Finding inspiration in Covid times through trying collage.

Finding inspiration in Covid times through trying collage.

Collage adventures.its safe

Someone sent me this photo and I just had to share it with you all.

It is beginning to get tough now but this is the most crucial time and so we must all find a way to get through this. Not going out means that, for many of us, there is nothing to take visual inspiration from. There are some amazing online free courses you can follow, check out YouTube, Instagram and Facebook and there are some great TV shows encouraging you to learn figure drawing and how to produce self-portraits. But if none of that floats your boat, what should you do?

Well I think now is the perfect time to try something completely different. A few weeks back I introduced you to mono-printmaking. All the equipment needed to make prints is in your home. I even showed you how to make a printing plate and in a couple of weeks’ time I will be launching my free ‘how to’ series of printmaking videos so that you can see exactly how I produce the work. You could give that another try.
I also recently produced nine small works which I am offering for sale with all proceeds going to the NHS. These works are very different to what I normally produce and they were my reaction to the Covid situation. Something very different.


Collage is a great artform, something which is easy to do you don’t need specialist equipment and you might just spark something new in your mind, so why not give it a try. Most of us have leftover bits of wallpaper in the home and maybe even old items of clothing which you know that you should have chucked out years ago. Well, those items make get elements to collage with. These pages of my sketch book are not something i would normally share. They would not made to be final works, but a kicking off stage for other ideas. You don’t have to share you sketch books with anyone, I am simply sharing mine here to give you an idea of what you can do too.  


So, how to start?  In my opinion it is good to start with an idea. You don’t have to stick religiously to it, in fact just having an idea and letting the work ‘tell’ you where to go next works best but having a starting idea will stop you from wasting time telling yourself that you can’t do it because you can’t think what to do.


Some good starting ideas could include:
The sea
Frontline workers etc.

You could decide that text is what interests you most or colour or maybe that textured old strip of wallpaper sets you thinking.
Go through old magazines and cut out items that align with your theme. If you don’t have any magazines or newspapers at home (really?), download a few images from your computer and print them out. You don’t need loads but have a few items to consider.

Next you will need a piece of paper as your foundation piece. If you can have a few on the go even better. If you have some gesso, slap a bit on your paper before you start cutting images from magazines. You don’t need to be careful you just need to get some texture on the paper. Stick some cellotape on the paper in random ways, use masking tape if you have it. Mix it all up. Don’t worry if you don’t have something I suggest, maybe you have something even better. You are just simply going to be playing.


If you are anything like me you will have all sorts of bits and things tucked away. Get them out. That old watercolour set, those tubes of acrylic you have never tried, some oil or chalk pastels you bought because they looked good in the art shop but you have never used them. You might have birthday wrapping paper, party napkins old greetings cards. Just gather all the bits together and use them.
When I do this kind of thing I like to place all the sheets of paper together in a line and make a connection between them. It could be a simple line, it could be a block of colour or you could decide to stick all the sheets together like you get in a concertina sketch book and have the theme travel across all the pages. Do adjust your horizon line on each of the pages to add interest and also so that each piece can stand alone, too.


I have used Posca pens, watercolour paints, wax crayons, acrylic paint and paper cut-outs of doorways and doors as my starting themes was buildings


The paint reacts in different ways, depending on the surface it is painted on and this varies between paint types. Watercolour, for instance did not dry and stay on the cellotape whereas the acrylic did. Watercolour on gesso moved around and made really interesting effects whereas the acrylic became textured rather than moved. I used cellotape to lift the surface from the pages of glossy magazines (NB it doesn’t work with all magazines, you will have to experiment) and painting over the magazine paper caused different reactions with watercolour and acrylic as well as when I used pastels.


As you can see from my work I have tried to mix up the size of the line, I have included large areas of dark and light with an easy visual route through. Although yellow is not a colour I would normally work with, I have linked all the pages by using this one particular colour at about the same strength for continuity. I also decided to change the theme. Whilst I started with the idea of buildings and doors, I found that the buildings started to take on a seaside feel to them. The flamingo, which is cut from some fancy napkins we were given, then led me into the sea-themed page.


As with all of these things, there are no rules. This is just experimentation. You may discover something you really enjoy which could take you to working up a small area into something much bigger. You could stick to using just three colours or you could throw the entire box of colours at the paper. The choice is yours.


I hope that this gives you something different to focus on and I hope that this Covid-19 lockdown is not messing with your head too much. As long as we all play our part, this will end soon enough and some form of normality can resume.

Stay safe, have fun and please do share your work with me if you are feeling brave.


If you would like to purchase one of the pieces I mentioned above then I am selling them for £65.00 each with all proceeds going to the NHS and I am also making face masks and you will receive a free one with every purchase. Just drop me a message and we can arrange to get them to you.


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