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Express Yourself Through Collage

Updated: Oct 22, 2021

I have an art practice that has helped me beyond measure. I have always played with drawing and painting. I have always made stuff. But now, it's as necessary as walking with my friends or hanging out with my family. It takes me out of my thoughts and completely absorbs my attention in a healthy and positively expressive way that nothing else does. It brings me joy even when I'm making something that I think is sh*%!

Many people believe that they are "no good" at art because they "can't draw." I have always said something similar about math because, well, I hate math because I'm no good at it. But really, these are self limiting beliefs and wrongheaded. I can do math. But I'm out of practice. I am also, by the way, out of practice with drawing. But drawing, like math, is a skill that is learned and practiced. Neither drawing nor solving quadratic equations just happen!

It's true that some of us are more naturally gifted at some things than others. My husband is a professor of electrical and computer engineering. He is gifted at math...I am not. But that doesn't mean I can't learn more and be better at math if I want to. The same is true with any visual art. If you have a desire to make it, you can do it and you will get better and better at it the more you practice.

Sometimes all we need is a way in. There are many ways into visual arts. One of the more fun and freeing ways in I think, is collage.

All you need to make a collage is some paper or string or yarn or magazines or ribbon or cardboard or anything that you have around the house that can be glued onto a substrate, i.e. another piece of paper or cardboard or piece of wood. Again, whatever! Simply place the cut (or torn) pieces of whatever excites you and glue them down. Old photos, newspaper clippings, sheet music, leaves, pages from books, fabric...on and on. Collecting collage material is also a big part of the fun of expressive collage!

At the same time, you can also be adding marks or drawings using crayons, paints, pastels, inks, markers, colored pencils...again, whatever you have around that you want to play with will work!

Playing with collage is freeing and fun. You may not love or want to hang on your wall the thing you have created but that's not the point. The point is to play. The point is to let yourself go and be expressive. That's all that matters. Just do it because it's fun and good for you!

There are many, many resources out there: the Internet (duh), YouTube, Instagram, libraries (huh?), community classes, and "bookstores" that can provide you with more detailed and step by step instruction if you really get into it. There are sophisticated materials and methods out there. But if you're new to collage, just jump in and have fun. However, I will list a few resources below for inspiration as well.

Happy collaging!

Collage Techniques: A Guide for Artists and Illustrators

by Gerard Brommer

The Art of Expressive Collage: Techniques for Creating with Paper and Glue

by Crystal Neubauer

Collage Care: Transforming Emotions and Life Experiences with Collage

by Laurie Kanyer MA

I worked on this yesterday. This is a detail of a larger piece and I still have some work to do I think. But on the other hand, I had fun making maybe it's done and I'm on to the next because the point is in the doing! I thoroughly enjoyed the process! That's what matters.

The materials that I used are: tissue paper, other found papers, Sundance* catalog tear outs, plastic stencils for fun patterns with paint, Japanese rice paper, and Liquitex®* Basic acrylic paint. Also, I used Mod Podge®* as an adhesive and Liquitex®* Gloss Medium to seal layers.

*Important: When I mention brands, artists, authors, publishers, recipes, etc., I am NOT benefitting financially or any other way. Nor am I selling anything. I am simply sharing things that I have come across that have been both inspirational and practical for me. I have no connection to any of the products or services that I talk about on this website/blog other than I have bought and used them myself!

I just thought I should mention that!

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