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.



45 thoughts on “Minimalist Collage (Crow)

  1. I have a bit of a fascination with crows and also with using text on my branches or backgrounds with my bird art. Love this it works as it is but a darker background would set an eerie mood. Gladf I found your page very inspiring.

  2. Pingback: Let’s Celebrate our June Draw a Bird Day artists! | Create art every day

  3. WOW!!!! That is so totally cool! I have never seen that done ever! I love the effect, and to find such a neat book to go along with your image is just awesome. Keep on!

  4. I’ve had your art in my mind all day…it’s that good! Sometimes I will copy my work and use the copies to play around with. I like the tangible, paper between my fingers to manipulate. One more thought!

      • Youngsters? Oh, of course . . . you mean us! Yes, we have wonderful ideas! Too many sometimes. Is having too many ideas possible I wonder? I guess only if we expect to bring them all to fruition . . . wisdom is knowing which ones to work on I guess. Now that you have me going off down yet another tangent I better swallow this coffee and get back to work . . . for a while! Much chortling!

  5. Beautiful work! I love it just like that! I enjoyed looking at your artwork and reading about your working process!

  6. Absolutely beautiful work. The crow, especially. I’ve always had a thing for crows. Exquisite. Leave as is! I’m ready to have him matted and framed.

  7. I love that you used text that describes the crow in its illustration. I have a pair of crows that hang out in my yard. They dip bread in the water in my bird bath for (what I assume) is one or more young birds. I like knowing that they know who I am (supposedly they can recognize faces).

    • Crows can recognize faces–of people, of dogs, or other crows. They dip the bread in the water for themselves. It makes the bread easy to break up into pieces as well as gives them water. I love crows, too. They are very smart.

  8. I love it! I also prefer the minimalist collage approach. Sometimes collage just seems like too much for me. That may change if I ever really get into doing it. The crow is fantastic! With a background as a botanical artist backgrounds are alway a challenge for me. Painting on the marbled paper gave me an instant background. I love how you used the letters, words and sentences as part of the design. Beautiful piece Quinn!

    • A piece of suminagashi would have been great for this–but I don’t usually use suminagashi on watercolor paper. To keep collage from being ‘too much,” I’ve started these minimalist ones. I’m really getting into making them.

  9. Oops! I got so caught up in the question I forgot to say how much I love the work you’ve done! I’m glad you gave us the narration on the piece. I wouldn’t have noticed the details on the computer and the script “R” is pure inspiration! I would love to see this work up close! thanks for sharing, Quinn.

  10. I would leave it as is. Next time though…I would start with some color wash and then add the drawing and letters. You will be able to let the colors dictate the direction you go that way. I like the idea of color in one of these pieces.
    The other thing you might consider is using letters for the background in a purposely horizontal direction. It will help the raven stand out and maybe satisfy your need to “finish” this work..You could use words about “sky, clouds, air or flying” etc to keep the integrity of the work. Then a pale wash might work too…but I wouldn’t color the raven.

    • Nope, the crow stays as is. And the branch. Adding color there would detract, you are right. I thought about adding words in the background, but thought that was being too literal. I like the idea of trying some letters (no longer sentences or readable words) horizontally. That might work really well. And I can try it before I glue it down.

  11. I love these – the pear and especially the crow with the very specific related words. Maybe you can print it out and at least try the watercolor washes on a copy of the collage to see how you like it. But I also love it as is!

  12. Oh my…I really like what you have created. Great idea! I think the white background works well. Perhaps you could experiment with the image and background in a photo editing program.

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