The next in our Isolated Moments series, aiming to keep spirits buoyed and creativity alive during COVID-19 global social isolating and quarantining measures, comes from artist and Fermynwoods Associate Educator, Louise Clarke.
Collage, like drawing, is my go-to when I need to kick start ideas or when I get the dreaded creative block. It’s immediate and forces me to use anything to hand, which in turn helps me to not overthink. Overthinking is often the main hindrance to surprising yourself and can grind creativity to a holt.
There are lots of ways to collage and this is just one way to approach it. This cut and paste method forces me to grapple with letting go, losing control and encourages playfulness and risk taking, allowing me to surprise myself. I discover something really useful every time.
There are two parts to collaging, Gathering and Assembling.
Gathering and looking for paraphernalia to work with generates excitement and pleasure as you hunt through your surroundings. Try and collect anything of interest. Paper, fabric, colours, texture, text, images. Look through photos, magazines, the recycling bin, sewing boxes, tool boxes, anything!
Looking for something to work with may offer up ideas, tangents and memories – don’t be swayed from your gathering, just bag these ideas by noting them down in a sketchbook or journal for use at a later date.
You’ll notice you are making more casual decisions about what is useful and interesting and what is not. Try to keep the impulse for editing to a minimum so that you can surprise yourself when you come to assembling with things that you may have otherwise initially discounted.
The materials you have gathered will dictate the way that you assemble your collages. Spread everything out and have a look. Resist the urge to order them.
Pick something and isolate it on a surface – a sheet of paper, a shelf, a wall…
Without thinking too much about this selection, pick up something else. Now comes the interesting part. How do you introduce these two materials together? Try overlaying, juxtaposing, weaving, cutting, folding, tearing, stacking. All of these processes can be used with images, textures, fabric, objects, paper and so on.
Next, pick something else from your stash and introduce it to your collage – perhaps you notice you are now trying to look for something particular to go with what you have made so far. Try to resist this and pick what is of interest to you, otherwise you will be dictating your preformed ideas onto your collage rather than responding to it.
Consider if you want to fix your collages or document them by taking photos of each stage. You might want to pin, glue, place, prop, tape, staple or stitch things in place. Again try not to agonise over this – focus on responding to what the materials and collage suggest.
Work fast and aim to create many – the more you make, the more opportunity you have to discover something useful to take further. These quick clusters can work as sketches for future drawings, garments, paintings, models, sculptures, designs, patterns, and so on.