I just returned from a North Carolina beach retreat of sorts. I mailed ahead a group art project, a simple collage exercise I call "Collage Squares." My three friends enjoyed the experience. Their smiles were great to see! I have done this type of collage with many groups, including friends, various women's circles, and one time, with a group of homeless teens.
In a way, Collage Squares are similar to mosaics. I use a square scrapbook punch to harvest the squares. I have square punches in various sizes, but the one I use most often cuts out 1 1/4" squares. I find imagery in magazines, catalogs and old books. When I work with a group, the little squares are laid out on trays on box lids and passed around. The process is very intuitive. People instinctively choose ones they like. Then they are glued to pieces of cardstock. It is also fun to make them into cards. When I did this with the teens in 2014, I also made available inspirational quotes to go on the back of their postcard-sized creations. Then we laminated them so the art would survive at least a little while in their backpacks.
Here are some I've made since I started making collages this way in 2012.
I think I was aiming for a sense of history here, repeating elements of curving shapes, birds and the red, brown and tan colors.
I went through a stage where I was making very sweet collages using Victorian era elements. Using nine squares to create a composition, as my friends did in NC with me, is the simplest way to get started, and resembles the nine patch squares in quilting.
Eventually, I went beyond just combining squares and started bringing in other shapes. My love of the sea is apparent here.
These rich colors (still) excite me and at the time I made this one, I was very into cutting up copyright-free fruit label art.
You can barely see the squares in this beachy collage, but certainly they helped get me started. I think probably I wanted to do something using the glamorous dame in the upper left hand corner, as well as map pieces.
And finally for "show and tell" here today, here is a postcard with a vintage feel I made last year. My favorite part of the composition hardly shows in this upload: the words "Strike Silent" on the clock face in the top row. I sent this to a friend in Maryland, and she commented that those words struck her almost as a koan. Lovely!
See also my 2012 post on "Quiltesque Collage" and another collage post presenting some of my art seen in local shows during the summer of 2016. When I started getting into mono-printing, I also punched out squares of my own printed papers to create collages (some of those appear on my Saatchi online gallery page).
I shared this technique with a friend from Idaho when she visited last year. She could not wait to buy a punch and get started collaging. Every time I hear from here, she tells me she is enjoying punching out her own stash of squares. The Collage Squares method is a great way to try one's hand at collage and here is a warning: it can be very addictive. Try it and see!