Which Tool is Your Lifesaver?

collage papers Consider this scenario: You're on an art-making cruise and the captain announces there's a problem and everyone needs to find a lifeboat fast.

Everyone's going to be OK, but because of space, you're allowed to take only one mark-making or background-texture tool or substance with you.

What would you take?

cate prato
Painted collage papers by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer.

I asked this question on the Cloth Paper Scissors Facebook page and our friends there had some creative responses. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Sun block, which would double as gel medium
  • A toothbrush-makes great backgrounds (besides cleaning)
  • A natural sponge. If big enough I could cut it into a square for precision use or I could use the rest in a random manner.
  • Styrofoam… and it would serve as a great flotation device, too!
  • The ship's maps. I've always loved maps, and plus maybe I could figure out where exactly in the ocean I was!

Several people mentioned my favorite item: bubble wrap. Whenever I want to add some texture to a background and don't know what to do, I reach for the bubble wrap and paint. Pressed on the surface lightly, it makes distinct dots. Pressed with more force or repeatedly, you get a blurred or mottled appearance. Change colors, and it's a whole new look. I have never once regretted using it.

Of course, being the short attention span maker that I am, I'm always looking for new (preferably free) tools to make backgrounds or designs with. I picked up two tool tricks from mixed-media collage artist Julie Fei-Fan Balzer while watching her WorkshopTM video "Collage Fast & Furious."

One is to make circles using the end of a toilet paper roll. The other is to make dots with the eraser at the end of a pencil. I cannot tell you how much time I spent trying to paint perfectly round dots until I picked up this neat technique!

Julie has so many ideas and so much energy, I know if she were heading for the lifeboats she'd not only grab her most useful tools, she'd be creating fast and furiously all the way to shore. In fact, "Collage Fast & Furious" is one of the most versatile video workshops you could have if you could only grab one.

collage papers
Julie's collage backgrounds made with erasers and toilet paper tubes.

So, what would you grab if you could only take one art tool from the ship? And how would you use it? Leave a comment below or visit our Facebook page to share your thoughts and read what others had to say. There are some very inventive (and hilarious) responses.




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