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  • Writer's pictureAlexandra Benson

Collage Exploration

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

Collage is probably the topic I have most been looking forward to. I've gathered lots of ephemera, papers, magazines, fabrics, ribbons and threads to experiment with.

To start with the most basic, you need a couple of pages from a magazine, an X-acto knife, a cutting surface, background paper, and glue.

Find a picture of a face in a magazine. Carefully, with the X-acto knife, cut triangles that looked like shards, as if the face was exploring. Carefully glue the pieces to your background paper.

Next, try creating strips from a picture or a word in a neat font. Once all the strips are cut, paste them on your backboard spaced apart and maybe even in a wavy pattern where the tops and bottoms are mismatched.

Find another face from your magazine pages. This time, cut out pieces of the face (like the eyes, mouth, nose, ears) and try matching up the cut-up areas with different kinds of eyes (or whatever part you removed). Maybe pair the head with a nonsensical body or a different kind of bottom (animal body?)

Try to play with perspective. Cut out a figure and place it with a background that does not match in scale. Maybe add extra elements to make the final collage a nonsensical composition.

Next, try cutting a series of shapes from colored paper without drawing them out first. If you put them on the background and don't like the amount of white space, try adding some cut up pages from magazines. When you are happy with the way it looks, glue down your pieces. For added dimension and interest, add washi tape. More dimension, add paint. Create a blind contour drawing. I opted for a vase of flowers (of course!) I used Posca markers and sharpie pens (neither worked that well over the gauche paint.) I went back over the design with gauche paint for my final product.

The final piece is a sort of mixed media collage piece.

My final experimentation included creating different papers to use for collage, ripping papers, gluing small bits of magazine photos that were cut out based on color and creating a scene of a famous sculpture. For this, I chose a famous sculpture for inspiration, Yayoi Kusama's Pumpking (1994) from a photograph of Benesse Art Site Naoshima, Japan. First step was to create collage papers and background. I wanted the collage papers to be void of brush marks, so i chose to use globs of acrylic paint and a brayer to spread it around. I auditioned the pieces before deciding to glue. I was able to determine background to foreground. By auditioning pieces prior to gluing, I was able to see that the mountains needed to have more of a gradient for depth, back to the brayer to create the gradient.

Next, I needed to create a famous sculpture. I opted to use a pencil and a page from an old book to sketch out the pumpkin. With a brush, I spread PVA glue on the pumpkin so it would be easier to attach the small bits of yellow/orange colors I would cut from magazine pages. Once I finished adding all the color to the pumpkin, I cut off the overhanging bits and glued it to the surface of the final collage. Finally, I took acrylic paint markers to add the polka-dot details and finish off the final collage of this experimentation.

The final product:

Safety/Age/Behavior Expectations:

Collage can fit any age group. If students are not of an age where scissors are appropriate, it is perfectly acceptable to rip collage papers to create images. Based on age, if paint was involved, I would either recommend tempera paint (younger age groups) or acrylic paint (older students). For students using X-acto knives and scissors, a sign out sheet for X-acto knives would be expected and safety lessons on how to use cutting tools would be appropriate.

Other Supporting Materials:

  • table covers for messes

  • cups for paint/ cups for glue

  • paintbrushes

  • brayers

  • practice sheets

  • X-acto knife sign out sheets

  • magazines

  • newspapers

  • rags

  • inspiration photos

  • paints (tempera/acrylic/watercolor)

  • paint markers/sharpies/markers

  • glue


  • cups/brushes for spreading glue

  • options for ripping paper

  • pieces of pre-cut collage ephemera

  • alternative projects


  • collage names

  • collage self-portraits

  • collage scenes of memories

  • collage animal heads

Artist Inspirations:

Steven Lush

Jessa Dupuis

"Tunnel Book" collage


Hafeli, M. C. (2015). Exploring studio materials: Teaching creative art making to children. Oxford University Press. Pages 147-174

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