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.