Saturday, July 30, 2011


Week 4 of Jane Davies' Dynamic Composition class has been much harder than I expected, given that we were exploring the concept of "the grid."  Grids are old hat to quilters -- so I blithely started pasting away with my painted papers and dyed paper towels, when I realized .....


...collages are NOT the same as quilts! 

 I tried using the principles that I follow in quilting:  find a color scheme that you like, gather as many different shades, tones, values of the colors that you can, make sure you include other colors in order to make a smooth gradation from one to the other...  

...but then you end up with a lot of little pieces that look like a bunch of little pieces.  Now this may just be the consequence of my obsessive nature; I am nothing if not detail oriented -- ask my quilting buddies!  I am famous for saving impossibly tiny snippets that everyone else throws away (I do use them!) 

 The difference, I think, is in the scale of the piece.  

a jumble of little bits and pieces
The small pieces I use in quilting are basically like the pixels in a photograph.  If you ever look at a photo, pixel by pixel, you will see what I mean:  a green leaf might actually have many different greens, some purples, and blues -- sometimes even zingers like red, orange, or yellow.  Likewise, when I use tiny scraps of many fabric colors in a quilt measuring, say, 78"x85", the viewer has the impression of only one color.  But collage work is on a much smaller scale than a quilt.  I found that at 8.5"x11", for example, I couldn't use my formula of "lots of little bits," because it just ended up looking jumbled and cluttered.

... and forget about it at 5"x5"!  In these pieces, I realized that the ones that worked better used fewer, and larger, elements.  To my eye, the one on the lower right seems most harmonious:
5"x5" studies

To solve my problem of scale, I cut the 8.5"x11" collage I showed at the top of this post into 2.5"x3.5" ATC's, and immediately noticed a difference.  While not "finished" in any way, they started to look more interesting.

So am I right in thinking that elements of a successful collage -- even those using a grid format -- need to include a difference in scale within the piece?  And, more to the point, how do I achieve this the first time around, without resorting to cutting up my original?


Jane Davies said...

Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! You zeroed in on exactly what what not working for you. I don't agree that a collage can not be successful made up of little bits and pieces, and I like the big one before you cut it up. However, the small ones cut from the big one are even better. And despite your working and re-working and thinking, the pieces have a fresh an playful appeal. Great job!

milkcan said...

Fascinating post and Jane's class looks amazing! Makes me want to take it!

Pat Mark said...

I loved the texture on the Italian buildings the best, my favs. Interesting project with your bundle of goodies, some neat textures and elements there.