Collage workshop opens new possibilities

Small, intimate art workshops are such a joy! Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending a Canmore Artists and Artisans Guild (CAAG) workshop presented by collage artist Ursula Reynolds, of River Rock Studio.

My bin held many possibilities: maps, old photos, scrap words, cool paper, and of course the go-cup of coffee was critical!

The one-day course took place inside the Canmore High School. Twelve of us (plus instructor) showed up at 10 am, and it was so fun to be in an obviously well-loved artroom inside a school. We had quite a bit of room, and good thing because, as Ursula put it, “Everything can be turned into collage!” Ursula was a wonderful teacher with a great sense of humor; plus she was organized, kind, helpful, experienced. She made it a warm environment to learn in.

Once settled, Ursula taught us a method that is based on the teachings of Jonathan Talbot, where (put rather simply) you coat the collage elements first, then adhere them later. This method allows you to place your collage materials, try their position out (because they are slightly tacky but don’t stick permanently) and move them around until you are satisfied. Then, you use heat (via a tacking iron) to adhere the elements together on a layer.

 After taping off our pieces of watercolor paper (the base for our art) we jumped right in and began adding layers.

We tried lots of techniques, including photo transfers (I used old photos of my ancestors, hiking or skiing in the mountains), gluing tissue paper over layers, or adding found objects like garden flowers or leaves.

It was a wonderful day of exploration. The best thing was just to dive right in and try different techniques. That’s what I love about a workshop. It lets you play as you find your voice, and I often have several “ah-hah moments” where my mind clicks ahead to other ways I can use these techniques in my own art practice.

It’s liberating, instructional, and just plain fun. Here are a few images that walk you through the process from our day of fun and learning with collage.

My friend, Barb, begins laying down pieces on her taped substrate.

The class pieces waiting to dry once they’ve been coated with clear adhesive.

My work table shared wih Barb. Out of chaos comes art!

Using a tacking iron to heat adhesive layers to make them stick together.

More ideas: I paint over some text I had from a family history book to tone it with the color I selected for my collage.

Close up of tissue paper glued over the first few layers. Hmmm…what next?

Final layer: dried flowers added, plus some leaves picked up that morning, and some gold foil and text.

Close up of my garden-themed collage.

Removing the backing of a photo transfer. This collage features my grandmother, Violet Doucette, as a young hiker.

My collage before it is trimmed: showing my grandmother and her love of travel and adventure. (Note maps and stamps added.)

We cut through the layers and tape, and once the tape lifts, the clean image is revealed!

The tape is all trimmed off! The actual collage is 3″ X 3″.

My final three collages…a productive day!

My first collage: my grandfather (Clair Cote Senior) came from Ontario to find his new love: the Rocky Mountains and skiing.

My second collage: my grandmother (Violet Doucette) hiking in the mountains in her 20s.

My third collage: the end of summer and my garden gets put to bed. Bring on the commfort food!


8 responses to “Collage workshop opens new possibilities

  1. I love the collages–very envious of your class. It looks like it was a lot of fun and I’m impressed at what you created in just one day! You’re amazing.

    • Aw, thanks, Lauri! Remember that book on collages we spied in the store on Granville Island in Vancouver? I think you DO want to do some collaging. We need to get you up here for one of these classes (or a play day in our studio) so you can create with me. Next time!

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    • I will post this here, too, in case others are interested, but will also send you an email Roberta! I’ve had difficulty finding a good tacking iron in Canada, but have had great success ordering from collage artist Johnathan Talbot in New York:

      He sells a great one for about $22 + $10 shipping to Canada. His book is also excellent. Follow the instructions on his page regarding shipping to Canada. My studio partner and I ordered one, and we had ours within about a week. Make sure you check out his website, too! Lots of wonderful information. Thanks for stopping by!

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