Taking a Collage Class from David Addix

Every artist should take art classes; every teacher should take classes, too. I did both this week by taking David Adix’s fun and interesting collage class in Tucson.

Adix shows a basket made of found pieces of wire and metal.

Adix shows a basket made of found pieces of wire and metal.

David is a collage and assemblage artist, and he brought a lot of his work for us to see. I was absolutely taken by his assemblage “Chancel,” and his sculpture of a human figure made of telephone wire. (Take a peek at his website and the process video to see more of his work.)

He started class by leading us through seven warm-up exercises, each one exploring an aspect of collage:  positive and negative space, torn and cut paper, color, and composition. I found myself wanting to follow directions more than do something that was pleasing to my aesthetic. That was a surprise. I also followed directions too strictly–David said move out of your color comfort zone and I moved so far I had no idea what to do with the colors I chose. Lesson learned: it’s fine to explore beyond your comfort zone, but if you move into a zip code with colors you loathe, you won’t make art, you’ll feel you visited cruel and unusual punishment on yourself.

Adix2A fun exercise was to create our own table name tags using only torn letters. The two “Ns” at the end of my name always leads to scrutiny when I do table tents, so I used an upper case and lower case. Doing anything with people’s names is a smart idea–people have given a lot of thought to their names and are familiar with them. Great place to start.

AdixconfettiIn this exercise, we studied deliberate and random elements. Cutting up the colored strips and letting them fall created an eye-pleasing result.

After a lot of interesting challenges and some deep work, we spent most of the second day doing design work. My favorite segment was creating a spatial design out of our initials–we could rotate them, make them upper- or lower-case, and any size relationship. The only rules were cutting them out of black paper and arranging them on an envelope we had previously glued down. We then added a color to one of the negative spaces.

From left to right, the letters are LKP, PKM, and QCM.

From left to right, the letters are LKP, PKM, and QCM.

The variety of the results was wonderful and inventive.

Adixletters2The work, lined up against a wall, looked ready for an exhibition.

This class was not only time well spent, it was challenging, interesting and a perfect break in a hectic schedule. Thanks, David!

-Quinn McDonald is returning to collage as her art medium. And she’s doing it with more information and learning.


12 thoughts on “Taking a Collage Class from David Addix

  1. If I wasn’t looking forward to a week with Jill Berry in a couple of weeks I’d be insanely jealous. I had to show some of David Adix’s sculptures to my son . . . he likes mucking around like I do but seldom has the time . . . maybe this will get him making some time! I also showed my grandheARTs who stayed the weekend, they loved them too. The 9 year-old was really entranced as she’s a great recycler. They both liked playing round with their initials.

  2. Wow, how interesting and fun. Great ideas. Oh boy, now I have something else to try! That had to be a really fun class & a another great way to get out of “your box”. Thanks for sharing Quinn!

    • His sculptures are wonderful. He had one in class made out of old telephone wires–the ones that went from the phone into the wall and had those funny plastic pieces that insert into the phone wall jack. He left them on and they were really well integrated.

  3. That looks like a wonderful and unusual class. Very different approach to making collage. I’ll have to look him up if/when I ever get out there permanently!

    • Roberta, I follow your blog, so I’m familiar with your style. I think you would really appreciate some of his larger works. And you would really appreciate his teaching style.

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