.
We talked about the art of the cut-out by Henri Matisse. I hope they were inspired.
I’ve recommended resources for paper and paint above.
Please email me or add comments to the blog if you can share a good resource for paper, paints, and any other media you like to use for collage. Thanks in advance.
October 18, 2012
Last weekend I visited the Studio Museum in Harlem to see the exhibition Bearden 100, a centennial tribute to the great 20th century artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988). What I saw was the 3rd and final installment of Bearden 100. It closes October 21, 2012.
I promised to write about the Bearden 100 exhibition in a previous blog about a Bearden workshop I lead on August 5, 2012 at the Newark Museum titled Conjur Woman: Portrait in Collage – inspired by the artist Romare Bearden.
The workshop was offered in conjunction with the exhibition Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections at the Newark Museum (closed August 19, 2012).
The image above is by Romare Bearden and titled Conjur Woman. It was completed in 1964. It’s only 9×7 inches, and was created with snippets from newspapers and magazines such as Ebony and the Saturday Evening Post.
Bearden turned his tiny collage into a huge black and white print (called a Photostat). The Newark Museum had small works and large prints on display. The large black and white Conjur Woman Photostat is in the collection of the Studio Museum.
Read more about the meaning of the Conjur Woman and more about my workshops.
22 ARTISTS AT THE STUDEO MUSEUM IN HARLEM
Here’s a link to see images of the 22 works at the Museum. The link is from the Bearden Foundation.
I was drawn to several works.
One was a figure by Elia Alba titled Portrait of a Young Girl, 2012 (see the image below).
It’s a 3D figure in a prayer-like pose. She wrote: It wasn’t just Bearden’s collage, but his merging of cultural and artistic practices that left the strongest impression on me.
I really liked a collage by Noah Davis titled The Frogs (2011) seen below.
It looks like collage with many magazine papers and fractured faces (it’s definitely inspired by Bearden media and technique).
I was drawn to a mixed media 3D work by Xenobia Bailey, titled Endless Love: Conjur Kit, 2012 (see below).
I love the fact that the artist named her work Conure Kit – maybe she is inspired by all the Conjur Women in Bearden’s oeuvre.
The artist wrote: I love the continuum that his (Bearden’s) collages have to African-American quilt-makers and musicians. Mr. Bearden constructs everything in his artwork as if he is patching together the idea of the New African in North America.
See #66: Bearden, In the Garden 1974 (image below). It includes red striped fabric on a figure, and abraded painted papers.
The Bearden image was selected by Tanekeya Word, a visual artist living in NYC.
See her mixed media work (below) titled Pretty Dope-a-licious Cameo #11, acrylic paint, gouache, watercolor, acrylic ink, gold leaf, embroidery, floss, pastels, latex paint on watercolor paper, 2012.
Willie Cole selected the collage by Bearden, #57 Gospel Song 1969 (below) It includes multiple pieces of abraded papers, a gray background, and shows what Bearden did to his media to create unique surface texture. It also shows how he used pieces of papers to create a sense of dimension, texture, and rhythm.
Willie Cole, a Newark, NJ artist, said he selected this work because it sang to him when he saw it.
See his work tiled Sole to Sole (below). Cole works with found media and creates/constructs metaphor about race in prints, sculpture and other media.
Cole describes himself: Today I am a Perceptual Engineer. I create new ways of seeing old things. and by doing so inspire new ways of thinking. I’ve also been described as an Ecological Mechanic, a Sacred Clown, a Transformer, the hardest working man in Shoe Business, The Original Iron Man, formerly known as the Dog Man, and once known as Vincent Van Black.
Willie Cole is one of my favorite contemporary artists.
More BEARDEN 100
The Studio Museum plans to extend the Bearden Project. They say:
The site will be frequently updated with new participating artists, sharing their story of inspiration and will include a high-resolution image of their artwork. We hope you’ll share your own artwork, stories, and comments with us by email.
Romare Bearden was involved in founding The Studio Museum in Harlem and the Cinque Gallery (initially funded by the Ford Foundation). Bearden and 2 other artists – Norman Lewis and Ernest Crichlow – established Cinque to support younger minority artists.
Bearden helped found the Black Academy of Arts and Letters in 1970. He was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1972.
He is recognized as one of the most creative and original visual artists of the 20th Century. He worked in many different media, including painting and printmaking, but is best known for his richly textured collages