What first surprised me about collage was how it can bring out what’s lying soul-deep and unspoken.

What surprised me later was the practical function it can have.

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When I first read about it as a way to journal, I couldn’t foresee it replacing or even supplementing word journaling for me. Nor, as I began exploring the process, could I imagine making my collages small enough to fit into what I considered a journal.

Did I have some new discoveries ahead! And new doors opening with them…

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The first collage I tried, several months ago at Kel Rolf‘s prompt, expressed my deepest longing at the time, better than words could have done.

This amazed me. For one thing, I never expected to “chance” upon photos, words, junk clippings, anything really, that could depict my spiritual yearnings. Yet, as I flipped page after page, there they were: illustrations or phrases that grabbed, and spoke for, my heart—so many I had to select just a fraction. Even then, the collage I laid out was enormous by journal page standards. I crowded what I could onto a 12 x 16 sheet of paper—and left everything unpasted, afraid to move forward and “spoil” the arrangement with paint or marker, also thinking I might somehow find a way to condense it.

Thus it ended up tucked away, I didn’t know where, yet wondered about it when Kel, in her “29 Days” series, once again invited collage.

Her invitations got me perching at my high art table more often than I would ever have predicted,  ripping out pages, scissor-clipping words, sorting bits and pieces into folders for better management, and… voila! therein repeatedly observing my heart revealing itself, along with possible new directions for my energies.

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This motivated me to tidy up paper piles and art materials still disordered from their move from elsewhere to my lighter, brighter, larger “creativity room” (an advantage of the empty nest…) In the process, I found that aforementioned, buried “first” collage!

By then I’d also unearthed a still-blank 10×10-inch spiral-bound “sketch book,” perfect for reasonable sized collages. I used it to make these first two garden ones, and realized this would serve well as a collaging Art Journal!

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So what you see near the top of this blog page is that “first collage,” now slimmed down and supplemented with words and background colors.

As for the practical, what you see below is a way to use collage as an ideas-organizing aid.

I keep files of all kinds of ideas: for interior design and decorating, cooking and celebrating with food, handcrafting of all sorts… many things… like this file full of gardening and outdoor design.

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The good thing about these files is that things are categorized into folders rather than thrown into one chaotic pile or box where I’d probably never find anything. The bad thing about them is that I have to get out the file box, draw out the appropriate folder, and sort through a lot of loose papers (that fall onto the floor and get all mixed up with each other), whenever I’m looking for certain ideas.

The last time I rooted through these garden folders for ways to develop my raised bed garden, it occurred to me that I could trim down clipped ideas I’d like to execute out there–and condense them together… by collaging them, on notebook-sized paper and put them in a special section of my looseleaf Garden Notebook!

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As for the garden collages I’d already made, I trimmed them down and used them to dress up front and back covers, a la my friend Laurie’s comment that she’d used collage for such purposes.

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This, I believe, is going to become an Everest of adventure, toward which I’ve just taken the mere first steps!

[Note: By the way, I’m now collaging on only one side of each page in the 10 x 10 journal. I never know what use I might find for an individual collage!]

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9 thoughts on “Surprised by Collage

  1. love the idea of using a sketch book. I read this and pulled out an old pocket folder I had done years ago and took a picture…doesn’t seem to be letting me paste it here….but was stunned to see words (my one for the year) and thoughts from my reading this morning. A return to collaging is now on my list.

    1. What a pleasure to read this, Laurie! Please send your photo to my email. I’d really like to see it. (And that surprise appearance of key words–that is uncanny, isn’t it? It seems to be happening so much for me. So encouraging.)

  2. Congratulations, Sylvie. You have just joined the cadre of collage aficionados. As I think I had told you in another comment box, I first rebelled against doing this in a journaling class for credit–so I was obligated. And it certainly was difficult to do anything, b/c my father had just died. But amazingly, God used collaging in a healing process as He helped me to rearrange the broken pieces of my heart. I have also learned much about the language of the heart as it speaks forth in images which, yes, as you point out, words do not always convey. But at times, it is also edifying to journal about your collage finds. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what are a thousand words worth? It may sound as if I’ve contradicted myself, and sometimes one can just sit with the images. But I have found it fascinating at times to dig further with my pen. I love what you have offered her…the color, the textures, the shapes, and mostly your heart.
    Love
    Lynn

    1. Thank you, Lynni. I am thrilled to be a “member.” From what I’ve already experienced, I can see how collage could be most helpful in healing from a loss like that. I wonder if anyone has thought to use it as a clinical therapy tool. Seems it would be an excellent one. And I know what you mean about the worth of both picture images and written composition. I don’t know if I ever could not-write; I think there’s ink flowing in my veins. Even if my vision went, I think I’d learn Braille and get a Braille typewriter! The “written” word is very precious to me. The two approaches/media are each unique and uniquely useful. I’m so glad I’ve started doing this.

      1. I agree w/ all you say, here….and yes, collage is used in art therapy.

  3. Sylvia-I am so honored to get this glimpse into your process! And I love how collage has surprised you…and how you are sparking others to use this process to discover truths about themselves and how God can use all types of media and means to reach and touch our hearts, souls and minds. I am thankful for the various ways He allows for us to express our selves to Him and to others. Thank you for sharing this…I was planning to share some collage at my blog this week. I will link you post to mine!

    I look forward to seeing and hearing more about your “Mount Everest” collage adventures. Also love the practical application for gardening. Where did you get your file system. I like the size and portability of it.

    Kel

    1. You’re the one who sparked all this with me, Kel. I thank God for you, and your creative gifts and encouragement to others. This “new beginning” comes at an especially good time for me, too. (God’s good timing.) Possibly more about why in some future post. Thanks for the coming link, too.
      Where did I get that file thingy? My, it was so long ago, I can’t remember. I’ll see if my husband can jog my memory. It is a handy, portable thing. I’ll probably end up using one for files of things I’ve ripped or cut out for my new “stash.” I’ve gotten other similar ones over the years as well. I’ll try to figure out where, and let you know…

  4. Sylvie,
    I was at my hair stylist’s and found this quote in a magazine along with a photo of a rock ledge outcropping over a lake. The caption reads: If a picture is worth a thousand words, Why are you speechless? 🙂

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