Being Mindful: Curating Your Images for Collage and/or Art Journaling Pages

In my Fremont classes this weekend we were talking about collage and selecting materials to use in our work. I know that I have mentioned many times my system of working. I know that for many people it's still hard and that folks have it in their head that they need to spend hours or sort through every piece of collage material in their possession to find the right image or maybe they're overwhelmed with supplies. I hope that what I'm about to share helps you. Keep in mind that what I'm talking about doesn't only apply to selecting collage supplies but art materials in general. We don't need a lot of supplies to create meaningful pieces.

When selecting materials, limit yourself. It is overwhelming when we have access to all of our supplies. Narrow it down. Be mindful.

Sort through your collage stash, pull out pieces that appeal to you *right now* not material for tomorrow or three weeks from now. Material for today. Think about how you are feeling right now and your mood. Think about the season/time of year and what feels right for today. Touch your supplies. Don't spend more than a nano-second as you sort. 

If it appeals to you right now, put it in the NOW pile. If you like it but want it for later, put it in the LATER pile. If you feel that you are done with it, put it in the GIVE AWAY or recycle pile. 

I recommend whether you are taking a class or working at home, sort your supplies. I go through my now journal bag and rotate my collage ephemera every three to four months depending on my mood. I tend to rotate my supplies with each new season or if I get bored. I swap out old supplies for new to me ones or ones I've forgotten about, etc... 

I also sort my images but ONLY by Focal or Background. It's what works best for me. I don't like sorting by color or anything else as I like serendipity. 

Think about limiting your material. Let's say you're taking a class and collage supplies are on the list. Sort through your stuff a few days before the class. Be mindful. Select maybe 25-30 focal images (your focal image can be anything from an animal to a person to an object to an abstract image. Select what interests you at that moment in time depending on your mood, thoughts and interests.) Sort through your background papers (these can be anything. I use a lot of magazine and book pages for collage. I also will use scrapbook paper, handmade paper, vintage papers, newspapers, etc... If I can glue it down and it is of interest to me, it goes in the pile) and select about 40-50 pieces of all different sizes. Look for a variety of colors, textures, shapes and patterns that are of interest to you. Place these in a container of some sort and this is what you will work from.

When it comes time to do a page, instead of sorting through your entire stash, you are now limited to using what is in the above mentioned container. This is your NOW stash. You need to do a page, sort through and select the first focal image that feels right. Maybe the image relates to how you are feeling or relays what you are thinking. Maybe you just like the color. Grab it and use it. Now sort through your background papers and select a small handful (anywhere from 4-8 pieces.) If you need to limit yourself to two or three colors that you feel go together. Look for different patterns and textures, things that you like. Cut or tear the papers as desired.

I'm not a big fan of the "just glue crap down and make it work." Yes, gluing stuff down and then doing things on top of it can be fun but it also can be stressful to some and not have any meaning to others. I call the above mentioned process, curating my images. It's not anything new and I have found over the years that it is what works best for me. I hope that what I have shared here helps you in some way. As always, please let me know if you have any comments or thoughts to share.

More Links on Collage Here:
Collage Tips
More Thoughts
Where I Find My Images (and supplies)


Indigene said…
Kelly, I've always done this, but I've never had the wonderful way you have of articulating this! I love the idea of "curating". Thanks for that. Your posts are always so inspirational and informative. You're a wonderful teacher.
Miss Iowa said…
Spot on advice! So many people don't understand collage because they think that it is as simple as cutting and pasting stuff on a background. Then they wonder why their collages are not successful. I don't think we can emphasize enough the need to "be mindful." Thanks for sharing!
Kay Wallace said…
This sage advice has come to me as I prepare to pare down art supplies that have taken me more than 15 years to accumulate to just a few boxes of supplies that will fit into a travel trailer. I have been overwhelmed for weeks with this daunting task. You have given me the courage to do this task now with a positive goal in mind. I will never forget your words today: "We don't need a lot of supplies to create meaningful pieces." Thank you so much!
Nancy said…
This is great advice.

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