Friday, February 15, 2008

Behind the scenes: The making of the collage

When I was a little girl I loved to read. I read all sorts of books, but what I especially loved were fairy tales. The Grimm's Brothers stories were a bit too gruesome, with crows picking out people's eyes and Cinderella's stepsisters cutting off pieces of their feet (much different than the cleaned up Disney version!!) What I really loved were the stories of Hans Christian Anderson, sad stories, but also so beautiful. But I remember the pictures mattered just as much as the text. There were certain books I never liked just because I found the illustrations not so great. Ever since my daughter was born last April, I have started returning to loves of the past. One of these loves is vintage fairy tale illustration, another is poetry, and yet another, collage. You can find so many wonderful vintage illustrations on the Internet and nearly all of them are in the public domain. I started collecting them and adding digital effects so they felt more like they were "mine." Poetry came soon afterwards. I wrote a lot of poetry in my late teens and early 20s, but stopped for some reason at about 25 when I focussed more on prose. Sometime in the summer, poetry came back. I started posting them all on my blog on MySpace and had a few published in a literary magazine. Collage was also something I loved in my early 20s. I once made my (now) ex-husband a book of collage and poems, a different one on 37 pages. But, like the poetry, at some point the interest faded away. Now, thanks to my baby's inspiration, I like to combine all three on occasion. My newest collage, They are ALL of us is an example. I found the beautiful illustration of a prince and princess (so I assume) in the woods and added effects to round off the image and give it a canvas so that it looked like an oil painting. Recently I had it printed as a photograph, not sure what I would ultimately do with it. A few days ago I started thinking about what I have already written here, how much I loved to read fairy tales as a child. I came up with the text: When I was a child I read fairy tales every Saturday on the bathroom floor, locking the door so no one could come in. What I didn't know then was I AM the stories. WE are the stories. They are ALL of us. Not exactly a poem, the text has a poetic feel. And I do feel that way about fairy tales. There is something so universal about them, the same sorts of stories showing up in every culture. At this point I knew I wanted to make a collage, but I wasn't sure exactly how I wanted to organize it. I never plan out my collages, just let them happen as I go along. This is not always the greatest thing; I have ruined several by adding something I didn't like and then the paper ripped when I tried to remove it or by adding sealant when I should have known it was ill-advised; but I love the spontaneity of the creativity even if it doesn't always work out. Anyway, I added the text, but the collage was still missing something. I looked at the woman and realized she had something more of a queen about her than a princess. The man seems to almost be bowing to her, in awe. Maybe she has been enchanted and forced to work for a witch in the forest (hence the hatchet and fire wood.) Thus, I added a golden crown to bring out her queenliness. Color was still lacking , so I brought out my box of scraps and added a piece of green and hot pink felt and two pieces of thin black ribbon. And now the collage is finished. I'm pleased with the result. Take a look at the slide show, presenting the story of a collage and then, if you wish, come and visit my Etsy shop where it can be purchased! http://www.schaufenster.etsy.com

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