Shortly before the beginning of March, the leader for my local art group sent us an email asking for ideas for projects for the next meeting or two. I reminded her about the time our group had fun making collage by starting a piece, and then passing it to the person on our right, who would add some elements until time was called, and the piece moved again to the right.
I provided 11” x 11” watercolor paper for the substrate, and brought an assortment of printed papers, old book pages, maps, corrugated cardboard pieces, and fabric scraps. Members were told to bring scissors and glue of some kind.
Several of our new members had never done collage before, but quickly got the hang of adding a scrap of color here and there before passing it on. We did this until we got our own piece back, with a chance to add some finishing touches. I should have taken a photo of the collage I came home with, but I didn’t think of it until after I added a few more pieces.
I had started out with some large pieces of aqua colored paper sprinkled with white star shapes, and a page from a foreign language book. When it came back to me, someone had added a 3-D orange fan shape out of some stiff vellum, a small dark red shape topped with a yellow button, and a good size purple bird shape made of crumpled tissue paper. Someone added a fairly large piece of purple netting. Another member had found my name on one of the papers I brought, cut it into pieces and scattered them about.
At home, I sat it up on the end of my work table for several days, so I could glance at it through the day. What could I do with all these bits of color and shape so it didn’t look like the world was flying apart? Eventually, I added a few dark pieces along parts of three edges, as well as a layer of green tissue paper over two sections to try and “pull things together”, which allowed the purple bird to be the main focal point.
I must admit there are some days when my mind feels like this collage!
Two weeks later, our group met again and we each worked on our own collage. Some members had thought about what they wanted to make, and had brought papers to create their vision.
I didn’t plan ahead. I rummaged through papers when I got to the group and selected them mainly on colors that appealed at that moment. I paired them with some of my yellow handmade paper, torn into shapes to go with the large pieces. The paper substrate I was working on had a few black lines someone had painted long ago. I decided to let them show between the pieces I added.
Once I had the main elements pasted down, I couldn’t decide what to add next. Someone in the group encouraged us to use some tissue paper she had painted with watercolors. Adding a random piece to connect my larger shapes produced a really exciting element. After I got home, I added a small rust colored image about one third down the left side. Up close it is a set of keys tossed on a small tray.
By April, our leader was full of new ideas for the group. Perhaps working with collage has an organizing effect on the mind.