Although collage is not my primary medium as an artist, it is one of my favorites to work in. I find the process of collage to be limitless in its rewards. When I have been painting or drawing for an extended period of time, collage can be a breath of fresh air. The manipulation of text, paper, and found imagery has the ability to generate ideas that would have otherwise remained undiscovered.
I tend to approach collage as a puzzle, and the puzzle always begins with a pencil and a page of old text. I usually use vintage books that I find in alleys, dumpsters, or antique stores (I think I feel less guilty about defiling literature that has been discarded or damaged. I also prefer the look of aged paper for aesthetic purposes). I scan the text for words that grab my attention, and slowly circle those fragments to weave out a stream of consciousness that takes to form of a poem. I then paste small scraps of paper over the unwanted areas of text exposing only the manipulated prose. This “found poetry” is the backbone of the illustrated aspects of the collage.
When working with a collage piece, I usually choose either a piece of panel (wood of canvas) or a shadow box (using an old dresser drawer is a popular technique for making shadow boxes). When working on panels, my collages are usually double sided with one side showing the text and the other showing images. All of the images that I use in my collages come from books of clip art and copyright-free vintage illustrations.
I also use paper lace, handmade colored papers, and sheet music for backgrounds and textures in my collages. When all the pieces of the puzzle have come together, I sometimes finish it off with washes of acrylic adding touches of color to specific areas of the imagery. When complete, I seal the piece with acrylic matte medium.
Making a collage is a lot like an act of brainstorming. When an artist feels that his or her creative well has run dry, collage can be a source of newly generated inspiration. To keep our creative juices flowing, it is important for us always to try new things. You never know what you might discover.