Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Several months ago, I happened upon an interesting Facebook page, The Collage Collaborative. The group is the brainchild of Ohio-based artist, Nikki Soppsela. Group members live all around the world. For instance, the other collage I feature in this blog entry originated in Western Australia, went on to the Phillippines, then to the U.S. (Ohio), to Wales, and finally back to the U.S.A where it landed in my mailbox!

Participating members create a 5 x 7" collage--a skeleton really. The original collage gets sent on to four other members who each flesh out the original skeleton by adding an element or two. The fourth member then sends the finished collage back to its originator. The group documents each step of the process on its Facebook page. I was mesmerized by the metamorphosis. And who could resist the ability to travel the world for the price of postage? So I requested to join.

Since joining, I've created my own collage as well as helped four collages on their journey to completion. Yesterday's mail yielded 2 collages. Not even envelopes are safe from crazy collage artists. Each member decorates the outside envelope, and often they include some sort of art for the next member to keep. You wouldn't believe how getting one of those envelopes amongst bills and junk mail can change the course of an entire day. Well, that might be overly dramatic. At the very least, your soul smiles for a second before you race home to see what the next creative challenge will be. I'm kind of a nut, so I generally add to the collage on the same day I receive it.

The first collage originated from Ma.nimfa Maligaya Ursabia, who studied fine art at the Phillipine Women's University. Three others added to it. When it got to me, it looked like this:

I added a haunting set of eyes. The eyes are a stamp from B Line Designs. I did a packing tape transfer, so the beautiful handmade paper would show beneath. I colored in the irises with alcohol ink. The result:

Australian's Sue Byrne was the mother to the next collage I worked on. The "baby" then went to visit 3 "aunties," until finally the stork brought her to my doorstep. When I opened the envelope, this is what I saw:

Well the creative process for me always goes something like this: "flowers, a set of female hands pulling back a curtain, a bird, butterflies, flowers, and NOW the Queen of England?! Oy!" The mind sort of explodes for a moment, and then you act. I found that I was most inspired by the element I was initially most flustered by. Then it becomes, for me at least, a game of association: "Queen" leads to queen of hearts card, which creates a problem with color. The playing card was simply too bright and brought in a yellow I didn't like, so I sanded the yellow parts of the card and colored them in with Faber-Castell PITT pen in a shade that complimented the butterflies and flowers. Then the phrase, "Queen for a Day" popped into my head. I followed that imaginative trail by looking for rubber stamps that might suggest royalty: a crown, which I whimsically put on the bird and the number 4. Finally, I was uncomfortable with some open spaces to the left and right of the butterflies, so I decided to add a couple more. I didn't want to cut out the image of a butterfly, so I added a couple using some face-painting stencils I recently purchased. I traced the outlines with Permaball pens and finally colored them with watercolor pastel. Was I done? It's my feeling that a piece of artwork will always let you know when it's done with you and not the other way around. As a finishing touch, I added some clear glitter glue to the bird's crown and to the stenciled butterflies.

I will be sad when this project comes to an end. I hope to wriggle into the good graces of group leader and collage goddess, Nikki. I hope to plead my case that I deserve a seat on her next creative train.


  1. Wendy ...
    There's nothing to be sad about. This will continue as long as I do even if we are a group of two ... you and me!

    Thank you for sharing our group/project on your blog. You have made my day! I am so happy to have started this and to have someone a part of it as enthusiastic as you.

    More comes out this than just art and creativity...delighted to have made a friend in you as well!

    Thank you again, Wendy, for all the heartwarming comments. (your seat is reserved!)

    Nikki Soppelsa

  2. Love the article, very will written and represented. :)