Why collage-making helps you grow your art
I love making art with nothing else but brushes and paint, but I also like to include glue and scissors in the art-making process. Making collages is fun to do. You can do it in a very limited time, and it helps to develop your sense of composition.
The word ‘collage’ comes from the French verb ‘coller,’ which means ‘to glue.’ In collage, you take scraps of ‘something’ and glue them on a substrate. Usually those scraps are made from paper, but of course, you can use anything that you find around the house. Think about rubber bands, toothpicks, plastic, wool or cloth. Get creative, and use whatever you like!
I have made a lot of post card- and business card-sized collages lately. I first paint my own collage papers and use black tissue paper, crayons and Indian ink next to that.
The fun thing about making collages is that you split the art-making process in two. You divide the free and unstrained expression of abstract painting from the more conscious process of creating a beautiful composition. I’ll explain.
Making collage papers
If you make your own collage papers, you can try out everything you like. You can play around with paint; make textures and layers with all sorts of materials; scratch with pencils and markers and try out new colors. Practically, you can do whatever you like. You are free as a bird!
Playing around like this, you develop your creative muscles and get used to fearless painting. You don’t have to think about a final product yet which makes it easy to stay in the now, which, in my opinion, is a prerequisite for making lively art.
Glueing the scraps
Once you have created a collection of collage papers, a very enjoyable process starts. You can tear or cut the papers into pieces; move them quickly and intuitively around on a piece of cardboard and, when you like a particular scrap in a specific place, glue it on the cardboard. I use scraps of black tissue paper too which makes a beautiful contrast with the collage papers.
When you move the scraps around on the cardboard, you learn a lot about composition. Most importantly, you learn it by your intuition rather than from a textbook about composition or so. You can feel in your body when it ‘clicks’ and when the collage is coming together. These signs might be very faint in the beginning, but the more collages you make and the more experienced you get, the stronger these signs will become.
At last, you can add a final layer with mark-making tools. I often use Caran d’Ache Neocolor II crayons and Indian Ink to create final marks or scratches.
You can make tons and tons of postcards like this. It is fun and only costs ten minutes or less to make one. This way you can start or sustain a creative practice in a busy life without much trouble while you also develop your artistic freedom and eye for composition along the way.
Below you’ll find a photo of a recent piece of collage paper and a few postcards that I made from scraps of this piece.
Let me know below in the comments what your experiences with collage are!