Choosing Papers for a Collage
In the comments section from my last post, I was asked how I choose papers to go into a collage composition. That is such a great question, and I’m not sure whether or not I can answer it adequately, but I what I can say is that it’s very intuitive for me.
Starting a collage-making session, it’s important for me to narrow down the choices, because I’m easily overwhelmed by too many different papers, which start to attract me for their own beauty and not for the purpose of the work at hand. Therefore, I like to have just a small selection of papers on my work space. That usually means my current favorites.
Since I do love surprising color combinations, I don’t consciously limit my choices to a color scheme. That’s just me. There’s no wrong or right in that regard.
So my process goes something like this: choose one piece that could serve as the basis or theme for the collage. Then choose another one that plays off it or complements it in some way. A third piece might be something to contrast with the first two, or might serve as an accent in color, pattern, or texture — for example, the one pop of bright color in the design. The one shown below is “Cardinal’s Reflection” – titled for the cardinal who kept looking at itself in our front window on a snowy day. This collage has five pieces of paper. The long narrow red piece was added to repeat the red showing in the background paper, a painted magazine page.
Or it might be an eye-catching pattern or interesting texture. In this one, made up of five papers, everything is relatively quiet, and possibly on the boring side, without the small piece of Japanese origami paper with an intricate pattern near the top.
Anything beyond three or four pieces becomes risky, because less is more. But I like to take risks sometimes. This next one is an example. Maybe it was because I was caught up in anticipation of spring.
I seldom end up with a collage made up of only two elements, because I don’t like even numbers. Once in a great while a collage will insist to me that it’s finished, even with only two papers. This one is an example. These were weathered papers, and the corrugated piece added to the background paper was enough to complete the design, and I added the penciled rings to the background.
Note: Clicking on each of these images will take you to my Etsy shop. I hope you’ll take a look at the rest of my collages there, and will feel free to ask about any of them in terms of the design process.