Collage is a form of art in which various materials are arranged to form an artistic image. There are many ways to make a collage, including mixing fabric, paper, photographs, ephemera, and found objects, as well as adding stitch, collaging with wax, or creating collage art digitally.
Many people are drawn to collage because of the variety of textures you can achieve. Collage can be likened to jazz dance: free-wheeling and go-with-the-flow, whereas painting and drawing are more structured, like ballet. Yes, there are always design principles to follow, but collage gives you a lot of freedom to interpret those principles.
Perhaps the best thing about collage is that you do not need a lot of fancy tools and materials to get started. This demonstration featuring Jule Fei-Fan Balzer, from her Cloth Paper Scissors WorkshopTM video Collage Fast & Furious
, shows you just how easy it is to get started.
|Julie Fei-Fan Balzer making a
How to Make a Collage: 5 Options
|Fabric collage by
When did you first learn how to make a collage? Was it in elementary school where you cut pictures out of magazines to concoct a self-portrait? Was it an Earth Day exercise to see how you could repurpose trash into a piece of art? Or maybe a watercolor class where you added dimension with papers or fibers?
I think my first collage was probably one of those magazine-cutting assignments. I wasn't really aware that there were many different approaches to making a collage other than cutting and gluing paper until I was in college, at least. Imagine my surprise and delight to find out there are so many ways to make a collage, including mixing fabric, paper, and stitch or collaging with wax.
Just look at some of the ways you can use different kinds of art supplies and found items to create collage art.
Longtime watercolorist Wanda Edwards turned to collage when she wanted to add more depth and texture to her artwork. Now she "paints" with little pieces of torn paper.
I love this tip she offers while demonstrating her Torn Paper Collage technique in the Collage in Color interactive eMag: "Watch how you tear your papers. When you tear some papers it leaves a white edge. Tearing these papers in the opposite direction will reduce this. When tearing a piece for a curved area, I tear in the arc of the curve. I plan the placement of text and design around my tearing as well." This always happens to me, and now I know how to fix it.
Sue Pelletier builds up her mixed-media collages with up to 15 layers of papers and supplies you can find at the hardware store, like plaster and tile-backing tape, plus vintage textiles and paint.
Encaustic collage is quickly becoming one of my favorite techniques, thanks to the patient and methodical (and fun!) instruction of artist Amy Stoner. There's something about the warm glow of the wax that pulls a collage together and takes it to another level. There's also an element of serendipity in this technique that I find fascinating; it's like you and the wax are partners in a creative dance.
Fabric collage is my favorite way of using all those scraps of lovely fabrics I can't seem to resist and combining them with my limited (but enjoyable) machine and hand-sewing skills. Few can bring together screen prints, fabrics, and stitch like Lynn Krawczyk. The way she combine's her engineer's eye for composition with her right brain's eye for color inspires me to play with fabric and printing in new ways.
If you really want to flout the rules (but use up a lot of your stash in a beautiful way), try found object collage. I find this a very rich and varied way of conveying your art piece's story. Using found objects in collage really makes you think way outside the box. A terrific creative exercise. Erin Partridge's methods for mixed-media found object collages are truly inspirational and have me thinking in new ways.
If your collage repertoire has been limited so far, I encourage you to try at least one of these other methods. Each technique you learn will build on the next, expanding your skills while whittling down that stash of papers, fabrics, and found objects you plan to use "someday."
Source: Cloth Paper Scissors Today by Cate Prato, Interweave, 2011
How to Make a Collage, Step by Step
My creative process starts with a trip down memory lane. I shuffle through my collections of old cards and letters, scraps of fabric from well-loved clothes, my grandmother's precious linens, ticket stubs, old scrapbook pages, and other personal treasures. I gather enough to cover most of a canvas (depending on size) and I begin.
The Collage Background
Before I start the collage process, I often write my personal intentions for the piece onto the canvas, using whatever writing implement happens to be nearby. Then the collage begins. I glue on the various pieces that I have chosen for my painting, mixing my sweet memorabilia with things like cardboard letters, my favorite fabrics, and pages from vintage church hymnals and children's books.
Add a Drawing
The next step is drawing the design on the collaged canvas. I use black oil pastel for this step because it sticks to almost anything that might be in a collage. I choose a design that works for me, and then let serendipity happen. I do not avoid drawing on top of certain elements of my collage, and believe that whatever is meant to show itself when the painting is complete will be seen; whatever gets covered gets covered.
Choose a starting color palette from your acrylic paintings and decide which color is going where. Use a paintbrush to add the color to your canvas in bold color blocks. This is a fun way to get color on the canvas and give you a starting point. These colors will change many times, so try not to get too married to the first layer. You will start to color in you subject at this stage, too.
I wait until the canvas is completely dry before I start this layer. I choose another set of colors to change or enhance what I have done on my first color blocking stage. You can continue to work over and over in this phase of the development of your painting, but try not to over work your colors. Now is also the time to add details to your subject matter: wings, eyes, etc.
The next layers involve adding additional texture using fabric and paper in a more planned and purposeful way to enhance your piece and add more interest. Take time to finish your composition in the way that you originally envisioned it.
This is the time to bring in some special touches. I like to use copper leafing for a little sparkle. When applied with the art paste, the copper breaks apart to create a nice effect. I also add things like spray paint through a stencil and/or bubble wrap dotted prints as an implied horizon line, or just because it adds more depth to the painting. Sometimes, I add a cool passage torn from an old book for yet another subtle message.
Words and Poetry
My final step is hand stamping some original poetry. I encourage people to find their voice and reach inward to gather their own words based on their own personal experiences.
Source: Collage in Color eMag, By Cindy Wunsch, Interweave, 2011
50 Papers & Ephemera for Collage
|Collage by June Pfaff Daley
Once you start seeing paper and ephemera as fodder for collage, you'll see "trash" in a whole new way. Here are 50 examples you can use, and you can probably think of more.
1. Book pages
2. Candy wrappers
3. Catalog and magazine pages
4. Cocoon strippings
5. Coffee filters (used and unused)
7. Decorative papers
11. Foreign language papers
13. Gift wrap
14. Grid paper
15. Grocery bags
16. Handmade paper
17. Kraft paper
19. Lace paper
20. Ledger pages
21. Lotka paper
22. Manila tags
24. Mulberry paper
27. Old drawings and paintings
28. Old notes and letters
29. Origami papers
31. Pattern tissue
33. Player-piano paper
34. Rag paper
37. Rice paper
39. Scrapbook papers
40. Sheet music
41. Shopping lists
44. Teabag paper
46. Tissue paper
49. Vintage photos
Source: The Cloth Paper Scissors Book by Barbara Delaney, Interweave, 2011
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