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Intuitive Collage Process – Day One

December 1, 2009

This is an updated version of a previous post about my favorite way of creating collages. This one is more complete, because I have taken photographs of the steps.

I don’t ever like to sit down with one collage and create it from start to finish. For me, this doesn’t allow the spontaneity I enjoy. Instead, I like to work in a very intuitive way on several possibilities at a time. I call them possibilities, because I’m not attached to the outcome on any of them. Some will turn out well, some will really surprise me, and others will go into the scrap pile to be incorporated into other pieces. For this project, all finished collages will be 5 x 7’s mounted on 8 x 10″ heavy paper. I am looking for surprising combinations of imagery, color, and texture. Approaching this intuitively will give me a better outcome.

As I showed yesterday, I will first roll out a big sheet of good acid free paper onto my table top. Then I use a variety of brushes, squeegees, and brayers to apply fluid acrylic colors very quickly all over the surface. The messier the better.

Next, I select a pile of interesting papers, magazine clippings, fabric scraps, cutout freeform shapes, and papers with my own color and drawn marks. The best magazine clippings are those with large scale graphics and photographs that are a little bit mysterious when cut into parts. At this point I’m not interested in subject matter.

I place these completely randomly all over the painted paper and glue them down with clear acrylic gloss medium on a large brush, working quickly.

Here is a closeup of some of the photographs I’ve chosen. I want to wait and add some of these later after my basic compositions are established.

Here are some closeups of areas showing more detail. Nothing is supposed to make sense at this point  . . .

I use generous amounts of the undiluted medium, both on the surface of the first layer, the undersides of the applied pieces, and again over the top of everything, so what I end up with is a fairly wet application. This will help later after it has dried.

Papers absorb the moisture in the medium and expand, causing wrinkles. But after it all dries, there aren’t as many wrinkles. I don’t worry about this right now. In the next picture you can see how some of the papers are curling. The thickest ones are the worst offenders. After all of it dries, I’m going to show you how to fix this. Now it’s time to leave it to dry overnight.

More pictures after this basic background has dried. I plan to add more imagery on top tomorrow. In addition to some photographic realism, I will be possibly painting back into it and adding some of my own graphics that I will iron on to the surface for a translucent effect.

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. December 1, 2009 8:41 am

    Oooh, this looks so interesting! I can’t wait to see the rest of the process! Thank you for sharing it. 🙂

  2. Eva permalink
    December 1, 2009 9:35 am

    It is such a privilege to be allowed into an artist’s studio and watch her working. Can’t wait to see the result!
    My method would probably be to fix the paper sheet on my drawing board with glue strips, so it cannot wrinkle any more. It is exiting to find out about the different method you will apply.

    • December 1, 2009 9:54 am

      Eva, the background paper isn’t very heavy at all — just 25# bond. So wrinkling is an issue at this stage with both the background paper and the glued bits. But here’s a hint: I’m going to iron it!!

  3. December 1, 2009 2:33 pm

    This is very similar to how I work on small art quilts…thanks so much for sharing…I’ll add a similar post to my long list of blog posts I want to get to one day!

  4. allmimsey permalink
    December 27, 2009 7:14 am

    What a fun approach to collage! I often do small format works, but will have to try starting large and cropping. Thanks for sharing.

    • December 27, 2009 12:31 pm

      Do it, allmimsey! You’ll love it I think. Hope you’ll come back again and perhaps share your observations!

  5. December 27, 2009 9:27 am

    Very cool! Just spotted this over at The Altered Page

  6. December 27, 2009 11:56 pm

    hey Martha! Just found your blog through The Altered Page and I’m so glad I did. I’ve got a piece of paper painted and I’m about to look through my images/papers to pick out what to use. I’m confused about one thing, though … What is “clear acrylic gloss medium”? I have polymer medium (gloss). Do you think that will that work?

    • December 31, 2009 9:24 am

      Cindy, I’m so sorry it took this long to reply to your question. Acrylic is the same as polymer. Have fun!

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