Orange, Purple, Aqua, Cut, Paste, Repeat #Collage

I've enjoyed the rainbow effect of colour-themed collage images on my homepage recently, so I thought I'd share my latest work. I find the process of sifting paper and deciding what stays and what goes to be delightfully meditative and almost more important than the outcome.

Collage for me is a true case of 'enjoy the journey'.

My first attempts at collage (circa 2014) were very busy and took a long time as there were that many pieces to stick down, but recently I've tried to pare back my designs and try to stop myself from adding 'that final last touch'.

I like the results.

ORANGE

This was the hardest of the colours so far, and not because I don't love orange as I colour - I really do - but because sourcing images proved particularly difficult. I loved the 'SHOE GARDEN' effect though and the mixed-media flowers in paper, stiffened fabric and watercolour paper with acrylic marks I made myself. (And I'd totally wear those boots!)

'SHOE GARDEN' colour-themed collage

PURPLE

Also somewhat tricky to source purple images, this is quite a spring-effect mish-mash of florals which I like, especially the lavender. I don't always want to feature women experiencing sadness, but this just seemed to fit. I called it 'PURPLE REIGN' because the little birdy is wearing a crown.

'PURPLE REIGN' colour-themed collage

AQUA

One of the quickest collages I've made and also a strong contender for most minimalist.I love the contrast of the aqua and the olive green and the idea of paparazzi bursting from a teacup. It's called 'AQUA TEA' because I'm very inventive with names.

AQUA-TEA, colour-themed collage

Some people are purists and only use paper or card, whereas I love the full monty of a mixed-media piece and have no qualms about adding 3D elements if they fit the theme or look I'm going for.

But then does that fit with the 'less is more' aesthetic? Not really, but the main thing is producing something you like and that makes people smile and perhaps even connect with the work on a deeper level. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't!

Join in with the weekly themes and challenges in The Collage Club.

YELLOW: The Collage Club

This is my second YELLOW collage, and I like it much better than the first. It feels more nostalgic, more me. It's called 'YELLOW MEMORIES':

YELLOW, Week 2, The Collage Club

It's a thoroughly 'mixed media' collage because I've used a whole load of materials: tracing paper, magazine cuttings, fabric, pages from an old book, wire, watercolour paints, pencil, stamping, letter cut-outs, washi tape...

The vintage-esque yellow flowers on the magazine cutting immediately sent me back to childhood and the kinds of patterns that featured on wallpaper, bed linen, aprons and upholstery.

I was thinking Cabbage Patch dolls and naive illustrations and the innocence of very early childhood which is so impossible to recapture.

But there's the future too, on Kepler 16b, 'the land of two suns', which felt like an appropriate nod to 'yellow'.

And stamps, they go to the future don't they?

Here's the quote from the book page:

The great hall began to empty. Already it wore that drab deserted air of a vanished evening and the dawn of a tired day. There was a grey light on the terrace, I could see the shapes of the blown firework stands taking form on the lawns.

'Good-bye; a wonderful party.'

'I'm so glad.'

Find out more and join in with The Collage Club weekly prompts.

BLUE: The Collage Club

Blue waves, blue tears, blue sky. The blue of your eyes and your shirt and your jeans. Blue means blue means blue.BLUE, Week 1, The Collage Club

I think this 'BLUE' collage works on two levels. There are the varying tones of blue and also the rain (or tear) drops that indicate sadness or being 'blue'.

I enjoyed the contrast between the clean scissor cuts of the raindrops/teardrops versus the ripped layers of what could be the sea or at least, a sea of tears.

The remnants of my cut-outs had such an interesting texture I couldn't bring myself to discard them, so they crept into the mix too.

The great thing about collage is that every tiny piece or remnant becomes a jewel to be saved and reworked somewhere else, so nothing is wasted. That makes me super-happy.

Meanwhile, I'm doing a course at the moment on the power of colour. It's fascinating, especially for someone like me who regularly works with colour in designing patterns and maintaining a regular art practice. Read about the psychology of blue (and what's your favourite shade/tint?)

Next week's prompt: YELLOW.

Check out The Collage Club for more information and to join in.

'You Cut Me To The Quick' 'GREEN' Collage

Through The Collage Club, of which I am an avid supporter (if sporadic contributor), I heard about the call out for GREEN themed collages. I did a GREEN collage a few years ago, which my local council featured in their newsletter (I used elements of their printed newsletter - oh the irony), but this time I took it a step further.

It didn't need to be 'green' in colour but you had to explain how the finished collage would meet the theme brief of GREEN.

In my head I saw a steep rainforest of green trees with dotted lines intersecting them, like a blueprint for destruction (a green print would be more apt here).

It sounds like a negative image, and indeed, the culling of trees and the destruction of natural habitats for endangered animals is not a happy subject, but it's a subject I'm passionate about and having this image fired me up to create.

I started with a quick watercolour of simple triangular shapes representing trees, adding in pencil marks and patterns once the watercolour was dry.

Watercolour & collage forest

Next, I layered ripped papers, some featuring handwriting (like words of the law, like an agreement with nature?), to make a more cohesive forest.

I then photographed the page to manipulate digitally.

As I worked, more ideas came to me and I was inspired to layer a photograph of a glorious orange sunset over the forest.

I positioned it so the sun was visible and allowed the forest to show through. The thinking behind this was of 'the sun coming down on the forest' if it was set for destruction.

Mmm, still quite bleak. But it's an important message because this stuff is really happening.

Sunset through trees, winter in ScotlandSunset through trees, winter in Scotland

Next, I started hacking into my beautiful, serene image with 'digital scissors', leaving empty spaces where the trees used to be.

This created jagged edges and sharp lines that 'go against the grain' of nature (like destruction), and I left them because they are the essence of my point, the prism of my view.

I still think the image is rather beautiful in a haphazard way, if a little...'busy'. But then destruction sites tend to be busy, don't they?

Finally, I added a few pairs of scissors and crude broken lines marking out the areas to be cut, destroyed, taken out, burnt away.

'Cut Me to the Quick' collage

Effective? I called it 'You Cut Me To The Quick'.

Today the list of successful contributors was released, and I wasn't in the line-up. I'm not surprised or disappointed because the image I created relies a lot on digital elements and is more of a 'statement' than a beautiful 'finished' scene.

I wanted to share it anyway, and also shout out my lovely #creativesister Karen Lynch, a fellow Collage Club creative who is in the line-up - yay!

Check out who else made the cut.

Oh, and then I made a repeating pattern with the original watercolour. I like this pattern much more than the collage, and I've produced it in multiple colour-ways:

'Green Forest' & 'Autumn Forest'

'Green Forest' Repeating Pattern 'Autumn Forest' Repeating Forest

My inspirational message for the day?

No creative work or effort is EVER wasted.

Psychedelic Forest

I've been working a lot on digital pattern design recently, and part of that has meant manipulating my watercolour and acrylic art digitally. It's something I had never really thought of doing before, beyond the usual cropping and touching up of an image to post online.

But then...the patterns.

I present: 'Psychedelic Forest'

Psychedelic Forest: a digital collageI painted the watercolour forest while chatting on the phone, pencilled over it and added a bit of collage. A bit of fun on a sunny evening. (It was a long conversation!)

Then I was working on some new patterns for the Make it in Design Summer School 2016, and accidentally filled the background of the scanned image. Well, that's changed everything.

I'd buy it from myself if I could. I know you're not meant to say that about your own work but I love the drama and the colour, the vibrant, vivid colour, and the naive, hand-drawn elements.

It's the art print of my mind right now.

Psychedelic: "hallucinations and apparent expansion of consciousness" - exactly.

If it was a real place I'd go. I wonder what adventures I'd find in the 'Psychedelic Forest'?

Happy (inspirational) Saturday!

COLLAGE CLUB: STRIPES

My last collage was for the theme of 'YELLOW', then I missed a few. July's theme is 'STRIPES'.

Geometrics are definite, daring and inspiring.

When I think 'stripes' the image in my head is of a stereotypical French person in a long-sleeved Breton top. With onions. I also think of zebras.

Keeping it strictly fashion, the centrepiece of this collage is an illustration by René Gruau. J'adore.

COLLAGE CLUB 'Stripes' collage, July 2016I think she's chic, sophisticated and up to date on the latest trends, stripes or otherwise. And she's a jet-setter, oh yeah.

Beirut, Buenos Aires, Shanghai, Hollywood in Cambodia...

Everything else is just, you know? BLAH.

COLLAGE CLUB 'Stripes' collage, July 2016There's another page to this month's collage too.

I was going to create the male counterpart to René's exotic, striped lady. But I never got that far.

I'm including him anyway because...striped shirt and shades.

COLLAGE CLUB 'Stripes' collage, July 2016Find out more and join The Collage Club - creative prizes are up for grabs every month.

PS. Vertical City - does that exist? I think I'd like to visit, being tall and all.

COLLAGE CLUB: YELLOW

Yellow is the colour of sunshine, Spring and Summer. Yellow means hope and happiness and buttercups and a host of golden daffodils.

Yellow is egg yolks on a winter morn, new ideas at dawn.

Yellow is the great communicator and loves to talk.

Yellow is the color of the networker and the journalist.

Yellow is the scientist; methodical and decisive.

Yellow is the entertainer, the comic, the clown.

And YELLOW is the April theme/prompt for The Collage Club.

YELLOW themed collage

I had lots of cuttings and ideas when I first sat down to make this collage, but somehow I couldn't bring them all together in a cohesive image. Today was the day. A golden beam of sunshine helped.

It ended up about photography, specifically that of models for portrait shots, 'Empire Studios' touting for business, the camera finding little jewels of light, the magic in the moment, and yet does it ever really capture the truth of beauty or the beauty of truth?

Let's at least put our best foot forward...

YELLOW themed collage

My second collage for YELLOW is again inspired by fashion, by models on the catwalk and the glamour of it all.

It's all a 'Pursuit of Happiness' - of looking good, finding the right angle, the perfect smile, of inspiring emulation and adoration. Yet all the striving turns the final 'model shot' into a falsehood, the flash of the camera projecting an unreality.

Models have freely admitted 'they couldn't look as good as themselves' in their off-catwalk life, without make-up artists, hairdressers, airbrushing, photoshopping, primping, preening.

I also read in a 'vintage' Vogue fashion book that at one time the colour yellow, or specifically a yellow dress, was something suitable for wear only by a whore, a prostitute, a hooker...

This quote from Andy Warhol's POPism seems a fitting antidote from it all:

Now and then someone would accuse me of being evil - of letting people destroy themselves while I watched, just so I could film them and tape record them. But I don't think of myself as evil, just realistic."

Click! Click! Snap!

POP goes the weasel. That's a wrap.

Who knew yellow could get so dark?

(There's a donut and a parrot though. And a yellow Biba dress...)

Check out last month's collages on the theme of URBAN.

COLLAGE CLUB: URBAN TALES

When I started gathering bits and pieces for this theme, I wasn't sure which direction I would go in, but I soon found a route-map through the 'URBAN' landscape. Collage Club: URBAN"You are HERE."

Having recently returned from a trip to New York, I know first hand just how manic, busy and fast-paced urban environments can be.

Colours and lights and skyscrapers and buildings and people and buzz and rushing around to meet deadlines and communicate through time zones.

Time is precious and seems always to be in short supply in the urban landscape.

The edges can become frayed between reality and fantasy, and when I read about Skignz, it reiterated to me how technology and the invisible 'noise' of data connections are infiltrating every area of life, augmenting our own personal reality and the visual space around us, a la Minority Report.

Collage Club: URBAN"Is everyone 'GONE'?"

The image above conjures the idea of 'all the world being a stage', of places and spaces having a voice, of desertion and diaspora.

I love the empty windows that appear derelict, the statues and horses posed in stone, almost caught mid-sentence yet preserved forever, through art and as art.

Cities and urban environments are places where information and knowledge is stored.

They are financial centres of the world.

They become the hearts that send pulses of knowledge rippling out to other hearts, other centres.

They are LOUD with the voices and accents of a thousand languages, and yet the universal language of the world can be navigated through recognisable brands like Coca Cola.

Collage Club: URBAN'COOL GEOMETRY' was a fashion trend I designed a collection around at college, circa 2001.

It fits the theme of URBAN for me because urban environments are about a hotch-potch of structures coming together; old and new, modern materials adjacent to beautiful old bricks, colour-blocking in funky urban playgrounds, parks, schools, art installations, galleries, allotments and street art/graffiti.

Modern = glass and transparent, clever spaces.

Councils post blueprints of plans for residents to see what is happening in their community (complete with spy-holes through security fences, sometimes).

People take pictures and a few months later the landscape has changed.

Focus shifts and petitions spring up and words are written all over cities in a bid to keep things the same, to increase or stem the flow of urban regeneration.

Collage Club: URBANI found this huge cut-out of a watch, returning me to the concept of time, but also of the cyclical nature of things, of the world.

I like the idea of urban cogs, of recycling, of green spaces circled on a map, of the rotation of people through different cities that join together through connecting modes of transport, and then the return journey through the same or different route - so many possibilities - never just one straight line.

Rain falls from the sky and is processed for people to drink again.

Everything RETURNS and renews - but there is only so many times that is possible, too.

Collage Club: URBANFinally, I thought of urban crime scenes and police project rooms set up with markers on a board connecting pieces of evidence together.

People go missing in cities, yet there is always someone who sees something, or perhaps even takes a photograph. Maybe it's CCTV because 'big brother is always watching', especially in an urban space.

Trains connect people as well as separate people, and although I don't like to end on a sad note (because that's not inspiring!), so many times people feel isolated and alone in an urban sprawl; less connected to the earth, to land, to other people.

But then it all comes full circle again, because nothing stays the same.

#URBAN