A Baker’s Dozen of Collage Art Lessons Learned

Every year, I like to look back at what I’ve learned (and written about) while experimenting with art techniques and supplies. Here are 13 collage art lessons I’ve learned (and I hope you have, too).


collage art faces by jane davenport
Jane Davenport finds face shapes among
the collage patterns she creates.

1. When in doubt, add paint.

Paper, glue, and found objects are fine on their own, but paint can bring these elements together, unifying the piece, adding color, or knocking back elements that seem too prominent.

2. Create under-texture. Start your collage with a base of textures glued to a substrate such as heavy watercolor paper: little scraps of maps, scrapbook paper, tags, fiber and so on.

3. Get creative with free supplies. Use junk mail for paper, an old toothbrush for a spatter technique, corrugated coffee sleeves for stamping, and so on.

4. Try a new art supply. In an art rut? Try a supply you’ve never used before to open your mind to new possibilities.

5. Incorporate handmade papers. Handmade papers add instant texture, dimension, and depth to art techniques like stamping, printing, collage, painting, and mixed-media stitch projects.

6. Build texture with stencils. Another way to add texture is to spread molding paste or fiber paste through a stencil.

7. Add sheer fabric layers. Sheer fabric like organza allows you to build up collage layers without bulk and adds an air of mystery to the work.

8. Play with pattern. Keep a sketchbook or camera for capturing patterns you notice in the world and use them to create interest in your collages.


collage supplies stencils and brayers
Useful collage supplies: Stencils, molding paste,
and brayers for creating texture.

9. Keep a brayer or two handy.

Brayers are useful for spreading and applying paint to canvases, gelatin plates and stamps, and can also create texture.

10. Take it to the street. Street art tends to be spontaneous, and gritty, and communicative. If your art leans toward the pretty and polished, try getting a little messy for a change.

11. Put it in black and white. No matter how colorful your collage art, always keep a black and a white marking pen nearby. Each is perfect for adding highlights, shadows, detail, and writing.

12. The more, the merrier. If one collage piece is good, why not make a multitude? Working in a series allows you to explore different styles and media with the same motif or shape, teaching you lessons about techniques and compositions. Creating with a group of friends can have a similar effect.

13. Learn from the best. The lessons above all came from some of the top collage and mixed-media artists on the planet, from our Art Lessons Collage + Paint Series. Now you can get the entire series in one compilation set, including how-to video and bonus content.

Start the New Year with all 12 collage and paint techniques from the artists in the Art Lessons Collage + Paint Series.

P.S. What is your favorite technique or project from the last year? Leave your answer below.


Blog, Collage, Mixed-Media Techniques


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