Collage 101

This is a sample collage showing you step-by-step, my process of making a basic collage painting.  There are several pictures to show you each step in my process. I hope you enjoy watching the transformation from a simple board to a finished art piece. Learn the story behind the art in my blog, “Breaking Boards, Building Character”.

Starting out….

I started this collage with a scrap piece of wood. (Actually, it was a board broken by my son in karate class!) I applied a coat of gesso to the front and sides of the board so the paint would lay nicely on top of the wood. If you are painting on a canvas, be sure to use gesso to prime your surface unless it came already primed. I have even purchased old art canvases at the thrift store and gessoed over them to start fresh. In this collage, I also stuck on some reinforcement circles from my desk drawer. I just could not resist the texture.

Add some color

I decided to add a little blue and green to the background. This is a fun little whimsical project, so I used inexpensive acrylic paints available at most hobby/ craft stores. I added a touch of yellow to brighten it up. Don’t forget to paint the sides too!

Add texture to your collage backgroundsAdd some texture

Here is where the fun begins! I begin with stamps and a permanent ink stamp pad. I used lots of stamps in a blue ink, then I used a brown ink and then I finish up with a black stamp pad. The black is strongest, so I like to finish with the black.

Next, I use a dry brush (your stiff paint brush and just a little paint) and stipple through some stencils or anything with cutouts to make shapes. Stencils are so much fun and I have my favorites. (The triangle stencil by Crafters Workshop).  Don’t forget to stamp and stencil on the sides.  Lastly, I add some white. I either wipe on some paint along the edges or use stencils and add white. This little bit of white really pulls the piece together.

Add the main element

Here is where I refer to my sketch. I don’t always sketch, but often I get an idea and I have to put it on paper so I don’t forget. This was on a corner of a paper I found in my car the day I came up with the idea. I will probably put this in my art journal now to help me remember the day.

For this painting, I used a scrap envelope from my office. I just loved the texture inside and it made a perfect gi.

I cut out the envelope paper into the shape of a karate uniform and a scrap of plain book paper for the head, hands and feet and used Mod Podge to glue them all down. I painted some Mod Podge to the background and then use my brush to paste the paper down. I used the brush to smooth out any ripples or bubbles.

I keep the boy to the left and leave some room for the words. On my computer, I print off the words “Breaking boards, building character” and cut out each individual word. I use the Mod Podge and glue the words to the background.  Let all the glued pieces dry or use a craft heat gun to dry the piece.

Add some details

Now he looks like a little ghost. I mix a little yellow ochre and white acrylic paint to make a skin tone and paint the head, hands and feet. I used a Faber Castell India Ink Big pen in yellow and brown to paint the hair. I love how these pens paint transparent color and how they blend. The come in lots of colors. These are on my “must have” supply list.

Next, I use a black pen to doodle around the edges of the boy and the words. This helps to define the shapes and help him pop from the background. I use a Faber Castell pen around the edge of the boy and smudge in a shadow around his body. I do this a little at a time so the ink stays wet while I work. My fingers always get messy when I paint. (Oh, did I tell you to wear an apron?? Darn, your clothes will be covered in gesso and paint, just like mine!)

The final touches

So, now I added a little pink to his cheeks and painted on some stripes for his gi, just like my son’s. I glued on the belt pieces. All that’s left is to sign and date your work.

Good luck and have fun!