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Creative Life News Blog

Cut it Out! Collage As An Escape Route

Just Cut it Out

Feeling at loose ends, unable to make anything meaningful? OK, you can choose to clean the floor, cook, eat yourself silly, run amuck or try any number of sensible or inane options. If you have an artistic bone in your body, though, you might try collage. Just cut and paste. You don't need much. Scissors, paste, and some workable surface like paper, canvas, fabric, wood, etc. Try cutting pieces of paper, parts of old or discarded magazines, ads, junk -- easy to acquire and inexpensive. Keep it simple and don't get too fussy with things you cut out. Then go as crazy as you like. It's amazingly rewarding if you don't get perfectionistic. In fact, collage is the opposite of perfectionism, benefits from thinking eccentrically, and is a great entry into making art.

Collage As Art

Picasso and Braque pioneered collage in modern western art by pasting things into their Cubist works. Matisse (above) cut and pasted coloured papers when he was unable to paint. Pop artists like Warhol and James Rosenquist collaged. So did many Modernists like Robert Rauschenberg. They weren't famous for their painting or drawing abilities so much as for their sense of putting things together in ways that worked.

Other artists created new vistas by taking collage into political, social and surreal realms, making works that were odd, funny, meaningful or not. Among my favourite collage artists are Hannah Höch (Dadaist in the 1920s) as well as contemporary artists Wangechi Mutu ("YoMama" below), Michael Madzo, and Cindy Sherman (photomontage). The list is long and the work created with collage is so varied. Find what you like and do it. Don't like it? Cut it up, make it into something else. You can, and that's the gift of collage.

Escape and Invention

Collage offers an escape from routine work for both artists and non-artists.

I'm writing this article during a trip to Mexico. I don't have many art supplies with me, but here are the collages I made from cutting and pasting local magazine and paper images as well as fabric. Their titles are: Balance; Blending In, Dispensing Wisdom, Our Lady of Eternal Youth, Las Diosas, Surfing Day of the Dead, I'm at Sixes and Sevens!, Doing it My Way, and Human Growth Potential. Whether or not they are fine works of art in themselves, they keep creativity alive by pushing boundaries, connections, and invention. They may also inspire further artwork.

Be a Cut-up!

Collage can tell a story or be an abstract design. What you do with it can be personal, intimate, political, or whatever strikes you. Random objects, letters, coloured shapes things that don't go together can find themselves working together in a collage. Mix collage with painting or drawing if you like. If you don't, no worries. As already said, some well-regarded artists weren't known for their painting/drawing abilities but for their sense of putting assembled things together (collage) in ways that make us look at them. How about you?


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