Conclusions on Collage


The beginnings of “Consider” & “Wither”

It’s been a week since my husband and I attended a collages class together. Since then I’ve had some time to process the experience and to experiment on my own. Here are some of my key observations and learnings from the past several days…

Artists aren’t necessarily teachers
That’s apparent no matter their talent. I would even wager to guess that the more talent they have, the less effective they are in the classroom; perhaps they’ve achieved success by a certain standard, so works of another creative bent or caliber might not be seen as worthwhile or up to par. Don’t get me wrong, they’re often the right people from whom to learn new techniques. However, these aren’t always the people who are generous with applause or encouragement, no matter how far we rookies have come in applying ourselves or how unique our views on and expressions of the world. That’s my perception of artists turned art instructors these days anyway; I might sing a different tune after I attend another class.

I don’t like to wait
The techniques we learned in class took some patience. First, there was waiting for background paint to dry, then the substance we used to do image transfers. After all that, we had to rub and wipe, then rub and wipe some more and again and again to release the paper upon which the image transfer originated. This kind of start-stop-start-stop approach to art seems to prevent entrance into my best creative zone. In all honesty, I detest it.

I dig contemplative collage
So here’s the bottom line… Though the methods we learned in class are probably seen as more prestigious or professional, I have a fondness for good old-fashioned paper collage: taking images from old magazines and other sources, cutting them apart, and creating a whole new scene with the bits and pieces.

Over the past few days, I’ve started two collages: one currently titled “Consider” and inspired by Luke 12:27, and the other currently titled “Wither” and inspired by Isaiah 40:8. I love starting with something to contemplate, then turning it around in my heart and mind while hunting for images that seem to resonate with it. In other words, this kind of art-making gets me into “the zone.” This is where I find joy and meaning. This is a how I expect I’ll continue to grow and learn most as an artist and human being.


Art vs. Crafts


The raw materials for my next piece of art

So here goes…

As part of my day job as a writer, I blogged yesterday on behalf of a client about the importance of art in child development—how the process of making art helps build kids’ skills in several critical areas of learning. The post also compares “art” to “crafts,” the former being more about self-expression and the creative process, the latter focusing on achieving a specific final product. Read post>>

A few years ago, I attended one of those paint nights. You know the kind: an instructor walks you step by step through the process of painting a pre-determined picture—everyone knows what the final result will be, and everyone leaves with virtually the same piece of “art” with minimal variation. Sure, I felt a certain sense of pride for accomplishing the assignment and taking home something that resembled coneflowers against a sky of gradient hue. But it certainly doesn’t bear any kind of self-expression. It’s a sorry imitation of someone else’s creative effort. And, come to think of it, it clearly demonstrates the difference between making crafts and creating art.

So I’m going to reinvent the blasted thing and somehow make it my own. For the past several weeks, I’ve been collecting scraps of yarn from a massive scarf project (I’m still debating if that project is a craft or art in progress) and I’m aching to experiment with them a bit. My plan? To construct a similar picture on top of the existing one using yarn fibers, watered-down glue and who knows what else—to transform it into a legitimate piece of art.

I’m eager to start the process…

The Repurpose-Driven Wife

God only knows how I accumulated so many Health magazines. I’m not kidding–they filled a brown paper grocery bag. And I don’t even have the rock-hard abs to prove they did any good! Geesh.

My bowl in progress

To prevent my being mocked as a hoarder, I invited a few friends to help repurpose my collection into something “more useful.” Our mission? To fashion “coiled magazine paper bowls” from ripped, folded pages bearing protein-powder ads, weight-loss success stories, and tried-and-true workout tips. Add some glue stick and some tape and some varnish–and voila!–you have a bowl for… um, uh… something.

Thanks to ReadyMade magazine, Pinterest, and the creative pursuits of several resourceful friends, I’ve become fascinated with the “repurposing movement” in recent years. I’ve tried my hand at salvaging bottle caps, wool sweaters, plastic bags, etc. But today I got to thinking–I’ve been repurposing for years through writing!

There have been times when a story idea shifted and eventually revealed an unexpected life lesson. There have been times when a piece began as an essay, but morphed into a poem. And there have been times when I’ve taken out my metaphorical glue stick, tape, and varnish to rework an article or manuscript to satisfy a specific editor’s eye.

Indeed, I dream of having killer biceps and a hardy appetite for leafy greens someday. But, for now, I’ll do my part for the good of the world by repurposing that which clutters my corners… as well as that which I’ve dared put to page.

WRITING PROMPT 1: “Repurpose”–what a fun word! Try using it in a story or poem.

WRITING PROMPT 2: Repurpose one of your favorite stories by another author into a poem. (In writing, there’s no rule against using someone else’s idea and shaping it into something of your own. Plagiarism is an entirely different–and more vicious–animal.)

WRITING PROMPT 3: Perhaps you’ve been working on a piece that just isn’t getting there. Have you tried using the idea within a different format–perhaps turning a short story into a poem, or vice versa? Try repurposing a piece of your current work.