Though the bulk of my children’s book illustrations are painted in acrylics, I decided to do something completely different for my most recent book, Soup Day (to be published Sept. 2010 by Henry Holt).
I felt like I was in a rut, just going through the motions with painting, and I wanted to do something that would shake me out of it – to work outside of my comfort zone. So I started making collages.
My inspiration came on Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago while we were visiting California. I was in a hotel room with my son, and I realized we hadn’t bought any Valentine’s Day cards for the next day. I decided to make some with him, but I didn’t have any paint or crayons on hand – just scissors and (oddly enough) a glue stick. So armed with our tools, we made cards using paper and the pages of some magazines. This is one Jamie made that day:
When we got back home I began collecting interesting papers and fabrics. New York Central Art Supply has the best selection of quality papers from all over the world at reasonable prices. I also photographed random textures in the neighborhood (tree trunks, bricks, sidewalks, manholes, etc.) and printed them on card stock. I painted color swatches, using different kinds of paints. I cut everything out and made collages for the illustrations in Soup Day. Here is an example:
There’s something so exciting and freeing about collage making because so much of the process is unexpected and surprising — in a good way.
Nowadays, my son still loves to create collages, and he’ll often spontaneously do them on his own. Recently he’s been cutting out words in magazines and making custom signs. I was thrilled that he was expressing himself so creatively, and he was thrilled that he could take the “F” from “FILM” and add it to the word “ART” to make… (see below):
Another fun idea he came up with is using the brightly colored foil from seasonal candy wrappers. I think he made this soon after Easter 2009:
Last week, I had a class visit at P.S. 142 in the Lower East Side. I’ve been volunteering there for several years via Learning Leaders: Authors Read Aloud, a great non-profit NYC organization.
I read Soup Day to the 1st graders and did a collage craft with them. As always, they wowed me with their creativity and enthusiasm. They are illustrating books about themselves which we will hand bind during my next visit. Here are some of their beautiful creations:
To make your own collage, you’ll need:
- Plain Paper
- Various colored papers, origami paper, newspaper, magazines, etc.
- Crayons, markers, any kind of media for drawing or painting
Other things you might have lying around:
- Cotton balls
- Dried pasta
- Used stamps
- Tissue paper
- Whatever you can think of that can be glued!
Cut shapes out of the colored papers and glue on a plain piece of paper to make a design or illustration.
Some helpful hints:
1. If it is difficult to cut out a shape by eye, first try drawing the shape in pencil on the paper you are cutting, and then cut out the drawn shape.
2. If you are looking for a specific color or texture and you can’t find it among your samples, make your own: Color a piece of paper using media of your choice and cut a shape out of that. For example,
3. If you want a large swatch of color to use in your collage, and you can’t find the right size, you can make a big swatch by pasting a bunch of cut pieces of that color on a separate piece of paper. Let dry and then cut a shape out of that piece. For example,
4. Have fun and experiment!