collage workshops

Mirror, mirror

We tried a new idea in Muse Group this week. I called it “Use What You Get Collage”. Everyone came with a folder/file of at least 10 collage items that they’d picked because they fit together in some way- color, theme, designs.

In class we passed our folders to a person on the left, so we all had a “surprise” collection of collage pieces. It felt like a present and initially exciting!

From the folder we were “gifted” we each picked at least five collage items to which we could add whatever we wanted to make a finished piece. It turned out to be more of a challenge, for me at least, than I’d figured on! It took a lot of design-mind problem solving to make it work. And that’s exactly why it was so fruitful.


Mirror mirror whatdoyasay?

the world may be ending soon

but I’m still here in this mess

refusing to ignore the beauty 

I’ll wear it in my hair

wrap it round my body

extol it, consume it, remember it

paint it and write it down

till the end of my time

and all without a whine.

A bit of clarification here. My collage gift pieces were all lovely greens and blues: National Geographic pages showing debris in the ocean, jewelry, woven textiles, rubber gloves . .. To have a focus I added the picture of a woman and some mylar for the mirror (which photographed as black).

I also added the following quote from a little book Women’s Wit and Wisdom, which you’re probably not able to read:

“While others may argue about whether the world ends with a bang or a whimper, I just want to make sure mine doesn’t end with a whine.”



acrylic, gesso, magazine and cut phone book collage on w/c paper, 10 x 11″

Steps slippery with moss and the green slime accumulation of many days rain. . .

balance with unwieldy load shifting over the falls

Dare I let go?

Will I fall to the patchwork of earth below

or know the liberty of a bird in flight?

The lesson in last Saturday’s workshop was to take pictorial collage, arrange it whole or in pieces on the paper, and then integrate it by painting out, or even over, the pieces to get a unified result.

I started with a National Geographic picture of a native man carrying a heavy load across a narrow rope bridge over a river far below. I liked the edginess of it, but didn’t want to keep the figure or background, so I cut them out, leaving a left and right hand piece of the bridge structure.

I drew a more neutral figure with my black ink dropper onto the white paper between. Using a stencil that mimicked the rope lattice, I sponged in some darks in the bottom left corner, not realizing that later it would look like an aerial topography. The load on the figure’s back became a kind of bird nest as I arranged “phone book hair”.  Very little of this piece was my original intention, but a step-by-step exploration of material and form.

In the next Saturday Afternoon Workshop April 16 we’ll be adding dimension with mesh textures: painted screen, cheesecloth and fabric netting. There’s still space in that workshop. To join us, visit my website for registration info.