Category Archives: collage

Postcard Idea: Color Collage

color theme postcards copy

This week, in support of the Summer Mail Art Swap, we’re sharing the simple idea of making a color collage postcard. The first thing to do is choose a couple of main colors to focus on and gather materials. We have a cigar box of small paper scraps and an expanding file folder of larger scraps and collage papers that are more or less sorted by color. That makes gathering colored papers easier.

I chose red and yellow, so I looked through our papers and chose some I liked. I used a 4×6″ piece of prepared cereal box as my substrate.

Go ahead and gather more paper than you'll need. It's good to have choices as you work.

Go ahead and gather more paper than you’ll need. It’s good to have choices as you work.

My son chose orange and green, and my daughter chose blue and pink. Each selected the papers they wanted to use and arranged them–without gluing–onto their postcard until they were happy. I glued some things down while still arranging. Work in whatever way suits you. We glued our pieces down using gel medium and an old paintbrush. I brushed a final coat of gel medium over all my pieces to seal them down. Make sure all the edges are secure so nothing gets caught in the mail sorting machinery.

color theme postcards

My daughter’s blue and pink postcard is on the top left, my yellow and red one is on the top right, and my son’s green and orange one is on the bottom. This is also a fun way to experiment with different and perhaps unusual color combinations.

There’s still plenty of time to join in with the mail art swap. All the details are here.

Other posts in this series:
Postcard Substrates: What to Use
Postcard Idea: Found Poetry
Postcard Q + A

Postcard Substrates–What to Use?

As part of the Summer Mail Art Swap, I’ll be posting ideas, links, and tutorials, hopefully every Monday. This week, let’s talk about the postcard substrate–in other words, what you’ll be creating your original postcard art on.

possible postcard substrates at amyhoodarts.com

You can buy blank postcards, of course, such as the watercolor postcards pictured above, but you don’t have to. This is just a pad of 4″x6″ sheets of watercolor paper. It’s far cheaper to cut watercolor paper down to size yourself.

The yellow pad is Bristol board. I’ll admit, this is one of my favorite surfaces for collage and postcards. It cost about $6 for 20 sheets, each of which can produce 4 postcards. (It was $10, but I had a 40% off coupon at my local art store.)

However, you don’t need to buy a thing. Save your cardboard boxes from the recycling bin–they make great surfaces for postcards! The blank inside is perfect for writing on. You can paint or collage right onto the side with the image, or you can cover it with gesso first to start with a blank white surface. If you want to do that, here’s how.

First, I cut off the side, top, and bottom flaps so I have two even rectangles. Then I lightly sanded it with fine sandpaper. This roughs up the surface so the gesso goes on better.

prepping a cereal box for gesso at amyhoodarts.com

Then apply a layer of gesso, which you can find in art stores or big-box craft stores in the art supply aisle. I’m not using a fancy brush; I got this one at the hardware store for probably a dollar.

painting gesso on cereal box at amyhoodarts.com

Once it was dry, I decided I wanted a second coat, so I lightly sanded again and painted on another coat of gesso. All done–ready to be worked on!

gessoed cereal box at amyhoodarts.com

You can cut them to size first and work on them small, or collage and paint first and then cut them down, as I demonstrateĀ here.

Karen has a helpful post with 10 “cheap or free” items you can use for postcard substrates, too.

Art Together Issue Four: Mixed Media

Art Together Issue Four at amyhoodarts.comA week later than planned but worth the wait, I hope: Art Together Summer 2014: Mixed Media is out in the world today. This is Issue Four, which means a year ago, I was just fleshing out my idea for this zine. Now my green Moleskine that I use as my external brain for this project is full of notes, to-do lists, and brainstorming, and four whole issues exist in reality.

My goal all along has been to provide encouragement and inspire confidence, to demystify art supplies, terms, and techniques, so adults can feel comfortable playing and exploring right alongside kids. Art-making is so much fun and I’ve discovered how vital it is to my sense of well-being. It’s not fair to leave it all to the kids; we adults need it too. And exploring together has been so wonderful for us.

This issue’s focus, Mixed Media/Collage, so easily lends itself to play. Mixed media really is as simple as using more than one artistic medium, in other words, combining art materials. In this issue we learn about the artist Joseph Cornell and create our own assemblage boxes. We play with found paper, collage, photographs, and whatever art materials we choose to combine. We make our own collage book and learn about different types of glue. And we interview Karen Isaacson, the organizational mastermind behind Mail Me Some Art.

We have some fun things coming up, too–some give-aways, an excerpt from Karen’s interview to share, and, inspired by her swaps of mail art, my kids and I will be organizing a mail art swap for kids. That’ll be open to anyone who’s interested, of course, whether or not you purchase Art Together. Check for details before the end of June (hopefully as soon as next week). Here’s to a fun summer of art-making!

All the details on Issue Four, including how to purchase, can be found right here. (Psst: Use code ARTPLAY for 20% off through July 31.)

Making + Listening::9/2014

The Making + Listening series has a new host, Jen at iHappy, and I’m definitely happy to be joining in again this week! It’s been a while. I’ll start off by sharing something 5yo G made.

5yo's 3-D picture at amyhoodarts.com

This was all her idea and completely driven by her. As is usual, she let me know when she needed certain materials or some assistance. I did suggest she glue the paper that she colored onto some mat board before proceeding to glue things onto it, since she started off with printer paper. I love how kids simply don’t care about things like scale, and how their artwork is so much more interesting for it.

Here’s a close-up of the cow (cut from a milk carton) with the flowers (carefully constructed from paper and tissue paper before gluing to the base).

amyhoodarts.com

Those flowers tower over that cow. It’s awesome.

Another close-up, of the superhero:

amyhoodarts.com

I also helped her figure out how to glue that so it stayed upright. We used a craft stick for support. One more close-up, of the chimney on the building. She told me she needed a cap from a juice carton, brown paint, and black paper so she could cut out smoke.

amyhoodarts.com

I super love the things she makes.

In comparison, I’ve been downright slothful. I have a chicken-in-progress to share…

embroidered chicken in progress at amyhoodarts.com

I’m working on some more small embroidered linen pockets–I decided to apply for a proper craft fair being held in July.

As for the listening, I’m really enjoying the birds. The weather has finally cooperated enough that we can have the windows open during the day. I hear far more birds than I see, of course. Titmice and towhees, cardinals and catbirds, phoebes, veerys, wood thrush, and a yellow warbler that I really want to get a glimpse of, but I’ve had no luck so far. Varied birdsong in the summer is one of my favorite parts of where I live.

And while I wish I had a lilac bush right in my yard, on my way home yesterday I noticed cut lilac at the on-your-honor flower stand down my road, so I made a u-turn and bought some. Now my dining room smells perfect.

cut lilacs at amyhoodarts.com

 

Collage Book

I think I’ve finally broken through my difficulty with “art journaling.”

cover of collage book at amyhoodarts.com

Cover of a book-in-progress.

Part of my problem was trying to work in store-bought journals. So many pages! So. Many. Blank. Pages. I had two small pieces of really thick watercolor paper, so I sliced them both in half length-ways, painted them, folded them, and stitched them together. Now I have a 16-page book. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, but I knew I wanted to start with collages. So I did.

The pictures I chose began to turn into prompts for writing. I’ve been trying to work with memoir-specific writing prompts this month (from both Old Friend From Far Away by Natalie Goldberg and Handling the Truth by Beth Kephart). But it can often be hard for me to remember things (part of the problem I’m trying to work on with the memoir prompts). What I found when I began playing with the images I had at my disposal and just choosing what I liked is that they brought certain things to mind.

spread from collage book at amyhoodarts.com

A completed spread.

I liked the fish, so I glued the fish down. The fish made me think of Lenten Fridays during childhood, so I glued the pic of me on my First Communion day on the same page. (All the pics in this book are color photocopies of the originals.) And then I began writing. The images from a pattern envelope of course led me to write about my mother sewing me clothes.

I have some pages ready for writing and doodling…

collage book pages ready for writing at amyhoodarts.com

And lots of pages that have neither images nor words yet.

collage book blank pages at amyhoodarts.com

So this can be a project for quite a while. I…I’m really loving it.

**

Since today is the first day of one of my favorite months, National Poetry Month, I wanted to share a bit of poetry, too. (Look for that all month long.) This is an excerpt from Mary Oliver’s “Black Oaks,” found in the book Blue Iris:

Listen, says ambition, nervously shifting her weight
from one boot to another–why don’t you get going?

For there I am, in the mossy shadows, under the trees.

And to tell the truth I don’t want to let go of the wrists
of idleness, I don’t want to sell my life for money,
I don’t even want to come out of the rain.

How To: Postcard Backgrounds

After my last post, Lisa asked what I meant by “collaging Bristol board” and if I could explain it with pictures, too. Yes, I can! This is a really loose, open-ended type of thing, with no right or wrong way to do it, so I’m not sure I should even call it a tutorial. It’s more of, “Come peek over my shoulder while I do this.”

Materials: Bristol board, which is heavier than card stock but thinner than, say, cereal box cardboard; gel medium and a brush, although you can experiment with other adhesives; an assortment of papers; paint (optional)

The first thing I do is select some papers, generally around some focus. I chose warm colors for this collage.

selection of papers

I have an expandable file folder where I have papers I’ve collected, sorted by color. You can see that it includes some pre-painted book pages, too. The orange is a paper bag, and the ketchup is cut from a calendar. The rest are odds and ends of decorative papers.

I chose a few and began tearing and arranging. Then I glued the first one down.

first piece glued on

Just play with your papers. This one sheet of Bristol board is going to get cut into four pieces in the end anyway, so there’s not a lot of pressure here.

3 pieces glued on

all papers glued on

After I’d covered the sheet completely, I decided that the top part needed a little bit more, because it was a big space with mainly just that one paper. I thought that after I cut the sheet into fours, the cards cut from that section would be a little boring. So I decided to print over it using one of these foam texture plates the kids and I found on clearance (the whole pack for $1.99!) in a craft store last week. They were in the craft foam section, intended for cut-and-glue kids’ crafts, but my 9yo and I looked at them and immediately said, Printmaking!

foam texture plates

Aren’t they so cool? And they’re washable, so we can re-use them. I chose the smaller bumps (you can barely see it in this picture; it’s the darkest blue in the middle there) and added some prints to my collage using acrylic paint.

finished sheet

Better. Then I cut it into four equal rectangles, which are each 4.5 x 6″.

four individual cards

I think the one on the bottom right is my favorite. I really like creating something like this and then cutting it up–I always think the smaller compositions that result are interesting. And if they’re not, I can do something on them individually. I’ll probably add some cut-out images to these before mailing them.

So, that’s about it. I’m not great with creating collages as artwork–I find it challenging. But I like doing this for postcards. It’s play, and sometimes it’s just the thing to give myself a little break during the day, too.

Making + Listening::1/2014

Check out that shorthand up there! This is the first Making + Listening post of 2014, and we’ll see if I can remember I did that next week. Lots of making went on here over the holiday break, including two pairs of flannel jammie pants and two new skirts for the girl. On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, one half of our dining room table was given over to sewing and the other to cookie decoration…not a bad way to spend the day before Christmas. But all that is practically ancient history by now. I have pictures of the more recently created stuff for you instead.

thank you RAK mail art at amyhoodarts.com

Karen at Mail Me Some Art suggested that January be Random Act of Kindness mail art month, and that sounded like a great idea to me. I have some previously made background-only postcards on hand, so I added the elephant and the text and a note to the librarians at our local library and sent it along. If you want to join in, Karen has all the details here.

Right before Christmas, we received a box of nature goodies from Dawn. Sadly, our nature swap partner disappeared after receiving our box, so Dawn and her kids stepped in to make sure my kiddos got a box in return. It included this great sea urchin test, something we’ve never found on our beaches (although they do live in our waters).

sea urchin test at amyhoodarts.com

It’s sitting in the center of our dining room table, which is where all our best nature finds eventually end up, so it was in sight and on hand when I was looking for something to draw. Look at that texture! I had to give it a try.

sea urchin sketch at amyhoodarts.com

Remember the socks I began for my oldest a month ago, and then put aside for some Christmas knitting? They were lingering, and I was feeling guilty, and maybe a little unmotivated. Well, I finished the first one and began the next one right away, as you do. I knit on it steadily while watching playoff football, and this was the progress after one day’s knitting: half a sock.

sock in progress at amyhoodarts.com

The next day, I finished it while watching the BCS Championship Game. It’s extremely convenient that two of my hobbies–watching sports and knitting–are so complementary.

finished socks at amyhoodarts.com

These aren’t everyday socks. He wants warm handknit socks to wear to bed. I told him Tuesday morning that they were done, but I needed to take a picture before he could have them. (He didn’t bat an eyelash. He knows this by now.) They were on his bed when he got home from school. He bounded upstairs to tell me, “Those socks are AMAZING!” I will always knit for him, obviously.

Also this week, I tried out a new zippered pocket size. I have a bunch of 4″ zippers and I wanted to try a vertically oriented pencil pouch. This is the result.

vertical pencil pouch at amyhoodarts.com

It’s a little longer than most pencils and pens, but it’s the perfect size for double-pointed knitting needles still in their original packaging.

DPN pouch at amyhoodarts.com

I often need more than one set of DPNs, for instance, when I’m knitting mittens. I like to keep them in their pouches so I don’t lose any, but then I have them rattling around in my bag. The pouch I use to hold my knitting tools–a purchased one, long ago, in my Early Years of knitting–isn’t long enough to hold DPNs in their pouches. I think this might be a little deep for pens and pencils. I need to actually use it for a while to decide. I think it’s just right for DPNs, however.

I think I’m mostly caught up now, except for letting you know that I’m pleased to be amongst theĀ contributors for the upcoming issue of Kindred: Nest, available for pre-order here. That list looks so impressive, and I can’t wait to hold the magazine in hand.

As for the listening part of this post, I could use suggestions of new music. I seem to be listening to the same five or so albums, interspersed with much older stuff. What’s your favorite, sort-of-recent album or band?

(Linking up with Dawn again this week!)

Sticky Notes and Washi-Style Tape

I will, at some point, get myself together enough to write about our typical day, but at the moment, my body is protesting the dual demands of getting one child up and off to school and then homeschooling the other two by getting sick. The days are long. Not long as in tiresome and dragging, but in the sense of beginning early and ending late. So I have a nasty head cold.

Meanwhile, I have been reminded daily–hourly, sometimes–that eight years old is still squarely in “early childhood.” My almost-four-year-old and my eight-year-old enjoy many of the same activities, and my son is, I think, getting a chance to recoup some of that lost time from last year. Among other things, they’ve been enjoying the washi tape stash. I admit, after a bit I removed my own authentic washi tape that I ordered in small quantities from Etsy, but the less expensive version from Target is all theirs. (Thank you, Target. You can find this in the office supply section, about $5 for packs of four rolls.) After we bought some square sticky notes from Job Lot, my son decided to combine them.

It’s hanging in my kitchen, brightening the (very early) mornings. (And lunch times, and snack times, and dinner times…I spend an awful lot of time in the kitchen.) My daughter eventually combined sticky notes with washi-style tape, as well as with stickers and drawing, but I don’t have any more photos because, quite frankly, my head is clogged and I forgot.

Keeping it Simple (+ Happy Spring!)

Happy First Day of Spring! We’re expecting higher-than-normal temperatures here again this week. Even though it was a mild winter, I’m still so happy for the light to increase, for the migrating birds to begin to return, for the frogs to wake up… it was still a hard winter in many ways, and spring makes me happy. I made a couple of these cheerful flowers to tuck into my boys’ lunch bags to celebrate the official first day of spring.

I haven’t posted much here this winter. Partly that’s because I’ve kept the focus of this blog pretty narrow: it’s creative activities, generally art-related, and that’s about it. On top of that, I tend not to post unless we’ve done something more or less of a piece, something that fits the format of a materials list followed by what we did and the open-ended outcome. But I realized that may make it seem like that’s all we do, one planned-out art activity after another (or, in the case of this Lyme-influenced winter, not so many planned-out activities, and thus no posts). So I thought I’d share the sort of free-wheeling that’s been more likely to go on here lately.

When I went downstairs Monday morning to make the flowers, of course my daughter came with me to make her own. She’d started by punching circles from the same scrap of yellow card stock I’d used. The patterned paper is from a dollar pack we found at Target not too long ago. Eventually she also used scissors, a glue stick, patterned packing tape, a “smudgy” pencil (ie, charcoal pencil), crayons, markers…I don’t think I’m forgetting anything, but it’s possible! She was working on her flower for quite a while, long after I was done and had moved on to ironing some fabric and generally puttering around in the studio area.

When she was done, we photographed it, front and back.

Front

(If you squint, you might be able to see the ridiculous pile of fat quarters and fabric I have on the ironing board!)

Back

Only when I photographed it did I see that she’d fit one of the yellow circles right into a circle hole she’d punched into the patterned paper, then held it in place with the patterned tape. Sworn to secrecy on the lunch-bag flowers, she decided this flower was also for her brothers, and she would hide it for them to find when they got home from school, which they did.

This is most of what G has been doing this winter–hanging out while I do something, making things like Mama, in her own way. It happens more or less organically, not as anything I plan. G has a pretty good handle on what’s available as far as supplies, and she’s not shy about telling me what she needs next. Then I just do my own thing, helping her when asked, and I get to be amazed at the result, too.

And once again, Happy First Day of Spring!!

Matisse-Inspired Collage

From What's The Big Idea? by Joyce Raimondo

The kids each received a Joyce Raimondo book for Christmas; this activity is from What’s The Big Idea? Activities and Adventures in Abstract Art. The books are suggested for ages 5-12 and are full of techniques to try based on famous artworks. The activities are open-ended, just the sort of thing we like here, and the books are a great addition to our idea shelf.

Materials: Colored paper, glue sticks, scissors

A busy table. My beach scene is in the closest corner.

The book suggested thinking of a place to represent with organic shapes cut from paper. The Matisse shown in the book (which is also on its cover) is Les Codomas, which shows a circus scene. I decided upon the beach. V decided to map out the living room. N didn’t want to think of a place, explaining that he likes to just jump in. (I knew that.) G, being 3, just cut and pasted.

I’m usually pretty open in the studio, but I did insist that the kids not use pencils to draw their shapes first, explaining that we were going to follow the guidelines in the book and “draw” with our scissors. N wasn’t too happy about this, but I held firm. I told him it might feel like a stretch, but stretching was good, and it forces us to figure things out in different ways. He had the option to stop if he wanted, of course, but he kept on. Here’s his finished collage.

N's (age 7)

He was most pleased with the spiral that has different colors peeking through. I agree–pretty cool!

Here’s V’s map of the living room.

V's, age 10

I think he has inherited my love of straight lines! “Organic” is not his natural inclination. (If only his room were as orderly.)

And here is G’s collage.

G's, age 3

While she’s younger than the age range of the book, and can’t be expected to fulfill the guidelines exactly, cutting and pasting is certainly something she can join in on. There are many activities in the Joyce Raimondo books that I can adapt so that all the kids can participate at their own level. That’s something I really appreciate in an art book. I found these while browsing the art section in the kids’ room at one of our local libraries while G was in story time and decided it was worth ordering our own copies.

You can read more on Henri Matisse’s cut-outs here.