My Collage Practice

I may know about my attraction to collage if you follow me on Instagram for a while. This has been reinforced in recent weeks. I had wanted for a long time to pursue a single technique in particular over a longer period. In early December, I treat myself with a great sketchbook and I decided to fill it with collages, my intention being to persevere until at least the end of January.

I often blamed myself for not being able to persevere in a single technique, my desires swirling between watercolor, screen printing, line drawing, pastel, acrylic or gouache. I sometimes resolve to this, telling myself that all this finally allows me to build a larger toolbox and corresponds to my curious nature. But part of me also knows that I sometimes let go when it is necessary to persevere and find solutions to the inevitable obstacles and limits of any medium.

Collage by Mireille Marchand


Until then, I had been in awe and a little jealous (I must recognized), of artists like Clover Robin, Andrea Aquino, Maxine Sutton and more recently Clare Young. I do not get tired of observing and analyzing their illustrations. Each has its own style and approach to collage, so each has something that touches me and attracts me. For Clover Robin, it’s her themes that are close to mine, her delicate cuts, full of nuances and freshness. Andrea d’Aquino: she is one of the masters of the discipline at the moment. She has written a book and regularly finds her collages in magazines such as Flow. About Maxine Sutton, it’s a little different. I’m not sure she’d like to be ranked among collagist artists, but she inspires me. I like her abstract creations, the balance of colors and shapes, the play of proportions, the contrast between shapes and lines, embroidered or screen-printed features. And then Clare Young, this is my last discovery. I bought her book which is full of inspiration and that I like a lot. From her, I first take her approach on the aspect of collage which consists in creating her own papers for later use in a collage piece. She is right: doing ones papers finally gives the collagist’s DNA, papers becoming what characterizes and distinguishes a piece.

collage d’Andrea d’Aquino

Making ones paper

This is perhaps what attracts me first in collage: to make my own paper. Or rather, I like the idea of being able to recycle elements of paintings and drawings, to explore techniques telling me that the result does not need to be successful, because it will only be reused in a new illustration. It also gives me an all-out excuse for “making marks” on paper, that is, having fun as a child with everything that comes to hand. I also really like the idea of collecting found papers, textures, prints. This corresponds to a trend that I have since the beginning of my creations : I always liked to accumulate, to associate elements that do not have much to do with each other, but which, together, vibrate by their contrast.


My creative DNA

“Because that’s what I especially like : it’s mixing, playing with prints, materials, adding little things, chasing, recycling, juxtaposing, mixing. I like patchworks of fabrics, materials and colors “: that’s how I introduced myself at the beginning of my site and my shop. Here are also my first objects, a chandelier and a lamp, and then my sweaters that I would have wanted with even more prints and finally my recycled notebooks. Then I calmed down: one illustration at a time, varying styles and techniques, but much less mixing. Until the collage brings all this back into force.


Organization of the material

The great difficulty with collage, at least mine, stands in the management of the material and the classification of papers. Too much ranking kills creativity, but not enough storage kills it just as surely. As always, I oscillate between these two poles. This really constituted my first big obstacle in the practice of collage. I felt regularly overwhelmed by all this material, unable to find the right paper when I needed it, paralyzed in front of the scale of choice and my desk completely buried under papers, struggling to get my hands on my scissors or my glue tube.

I had to look a bit before finding a solution to this problem and I think I found it in the book Clare Young. Her advice is to classify papers in: solid colors, prints, neutral colors, black / white, drawings / texts. I bought transparent boxes that allow me to easily see what’s inside. I have two lockers on my desk: the first filled with small bags with leftovers of pieces of paper according to the classification above and the second, a “catch-all” that allows me to have this rate of order/disorder, of organization/spontaneity and chance I need too. This system seems to work well. I no longer feel this feeling of unpleasant overwhelmed.

Collage by Mireille Marchand Collage by Mireille Marchand

Et à présent?

Après six semaines de pratique, je me sens de plus en plus curieuse et désireuse de persévérer avec ce médium. J’aime infiniment l’idée de travailler à partir de la forme (par rapport au trait pour le dessin). Je trouve incroyable la façon dont on peut réduire un sujet en quelques formes simples. De plus le collage pardonne beaucoup d’erreur. Sérieusement! Je poursuivrai, je pense, l’expérience au delà de fin janvier. Le collage ne m’a pas encore révélé tous ses secrets. Alors, si cet article vous a donné envie de ressortir vos ciseaux et vos papiers de couleurs, j’en serais ravie. Et si vous aussi pratiquez le collage, dites-le moi!

A très bientôt, Mireille


Et un petit échantillon de mes derniers collages pour terminer :  

And now?

After six weeks of practice, I feel more and more curious and eager to persevere with this medium. I really like the idea of working from the shape (as opposed to lines for drawing). I find it amazing how we can reduce a subject matter into a few simple shapes. Moreover, collage is very forgiving. Seriously! I think I will continue the experience beyond the end of January. The collage has not yet revealed all its secrets to me. So, if this post made you want to bring out your scissors and papers, I would be delighted. And if you also practice collage, let me know!

See you soon, Mireille

And here is a small sample of my last collages :

Collage by Mireille Marchand

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