I have been browsing my art archives lately, and it has been surprisingly inspiring. I have lots of art journals and a big box of paintings and drawings from my teenage years. Even if I have experimented with many techniques and themes, it all looks very similar now. Everything fits together and gets my approval. Painting “Icebreaker” gave me a new kind of confidence, and with that confidence, I am now blogging about a playful idea that I got from cross-stitching – hand-drawn collage samplers!
These samplers are composed of hand-drawn paper pieces so that they look like cross-stitch samplers. They have ribbons, many identical ornaments, tiny floating elements, and some symmetry. There’s also stiffness and order so that it looks like the elements are on a grid.
Cross-stitching is one of my hobbies, and even if I try not to think about art when stitching, I just couldn’t resist this idea! Here’s how I applied cross-stitching to collage art.
The original size of these pieces is much bigger than in the printed sheets.
Use All Kinds of Hand-Decorated Papers!
Samplers have a variety of designs, so every little doodle is a potential sampler piece. I have a box of hand-decorated and painted papers (mostly leftovers from Collageland) and two boxes of hand-drawn collage elements. I have also cut some old art created in the 1980s. All these are a good addition to small printed pieces.
Of course, you can also use store-bought die-cuts, pictures from magazines, etc. but if all the elements are handmade, they will all fit together much better because they are all YOU!
Perfect Project for Hand-Painted Background Pages
If you are an art journaler, I bet your journal has a lot of pages that are more like backgrounds rather than finished pages. You can use them for collage samplers!
The background of this sampler was busy and bright, but I just added brown over some of the areas and let the colors speak, or should I say shout!
I attached the pieces with paper glue and some larger elements with double-sided tape. I usually use gel medium, but it’s messier, and it’s too difficult to cut all those tiny pieces with sticky fingers.
Self-Expression with Hand-drawn Collage Samplers
Sticking paper pieces can be just a relaxing hobby, like cross-stitching. But samplers can also tell stories!
My first page is called Squirrel Sampler, and it has all kinds of little treasures that Paivi the Squirrel has collected.
The second page is called Rabbit Feeders. It refers to women’s status and importance in Virginia Woolf’s novel The Voyage Out. An isolated woman looks at herself from the mirror and questions her importance for the world. I read Voyage Out as a teenager, and this allegory, even if it’s just a few rows in the book, touched me deeply.
It often happens that creative play evokes feelings and stories that are too big to express in any other way. I hope you’ll enjoy making these samplers!
A couple of months ago, I made a flip-through video of a full art journal. Many noticed a spread that was made from decorative papers mostly. I remembered that I took some photos while making the papers and I will share step-by-step instructions here. This pattern is good practice for motoric skills and drawing, but it can also go beyond! I used it for a more expressive purpose, for a collage art piece.
1) Paint Stripes with Watercolors
Use a fairly thin paper and paint it with watercolors. Use a selection of colors to create stripes or curves.
You can add drops of water if you want to make the background more interesting with bleeds.
Let the paper dry properly.
2) Decorate the Stripes with a Simple Loop Pattern
Using a thin-tipped black drawing pen, draw a simple loop and end it with a curve upwards. Without lifting the pen off the paper, add a bunch of loops on the top of the curve. Then continued by drawing a curved line downwards. Repeat and draw the whole row on the same go. Work fast and don’t worry too much about the symmetry or similarity of the loops.
After drawing the rows, frame the loops to make them more distinct. I used simple shapes to create flowers and leaves.
3) Color the Background and Add More Decoration
To make the watercolored layer look more lively, use felt-tipped pens (marker pens) and color the background around the doodled shapes. You can also add more color to doodled details and use a white gel pen to add more decoration to colored areas.
Decorative Pattern in Many Colors
This pattern looks luxurious when you make many papers in many colors with slightly different decorations.
Here are some that I made!
Decorative Pattern in Collage Art
I am fascinated by the interface between art, design, and crafts. The idea for the pattern came from knitting. I wanted to find a similar relaxing circular motion using a pen instead of a knitting needle. So that’s how a craft transformed into a design. But design can also be a part of a more expressive piece.
In this collage, I use decorative paper pieces with paint. My starting point was a watercolor background, acrylic paint, and a piece of decorative paper.
I cut a couple of decorative shapes and glued them on the background with gel medium.
Then I continued with painting using acrylic paints. In the finishing phase, I also used some more paper pieces and few colored pencils. A week or two ago, I heard the geese flying over our house. They were leaving Finland, going to a warmer place for a winter. Their sounds made me think how limited we people are, not being able to fly so freely, not always being able to stick so tightly together. The screams of the geese felt bright yellow and for a short moment, I wanted to join them and not stay in Finland, waiting for snow …
This spring, I have seen gorgeous pieces of art made from the mini-course Doodled Luxury and I want to share some of them with you. There were so many great pieces that choosing was difficult but this time I thought to share pieces that are very idea-driven. You can never have too many collage ideas, especially if you process several at the same time!
1) Many Variations of One Shape
Gina Meadows shows beautifully how hand-drawn elements are all like from the same family when created by the same person. I also love how it’s full of feather-like shapes. They repeat the idea of a free, observing bird.
2) Solid Ground
The second art journal spread that I want to show you is by Debbie Loftus. Her work is a wonderful illustration of the quote she has picked. This piece also reminds me of how we can create very free-flowing, beautiful mess that still speaks harmony. This can be done by simply making the bottom of the page strong and solid. This piece communicates how we as humans see nature. It’s full of weeds and still so beautiful!
3) Mystery That Can Be Revealed
Mary Werner’s lady looks a bit mysterious here – but wait until you see the second picture!
The lady has a secret, a dog who is her muse, making her to relax and take in much more than when walking outside alone. Mary has used velcro to attach the lady above the muse. Isn’t it a great idea to include a hidden mystery!
4) Spiritual Softness
Speaking of true friends, Stephanie Carney has illustrated two sisters. I love the way they look at the flowers, sharing the same experience. Examine how softly the round frame has been decorated and compare it to others! These kinds of little nuances can communicate a lot visually!
5) Real Person in a Fantasy
Terry Whyte made her granddaughter the central person. Isn’t this spread a treasure? Combine your hand drawing with the photos and start building your own fantasies!
6) Many Sides of One Personality
Satu Kontuvuori included her cat who is a very wild character. Even if she stays still in the image, it’s like the wildly flying bird is one of her many lives. If you are expressing a personality or any subject that has many sides, you can scatter it into various elements of the same piece. That way you will focus on one theme but still express it in a free-flowing and rich manner.
7) Focal Point Balances Richness
Speaking of focus … Christie Juhasz has a trick for creating a clear focal point. See how her mermaid is sitting on a white frame! Even if the work has full of details, white circle makes sure that the main character gets noticed.
8) Movement + Space to Breathe
Another great example of using circles: look at Betsy Eaton’s fish and how there’s a circular space around it. Brilliant! Another thing which makes this so appealing is the movement of elements. That dynamic feel has been created by adding swirly shapes.
9) Rainbow Softness
Kathy Lewis (a.k.a KjAllison) made a gorgeous spread full of multicolored elements, like mini-rainbows. This makes me think about macro photography and dew drops! Soft transitions of colors – why not use them in your next art journal page?
This mini-course, Doodled Luxury, was published as a part of Imagine Monthly Spring 2016 art journaling class. It’s now available individually as a self-study class – Buy here!
You can also buy all the 6 monthly classes as a bundle. I will also release the other 5 classes individually one by one later this summer, and show more ideas on how to apply them.