Lesson 3: A Collage Journey!

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Take a walk around your garden or neighbourhood and look for interesting tools to create marks.

I love taking the time to do this before a painting session. Not only do I find some incredible mark making tools but it also brings me a two fold benefit as a warm up to creativity.

Benefit number one is that it puts me in a place of keen observance.

Sometimes when I first walk into the garden I think, oh well, I know what’s here, there’s nothing different OR I might walk out into a car park in an industrial area with students, at a workshop, lets say in Madison Wisconsin and be totally underwhelmed by the possibilities. These thoughts give me the prompt to open my eyes wider, to look in all directions and to drop my judgment lens, It requires me to look very low, through and under things, and I always find good stuff! In that car park in Madison I found an exquisite empty bird nest that gave great inspiration for the whole group all weekend long!

This exercise also acts as a meditation of sorts and puts me in the perfect place to begin to make art.

To create the collage paper for this exercise we are going to explore mark making with inks and acrylics on a sheet of plain brown craft paper.

Things to think about when you are making marks:

  • Contrast and difference; allow these to be your guide, to help you know what kind of move to make next. Try nudging darks all the way up to lights. Follow a thick curvy line with a broad wash of color, some tiny deliberate marks with a scribbly messy application.
  • When adding a new color introduce it to several areas in different ways as if it is a new guest at a party moving around and mingling in different ways with the other guests.
  • Connect areas of difference to each other by bringing a unifying mark or color over them
  • Figure out how many different ways you can use your nature tools. Rolling, dotting, dabbing, using both ends, scribbling….. the possibilities are endless!!

My initial practice collage

Tips when creating your collage:

*Use a torn edge to keep it loose and to stay open for happy accidents.

*Begin with an oval or rectangular shape as the body of your central figure and then let your imagination go wild!

*Tear out random shapes as legs, ears, tails and move them around to try out possibilities.

*Give your main animal some little companions for the journey.

*Think about what kind of environment or scene your animals might be in and tear the other potential elements of the scene. Eg foliage, rocks, trees etc.

*Moving your collage pieces around before gluing them down gives you the chance to hone your eye for composition.

*Once your collage is completely dry, embellish and add details with markers and gel pens as desired.

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