Thursday, August 16, 2012

Collage Class With Claudine Hellmuth


a technique of composing a work of art by pasting on a single surface various materials not normally associated with one another, as newspaper clippings, parts of photographs, theater tickets, and fragments of an envelope.
Sounds easy, huh?  It is, until you start learning how you're supposed to do it!

I'm taking an online class with - get this - Claudine Hellmuth.  Yes, that Claudine Hellmuth - she of the wonderful and whimsical collages, books, and art supplies.  If you're not familiar with her work, check out her website for a real treat.

The class, through Big Picture Classes, is Composition for Collage and focuses on  how to use some basic formulas to create compositions that work.  I've done so many collages that just don't seem quite right, but I had no idea why they weren't working.

The online format makes it easy to work into your schedule.  Claudine provides an audio lesson, slides, handouts, and an online chat group for open discussion.  Each week has a different composition structure focus and the homework assignment is to create a collage  using that structure.  We upload our creations for Claudine and the participants to critique .  She's very helpful and encouraging, but not gonna lie, it's more than a little intimidating!  Participants seem to be at all skill levels - some new to collage and some very accomplished artists.  All their comments are helpful and supportive - no harsh judgements.

The first lesson was on asymmetrical collage - two halves of the design different yet connected. The key is to make both halves connected, through repeated imagery, color, or shapes.   Seems simple, right?  Wrong!  I was surprised at how much work it is to really think about a layout in advance.  Here is my submission for the asymmetrical structure lesson:

You can see that the composition is asymmetrical- the two halves are not mirror images.  We're learning about how to keep the eye moving in the collage with repeated color or shapes.  The bird on the lower left corner was black, so I colored it blue to tie it to the larger bird .I admit that this would not have occurred to me prior to this class.  The red off-set postage stamp picks up the other red stamp color.  It's amazing how those little touches make such a difference. 

Second lesson is the horizon layout - a horizon across at least one-third of the width of the piece.  The horizon line can be high or low.  And my attempt:

Claudine is encouraging us to declutter our collages.  It is so tempting to add just one more thing! I may need something on the lower left corner, but waiting for Claudine's comments.  The background made by randomly painting gesso onto card stock, then swiping on acrylic paint with a credit card.  Lightly stamped text in white adds a little more interest.  Scrapbook, mulberry and text papers make the horizon. 

Update:  Claudine weighed in on this piece and agreed it needed something along the bottom.  Her suggestion was a thin strip using the same color as the man's halo.  I made the halo ages ago, trying out a faux metal technique, so finding something in that color was a challenge.  I ended up using a strip of the piece I had cut off and inked it with more green to match. 

The man's feet swinging in the air bothered me, so I cut off some of the bottom and put the newly colored piece right under one foot to ground him.  Much better!


I'm surprised at how much work this is.  Apparently I've been plopping things in a state of uninformed abandon!  Thinking about where things should go, what colors work, what story I'm trying to tell is exhausting.  I'm looking forward to obsessing over the next lesson - vignette style.

1 comment:

  1. You are doing great work! Thanks for taking my class :)


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