How Radical Change Inspired This Assemblage Art

Some of my most powerful creative works come from times of trouble (such as a prose piece I once wrote on how to bury a dog when my beloved pet passed on), and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Tina Gilmore, whose mixed-media assemblage was featured in Cloth Paper Scissors (March/April 2011), had a similar experience of using art to channel a stressful time into something positive; see Ology for Beginners (below) to understand how, and be inspired.

Mixed-media assemblage art by Tina Gilmore |
Tina Gilmore is a passionate mixed-media artist who creates collage art and narrative assemblage. See more of Tina’s artwork on her blog:
Above: “Ology for Beginners” (mixed media assemblage art, 15×12) by Tina Gilmore (PIN this!)

Ology for Beginners: A Mixed-Media Assemblage by Tina Gilmore

I recall having a box as a little girl that contained scissors, tape, string, and various found elements. And I remember my attempts to make model houses and cars, thinking one day I’d make these things big enough to live in and drive around in. Today, I still get that sense of freedom–the awareness of the infinite possibilities of combination and expression–when creating mixed-media assemblage art.

I created Ology for Beginners following a radical change in my life. I was in a new relationship, had left the town I’d lived in all my life, and I moved to beautiful Montgomery, a small rural town in Wales. I’d also left my job as a medical secretary to become a full-time artist and open an art gallery. I had made it through a very unhappy time in my life.

For this assemblage, I used a wood substrate, gessoed it, and built up the background by randomly gluing textured papers to it. The vintage pattern paper was difficult to work with, as it kept tearing and it creased easily, but it looked amazing when it was placed over the textured papers. The gorgeous, natural, vintage color and the symbols on the sewing-pattern paper created a look all its own.

Once the background was established, I randomly brushed white acrylic paint over it and left it to dry completely.

The glass jar is the jar I used to rinse my brushes, and I liked the splotches of paint around the rim. As wire and upholstery nails are now part of my ever-expanding art kit, I used them to attach the bottle, resting the bottle on a shelf made from layers of cardboard.

The rusty hearts and washers are from my vast array of found objects, and the words were carefully chosen from vintage books.

The hearts bound with wire symbolize not just the love I feel for the wonderful new man in my life and my beautiful and supportive daughter, but also my broken life being mended. The boxes around the hearts signify protection. I also liked the idea of interpreting these elements as the complete opposite–the box symbolizing the trapped and broken heart I once had.

This piece represents the new beginnings in my life. Central to this imagery is the empty bottle that is symbolic of the point of change–emptied of the negativity of my previous life, waiting to be filled with the new and better life ahead. It also alludes to the infinite possibilities a new future brings–a clean slate and starting anew.

I used vintage Simplicity® sewing pattern paper to represent the idea that although daunting, it can be simple to change one’s life once you decide to do so.

This piece of art means so much to me. It’s symbolic of my life, and it carries the positive message that your heart and life can change, mend, grow, and go on. ~Tina

Friends, these are important things to remember, and I hope that Tina’s assemblage art inspires you in your own creations and journey. To help, you can take advantage of the 50% off sale on most mixed-media art resources (click here to browse) at the Interweave store. Picking up a new book or downloading a new workshop is a great way to brush up on a favorite technique or add a new one to your repertoire, which will help you express your artistic voice.

Wishing you endless positivity,

Wishing you endless positivity,


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