When I take a class, I follow the same rule that Cooking Man does when he experiments with a new recipe. First, do it exactly the way the recipe says to do it, even if you have a better idea. Once you have tasted it, you can make changes that make sense to you. But unless you follow instructions first, you will not be sure of what went wrong. Or right.
In the collage class I took, we received clear, explicit directions. I followed them as I heard them. Then, when the class was over, I went into the studio and made the information mine and made collages using the information, but making it with my esthetic.
Here are three collages I made in class:
We were told to cut five figures. I interpreted this as figurative, although they were supposed to be random. After we pasted them down, an additional step was to add five more, using different colors. Because I had made a figurative piece, the result was quite busy.
This was the homework piece. We were to create a collage titled “tree” using only items found in our kitchens. This posed an interesting problem, as I was staying in a hotel. I used a paper grocery bag, a coffee filter (using the pleated seam) and a Lipton tea bag to create the leaves. I cut the bag to size and had a large seam right through the middle. That didn’t work for me visually, so I cut two more pieces (OK, tore them with a straight edge) and placed one over the seam and another near the bottom to create balance.
Using the works of Robert Motherwell, we were to take the idea of the piece and create our own faux-Motherwell. I wanted to use a limited palate, and fretted a lot about the lines (and my old nemesis, the straight line). If the first piece was too busy, this one was a bit spare, but I can live with spare.
Once I got home, I wanted to explore the idea of the bird in the first image, rather than the whole, busy composition.
Using a photograph of bird feathers from art quilter and book contributor Diane Becka, and a piece of Monsoon Paper, I created a different kind of collage.
The original figure in the busy collage intrigued me. I wanted to explore it some more. So I created a collage using both the figure and the piece I cut out of the figure, leaving the meaning to be interpreted by the viewer.
–-Quinn McDonald is exploring Monsoon Papers and collage. She’s a writer, but these have, as yet, no words to go with them. Visual literacy is its own kind of vocabulary.