Studio Saturdays: Telling stories with collage

Rarely do I create a collage without getting stuck at some point. Collage doesn’t always flow for me like a drawing does—there are stops and starts, and sometimes I put a piece away for days before I can figure out what to do next.

Studio Saturdays

Nature collage
This collage combines bits from nature and city streets.

One trick I’ve learned to getting unstuck is thinking of the piece as a narrative, even if it’s one I make up. Grounding the work in a story helps me figure out what to include and what techniques to incorporate.

Collage components
I started with a rust print, and natural and man-made components.

This urban nature collage tells about my life as a city girl. I’ve lived in large cities my entire adult life, but I also love being in nature. You can find nature in a city, although sometimes you have to seek it out. I’m fortunate to have access to a beautiful public park where I live, one where squirrels take nuts right out of your hand and where geese and ducks leave feathers for me to find.

Collage attachment
A found feather is attached with embroidery thread.

The city is also a rich source of rusty bits—nails, washers, rebar wire—which I used to create a rust print on watercolor paper, my starting point for the collage. It serves as the backdrop for the juxtaposition of natural debris and man-made trash. The stitching (simple running stitches and French knots) references my love of hand sewing, serves as an attachment, and adds a shot of color, my way to welcome spring.

Leaf, metal, and stitch
A dried leaf is embellished with stitching and a rusty metal bit.

Books almost always work their way into my pieces somehow; here I’ve incorporated a bit of a spine from a vintage book, plus an old label.

Some found objects
I love the look of the tattered book spine.

If collage intrigues you or you’d like to explore it more, check out our wealth of materials—there’s something for everyone among the terrific books and videos filled with ideas and techniques. How will you tell your story?

Urban nature collage
My urban nature collage.

Inspired by my collage?

Here are some great collage resources available for purchase:

Storytelling with Collage Colored Pencil Collage New Creative Collage Techniques
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Mix It Up! Paint Collage & Found Objects Encaustic Collage: Layers with Beeswax Collage Playground
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Find resources on stencils and surface design resources in the

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