The background of a collage is held together visually by a pattern, a color, a texture, or a mixture of all three. I’ve come across a background technique that is easy to learn, but complicated to master.
Prepare a sheet of collage background paper by painting or using handmade paper. Using a pen, colored pencil, or other instrument that will draw a fine line, draw a line across the paper, as straight as you can. The trick here is not to be perfect, but to let your imperfections make this a beautiful background.
Draw another line, as close to the first as possible. As the shapes take place, vary one line a bit, then follow that outline for a while. At the bottom of the page, you will have a background of interest, texture and shape that you can then fade by blending or painting over with transparent washes. I found that using color defined the area and that coloring in the space between the line created a drawing in itself that required little else.
(c) Quinn McDonald, 2008. All rights reserved. Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach. She teaches journal writing and collage at the Mesa Art Center.