Minimalist Collage (Crow)

I have no idea what my fascination with minimalist collage is about. And I’m not pressing myself for answers right now.  My fascination with using letters and words in my art is reason enough to use letters as marks to create an image.

pear-Ltrs copyThe first one was a pear. It was fun, but a lot of work. I also decided to use shading on the pear, which defeated the purpose of spacing letters.

All sorts of questions came up–can I use smaller letters for light shading and bold or bigger letters for darker areas? And the most important question–where am I going to find all these typefaces and weights to make this work?

There were several other experiments, and finally, I decided to mix line drawings with using letters.

Cross-hatching for shadows matches the mark-making of the letters. No book store was safe, until I found a few typography books with letters of different sizes, shapes and heaviness.

CrowbranchThe latest collage was of a crow. Using a Pitt Pen, I first did the outline and cross hatching and then added letters. Except, the letters were not random. I found a book about ravens and crows and used entire sentences about crows in the collage.

CrowWholeAnd yes, that is the letter “O” in his mouth. It fit so nicely. You can see more detail in the close ups (above and below). The sentence that runs along the back curves because the words are cut and bent to match the curve of the crow’s back.

I used some type from the typography book for the dark areas, cutting out bold letters and gluing them over the cross-hatching.

crowCUIn the close up, you can see that the wing feather is actually a script capital letter “R” (for raven) from the book on Corvids (scientific name for crows and ravens). The eye is actually three capital letter “O’s” in different weights. I could have inked it in, but this seemed like more fun to use letters.

There are no rules for this work. I use as much line drawing as is necessary to create the image. I add the words to give meaning and texture. It allows the viewer to look more closely at the image without getting bored. And it’s a lot of fun.

My last question is–do I put in a background? If so, should I use powdered graphite to keep it monochromatic? Scattered letters? Watercolor in gray?

—Quinn McDonald is a writer and collage artist.