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 on a 14×11 inch Bristol paper substrate. It’s designed as an abstract grid and includes a bottom and a top layer. The bottom layer is the image below – a large page from W magazine that shows a model sitting in a field of flowers, holding a flower in his hand. The magazine image was almost as big as the 14×11 inch substrate. I glued it down and added a top layer made with small papers from art magazine that show stripes, round letter forms, half circles and bullseye shapes. There’s also a drawing with concentric circles with two lines that criss-cross the circle. Almost all of the top layer papers were printed text in black on white or white on black.





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


This image is the bottom layer of the collage.  After I glued it down, I payed attention to the visual relationship between the new pieces and bottom image. 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.  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 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 finished collage to the class. I showed an iPhone image of the magazine paper that was covered and underneath. I asked my students to go through the W magazines we have in class, tear out a page with a large black and white image and glue it to the Bristol paper substrate as the first step. Their second step for this collage was to look through art magazines and find papers for the top layer. WE all used the same magazines, but you will see they selected papers with a lot more 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. 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 red, grey, black and white horizontal strips  for collage over her bottom layer. Notice there is a sense of a figure in this collage where the image peeks through the 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 our 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 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 used the white substrate as a background, and then pasted various magazine papers in red, black and white on top. There’s a rhythm of squares, dots and stripes that move horizontally, vertically and diagonally throughout. Notice the portrait of a face in profile on the lower left. Notice the sliced image of a red titanium red balloon by Jeff Koons on the lower right. Notice how 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, here is an abstract painting by Joseph Albers (German-born American, 1888-1976), titled The Interaction of Color. This painting shows variations in the color red. Albers was an artist, educator and wrote extensively about color. 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.

Creating a collage in two layers is challenging. You are working against an image. Working with black and white makes you focus on value and contrast.  Adding the color red, makes you selective in where you place the color.

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.



The Abundance of Images

December 13, 2017


I live in Metro NYC and see a lot of contemporary art. I also find images online. You can too. The Internet is a great resource for information and images.

Yayoi Kusama flower painting

The image above is a flower painting by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (born 1929). Notice the colors are red, green yellow, black and blue. It’s a stylized flower with stem and leaves and a crackle-texture black on red background. Notice the detail and pattern. You may think it looks like a simple flower painting, but probably also think it is very appealing.

Kusama is known for obsessive, dot-covered art and pumpkin motifs, as well as the use of mirrors to create mystical “Infinity Rooms.” The image below shows the artist in a saffron orange and black polka dot dress sitting on the edge of a platform installation with walls and floors in the same color and polka dot design with a pumpkin sculpture behind her in the same colors and design. The artist is part of the installation. The image was reproduced in an Artsy article titled The Top 14 Living Artists of 2014 and was taken at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (2010). I have the image, on a Pinterest Board titled Yayoi Kusama. I have 117 pins that show Kusama and her art. It is the most popular board of all (image of Yayoi Kusama courtesy Artsy, published January 18, 2015).

Yayoi Kusama in front of her pumpkin sculpture

Kusama says “My artwork is an expression of my life, particularly of my mental disease.” She has been plagued by mental illness and hallucinations since childhood. She uses her hallucinations and mental illness as material to stimulate an incredible artistic output in every discipline. Her colors and patterns are opulent and decorative. At the age of 88, Kusama is one of the most unique and famous contemporary female artists alive today. Her works include paintings, sculpture, photography, installation, performance and Conceptual art. She lives in a mental hospital in Japan and works every day in a nearby studio.

Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors at the Hirschhorn Museum

The image above is a view of Infinity Mirrors, originally at the Hirschhorn Museum, Washington, DC. Read about Infinity Mirrors. The show is currently at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles, CA (closes Jan 1, 2018) and will travel to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (March 3-May 27, 2018), the Cleveland Museum of Art (July 9-Sept 30, 2018) and finally to the High Museum of Art (Nov 18, 2018 – Feb 17, 2019).

There are plans to build a museum for Yayoi Kusama’s art in Japan this coming year. Read more about Yayoi Kusama life and art here.



In a previous post, titled Connections, I wrote about an art project I organized and took to Albuquerque, NM in September 2017. The project included 21 mixed media collages by regional members of the Society of Layerists in Multi Media (SLMM). I am a regional coordinator for the Society.

I got email from Sharon Eley. She is a Midwest regional SLMM member and participated in the SLMM group exhibition I organized. She asked me to edit the post because I didn’t mention that her twin sister, Shirley Nachtrieb, was the person responsible for an exhibition I mentioned in the post. Shirley is the regional coordinator for the South Central SLMM membership. I edited the post and gave Shirley credit.

I was curious to see Shirley’s art and visited her website. She is an amazing watercolor artist. I saw flower images and it made me think about writing this post to show (and share) the images of Yayoi Kusama’s art and include images of flower collages by my students at the Pelham Art Center. See the images below. The student collages don’t look like Kusama’s flower paintings. They’re interpretive and personal. They are collage paintings because they include cut and pasted flower images  (from flower magazines) and painted papers on a painted and embellished  Bristol paper substrate. My students loved the flower collage project because it included so much mixed media. But, they also love other collage projects we do. Not everything is a flower.


Lynn Evansohn Flower Collage

Lynn Evansohn did the collage above. The flowers are cut from a botanical catalog I brought to class. Some of the papers are painted. Lynn painted the background with black acrylic and etched spiral twirls into the wet paint. The vase is all paper collage. Notice Lynn cut and pasted green painted paper dots at the bottom edge. I remember she said it was a tribute to the polka dots in Yayoi Kusama’s work.

Patty Towle did the collage below. She painted the background with black acrylic embellished it with tiny dots of various colored painted papers. The flowers and stems are cut and pasted decorative papers. Some flower petals have polka dots. She cut flowers and leaves from images in a flower catalog. Notice the dots that decorate the blue vase. Notice  the blue painted paper tiles Patty used to create the table, and notice the black spaces in between. The design mimics the black on red in Kusama’s flower painting seen above.


Patricia Towle Flower Collage


Mimi Wohlberg Flower Collage

Mimi Wohlberg did the collage above. She painted the background with black acrylic and embellished the surface with dots and circles. She painted the flower papers and stamped them with more dots. Notice the stem and leaves are cut from patterned green painted papers. The design is layered and all the pieces overlap with a sense of dimension.

Sylvia Lien did the collage below. Notice the landscape imagery behind the cut and pasted flower in a vase. Sylvia was inspired to create a collage that quoted a Kusama flower sculpture in a landscape setting. Notice how Sylvia’s flower petals and leaves are made with various papers from a flower catalog. Notice the flower stem. Sylvia cut and pasted yellow painted papers to shape a curved stem. I like the vase. It’s a simple rectangle shape, cut from a page in a flower catalog. This collage juxtaposes decorative papers and photo images to create abstract and natural elements.

Sylvia Lien Flower Collage

Sandra Graciadei did the collage below. She painted the background with black acrylic and  etched the open dot design into the wet paint. The vase was cut and pasted from a  magazine image found in ArtForum. Sandra painted papers for the leaves in the vase. The tiny flowers are cut from a flower catalog. Notice how Sandra fitted all the leaves and flower stems into the vase and how the flower stems extend beyond the edge of the black painted background. Notice how the stems mimic the width and abundance of the lines in the design on the vase. Details!

Sandra Graciadei Flower Collage

Estelle Laska did the collage below. Her collage is an interpretive quote of a  Kusama flower sculpture in an outdoor setting. Estelle painted the collage background with blue acrylic and used a palette knife to build texture as she painted. Her leaves and flowers are large papers cut from a flower catalog. Estelle added red and green painted paper polka dots to a rich golden yellow leaf shape at the bottom. Notice how the leaves extend beyond the borders of the painted background.

Estelle Laska Flower Collage

Harriet Goldberg did the collage below. She painted the background in black and green and added yellow and green polka dots. The yellow dots are press-on papers you find in stationery stores. The flowers are cut and pasted from painted papers and images from a flower catalog. The vase is decorative paper with dots. Notice how the flowers extend beyond the painted background. See all the patterns, colors  and layered papers. This collage is a riot of dots and definitely Kusama-inspired!

Harriet Goldberg Flower Collage

Leslie Cowen did the collage below. She painted the background with acrylic in blues and greens. There is a sense of diagonal movement as well as decoration. She etched into the paint with a palette knife. The large pink flower at the top extends beyond the painted background. Leslie cut and pasted her papers to make the flower image look dimensional and realistic. Some of the leaves and flowers are created with painted papers and some are images cut from a flower catalog. Realistic and abstract imagery is juxtaposed in this design. Notice how the leaves also extend beyond the edge of the painted background.

Leslie Cowen Flower Collage

Ilene Bellovin did the collage below. She painted the background with black acrylic and created her flowers with papers from a flower catalog. Notice the variations in color in the pink, yellow, red and violet flower petals. Ilene created the leaves with green painted papers. This collage is almost realistic. The flowers are cut and pasted papers arranged like a beautiful bouquet.

Ilene Bellovin Flower Collage

My students include adults at all skill levels. Beginners quickly become highly skilled collage makers. We work with fine art papers, everyday media, art magazines, including ArtForum, postcards and found papers. We embellish collage with drawing. We paint papers.

The flower collage project is a favorite. We’ve done it more than once. All the flower collages above include painting and mixed media collage on 14″ x 11″ Bristol paper substrate.

Sometimes I get resistance to projects that quote a famous artist. I argue that there is no way anyone can copy. Everything is an interpretation. And, more important, the process is an exercise that teaches you how to look carefully and study what you see. You notice colors, relationships, scale, proportion, and other design elements.

Question for YOU: Can you be inspired by an artist and make collage that quotes but doesn’t copy? Send me your comments.








I am the regional Northeast/Midwest coordinator for the Society of Layerists in Multi-Media (SLMM) and organized an art project titled Connections. I took the art to a national meeting in Albuquerque, NM.  Our project was one of several by members at the 35th anniversary SLMM meeting September 20-23, 2017. Twenty-one (21) Northeast and Midwest SLMM members created the art here. See all the images below.

The Society (SLMM) was founded by Mary Carroll Nelson (Albuquerque, NM) and is a national organization that meets each year in a different city.

I wrote this post and included all these images because many artists who participated in the project were unable to attend the meeting in Albuquerque and wanted to see their art. The image here is one side of the four sided installation. See close-up views of the works below.

The project started in May 2017 when I contacted SLMM Northeast/Midwest regional members and invited them to make a collage with shared media. I told them I would take the art project to the annual SLMM meeting in Albuquerque, NM.  I sent a packet of assorted collage papers to everyone who agreed to participate and said they should design their art with painting, drawing, text and/or collage, but had to include at least a few of the shared papers in their work. The project goal was to show how sharing art papers connected every work. I titled the project Connections. Below are 3 images, seen above on the double panel.

Collage by Deanna Funk

Collage is by Deanna Funk (Springfield, IL), Untitled, 11 x 8.5 inches, acrylic and assorted papers.

Collage by Sylvia Harnick

Collage is by Sylvia Harnick (Great Neck, NY), Untitled, 8.5 x 11 inches, photo transfer, acrylic and assorted papers.

Collage by Nancy Egol Nikkal

Collage by Nancy Egol Nikkal (White Plains, NY), titled Red, 11 x 8.5 inches, magazine, tissue and painted papers. Notice my work (above) and the work by Sylvia Harnick (above) both include the shared tissue paper with white dots on red.

Here is part of the text I wrote that is printed on the first panel:

“We are geographically apart but connected with art and the Premise of SLMM. The Midwest SLMM members are: Mary Ann Beckwith, Sylvia Bowers, Sharon Eley, Deanna Funk, Catherine Keebler, Suzan Kraus, Susan Lince, Annie Morgan, and Patricia Tuglus (she has moved to Asheville, NC but did the art for this project). The Northeast SLMM members are: Marie Cummings, Sylvia Harnick, Alice Harrison, Mary Kralj, Valerie Lewis Mankoff, Nancy Marculewicz, Joya Maxwell, Patricia McCandless, Ruth Bauer Neustadter, Nancy Egol Nikkal, Ellen Reinkraut and Gordana Vukovic.

I added: I hope it was a gratifying project for everyone who created the art, and I hope you enjoy it too.”


I sent each participating artist a materials packet and included instructions for how the project would work. The substrate (back paper) for the project was warm white, 8.5 x 11 inches and strong enough for paint and collage as well as printing. I said their work could be horizontal or vertical. This meant the final design for the project depended on how many were horizontal and how many were vertical. More than 21 artists signed on at the beginning, but a few dropped out at the end. I couldn’t plan the layout until all the art arrived. Ultimately, I designed the project for 21 works on 8 panels. I planned to assemble the panels in Albuquerque into an open 3 dimensional box, 2 rows high on 4 sides. One side had text on the top row, and 3 works of art on the bottom row. The three remaining panels had 6 works each in a double row.  The project had to be flat to travel and assembled on site. The 8 panels were cut to 14 x 38 inches from 3 sheets of  light weight black FoamCore board.

Kathleen Kuchar took the image (above) at the hotel in Albuquerque. It shows two sides of the installation. You see on the left there is text and 3 images. The image to the right shows part of the 6 images in two rows. The image below shows one side of the installation with 6 images, followed by 6 close up views of the individual artist’s works.

Notice there are printed artist statements on the black tablecloth in front of the installation. Several SLMM artists included comments with their art work.

Above collage is by Gordana Vukovic (Slingerlands, NY), Untitled, 11 x 8.5 inches, acrylic and assorted papers. I am sure I sent her the green painted paper seen on the lower right. Notice a tiny half circle of the printed red dot tissue paper in the center.


Above collage is by Marie Cummings (Treadwell, NY), Untitled, 8.5 x 11 inches, acrylic and assorted papers. Marie included an artist statement: I see life as multi-faceted, richly textured and complex and my art reflects that perception. Ultimately, I hope viewers feel this expressive freedom when they see my work. I want people to delight in the colors and whimsy, to experience a sense of happiness, to enjoy this reminder of what it means to be alive.”


Above collage is by Ellen Reinkraut (Franklin Lakes, NJ), titled The Horizon, 11 x 8.5 inches, acrylic and assorted papers. Notice Ellen used red printed text and painting.


Above collage is by Joya Maxwell (Wakefield, RI), Untitled, 11 x 8.5 inches, collage with assorted papers and hand lettering. I am pretty sure I included yellow hand-made paper in the packet, seen in the upper left corner. Joya included a  printed image of a hummingbird and added the words spirit, thoughts and feelings in her own hand.


Above collage is by Suzan Kraus (Newbury, OH), titled Three, 11 x 8.5 inches, collage with assorted papers. In this image you see the shared white dot on red and black squiggle on black shared tissue paper, plus shared acid green painted papers.


Above collage is by Susan Lince (Chaska, MN), titled Homage to the Birches, 11 x 8.5 x .5 inches. Susan included the shared green and yellow papers and added real moss and birch wood to her work. This work drew a lot of attention because of its message.

How I Assembled the Project:

Before I show you more images, let me tell you how I prepared the project. I had to wait until all the art arrived to determine how the works would be assembled and what work went next to another. I curated the project like an exhibition on a wall, except I planned the project as a table top installation. I wanted the works to look well together as guests walked around all four sides. The project had to be sturdy but light. It had to be assembled and disassembled because I had to travel with it. FoamCore was a good choice for the support because it was light, came in large sheets and could be cut to size. I was able to purchase black Foam Core and attached the art to the boards before I left NY for Albuquerque. I glued the text to one panel and glued “labels” under each art work, but used double sided tape to attach the art. I wanted to be able to separate the art from the boards so I could return the works to the artists. I discovered the double sided tape was not strong enough for the heavier collages, so I had to reattach quite a few with heavier tape when I arrived in Albuquerque. I cut glassine paper to the panel size, and placed a sheet in between each panel to protect the art while it traveled. The wrapped package was about 40 x 14 x 10 inches high. It didn’t weigh that much and I was able to place the package in the overhead compartment on the plane. At the hotel in Albuquerque, my roommate, Terri MacDonald (Hays, KS) helped me assemble the 8 panels into a 3 dimensional installation with four sides and two rows per side. It became a double-decker box (open on the inside) with the art work facing out.  I used 8 wood slats to support the inside (back) of the assembled FoamCore panels. I traveled with the wood and the 8 panels together. Thank you Terri for helping me get this project assembled! We placed the installation on a round banquet table in the hotel meeting room our group used for all the events, workshop and banquet dinner.

See 6 images below of works by individual artists. I didn’t get a good image of the 6 works together, but include an image of 3 works in one row so you see how 3 works looked next to each other.

Above collage is by Sylvia Bowers (Columbus, OH), titled Variations on a Theme, 11 x 8.5 inches. I think Sylvia painted yellow and ecru white stripes in her background and then pasted papers on top.

Above collage is by Valerie Lewis Mankoff (Kinnelon, NJ), titled Between Generations. I believe this collage includes painting on the back and a family photo of Valerie and her grandson.


Above collage is by Patricia Tuglus (Oak Brook, IL now living in Asheville, NC), Untitled, 11 x 8.5 inches. This collage includes  a yellow and black painted background and yellow, red and blue hand-made papers. I see an image of a house in a cloudy, turbulent landscape. I see tiny pieces of black squiggle tissue papers that we shared. It looks like some of the hand-made papers are torn by hand. I see soft edges in the cloud shapes.


The view (above) shows the 3 works by Sylvia Bowers, Valerie Lewis Mankoff and Patricia Tuglus that were attached to the top row of the panel. Golden yellow is the unifying color. The 3 works (below) by Alice Harrison, Nancy Marculewicz and Catherine Keebler were on the bottom row of the same panel, seen left to right.


Above collage is by Alice Harrison (Morristown, NJ), titled CONNECTIONS, 8.5 x 11 inches. Alice cut and glued multi-color papers into a spiral shape that travels across the horizontal space in her work. It would be interesting to know a little more about the images of the buildings and other collage elements.

Above collage is by Nancy Marculewicz (Peabody, MA), 11 x 8.5 inches. Nancy wrote she started the collage, stopped working, feeling frustrated, unable to get inspired by the papers included in the packet. She decided to reread the instructions and realized she could incorporate some pieces of her own monotypes in the project piece. She said she felt like she had entered a special zone and now she knew exactly what to do and how to do it. She says she will continue to re-work old monotypes with new media. Nancy is the author of the book titled Making Monotypes Using a Gelatin Plate.

Above collage is by Catherine Keebler (Chicago, IL), Untitled, 11 x 8.5 inches, acrylic, glitter and assorted papers. If you see this work in person, it looks like a tapestry with rich texture and tiny patterns. The light green paper that looks like a grape cluster was included in the packet I sent.

Comments about the Art Project

Northeast and Midwest regional SLMM members asked me if people at the meeting commented on the works in our display. There were lots of comments – I wish I wrote them all down. Here are two very thoughtful comments: “Exhibitions of layered art demonstrate a subtle affirmation that serves as a leavening in this time of extreme divisiveness and chaos” and “Every time you create a work the universe expands and connects more.”

Following are images by 6 more artists in the project. The first image is a view of all 6 works in 2 rows on the panel. The works in the top row, left to right, are by Sharon Eley, Anne L. Morgan and Mary Kralj.  The works in the bottom row, left to right are by Mary Ann Beckwith, Ruth Bauer Neustadter and Patricia McCandless.

Collage above is by Sharon Eley (Chillicothe, OH), titled A MAN’S WORLD, 11 x 8.5 inches, with pencil, pen, mixed media and assorted papers. It’s hard to see, but there is a small, round metal object in the center of the collage.

Collage above is by Anne L. Morgan (Grand Haven, MI), Untitled, 8.5 x 11 inches. Notice the cursive hand writing, red pencil, painting and collage. I see a sliver of the shared tissue paper with white dots on red plus other dotted tissue papers.

Collage above is by Mary Kralj (Silver Springs, MD), titled UNSPOKEN, 11 x 8.5 inches.  Notice there is vertical script in the center. The work includes painting, paper collage and gold leaf. Mary wrote she included a block of “asemic” writing (in the center). She added: “The piece was intended to convey a number of contrasts to hopefully generate a sense of centererd energy beyond our everyday left brain search for verbal meaning.”

Collage above is by Mary Ann Beckwith (Hancock, MI), Untitled, 11 x 8.5 inches. Notice the woven strips of cut papers that intersect with a metal ring.  Purple is the dominant color. Notice  circles, dots and squares throughout. See purple dots on tan paper tucked behind the metal ring. The purple dotted paper was included in the shared packet.


Collage above is by Ruth Bauer Neustadter (Hackensack, NJ), Untitled, 8.5 x 11 inches, acrylic and mixed media. This work is lush and highly textured with paint and media. The dotted strips sparkle.

Collage above is by Patricia McCandless (Paoli, PA), titled PAPER SOLO, 11 x 8.5 inches. This collage is created with cut paper and the amount of cut papers is amazing. The text on the bottom reads: “Into Penns Woods”  – No Paint – No Pen – No Ink –  Only Layers of Exquisite Paper.


Here is information about the Albuquerque SLMM conference. Laura Pope, Southwest regional coordinator and her crew, organized a spectacular 3-day event.

We arrived and checked into the Hotel Albuquerque on Wednesday, September 20th. During the day I attended a Board of Directors meeting as a regional coordinator. At 5:30 pm we gathered  for an informal reception at a hotel outdoor pavilion.  SLMM President Jaleh Etemad welcomed assembled members and guests to the meeting. The weather was warm and gorgeous.

The 3-day itinerary included a bus trip to Santa Fe to see art, a day to visit the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and Museum, a creative workshop inspired by images from Petroglyph National Park in Albuquerque, NM, and a banquet dinner with a Flamenco dance performance. It was a great time to reconnect with friends. I’ve visited Albuquerque and Santa Fe previously and love the art and energy in the Southwest U.S. Three days is never enough.

I didn’t walk Canyon Road. (I’ve done it before). Instead, I spent 2 hours at Meow Wolf, a converted bowling alley that’s become an immense, immersive art installation. The current installation is called the House of Eternal Return. Read about it here. SLMM Southwest regional members recommended Meow Wolf as the place to see in Santa Fe. I’m so glad I did. The image above is Terri MacDonald (Hays, KS) in the long entry corridor looking up at the lights. I took iPhone photos in every room, stairwell and corridor at Meow Wolf. I was standing on a balcony here. Everywhere you look is a light show, bursting with color, fantasy and technology. Over 100 local artists collaborated in the design.

I also didn’t stop at museums on Museum Hill or visit galleries as our tour bus made a loupe around the art venues in Santa Fe. I visited the New Mexico Capitol Rotunda Gallery to see an exhibition of handmade artists’ books by members of the Santa Fe Book Arts Group (titled Portable Magic: The Art of the Book, through December 15, 2017).

The Capitol building is also an arts venue. The state of NM is a proud arts patron. I was so glad I visited the Capital building. I saw paintings, prints, tapestries, etc. by established NM artists on several floors in the building.

Our SLMM Albuquerque conference included a group art workshop inspired by petroglyphs and a talk by Dr. Matthew Schmader who spoke about rock art’s place in human and cultural history. Petroglyph National Monument is located on the West Mesa in Albuquerque, NM. They say the park is a Landscape of Symbols – one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America, featuring designs and symbols carved onto volcanic rocks by Native Americans and Spanish settlers 400-700 years ago. Read more here. I’ve been to Petroglyph National Monument. It’s fabulous.

We visited the National Hispanic Cultural Center and were treated to a wonderful docent tour. We saw a huge installation of piñatas. The image here is Mary Carroll Nelson, SLMM founder. She’s wearing an orange hat and standing under the piñatas at the NHCC. The back wall behind Mary is a huge installation with pinata tissue papers.






On the same day we visited the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and Museum and saw world-renowned historic and contemporary Pueblo pottery, baskets, weaving, painting, murals, jewelry and photos. The image here is of me standing next to a Pueblo statue.  Do you think we look alike? Did you notice we have the same hairstyle? Our evening itinerary included a banquet and a Flamenco performance by an ensemble of young, talented and passionate dancers.



Here are 3 final images that show SLMM regional art projects.

The image above is Mary Carroll Nelson (photo courtesy Kathleen Kuchar) . She’s looking at a portfolio of art brought to Albuquerque by members of the Pacific/Canada Region. I also had a chance to view the works and hold the art in my hand. Very special.

The image above (courtesy Kathleen Kuchar) is a wall installation at the Albuquerque hotel – individual paintings and mixed media works attached together with rings. The works are by SLMM members of the Southwest/West/International region.

The image above is a wall installation titled “Reflection of Myself” – all 12 x 12s – done by SLMM members from the Deep South/South Central region (the work is currently at St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre, St. Peters, MO).  The exhibition was curated and organized by Shirley Nachtrieb, regional coordinator for the Deep South/South Central region. The works weren’t installed at the hotel in Albuquerque – I got this image from Kathleen Kuchar, but I’ve included it here to show art from all the SLMM regional members.


I traveled back to NY with the art re-wrapped as a flat parcel, tucked into the overhead compartment on the plane. I disassembled the project at my studio, took new photos of the individual works, and then sent the art back to their owners.

It’s your turn: Please add your comments. Email me. Tell me if you’ve heard about Meow Wolf and have visited Santa Fe or Albuquerque, NM.  Do you have comments about the art seen here? Have you visited Petroglyph National Park, the National Hispanic Cultural Center or the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and Museum?

Thank you again to Laura Pope and her team who organized this fabulous meeting. Here is a link to the SLMM website to learn more about the SLMM Premise and membership. The 2018 national meeting will take place in Tacoma, WA next year in late August.



Appropriation is a very useful concept in contemporary art and essential to appreciating contemporary collage art.


I like to make funky figure collages with papers and text cut and pasted from magazines like W, Elle. Vogue, and ArtForum. I thumb through the magazines and tear out pages when the right image strikes. Everything becomes a magazine mash-up.


nancy nikkal, sex celebrity, collage 2016


The image nearby is my collage titled Sex Celebrity. This work is part of a new series with female images done in collage with various cut and pasted papers. Some of the papers are straight out of the magazine. Some are painted with acrylic. Some papers are purchased in an arts and crafts store. I like to mix and match and create works that combine image, color, pattern and texture. Most of all, I am fascinated by celebrity culture and Pop Art. My goal is to create images that are edgy, sexy and provocative.


The image you see is a collage on a 12×16 inch panel showing two x two females. Everything is an image: some more, some less real. The colors in this collage are creamy white, grey-black, green and tiny touches of pale blue and red.


The large female image is a close-up of a face, eyes closed as if in a swoon. She seems ensconced in a reverie in a garden setting, surrounded by green. She’s a beauty. Her eyes are decorated and glittery. There’s a large, expensive diamond jewel floating near her nose. The jewel looks like a delicate flower or a garden bug. I’ve seen expensive jewels in fashion magazines. They’re highly crafted with multiple stones. A beautiful woman deserves a beautiful diamond. I embellished the image, but it’s straight out of the magazine.

The smaller female image in my collage is a figure in a couturier outfit and her breasts are exposed. You see a lot of that in the fashion magazines currently. She’s standing in front of the large face image. There’s a third image in black and white located on the lower left side. It may be a print by Pablo Picasso torn from an art magazine. I took it because it was the right size and in black and white. There’s a fourth image on the right side that’s a face and facing left. If you look carefully, you can see eyes, eyebrows and hair. The face is made with striped green paper. I like stripes. I like to combine abstraction, reality and fantasy.


I cut and pasted all the papers. There is no actual glitter and no jewel – just papers to simulate jewels and glitter.


Appropriation in Art

I recommend the book titled Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. It’s a little book with a lot of big ideas. The author says: remix and reimagine to discover your true path. It sounds like collage.

Appropriation in art is defined as the act of using pre-existing objects or images with little or no transformation applied to them. The artist’s job is to decide how much image transformation is necessary. Some artists feel guilty for stealing an image. I’m not sure that’s true for everyone. There is so much to steal now. Images are everywhere. I think it’s how you use them that makes a difference.


nancy nikkal, flat chested, collage 2017

The image nearby is a magazine collage I created on a 14×11 inch paper substrate. I gave it the title FlatChested. I think she is. She’s high fashion and very thin. The image is inspired by the concept Exquisite Corpse where the parts don’t have to match. Each of the 3 parts comes from a different magazine page. I liked the pink background in the middle section and the model’s long, graceful hand. Her eyes were made up with glitter and that was also appealing. I liked the wild, dark hair in the top section that has a mustard yellow background. I liked the pattern where the hair is separated by a part in the middle. The width worked well with the cut-off hat in the pink section. I liked the dot patterns in the black and white bottom section. Everything worked well. I didn’t have to add glitter because the model already had glittery eye makeup. I changed her mouth and shortened her torso. Colors are gold, pink, black and white. Her skin color is caramel brown. The papers come from W magazine. There are only 4 pieces in this collage –  three horizontal rows of cut and pasted magazine papers and a mouth from a model image in black and white (from the same magazine).



My students often ask me about copyright infringement and appropriation. One student this winter had to overcome – and actually did overcome – her resistance to appropriating magazine images. I persuaded her. We talked about it all through the winter term at the Pelham Art Center where I teach contemporary collage to adults. Her career is print publishing so I understand her resistance to appropriating images. I really like her 3 portrait images. Each one is very different. See them below.


student portrait collage with papers & glitter


The image nearby is the 1st portrait collage Ilene created in class. Her papers included stamped drawing paper (dots) for the face, chevron-striped paper for the dress, decorated papers from magazines and painted paper for hair, eyes, nose and mouth. The collage is on 14″x11″ Bristol paper (substrate). Ilene spent a lot of time cutting papers for the hair, eyes and mouth. Notice one eye is light brown and the other eye is a black and white pattern. Ilene added green glitter eye makeup last. Her background is grey magazine paper with a printed gallery name as vertical text. I remember Ilene asked me if she should cut, cover or leave the vertical text. I said yes – leave it in – it’s not too prominent. Ilene’s 1st collage has a lot of directional movement with pattern and cut papers. The grey dots in the face are tilting down right. The vertical text is parallel to the right edge.




student collage, assorted papers & glitter, 2017


The image nearby is the 2nd portrait collage Ilene created in class. It’s much more abstract and the eyes, mouth, chin and hair are made with cut triangle papers. The papers come from magazine pages but do not show a model’s image. There’s a lot of dynamic energy in the way Ilene placed the cut papers. Notice some of the magazine papers are solid black, beige, yellow, blue and magenta red. Notice a few of the cut papers have stripes and crosshatched line drawing that adds texture. I love the spaces around the triangles. Ilene used a minimum number of papers but still gave us a sense of modeling the shape of a face. Notice the shading in the red papers for the lips. The way Ilene cut the papers gives a sense of volume. Notice the nose and tiny hands (each within a contrasting triangle) are actual magazine images – the only ones in this collage. Hooray for appropriation! I believe Ilene made the hands and nose small to make them less obvious as swiped magazine images. Notice the magenta-red lips are larger than either hand.



student collage, exquisite corpse portrait, 2017


The image nearby is the 3rd portrait collage Ilene created in class based on the concept Exquisite Corpse. I believe I made my collage FlatChested (above) during the class to demonstrate how to cut magazine papers in angled, horizontal strips, using different models for each piece. Ilene’s portrait includes a woman’s eyes, ears and hairline on top and a man’s mouth, chin and neck below. She included a black round hat for the top strip in the collage, and found decorated papers in swirly patterns and bright colors for the bottom strip. I know she loves this portrait collage. I really like the contrast of one face in color and another face in black & white, and really like that one half of the face is male and the other half is female. Ilene selected images with care so that the expressions in the eyes and mouth co-mingle.





See 72 pins (images) for the Exquisite Corpse at my Pinterest site. Some of the images are historic examples. My students love Exquisite corpse as a class project and I set up Pinterest boards so they can check out images online. Read more about the Exquisite corpse here.



Today, appropriating and remixing images and media is common practice for visual, audio, and performing artists. Appropriation is a strategy. Visual artists would not be able to create the mash-up of  images we create without all the images online and in magazines. They’re available, plentiful and we find them. Please share your thoughts. Do you swipe images and use them in collage? Do you re-mix other media? Tell me if you love the Exquisite Corpse.

Thanks for sharing – Nancy



January 20, 2017

Albert Einstein said: Creativity is intelligence having fun.

Do you know that art enhances problem-solving skills? Art encourages creative thinking. It will make you feel good. Making art boosts self-esteem.

Making art is good for your health. It focuses your mind and pushes your worries aside. My collage students at the Pelham Art Center say the 2½ hours spent in class seem to fly by because they are totally absorbed in their art-making projects. They’re in “the zone.”

Pablo Picasso said: Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

I teach CREATE with COLLAGE at the Pelham Art Center in Pelham, NY.  Winter classes meet Monday nights, Jan 23-March 20 – 7:00-9:30 pm. 7 classes (no class Feb 20). This post shows sample collages for the 1st class.


nikkal, sample triangle collage #1

nikkal, sample triangle collage #1

The sample collage nearby may look simple, but it’s also a creative challenge to combine colors, text, and pattern into a pleasing design. It’s guaranteed that each student’s collage will look different from the others. The triangles are cut from magazine papers. They face in different directions and papers overlap. Some papers are dark and some are light. Some have white text on a dark background. Some have dark text on a light background,

Collage is about Serendipity

In class I discuss how papers move as you handle them, so the design can change as you lift papers and glue them down. Some students worry that their plan for a collage will change as papers move. It does. The best part of making collage is serendipity. I say: if you like, trace the outline of the design or take a photo with your phone. Or – go with the flow. Be happy as you move papers and glue.



nikkal, sample triangle collage #2

nikkal, sample triangles #2

The image nearby shows tall triangles that are arranged so papers touch the edges of the rectangle substrate. The substrate is the bottom layer for the collage. In this case, the substrate is a heavy art postcard I collected at a NYC Chelsea gallery. I always ask for postcards at art galleries. The paper is a perfect substrate for a small collage – and it’s free!

Notice two triangles (on the bottom) each include a slice of a face – one is a man and another is a woman. Once you notice the faces, you cannot stop looking at these triangles. Notice the lower section of the collage has a dark skinny triangle facing downward that points to the two dark triangles with faces. Every other triangle is light, yellow or white with text. The red triangles mimic the red tones in the faces and lips.



I will offer the class a 2nd project with triangles in a grid. I like the idea of theme and variation.

nikkal, sample triangles for 2nd class project

nikkal, sample triangles for 2nd class project


The image nearby is a sample collage with a horizontal grid. There are 20 rectangles. Each rectangle has contrasting dark and light right angle triangles that faces up and down.

The dark triangles are cut from black painted papers. The light triangles are cut from magazine papers with dots, text and patterns.



Be inspired. It’s not copying. It’s Theme & Variation

class project: triangles in a grid

class project: triangles in a grid

The image nearby was made by a student in class last fall. I brought the sample triangle grid to class and asked everyone to create a collage with dark and light contrasting triangles in rectangles. I said their collage didn’t need to look at all like the sample collage, but I encouraged them to create a grid pattern.

Many students tell me they dislike the idea of copying. I say: don’t worry. You can’t even copy yourself.

Notice this student’s collage doesn’t look at all like the sample I made. She added light teal-blue paper to her substrate before she added the rectangle grid with cut triangles on top.

I think her design and colors are gorgeous. It’s an amazing collage.


Final Thoughts

I am happy that my collage classes became a creative community. The class experience builds confidence, trust and success. That’s the goal. Each member in class develops a visual style that’s personal, and everyone cares for each other.

Many people believe you have to be a painter or sculptor to be a real artist, or that if you are not a born artist it makes no sense to make art. Not true. Creativity is for everyone. The art of collage is ultimate creativity.

Make Art and Build Your Brain Power

Read more about how creating with art stimulates brain power – and how anyone can do it. See: Be Brain Fit by Deane Alban.

I welcome your comments. Email me for a free PDF for tips and a materials list for the triangle collage project.

Ask me about the class projects I design that include collage with figures, and faces, collage with landscape, and collage abstraction. I can custom-design a workshop for you and your group.

See my newest triangle paintings and collages with painted papers online here.


Painting Papers for Collage 2

September 22, 2016

Two of the collage artists I admire most– Romare Bearden and Henri Matisse – created collage with painted papers.

Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

The image above shows the French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) sitting in a wheelchair in his studio in Nice, France (1952). He had recovered from cancer surgery. Notice there are a lot of cut papers on the floor. Following his surgery, Matisse discovered his genius for collage. He called it his second life, and he is world-famous for collage. Studio assistants painted white papers for Matisse with Linel gouache, a water-based paint. The colors are gorgeous. See more images here.

Painted Papers

Painted Papers

We painted papers as a warm-up for the collage class I teach at the Pelham Art Center. The image above is a beautiful mix of blue and hot pink acrylic paint – painted on a page torn out of ARTForum magazine. Can you notice there is text below the paint? It was applied so you can see some of the magazine paper below.

I tell the class I do the same warm up exercise when I arrive at my studio. It gets me into a creative groove. It’s also a lot of fun to do. See my video online at my website – Painting Papers with Nancy Egol Nikkal. Email me and ask for a free PDF step-by-step outline to make a portrait collage with painted papers.

Etched Painted Paper

Etched Painted Paper

The image above is a beautiful mix of blue, pink and orange paints, done by a student in class. It shows an etched, swirling pattern, created with a palette knife while the paint was wet.

When we paint papers in class, I set out coated paper plates with acrylic paints and a little acrylic medium to thin the paints for each student. I demonstrate how to use a plastic palette knife to mix the paints, move colors around, and spread the wet paint onto the magazine paper. I encourage everyone to allow some of the magazine paper to show through the paint.

All my collages include painted papers, torn from contemporary art magazine pages like ARTForum and ART News. FYI: I do read the magazine articles. I do tear out pages that are perfect for collage and then I tear out more pagers to paint. There are always enough pages.


It’s eco-friendly – it’s recycling magazines

It’s economical because magazines have so many pages

The process is quick and easy and you can create a lot of papers in a short time

Painted papers are very arty when you allow some image to show through

The different ways you apply paint shows personality, style and creativity

You can create layers, pattern and texture

You can create papers in all the colors you want

Painted papers are strong and easier to work with in collage

Painted papers are washable and durable

Painted papers can be repainted and you can create a new palette of colors

Two more reasons: Painted papers are beautiful and become a personal statement in every collage you make.


Henri Matisse, Blue Nude II

Henri Matisse, Blue Nude II

The image above is a painted gouache cutout titled Blue Nude II (1952). Notice it’s all blue painted papers. It was included in the exhibition “Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs (Oct 22, 2014-Feb 10, 2015). I visited the MoMA exhibit 3 times. There were more than 100 cut-outs, as well as a video that showed Matisse cutting painted papers with a long scissor while an assistant held the paper as he cut. Read about the exhibition here:

Thank you for your comments below. Tell me if you saw the MoMA exhibit Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs. Were you amazed at his collage technique and the colors in his painted papers? I was/am.

Link here to my post Painting Papers for Collage (October 2012) with images and more about Henri Matisse. He said he painted with scissors. He called his works gouache decoupes.

For fun: Ask me why I paint papers from contemporary art magazines. If you like, email me to get a free PDF with a step by step outline to make a portrait collage with painted papers (inspired by a famous contemporary artist).

Sharing Creative Collage

September 3, 2014

Sharing Ideas and Information

I belong to an artist’s collective. We meet in each other’s homes or studios once every 4-6 weeks. We discuss current studio practice, and critique works in progress. We know each other well. Our meetings always include great food and conversation. We share tips on new materials, museum and gallery shows to see, lectures to attend, books to read, and workshops we offer or attend.

If you don’t have an artist’s group of your own, I recommend you find one or start one. The group dynamic should be cordial and respectful. Enthusiasm and energy are a wonderful bonus.

At a recent meeting, I talked about Serendipity, surprise and my fascination with the unexpected.  I talked about how I love to design collage workshops, and about a portrait collage workshop I led in 2011 at the Newark Museum. The workshop was inspired by an image I found by Jean Dubuffet (French, 1901-1985). Dubuffet’s image was made with insect wings. We don’t do insect wings in museum workshops. We use magazine papers and typical collage media. I said yes when Ellen asked me to share the workshop lesson plan. Sharing is good. I appreciate Ellen’s talent, and know she has a great reputation for her classes and workshops. I sent her a link to my blog post about the Dubuffet butterfly collage workshop. Read it here.

I’m posting this blog to share the project with you. The image below is by Jean Dubuffet. It’s titled Sylvain  and is 6″ wide and 10″ tall. It’s all insect wings carefully glued down. Are you disturbed that it’s made with dead insects? Dubuffet wanted to shock you.


collage by Jean Dubuffet

collage by Jean Dubuffet


I’ve seen contemporary collage with actual butterfly wings. Some are quite beautiful. My workshops don’t include a supply of insect wings or butterfly wings. We use magazine papers cut in butterfly shapes instead.

Notice the Dubuffet portrait (above) has eyes, nose, a mouth and teeth. At the workshop, we worked with magazine reproductions of eyes and mouths.

Here’s a quote by Dubuffet:

“What I expect from any work of art is that it surprises me, that it violates my customary valuations of things and offers me other, unexpected ones.”


Museum mini workshop project lesson plan:

Provide 12×12 inch construction paper in a deep hue (substrate paper)

Provide a free-form profile drawing on 9×12 yellow paper (template)

Provide magazine images of faces, eyes and mouths

Supply scissors, markers, glue, seam rollers and squeegee

Supply magazines so each student can select additional collage papers

Show everyone a color copy of the Dubuffet image. Discuss how the insect collage is made.

Demonstrate how to cut and paste the paper profile, then add eyes and mouth

Demonstrate how to cut and paste overlapping butterfly shapes.


I asked students to study the Dubuffet portrait and decide if they would have eyes and a mouth. I asked them to look at magazines and select papers to cut into butterfly shapes. I asked them to think about how many papers they would use and how close or far apart they would place the papers. I asked it they would glue the papers flat or leave edges projecting.

3 workshop images follow.

Notice the yellow profile in the first image faces right. See the blue outline inside the cut shape.  It shows the artist’s hand. The magazine papers are multi-colored. Some are patterns and some are text. The yellow paper profile includes a large smiley mouth and two eyes.  I see a sloped nose, multiple lips and chin on the right side, so this face has more than one mouth, one is smiling and one is not. There’s a front view portrait and also a profile. The features are juxtaposed, quirky and fun. I am always surprised when I see this image.

workshop collage

workshop collage


Notice the blue butterfly collage below. There is almost no yellow paper profile to see – only a small section of yellow paper peeks through on top. Notice there’s a single blue eye looking through. Can you find it? It’s surrounded by paper butterflies – a white butterfly on the left, a blue butterfly above, and a black and white butterfly below. This “portrait” is about carefully cut and pasted, layered magazine papers.


workshop collage

workshop collage


See the yellow profile in the collage below. It’s the sample drawing I provided. Notice there’s a magazine image of an eye placed where you’d expect to find an eye. There’s a red butterfly shape that defines the ear and several other butterfly shapes overlapping each other, including cut papers that look like light brown hair. I enjoy this collage for the bubble text that let’s you know this portrait has something to say!

Dubuffet used insect wings to create something unexpected. I wanted the workshop to be about Serendipity and surprise. Every collage was a surprise. The first collage juxtaposes papers to create an unexpected portrait. The second collage creates colors and shapes in layers and obliterates the portrait (except for the eye). You have to look hard. The third collage creates a personal narrative and makes you ask what the artist wants to say.

workshop collage

workshop collage


In a blog dated July 27, 2011 “Art: Learning to See” I wrote –  “Becoming an artist is all about learning to see and understanding how you see.

At the end of the Newark Museum mini workshop, one student commented: it was a good workshop – What we did was learn how to see.

How perfect! That’s exactly what I planned.

Please add your comments below. Tell me how you do collage and if you work with magazine papers. Tell me what you think about Dubuffet and his insect portrait.