Three things I have learned about my practice and collage

I have never enjoyed doing collage work and I always thought that it was because my brain just didn’t work that way. I would see mixed media and collage work from other artists and love the depth and interest it added but it still felt foreign to me.

So I decided to tackle it head on. To make some ugly art in an attempt to gain some sense of collage and how I might use it. There are three things that have helped me on the journey so far.

Collage Artwork by Margaret Lipsey

First, I just have to get over making ugly art. In fact, I need to embrace the ugly stage of each painting I do and not try to avoid it completely. One of my meditation teachers told me once that desire is a two sided stick. There is the stuff you want on one side and the stuff you really don’t want on the other. I am trying to look at the ugly stage as a turning point rather than an ending point.

With collage, I know I can get ugly no problem. So no more fighting it. Just keep going. {Maybe walk away and revisit it another day, but keep pushing it}. And, just like everything else, I do learn more about what I like and what I want from mistakes than I do from masterpieces….

Collage Artwork by Margaret Lipsey

Secondly, making my own collage paper has changed my outlook. I’ve focused mainly on tissue paper and rice paper because they are more translucent but somehow adding my hand to that part of the puzzle has made such a difference. Because I am choosing the colors, techniques and patterns as I create those collage papers, I start to get an idea of how I might use them together in a piece.

Collage Artwork by Margaret Lipsey

Finally, I stopped trying to do collage like other people do collage. At the end of the day, I know my aesthetic. Most of the time when my work starts to frustrate me, it is because I am straying away from myself. I am not an artist who loves a distressed look, I lean towards modern and minimal. I like space and definition. I love layers you can see through but that still have substance. Remembering that as I am playing with collage has lowered the stress significantly.


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