January 7, 2015

Tips for Random Acts of Collage

Wow, yesterday's collage post really tickled your collective fancies. To help you get to the next
step, here's 10 tips for techniques that work for me.

1. Because I am trying to open a window into my Self, I don't plan, design or think anything through ahead of time. I am no psychologist but I just can't see how it can work if you do.

2. It helps to have a good source of fuel. I have accumulated a basketful of clippings from art magazines, auction catalogues and other very graphic publications that are often in the "free" bin at local libraries or very cheap at flea markets. Feel strange about cutting them up? Get over it. (See why I was gently steered away from a career in social work?)

3. In addition to beautiful, dramatic or downright strange images, I also make sure the basket also includes a supply of anatomical parts. Like arms, legs, and feet...

...and don't forget lips! Nothing like slapping a nice juicy pair of lips somewhere.
And I don't limit myself to human body parts,either.
Damn, what number are we on?

Oh yeah.

4. I also use bits of paper, old bits of writing that I have collected from flea markets over the years, cloth scraps, or the occasional photo. The books say to make color copies of all that stuff. I have only done that with the most irreplaceable of items. For me, they're better off in collage than in the bottom of a box in the back of closet.

And beware, once you open your eyes, everything becomes fuel. If you find yourself peeling the labels off your tuna fish cans, you might have gone too far.

5. I don't glue any image down completely when I first start out. I do stick down the center of the largest images, so I have to commit to something. But I always keep the edges open so I can tuck other images behind them. I often find that leads to a whole 'nother adventure.
6. I have finally figured out that I can even rip images to make edges or holes wherever I want them to be.
 7. As I mentioned yesterday, its good exercise to fill all the white space on the page. When I've had it with gluing, I sometimes just color with craypas or colored pencil. That counts because it is way outside my comfort zone. In fact, its so far outside that my Self gets extra credit.  What is way inside my comfort zone is finding spaces where none existed originally.

8. Once most stuff is in place, I glue it all down. But I have recently discovered that not everything needs to be stuck to the page.

9. I also like to have a good supply of words or phrases that are silly or compelling. Well, don't we all...
10. I learn a lot about myself by observing what I cut out, what dominates a finished piece, my most comfortable orientation (diagonal),etc.

It cracks me up, giving art advice to you guys. Next, I think I'll call Annie Lamott and give her a few tips on writing.

January 6, 2015

Drawing with Scissors and Glue

Its a good thing I can create pictures and feelings out of words because I sure can't do it with a pencil or pen. Or with paint or pastels, or with charcoal or crayons, or in a box or with a fox.

I can't draw. And stop rolling your eyes and thinking that all I need to do is sit down with the right book and the right tool and believe in myself.  I do believe in myself.

I believe that I can't draw.

But that's ok because I just rediscovered that I had already discovered a way to express myself in imagery.

Collage. That potluck dinner of a medium whereby I set the table with my scissors,my glue and my paper, and you artists bring all the paintings, sketches, and photos for the main dishes. Its a meal I first started making when I needed something more than journal writing to unravel the knotted thoughts within me. And it stayed with me as I became a (slightly) more confident Creator of Stuff, willing to put my toe in the water of creating for its own sake.

Note: in case it isn't obvious, my results are for personal consumption only so please don't sue me. I am serious about not stealing art from artists, plus I know Himself would not accept the charges when he hears "This is a collect call from an inmate at World's End Copyright Violator's Correctional Facility." 

I started my collages in a large sketchbook, which I just laid hands on again.
Its like a big coffee table book of paper quilts:

And, more interesting now to me, a treasury of smaller blocks hidden in the whole:

It is also a pictorial guide to my life.  Here's when Thing One went off to college...
And here's when I rebooted. In 3D,yet.

Here I am adrift in perimenopause...
And here I am, landing safely on the other side.
Dragged down by events...
Bewildered by my brain...
And a blessed, albeit fleeting, day where I made sense of it all.
Collage is the only form of creating that I can do without planning. Where I successfully let go. I start with one piece that catches my eye and then glue with abandon, until the story my soul has been trying to tell me unfolds. Or until I've glued the sketchbook to the table.

I put this sketchbook aside and have started a new one. But instead of a journal to write in and sketchbook to glue in, I now have a single book where I do both. As an inaugural collage event, I gave myself ten minutes (9 of which were spent pulling off dried glue from the cap of the stick I forgot to tighten in 2007) and here's what happened.
Even the words streamed together from bits and pieces...
Planning a visit to the Cafe of Promise and Loss. If that isn't what being 60 is about, I don't know what is.  I know it because the gluestick told me.

And I never would have known it if I knew how to draw.