Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Images and collage elements

Now that I've been doing a bit of collage every morning for the past few  months I have been getting some questions about where I get my images and compliments on them too (thank you). Some have said they find it hard to find material for collage, which is completely baffling to me,  so I thought I would do a post on collage imagery and where to get it. Maybe it will give you some ideas.

I keep small imagery and die cuts in this small folder.

Now before I go on let me just say that my collages are for me mostly and just to share freely on the web for viewing enjoyment and inspiration. I do not sell them, nor do I get any other profit from them and I don't have to worry about stuff like copyright or anything like that. Even though collage is in itself of course a derivative work of all sorts of existing elements combined, I think it can sometimes be a slippery slope as to what you could and could not do commercially and I am not knowledgeable enough to give any advice on that. For me the world of imagery is an enormous buffet where I just pick and choose whatever I want. So let that be a bit of a caveat for this post.

Another small folder is used for found words.

Now I have talked a little on this blog about my process when doing collage, which is basically just one step at a time and seeing what happens. I just mix and match and see what I like. I think this is one of the basics for my own way of working: I do not go searching high and low for imagery while I'm doing the collage, I have a whole assortment of imagery at hand already. By that I mean that collecting imagery is done completely seperate from using that imagery.

In this plastic box I keep cut out stamped images. The paper is either scrapbook paper or self painted paper.

I know there are people out there who sort their images and papers by colour, or theme or subject or whatever, but I am not one of those. The only thing I sort of look at is image size. From time to time I will have a session of collecting or making what I call 'collage elements'. I will sit down with some magazines and cut out all the images and words that speak to me. Or I will gather my stamps and stamp them several times on decorative paper or painted paper and then cut them out. I will also collect images I like from the internet and print them out from time to time and print out a lot of my own photographs too.

A lot of collage goodies I get from generous blog readers. It's amazing what you people send me.

I have several folders and boxes for different types of materials and I try to keep them stuffed with possibilities. Then when I sit down to collage I can just start somewhere and rummage through my stash to find something to my liking for that particular collage. I do my selecting mostly by size and colour, but also just because something 'feels right'. When you have a whole stash to choose from that is a luxury you have. You are not limited by possibilities, anything goes. That's how I prefer to work.

I have a box with note cards, cut up scrapbook paper, tags and journaling cards.

Here's (a nowhere near complete) list of materials that I have used for imagery in collage
  • Magazine images. That's probably the most obvious one. My favorite magazines are Flow Magazine and Happinez. They both have international editions now, so that's good. But I also like home decorating magazines and things like National Geographic. Sometimes in second hand bookstores they will sell old National Geographics for next to nothing. 
  • My own photographs and drawings. It's no secret I take a lot of pictures, so why not use them in my collages as well? I don't often use my own drawings as collage fodder right now, but it's definitely something I've done in the past and will do again.
  • Postcards. You can use them as is, or cut them up.
  • Ready made die cuts. I get them at discounts stores for instance or at craft fairs. They are ready for use right away and I just mix them with the other images. I don't want something to  look too perfectly scrapbooky.
Project Life gave us a whole new resource of pretty cards. Below some labels from Ikea.

  • Scrapbookpaper. I have no qualms about using anything commercially made out there. There's paper that has borders, notecards, images to cut out or just pretty patterns you can take pieces out of like flowers and such. I will even buy kits if I like the colours and imagery and completely take it apart and use all the elements for different purposes.
  • Collage sheets. I have made my own (drawing them) and I buy them ready made, often at craft fairs. 
  • Packaging. Sometimes the most everyday items can have truly beautiful imagery on them. Teabags for instance, or chocolate boxes, or those fancy coffees, or just about anything. 
  • Journaling cards / Project Life cards. I have to say that I don't do the project life thing, but I love all the stuff that is made for it and the cards are just stunning. So if you've got some money to spare you might look into them.
  • Wrapping paper. Whether it's from a gift you get or from paper you have at home to wrap gifts for others, it will often have very beautiful imagery on it you can use for collage. Also when you buy something in a store and they give you a pretty paper bag there can be imagery on there or lettering you could use.
  • Stamps (the snail mail kind). You can use old used ones, make faux stamps, make copies of a sheet of stamps. I have also used free stamp catalogues for stamp auctions and just cut out the images there. You can also buy cheap non valuable stamps from specialty stores or collectors fairs. 
  • Stamps (the inky kind). You can use your stamps directly on the collage, but I prefer to get some self painted papers and just stamp different imagery on there and cut it out and then apply it to the collage. Just like I have sessions of cutting out images, I have sessions of making stamp images so I have some to choose from when I'm actually making a collage.
Old calendars are just perfect collage fodder.

  • Calendars. I use my own old ones and have the good fortune of having a cousin who gets old Lang calendars from a nearby store and shares her goodies with me. Full pages can also be used to make envelopes out of for snail mail. 
  • Flyers, advertisements, catalogues. You know, all that stuff that comes through your mailbox or is handed out to you. Some can be quite beautiful and they are cheap enough to have no problems about cutting them up. 
  • Colouring books. Some have beautiful or funny imagery and you could even colour them in before you use them.
  • Stickers. The easiest collage item out there without a doubt. You can buy them, have promotional ones, scrapbook stores are full of them, toystores carry them for children (hey we're all still children on the inside, right), and all you have to do is take them off their sheet an paste them down. No glue needed.
  • Washi tape. I have a serious addiction when it comes to pretty tape and I have tons of it. It's not really imagery in itself, but it does add to a collage. There's other nice tapes out there, like paper tape or plastic tape. If you don't have tape you could consider cutting strips of pretty paper and using them as such with a bit of glue.
  • Old letters or journal pages, or copies of them. I guess it depends on whether you are brave enough to cut up original items, but you can always make copies and use those instead. There is a quality to the original though that is hard to beat. 
  • Old books and photographs. Here goes the same as above. How valuable is the original to you? Copies are always an option. Or how about atlases and maps?
  • Fabrics. Yes, fabrics. Some have lovely imagery on it and you can cut them out and use them. The easiest way to do this is with double sided sticky back plastic. Also consider things like ribbon and buttons and such.
Some of my favorite magazines.

  • Found words. When I cut up all the above I always collect words too. My collages don't feel complete without words and letters in them. So when I find words or sentences that speak to me, they get cut out too and saved in a special folder with just words in it.  
  • The internet. There's tons of sites and sources for free to use collage materials (try creative commons on flickr for instance). There are lots of people on Etsy who sell collage sheets. There are libraries and archives and museums that share there images for free. I hardly ever use these things, but it's good to know they are out there. Also I do collect images of artists and photographers that I admire. This is where the copyright thing gets really tricky I think, so I would never use images like that for anything promotional or commercial. 
Little pieces of fabric with cute imagery on them.

I think I could go on forever, but I think you get the point. Collage materials are basically everywhere. If you can cut it out and stick it down (or just stick it down), it's fair game. That whole play of mixing and matching and arranging of all sorts of elements is exactly what makes collage so much fun.

Commercial collage sheets. I often get them at craft fairs.

In this post you find some photographs from my own personal stash. I want to add a bit of caution with that. I have a lot of stuff. I mean: A Lot. This did not happen overnight, so I'm not trying to suggest you need all that. That would be crazy. I have been collecting and arranging (hoarding?) for decades. I use a lot and then add to my stash again, but a lot can get saved for years until that certain piece comes along that needs it. This is how I work, I need those options, but a small stash will do just fine. I've done collages with just one magazine or a travel flyer I got on vacation.

I keep bigger imagery in these A4 sized plastic folders.

I think the most important part is to look for imagery you really like and that is practical. By that I mean, don't go saving a bunch of huge images if all you make are small collages. And if you do want to sell commercially look into copyright carefully and don't use work you have no rights to. You could get in serious trouble. 

Stickers. The easiest collage elements of them all.

I hope this post gave you some ideas as to where to find imagery. I think if I were to give you the short answer to the question 'Where do you get your imagery?' it would be 'Everywhere!'.  And that's basically my advice to you: just look everywhere.

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy day!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Colouring in my own colouring pages

In February I offered some free printable colouring pages to you on this blog. I enjoy doing doodle type drawings and patterns, and since I draw them all the time anyway it's easy to share them with you every now and then before I colour them in.

I must admit it does take some patience for me to NOT colour them in until that sharing is done. The drawing is only half of the art piece after all. The real fun starts with the colouring and when I can't do that right away I do have to constrain myself and think of you first instead of myself, haha.

Anyway, after I offered them on the blog I could finally get around to colouring these pages in myself and I thought today I would show you how they turned out:

I thought it would be fun to colour each one in with a different type of material. The first one is done in Faber Castell Pitt Brushpens, which are filled with india ink and waterproof. The second one is done with Derwent Watercolour Pencils and is washed with water after I coloured everything in (this one took without a doubt the most time since I had to go everything twice). And the third one I did with Talens Ecoline Markers, which are a pretty new material where the brushtip markers are filled with waterbased inks. The colours of these last markers are very very bright, which of course I love.

If you haven't coloured them in yet or missed the freebie post for these colouring pages, you can go to my blogpost of 27 february here and print them out for yourself. Enjoy!

If you would like me to make more colouring pages for you in the future, please let me know. It's little extra work and I don't mind sharing.

For now I wish you all a wonderful and artsy weekend!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Morning Collages

My current morning art project continues. I am halfway the 32 page sketchbook now and am really enjoying putting these pages together. Sometimes I can finish a page in one half hour sitting, but mostly they take about 45 minutes, so I spread them out over two days (mornings).

Here are six more collages that I recently finished. I added the translation of the Dutch words for you this time, so you know what they say.

"Know yourself"

"Good enough"

"Do not disturb"

"Getting up again"

"It does not have to be so perfect"

"This is the place"

It's fun to go through my stash of imagery and just intuitively match things together to make a satisfying layout. I love the serendipity of it all. Even the words are picked just because they feel right, not because I'm trying to match them with the rest. Somehow these strange combinations still work, at least for me.

Hope you are doing something that gives you joy wherever you are and wishing you a wonderful and artsy day.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Grids, grids, grids

My love for grids continues. By that I mean grid paper (or squared paper as Moleskine calls it) that I can use as a guide for patterns and what I call grid drawings. I have two Moleskine squared books, one is the 'large' size, which isn't really that large and handy for on the go, and one is the 'extra large size', which really is quite large and is only used at home.

The following pages are from the extra large one:

Recently I have been combining my love for grids with a new addiction, which is listening to podcasts. I know there are people out there who can doodle while watching a movie or something, but I am not one of those, which is a pity because I love Netflix. Unfortunately I cannot combine two visual things and concentrate on them. But while I'm drawing simple shapes and colouring it is very possible for me to listen to somebody talking about interesting things or telling fascinating stories.

So now you can regularly find me on the couch with a sketchbook in my lap and ear phones in my ear while I play with colours and find out about things I never even really thought about. It's a very satisfying combination. Also, what could be better than being able to combine two time consuming things in a world where there never seems enough time?

So...if you have any tips on good podcasts, I am all...um...ears. ;-)

Wishing you a wonderful and artsy day!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A peek at the Bunny Book - my current journal

A while ago I finished my previous journal, The Allround Book, which was a rather heavy biggish book, and whenever I finish a big book I have a craving to let my next journal be simple and smallish. So for my current journal I picked a very simple A5 cahier style notebook with lined paper and a craft cover.

Here's what it looks like:

The notebook has 120 pages and the cover originally only had the orange print on it.
Now it just so happened that I had bought a couple of cute bunny cards recently and I decided to add those to the inside covers and for some reason that inspired me to draw a bunny on the front cover. I added some details and words and before you knew it this new journal could not possible be named anything else than The Bunny Book.

This is basically how all my books get named. The names have no deeper reason. I'm not even that big a fan of bunnies. I mean they're cute and all, but that's as far as it goes. I just like to give my books obvious names that reflect something about them so I can refer to them easier in the future and set them apart from each other.

Anyway, I've been working in this journal for a while now and thought I would show you some spreads.

I have been thinking that my journals are more and more turning into travel journals of everyday life. It's basically lots of writing with photographs and everyday ephemera that comes up. It's not so much about making attractive layouts or anything, it's about processing my day to day experience and having a place to put some of my photographs.

I like the idea of using a journal that way and it really seems to be working for me. It's a very pressure free way of filling a book and that makes it a relaxing way to journal.

The above pictures are a selection of the first half of the book. When it is all filled up I'll be sure to show you a selection of the second half.

For now I wish you all a wonderful and artsy day.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Collages in the Morning

Well, after seven posts about my vacation (thanks for your patience by the way) you must be craving some artsy stuff! So I thought I'd show you some morning art.

My current project for morning art is filling a thin A5 Seawhite sketchbook with collages. It's interesting to do something so different from what I've been doing the past two years, which was basically drawing and painting (mostly) from my imagination. I am enjoying the challenge though.

Here are six more collages:

What I love about collage is basically the mixing and matching of elements and setting things up to make an attractive layout. I also like play with the backgrounds, but I'm currently finding I like the solid coloured ones made of paper the best. But that may change as this project continues. We'll see.

What is also fun is to put stuff together on intuition. I have some folders with different imagery and words and photographs and I just 'see what happens'. I'm not planning anything ahead of time and just go one step at a time. I like adding details in marker and pen and I like picking words just because they feel right, not because they are so fitting to the imagery. There really is no rhyme or reason to this (or to any of my art really) except that I like how it looks and love playing with materials. And it sure is nice to play with materials that have been a bit neglected lately (like my washi tape en paint markers).

Hope you are playing with some materials wherever you are and I wish you all a wonderful and artsy day!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

South Limburg in moving pictures

Over the past two weeks I have pretty much overwhelmed you with photographs from my vacation to South Limburg and mostly the area around Valkenburg where I was staying.

It just so happens that I also recorded a couple of videos. No many mind you, only three,  but I thought it might be nice for you to see and hear what the place is like in moving pictures. Please do keep in mind Blogger downsizes videos, so watching them full screen is not a good idea. :-)

The first one I took in an area called Gerendal, which is to the east of the town. I had just walked a rather steep hill (it doesn't even look al that steep, but trust me, it took some effort), so there's some of my heavy breathing in it as well. Although I must say it sounds a bit worse than it was, I think my mouth was a bit too close to the microphone. :-)


The second video was taken on the north side of Valkenburg, overlooking the farmland and the town itself in the distance.


The last one I took on the morning of my departure, very early while the sun was not even up yet, but the birds were. I wanted to keep a memory of all that birdsong. So...not much to see, but lots to hear!


Well, I hope your enjoyed looking and listening to the beautiful landscape that is the south of my country. I'm going to stop talking about it now, well....at least until I finish the travel journal, and move on to the artsy stuff again. But that's for next post!

Until then I wish you all a wonderful and artsy day.

PS As far as I know, those of you who get my blogposts in their mailbox won't be able to watch the videos unless you actually visit the site. Sorry about the inconvenience.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The South Limburg Slideshow - part five of five

From the 7th to the 14th of April I went on vacation to the South of Limburg, which is the most southern province of The Netherlands. I mostly stayed in the area around a town called Valkenburg. 

As always I walked and explored a lot and as always I took a lot of pictures, be it only with my phone this time, since I did not bring my camera. 

This five part slideshow is an impression of my vacation. I may give a little comment here and there, but mostly I want the pictures to speak for themselves. If you have any questions though, don't hesitate to ask. 

 I hope you will enjoy traveling with me!

In case anyone's interested, this farm was for sale!

It has it's own cute orchard, so there's that. ;-)

The views of this region were just so breathtaking!

This was a beautiful valley next to Schin op Geul, a town about 5 km from Valkenburg.

This church was in Schin op Geul.

This is Schaloen Castle. On its grounds is a lovely little café and restaurant.

This was the last day of my vacation. Here you can see all the essentials one needs for such a trip. ;-)

This was the morning of my departure. I had to get up very early and got to see the sky slowly turn from night to day.

And those are all the photographs I have to offer. Well, you know that's a big fat lie! I made many more of course, but these were my favorites and are also the ones I will print for my travel journal. I will show you the journal when it's really finished which may be a while yet. It's not all that special in itself, but it is a nice tangible reminder of a beautiful trip.

Now I have just one more South Limburg post for you next time, which will not have photographs but a couple of videos, just to give you the full experience, haha! Think of it as a bonus post.

Until then I wish you all a wonderful and artsy day.
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