Tag Archives: collage

Road Trip Memorabilia

The day before we left on our epic Grand Canyon adventure, I was at Target looking for things to entertain kids when a thought occurred to me. The Man doesn’t use printed maps anymore, depending entirely on his phone for directions, so I thought it would be fun for the kids to buy a state map and mark our route on it as we traveled. It could provide a sense of perspective that you don’t get from a 5.7 inch diagonal display (The Man is a fan of his ZMAX phablet).

But what would we do with this map afterward? Would its destiny be to moulder amongst other forgotten relics of road trips past?

Perhaps influenced by my Trickster’s Hat experiments, I had another idea. I saved up all the ephemera from the trip (national park handouts and such) and printed out a couple dozen photos. (When was the last time I printed out photos? Maybe 2006! We didn’t even print our wedding pictures.) Then I mounted the photos on the map.

6 days of no holds barred sightseeing, compressed into a single rectangle.

6 days of no holds barred sightseeing, compressed into a single rectangle.

As it turned out, there wasn’t room for the ephemera. There were empty spaces, but none big enough for the inset maps or other things. Instead, I printed out a second round of photos with small details like flowers, petroglyphs, and animals, and added them like marginalia.

Close up on (most of) the route.

Close up on (most of) the route.

Then I remarked the route, color-coding it by day so you can easily see where we drove on each leg of the journey. We were gone for 6 days, which allowed me to make the color code a rainbow. Then I bordered each photo with the corresponding color so you can easily see on which day any particular image was taken.

Use this product to stick things to paper.

Use this product to stick things to paper.

This project is perhaps a bit craftier (rather than artier) than the stuff I usually do. As evidence, I present this glue product. I wasn’t sure what to use, so I asked the Cat, who is an accomplished scrapbooker. She recommended this stuff, which is a very sticky glue loosely affiliated with a waxy tape. You just run the device over the thing you wish to glue and the glue transfers effortlessly from the tape to your picture, and doesn’t wrinkle the paper like some glue does.

You have to be careful because it is extremely sticky. If you run the device over a spot you’ve already gotten glue on, it can jam the works; and once you place your image, it’s pretty difficult to get it back up again, so you need to get it right the first time.

I had the map professionally framed, because it’s a weird size and there was no way I could buy a frame off the rack. Although lately I wonder if I ought to learn how to frame things myself. They mounted it and made it look quite professional, and I picked it up this afternoon. The kids loved it. The framers loved it too.

Detail from days 5 and 6: hiking Boyton Canyon and the Sinagua ruins near Sedona.

Detail from days 5 and 6: hiking Boyton Canyon and the Sinagua ruins near Sedona.

 

The Trickster’s Hat Part 8

Exercise 21 required 4 squares, lightly taped together. The collage was built on top of the squares, which were then cut apart and rearranged several times. I saved my favorite images for the top layer. Cutting the work up was a bit difficult, emotionally.

As mentioned before, this book calls for many collages. After a while they all sort of blur together and I didn’t enjoy many of the later ones. I wanted more drawing, more painting, less cutting out, less pasting.

Exercise 28 Part 1: a collage representing obligation

Exercise 28 Part 1: a collage representing obligation

Exercise 28 Part 2: a collage representing liberation

Exercise 28 Part 2: a collage representing liberation

The prompts were different, but I’m not sure the results were substantively so.

Exercise 30: a collage pairing words and images to tell a story, without the words and images necessarily relating to one another.

Exercise 30: a collage pairing words and images to tell a story, without the words and images necessarily relating to one another.

It became routine for me, to sit up at night chopping images from magazine and gluing them down.

Exercise 39: a collage comprised exclusively of blue parts, with a little green and purple added at the end. I have no idea which end was supposed to be up.

Some of them were uplifting, but toward the end I was just phoning them in and not getting much out of the experience.

Exercise 43: make a collage while listening to evocative music and smelling evocative scents. Not really any different than my regular process. But then again, there are visual thematic elements that seem inspired by something ephemeral and uplifting, so who knows?

Exercise 43: make a collage while listening to evocative music and smelling evocative scents. Not really any different than my regular process. But then again, there are visual thematic elements that seem inspired by something ephemeral and uplifting, so who knows?

The Trickster’s Hat Part 7

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The Idyllian Summoning Fetish

And now, for a slightly creepy interlude.

Following instructions, I turned out two slightly unnerving projects. Above, the Idyllian Summoning Fetish, exercise 24. This was another one that required me to go buy junk at Goodwill: take a doll or action figure and modify it until it’s unrecognizable as the thing it started out as. This thing used to be a Barbie doll. My husband, whose response to 99% of my art is, “Ooh, pretty,” took one look at it and said, “That’s kind of terrifying.” So, good, an emotional response. I’m thinking of sending this thing to Nick Bantock. It’s certainly too bizarre to display in my home. The exercise also instructed me to create a descriptive card, as you’d see in a museum; I connected this item back to the country in exercise 7.

Exercise 25, part 1

Exercise 25, part 1

The next page in the book also resulted in willful weirdness. For part one, readers are instructed to cut parts of faces out of magazines and reassemble these disparate pieces into a new face. I choose people of different ages, genders, and ethnicities and ended up with a fellow who might have some difficultly getting a date.

The second part was the same, except that the parts couldn’t be from actual faces. So, I have a man whose nose is a hook, whose eyebrows are binders, whose mustache is a forest. Overall, the results are pretty weird, but it does teach something about faces and proportion.

Exercise 25, Part 2

Exercise 25, Part 2

The Trickster’s Hat Part 3

If you’re familiar with Nick Bantock’s work, you know that collage figures prominently. Collages are fun; throughout my life, I’ve often created them, not with the intention of producing a work of great art. They offer a method of self-expression, but they’ve never seemed to require any great amount of creativity.

Exercise 4, Part 1: early childhood. I was a bit of an alien.

Exercise 4, Part 1: early childhood. I was a bit of an alien.

Exercise 4 began with 3 cardboard squares and asked for an autobiographical triptych, complicated by the restriction that the images must all be black and white. In fact, in the 21st century, black and white printing isn’t terribly common. Color printing is so very cheap, and so much more eye catching. Even newspapers are printed in color, but I didn’t have much in the way of newspaper either, since it’s the 21st century.

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Exercise 4, Part 2: Adolescence. Dark and confusing, morbid and upside down, with moments of hope.

For the most part, the materials I had on hand were old National Geographic and Smithsonian magazines. I found a few usable images in the local free entertainment paper, The Tucson Weekly, and one or two bits in my husband’s trade magazines. Toward the end, as the squares began to fill up, I utterly ran out of useful black and white images and finished with a couple things printed in black on colored paper: the invitation to an annual volunteer breakfast I never attend, the map to the Arizona Renaissance Festival, the thank you notes we had custom printed for the wedding.

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Exercise 4, Part 3: The Present. My life is basically awesome. I am older and wiser, with a supportive life partner and plenty of experience. I know who I am.

I was pleased with the final product. These panels do represent my life, even if I don’t feel that collages require much talent or effort. Talking about these images is complicated, though; they’re very personal and meaningful, even with the limits set on the exercise. But collages are easy. I still wanted to learn to draw better.

The Trickster’s Hat Part 2

As soon as the library sent me the reserve notice for The Trickster’s Hat, I was eager to jump in. Some of the exercises involved writing or other forms of expression, but the majority of them were visual, and I needed no encouragement. It was just what I wanted.

Exercise 1: Draw a box with 4 sides, and, in 5 minutes, fill it with as many animals as possible in the box. Then, draw a box with 3 sides, and in 5 minutes, draw as many animals as possible escaping the box.

Exercise 1: Draw a box with 4 sides, and, in 5 minutes, fill it with as many animals as possible in the box. Then, draw a box with 3 sides, and in 5 minutes, draw as many animals as possible escaping the box.

I didn’t love every exercise. Some of them were boring to me. Some of them seemed pointless. Some of them appeared geared to people with even less self-confidence in their creative ability than I had. But I did love a lot of them. Sometimes the ones I didn’t understand at first, or struggled with, or thought stupid, resulted in finished projects I could display with pride.

Exercise 3: Amass a quantity of postage stamps. Rip them up (no scissors) and create a small landscape without using any of the stamps' design elements as the thing they represent.

Exercise 3: Amass a quantity of postage stamps. Rip them up (no scissors) and create a small landscape without using any of the stamps’ design elements as the thing they represent.

Almost instantly, I was able to focus on creating, setting aside a big block of time every night, looking forward to that time and curious about the next exercise in the book.