Saturday, June 15, 2013

Yes, but is it a collage?

I was playing around with transparencies and came up with this index card composition:

I started by painting directly on a transparency, spritzing it with water and blotting it with an index card.

I created another transparency with this homemade foam stamp:

I added a piece of it to my index card

Then I added the transparency from the first picture

I snipped some little squares from black paper and created a line

The next layer is a transparency on which I painted a circle, and blotted off some of the paint so it would be more translucent.

One more transparency was added - this time it was stamped with circles made from plastic canvas

The final layer is this line of ink, drawn directly on the top transparency:

It was an interesting experiment, and I kind of like it.  Up close it has some interesting depth, but all those layers of glue and plastic make it kind of hazy and muddy.
Here's question that arose as I went to scan and label it - is it collage?
It's got six layers of paper/plastic glued together into an interesting arrangement, yet I classify it more as a painting than a collage.

Out of curiosity, I recreated this composition without using any transparencies.  I simply painted and stamped directly on a single index card.  Here's the results:
It's much more colorful and vibrant.  The layers show more detail.  And it's unarguably a painting, not a collage.

So what about these?
This next one is a painted index card (orange), a painted transparency (red circle), stamped tissue paper (black circles), book page and paper squares.

This one starts as a painted index card, adds three painted transparencies, a scrap of paper and a scrap of fabric.

This next one has two pieces of hand painted paper glued to a blank index card (turquoise and black stripes) followed by two layers of stamped transparency (text and white dots) followed by two layers of stamped tissue (white circles and black leaf)

Finally this one doesn't use any transparencies.  It uses a painted index card as the base and has paper scraps and stamped tissue on it.

They can all be defined as mixed media pieces, but which ones would you call collage?
For the sake of my "365 collages" challenge, I'm calling the bottom four collage.
How do you define collage?


  1. Lol Karen, fab post sweetie albeit a little mind-blowing!!!!!!!! From my limited and very basic understanding of collage I would classify all but one of your pieces as collages. The only one I would agree is not a collage is the one that is purely layers of paint and stamping. The most basic definition of collage I refer to is in 'Collage Sourcebook' by Jennifer Atkinson, Holly Harrison and Paula Grasdal and describes collage as 'artwork that is created by adhering images, materials, and ephemera onto a surface'. In my eyes the transparencies you created and layered are materials/ephemera!? Hope this helps??
    Huge hugs x

  2. I guess I would classify collage as ones that have layers of something on top of one another to create the composition, so only the purely painted ones would be paintings....Great experiment, like what you did to get there. xox

  3. Whatever they are, they are all fantastic!!

  4. Loved looking at these and seeing the transparency 'usage.' lol Fab.

  5. Great little pieces! I call all of this collage ~ any melange of layered elements, whether printed, stamped, paper bits, painted, or anything else.
    Have a great weekend!

  6. Awesome post! I always have problems with the "labeling" of what I do, so I believe these are whatever you say they are! I love the first one with all the transparencies, specially the black squares and the final line of ink - those details are marvellous!

  7. I'm with Dawn on this. Regardless of what you call them the process is great and the results all beautiful.

  8. Amazing pieces! Wishing I had not given away that box of transparencies from my teaching days now. I think that whenever you glue things together, no matter what they are, you are creating collage.

  9. I think they can definitely be called collage, and I really love the soft, layered look of them.

  10. What a pile of fun! To me collage is when anything is glued to a substrate. Then if you add paint layers it becomes a bit more murky - when is it mixed media? I guess for me collage starts and stops with pieces of whatever stuck (glued/stitched, etc) to a substrate. As soon as you start adding other media (paint, printing, sticks/stones/rusty things) it becomes mixed media. However, I get the feeling the terms are used somewhat interchangeably and can be whatever you want :) Whatever you call it, yours are FAB! That rusty circle series is seriously cool!

  11. These are all great! What a great way ti get transparent layers, using transparencies. I've been stuck on tulle but it's time to expand. I'd say anything that includes gluing different pieces together is a collage.

  12. They're collage.

    I remember tossing out several of my first works in collage, because I was a bit insecure about collage, since I'd never done collage, and I thought if there were painted parts and doodles or lettering, they weren't collage.

    the End.

    Oh, wait. There's more.

    But the French (those bastards) have a word for glue. apparently, they have a different word for everything, but their word for glue is colle. Thus: the technique of collage.

    Above you have several mixed-media collages. Given that you've glued some 2D things to other 2D things.

    I rest my case.


    p.s. I was going to rest it on the dog, but she gets snippy.

  13. I've had the same question with some of my index cards. If I only add one image and some text over a painted background, is it a collage. I've been saying no in my case but I'd say yes in yours. You've put much more work and many more layers into yours--they're fabulous!!