Saturday, June 20, 2015

How to Start an Abstract Collage

Are you intimidated by a blank canvas? Paralyzed with indecision as to how to begin? Here's a fun little exercise to help you overcome your apprehension and take you straight into making an abstract collage.

An Exercise in Serendipitous Abstraction

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to perform a simple timed exercise in random collage. Its purpose is to encourage you into an “anything goes” mindset and a willingness to give up control of the outcome --- essential skills for making abstract art. 

1. Gather found and painted papers that look good together in terms of their colors and designs.
2. Gesso a piece of 140# watercolor paper (any size) and let it dry.
3. Place the watercolor paper on your work surface. Using blue painter's tape, fix it into place so it doesn't slide around.
4. Cut or tear the painted and found papers into smaller pieces and into various shapes and sizes. Use at least three different colors.
5. Holding them about 8 inches above the watercolor paper, open your hand and drop them all at once onto the surface of the watercolor paper. 
6. Use your favorite adhesive to glue down each piece right where it fell. Leave the composition to chance. Do not fuss over placement. Overlap and layer the pieces wherever you are able to.
7. If you're totally unhappy with where the pieces landed, or if they landed everywhere but on the watercolor paper, you may do a second drop.

Now add paint if desired, then more collage, then more paint and/or images or image transfers. This technique, adapted from one used by Dadaists, can serve as a good "warmup" exercise. It can also be the design inspiration for a larger canvas, or it can be developed into a work of art in its own right.

©2015 Lynn Edwards

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