A collage in black and white and red

March 9, 2018


Nikkal, B&W and Red (2018) collage 14×11 inches


I created the collage seen nearby as a sample for a class I teach at the Pelham Art Center in Pelham, NY. My collage is made with cut and pasted magazine papers on a 14×11 inch Bristol paper substrate. Look close at the design and see there are multiple pasted papers in this collage. It’s designed as an abstract grid. There’s a bottom layer you cannot see. It was a large page from W magazine with a B&W photo of a model sitting in a field of flowers, holding a flower in his hand. See the image below. The bottom layer image was almost as big as the 14×11 inch substrate. I glued it down and added the small collage papers over the photo image. The top layer is made with small square papers from art magazine and show stripes, round letter forms, half circles and bullseye shapes. I included a drawing with concentric circles with two lines that criss-cross the circle. I like to create collage with papers with circles and round shapes. Almost all of the top layer papers were printed in high contrast black on white or white on black.





Nikkal, lower layer in the B&W and Red collage


The image nearby is the bottom layer of the collage. It shows a model sitting in a field of flowers. After I glued down this large magazine image, I started to glue cut papers near his right shoulder (seen on the left). As I glued, I payed attention to the visual relationship between the new piece and the image below. Notice the printed image of a cathedral building in the image above. It was the first paper added. I added text collage above and the drawing with the concentric circles to the right. Then I added papers so they touched and overlapped, paying attention to contrast and connecting patterns. I included papers with high contrast and some with low contrast. sSome papers were graphic with lines and letters. I didn’t cover the entire first layer but you have to look closely to see where the bottom layer image peeks through. I added the 4 tiny red collage papers last.






Black and White Are Colors

I think black and white are colors just like red, purple, blue, green and yellow. Black and white are potent because they are at opposite ends of brightness (in the value scale). I like high contrast. It can be dramatic. We pay attention to opposites and high contrast.


I showed my collage to the class and also showed an iPhone image of the magazine paper that was underneath. I asked my students to go through the W magazines we have in class, select a large black and white image and glue it to the Bristol paper substrate as the first step. Then they looked through art magazines and found papers for the top layer of their collages. Their papers are from the same magazines I used, but you will see they selected papers with a lot more red. They love to work with red.


See images below of black & white and red collages done by students in my classes at the Pelham Art Center.



Chris Timmons, B&W and Red collage (2018)


The image at left is by Chris Timmons. She used stripes, dots and circles in black white and red. I believe you can see part of an image from her bottom layer. It’s a face partially covered by a red half-circle in the center of the collage. Chris added a second face on the right edge of the collage, facing sideways to balance the horizontal white on black stripes.








Ilene Bellovin, B&W and Red Collage (2018)



The image at left is by Ilene Bellovin. She used horizontal strips of red, grey and black and white  for collage over her bottom layer. Notice there is a sense of a figure in this collage made with paper strips.




Leslie Cowen, B&W and Red Collage





The image at left is by Leslie Cowen. You can see a building face with fire escapes. That image is her bottom layer in the collage. Leslie cut and pasted a vintage image of Jackie Kennedy in the upper right. Notice there is a cartoon drawing in the lower center that looks like eyes. Notice Leslie pasted in text in white on red, white on black and black on white throughout her collage to add to the rhythm of the diagonals in the fire escapes.







The Magic of the Color Red


Red is one of the top two favorite colors of all people. Red captures attention. It’s one of the most visible colors, second only to yellow. The history of languages reveals that red is the first color after black and white (all languages have words for black and white). If a third hue exists, it is red. When using red, where it’s placed and what it’s next to makes a big difference. I use it sparingly and tell my students to use red as an accent color because a little bit of red goes a long way.


Here are more images in B&W and Red by students in my collage classes.


Estelle Laska, B&W and Red Collage (2018)



The image at left is by Estelle Laska. I believe the background layer in the collage is an image of a woman in a white dress. Estelle always makes narrative collage with a story and here she shows us her love of fashion illustration with collage she found of vintage drawings of ladies with long gowns and round hats. Estelle even included paper text with the words Fearless Fashion in the lower center of her collage, and used a red letter “A”, red quotation marks (on the right side), and a large open donut shape cut from red paper.






Harriet Goldberg, B&W and Red Collage (2018)


The image at left is by Harriet Goldberg. I can see part of the image of a building facade in the lower layer in the collage. Harriet cut two drawings with the letter “X” and pasted them in the upper and lower portions of her collage. Above the lower “X” he pasted a drawing of a cute face. It’s the same drawing that Leslie Cowen used in her collage. Harriet added red paper over the lips in the drawing, and cut and pasted 10 more red magazine and painted papers over her collage in a horizontal and vertical pattern to mimic the design in the buildings behind.






Paulette Coleman, B&W and Red Collage (2018)


The image at left is by Paulette Coleman. I think Paulette likes to work on a square substrate and probably cut it down from 14×11 inches to 11×11 inches. She also used a smaller, mostly white background lower layer collage on the substrate and then pasted various magazine papers in red, black and white. There’s a rhythm of squares, dots and stripes that she pasted horizontally, vertically, diagonally and curved throughout.Notice the portrait on the lower left. Notice the red titanium red balloon by Jeff Koons on the lower right. Reds balance the four corners of this collage.







Nelly Edmonson, B&W and Red Collage (2018)


The image at left is by Nelly Edmonson. You can see she used a duplicate (copy) image of the building facade with fire escapes. Harriet Goldberg used the same paper for her background. Nelly added red netting on the upper left to give a pink cast to the collage. You can see the pasted image of the building behind the red netting. Nelly strategically placed small red papers into the image of the building in the bottom layer. Notice the b&w face on the right. A lot of the papers mimic the diagonal patterns in the building fire escapes and lead your eye back into the image on the bottom layer.







Joseph Albers, The Interaction of Color, oil on panel.



Finally, there are many different reds. There are dark and light shades of red, depending on whether they have been mixed with black or white. Some reds have a yellow tone (tomato red) and some have a blue tone (berry red). The image at left is by Joseph Albers (German-born American, 1888-1976) and titled The Interaction of Color. It shows variations in the color red. Albers was an artist, educator and wrote extensively about color. His paintings explored chromatic interactions with nested squares in a series of works titled Homage to the Square. Each painting consisted of either three or four squares of solid colors nested within each other to show how colors change when they are placed next to other colors. Read more about Joseph Albers here.

Read more about the color red here.




Did you notice how every collage by my Pelham Art Center students has a different design? Some class members left a lot more of the bottom layer exposed. Would you like to make a collage in black and white and red? Email me and ask for a free PDF for this project.

Your comments are welcome.



One Response to “A collage in black and white and red”

  1. nikkal Says:

    It’s all about black and white and red collage with magazine papers

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