What is a collage anyway? This was the question I asked myself as I prepared for the collage workshop I taught in my studio this week. I pulled out collage books from my bookshelf. I started piling up supplies from my studio. I made lists of supplies I needed to buy. I started making lists of ideas. Again, what is a collage?? I admit that I got kind of frenzied. I’ve taught collage. I’ve included aspects of collage in my own work. But suddenly I couldn’t pinpoint what the heck defines collage. How does one organize the different possibilities into a coherent learning sequence?
While I got frantic, I could tell that Jim was watching from the sidelines, maybe just slightly amused at my antics. Apparently this is part of the process I need to go through to prepare for each workshop. Every time. Even if I’ve taught it lots of times before.
In addition to gathering up information and supplies, I also spent quite a bit of time experimenting with various techniques.
Things gradually start to fall into place. Out of the shambles come glimmers of how to get the workshop organized. This time I decided to make samples of various techniques and ways to use materials. I stuck them to the wall, where I could see them and reorganize them easily. Once the sequence made sense I left them in place to become a handy reference for workshop participants.
I also tack up a rough idea of a logical sequence in which to teach.
Finally I can’t stand the chaos any more. So I pile everything in a really big heap, so I can shove tables around to figure out work spaces for participants. Then I set up each space with tools and miscellaneous useful items. Can you believe how neat the tables look now? Supplies, paper towels, water, folders with information and more are organized for each participant. What you can’t see is the huge heap of stuff piled up beyond view.
I set up a table with supplies for stamping and stenciling and creating tar gel skins. Don’t know what tar gel skins are? Well, they’re fun. You, too, can learn how to make them when you take collage next Fall or Spring!
Next, I sort out the huge pile and voila! Ready or not, it’s workshop time.
I’m thrilled when I see each person’s space full of stuff. Ideas are flying back and forth. The tables look like they did when I was getting prepared. Creativity is happening! By the end of the first day, each person has a start on three different collages. A remarkable amount has been accomplished. By the end of the second and final day of the workshop, everyone is exhausted but brimming with ideas for completing the collages.
I could have sworn that I took snapshots of each participant’s collages before they left, but somehow I ended up with only a few. Did my camera eat the rest of them?
Below is one of Merrill’s works in progress. What you see are gel transfers of images of fish. I was very excited by what she figured out to do with the fish. But I didn’t end up with photos to show the more completed work. Darn it!
What a great group and wonderful couple of days. After everyone left, I put everything away (neatly). Now I’m ready to paint.