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Making an abstract collage

Isaiah 44:21-23

"Remember these things, O Jacob,
for you are my servant, O Israel.
I have made you, you are my servant;
O Israel, I will not forget you.
I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
for I have redeemed you.”

Sing for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done this;
shout aloud, O earth beneath.
Burst into song, you mountains,
you forests and all your trees,
for the LORD has redeemed Jacob,
he displays his glory in Israel."

Nita Leland writes, in Creative Collage Techniques:

With nonobjective design, the picture has no apparent reference to a subject….Instead, the formal elements of design are the picture. The picture is "about" color, line, or shape without a specific realistic image to create the visual sensation.

So here’s the problem: I can’t really tell you exactly how to make an abstract collage. I have no way of knowing which design elements are going to speak to you. My piece is a combination of cut and torn papers in analogous colors and similar shapes, and when I started out, I only had the vaguest notion of where it was going: it was going to be pink. Bright pink.

Some people won’t start working until they know what they’re going to do, but with abstracts it’s a whole different ballgame, at least for me. Once I had painted the canvas and glued down the first piece of tissue paper, the process took over. I don’t know at exactly what point that started to happen, just that it did.

So, I can tell you how I made this piece, but not why. I can tell you my steps, but I can’t direct your path. I would suggest that you do NOT make a copy of this piece, but rather just read through the instructions for the technical aspects…which are pretty darned simple…and then go make your own.

Materials & Tools

Sheet of canvas or watercolor paper
Acrylic paints (I used Jacquard’s Textile paint in pink)
Liquid polymer medium
Assorted papers, handpainted
Assorted pieces of tissue
Larger piece of heavy watercolor paper for mounting

Waxed or parchment paper
Foam brush
Heat gun (optional)
Something to weight the piece flat

1. Paint your canvas with the background color of your choice. Don’t be neat about it!

2. Glue down a central piece of tissue paper with a vague pattern on it. Mush it up and make it crinkly and uneven.

3. Cut and tear pieces for your second layer. Arrange them and glue them down.

4. Add another layer of smaller shapes that mimic the pattern and colors of layer #2.

5. Brush a thin coat of polymer medium over the entire piece. Let it dry overnight.

6. Brush a thin coat of polymer medium on the back of the piece and mount it on watercolor paper. Cover it with waxed paper and weight it down with heavy books to dry.

Copyright 2009 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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