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Getting Started with Collage

Happy Summer everyone(!!!) and thank you for subscribing to my studio blog. It has been a while in the making, but hopefully we are ready to get rolling here.

Today I am thinking back to how I got started doing collage. It was 2010 and I was very keen to do Abstract Art, but I could not find any real instruction for this. Finally, one day, serendipity intervened. I was in the gift shop at SFMOMA and I ran across the work of Rex Ray, a graphic designer in San Francisco. Not only was there a bunch of his work there, but a book, which I immediately purchased. Here is what he had to say about his process:


“While I enjoyed the success of my graphic design business… I became frustrated by the commercial constraints, and wanted to return to the simple primal joy of the creative process. In an almost unconscious act of rebellion against graphic design and digital technology, I began cutting up magazines… and arranged them into positive, intuitive forms and compositions.”

-Rex Ray (1956-2015)

I could certainly relate to that. I had been a digital artist for many years and was eager to do my own work. But how to get started? Well, he had carved out a way that I could understand, so I followed him. Armed with just magazines, scissors and a glue stick, I began to create abstract compositions in a journal. Now, I knew nothing about composition or color or any of that. I just picked images I liked, and used some of his oval shapes (which I also liked), and got moving.

Here are some selects from my journals. I have hundreds of these and some real lemons among them so I am only gonna show you the ones I like!

I worked from simpler and more sparse to denser and more complex. I am struck, now, by the rich color to be had in magazines! Wow. And the subtle variations in color to be found in color photography in general. I use mostly painted papers now so all this ready made color is kind of dazzling to me. And right at your fingertips!

These pieces were done in a Canson XL Mixed Media 7×10″ sketchbook. I used your basic Elmers glue stick but I have found that it does not stick THAT WELL. I recommend the Uhu gluestick (via Yum City residents). These pieces are in such good shape these 11 years later because they never see the sun, tucked away as they are in sketchbooks. How they would do as framed work under UV glazing I do not know.

Does this interest you? Give it a try! And share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

See you next week Melinda

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