Sunday, February 21, 2016

Break Free with Scrap Therapy

What the heck is scrap therapy? It's a term I've coined to describe a collage exercise my friend Paula Guhin wrote about recently on her blog, Mixed Media Manic. It's something collage artists can do for themselves when they're in the midst of a demanding project and need a little break. Or when the idea fairy is AWOL. Or on those days in the studio when nothing seems to go right. At times like these, it's scrap therapy to the rescue!

Scrap therapy is stealing a half hour or so to have a bit of fun. All that's needed is a handful of found and painted paper scraps, 140# watercolor paper or other substrate, and a glue stick. (A scissors is optional.)

It's pretty simple, really:

1. Sort through your leftover paper scraps to select compatible colors and patterns that appeal to you.
2. Tear or cut those papers into pieces.
3. Glue them onto the watercolor paper to make a small collage or collages.
4. Add stamping, drawing, paint or other embellishment, if desired.

That's it! These aren't pieces you're creating to sell or submit to art competitions. The sheer pleasure of making them should be your only goal.Working on them with future sales or shows in mind defeats your purpose, which is just to have fun, so try to keep your thoughts from wandering in those directions.

This past week I found myself in dire need of scrap therapy. I've been working hard the past few months on a very large commissioned piece which has really put my skills and stamina to the test. Roughly half the surface is collage, specifically, vintage book pages which serve as a background. Every page must be encased on both sides with acrylic medium to preserve it during handling, and, once adhered to the canvas, to protect it from exposure to UV rays.

This single phase of the project has taken over a week to complete, believe it or not. There were dozens of pages to encase, and I won't even mention the tedium of cutting each one to exact dimensions so it fits precisely into its assigned position. (Yeah, I'm a perfectionist. I admit it.)

Anyway, after many days of self imposed torture, I turned to scrap therapy to preserve my sanity and my aching back. It only took a few minutes of rummaging through my paper stash to pick out some that called to me. I'm increasingly drawn to all things Bohemian of late, so purples, reds, blue-greens and golds dominated my choices. Here's my first scrap therapy collage, completed in about an hour:

Scrap Therapy collage #1   ©2016 Lynn Edwards

Last night I made a second collage, a companion piece to the one above. It's being flattened under a pile of books as I write this, and as soon as I can get it scanned I'll post a photo of it as well.  I love working with these colors so much I can see these fun pieces easily morphing into a series. There's still plenty left to do on the commission, and so, inevitably, there will be occasions when more breaks of this kind will be needed and more Boho collages will result. (Maybe I'll title the series Breaking Boho. LOL)

Setting the commissioned piece aside for a while was just what my brain needed. Sometimes the more you work on something of importance the less inspired you become. By shifting from that to something free of expectations, I completely lost myself in the creative process, which is, of course, the point. It took me from feeling depleted to feeling revived.

Scrap therapy is cheaper than shopping therapy, and healthier than liquid therapy. It really works! If you're not careful it could become a secret addiction, but I, of course, wouldn't know anything about that! 

Text and image ©2016 Lynn Edwards


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