Exploring Collage: five creative project ideas for making collage art

Collage is a simple and freeing way to create artworks that are completely led by your own preferences. It is a versatile and tactile technique that allows for the creation of new images from scrap paper, recycled magazines, bits of old artworks or even found objects – anything you like really! Working in collage is a really lovely way to be playful and get in tune with your materials.

In this blog post, our Room for Art artists have shared five different ideas to inspire and encourage you to explore the creative possibilities of collage.

Abstract Collage

Artist Sally Price often returns to collage in her own work as it is a great way to try out lots of different ideas quickly. Here she shares some great tips for creating abstract collages.

Before getting started, make a mini collection of papers that you are going to use. As you choose, think about colour, pattern and striking a balance between the two.

Then choose 2 or 3 shapes and use only these in your collage making. You can vary on size and even cut them up but try to stick with those shapes and see where it takes you. Cut out a few of your chosen shapes from different papers until you have a small collection.

Start placing and arranging your shapes on your page, allowing your personal preference to take the lead. Do you prefer busy or minimal? Contrast or tonal colours? Layers or space?

Try using different weights and thicknesses of paper too – tissue, tracing, card and cardboard. Use these to add texture and play with layers. You might even like to scrunch or fold your papers to add interest.

Don’t stick anything down straight away – play with your composition, add things or take things away. Then start glueing when you feel happy and ready. Begin with your top layers and stick those to the layer below. Continue to work down methodically so that you can stay true to your composition.

It might be a good idea to have a few pieces of paper ready so that you can be inspired to make 2 or 3 works. Often your first work will give you ideas for another. You could make a series that goes together, create one large detailed piece or use these as a base for a drawing or painting.

Virtual Visitors

Looking through magazines, postcards and old photos can make for a fun and inspiring time! For this activity, artist Heather Lucchesi suggests cutting out a group of ‘virtual visitors’ and placing them around your house or garden.

Play with scale and composition before photographing your virtual visitors in each scene. You can move them around or leave them in place for a while. Then, use them in a collage or file them in your sketchbook for another day!

Imagined Landscapes

You could also create an imagined landscape using collage, as suggested by artist Elena Harris. There is no right or wrong with this. Your landscape could be realistic or surreal. Urban or rural? Whatever you imagine could be out your window.

Start by cutting or ripping your favourite bits of newspapers and magazines. Put them all together on the page and move them around until they start to form a landscape that you might imagine. Then use a glue stick to secure the pieces in place, starting from your top layer and working your way down.

Stained Glass Paper

Tissue paper makes for a lovely way to collage and this beautiful technique shared by artist Jessica Howarth is sure to brighten up your windows!

To get started making your stained-glass paper, cut a large square from a plastic bag and tape it to your table. Cut various colours of tissue paper into squares and mix a little water with PVA glue to thin it down. Paint the glue on top of the plastic bag.

Place your coloured squares on top and apply more glue. Then use small strips or left-over cuttings of the tissue paper to decorate on top of the squares while the tissue is still wet. Paint the layers with one more coat of glue before setting to dry overnight.

Once it is completely dry, peel the paper carefully off of the plastic bag. You can now draw directly onto it with a pencil. You might like to draw a shape, such as a flower, bird or animal onto a sheet of baking paper and use it as a template to create multiples. Cut out your shapes and place them on your window with a little PVA glue. This can easily be washed off with warm soapy water when you take them down!

Outer Space

Inspired by some of the artworks in the Art in Healthcare Collection artist Leo du Feu recommends using collage to bring outer space into your own art.

‘Realms of Possibility’ by Claire Cooper Walsh is part of the Art in Healthcare Collection

Start by drawing around some circular objects and cutting these out. You can colour your circles however you choose, but you might like to try PVA glue mixed with paint; folded paper with oil pastel or wax crayon; or watery paint of drawing ink on top of oil pastel.

Then create your space background by painting lots of different layers of blue, or circles of colour that gradually change from dark to light. Let your planets orbit in space by placing and sticking them on the paper!

25 January 2023 by

Ursula Bevan Hunter