Saturday, April 03, 2010

A Collage a Day as warmup for working

35" X 30"
In 1994 I took a Mixed Media Quilt workshop from Joan Schulze at Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, TN. In an intensive 2 weeks I learned to be a collage artist although I thought I was just taking another quilt workshop. At the time I didn’t know that I was learning how to see and how to approach a subject but over the years since then I’ve used what she taught me in just about everything art project I tackle.

Joan taught me to go on a photo safari, to find one thing that’s interesting and explore that one thing from every angle and then to apply what I learned to design a piece of art. We learned some great techniques including acrylic transfers and monotype which I’ve used over and over.
The brooms quilt started with a series of photos of a rack of handmade straw brooms and the detail a transfer of the key photograph. Other images and designs in the quilt are based on the linear pattern of the straws, the bindings, the marks the end of the broom would make in dust. Once I made a big collection of images on fabric I cut and tore the fabric to form the quilt.

Some of Joan's good advice I’ve followed, some, not so much. I’m just now re-reading old notes… Joan said “Every evening write what my day was about, goals for tomorrow, ideas generated. Write poems.”

Well, let me tell you that poetry and I don’t mix, and as for being disciplined enough to write about each day at the end of the day, forgetaboutit. She said “don’t resist change”. I’m resisting discipline, but I can change. I know I can.

All that came into my conscious because I wanted to tell you about a habit I developed because she told us about her own daily collage practice. At the time Joan kept a small area of her studio set aside and set up for making small collages as a way to start the day, to encourage creativity. I do that for awhile and then lose interest for awhile but I always come back to the practice, and today I started again.

I found a bunch of heavy paper torn to 5x7” and a box to put them in. I’ve set up a place on my studio counter with the box, a glue stick, an old phone book that I’ll glue on top of, and a box of my collage compost, mostly scraps. In the first 5 minutes I made a little collage and then I grabbed a small book I recently made from a failed watercolor and made another 5 minute collage in that. I’ll switch back and forth between the book and the single sheets for awhile until I figure out my favorite.

Maybe you would like to start your own daily warm-up, and then download a summary of your day and plans for tomorrow, either to paper or computer, or maybe on the back of the morning’s collage. Now that’s an idea!
You can read an article I wrote about collage here or link from my sidebar on the right under Articles.


  1. okay Jo, I am really liking this idea. I will be back to read this again and your other posts and links.

    Thanks for the info here.

    Love the broom quilt!!!

    Have a blessed Easter dear friend!!!


  2. Hi Jo,
    What a great idea! a good way to use up scraps, too. Happy Easter

  3. Love the broom quilt Jo! I've long admired Joan Schulze and am envious of you getting to take the workshop with her (we always seem to be drawn to the same workshops, don't we?). Thanks for this post--it's exactly what I needed to get me going today.

  4. Hi Jo--how are you?? I came across your blog via roben-marie and what do I see but that fabulous broom piece I admired so long ago! And I find Robin here too--no such thing as accidents. Love seeing your work and your thoughts--thanks for sharing and inspiring!

  5. How I'd like to take a class from Joan Schulze. I always admired her work. Interesting blog, Jo! Lots of content.

  6. Found your blog today and love it. Your books are great!

  7. Love love love this idea. I tried doing a collaged ATC a week for a year and that turned out pretty cool. Now this as a warm up sounds inviting. I am really enjoying what you are doing Jo, inspiring!

  8. Hello Jo,
    Ran into your blog today. So nice to see how well you are doing. I am finishing up my teaching career of 55 years in April & May 2013.
    Joan Schulze

    1. Joan! How very nice to hear from you. I'm glad you found this post and I'm glad that in re-reading it myself I gave credit where it was due, to you for starting me on the road to collage.
      I no longer sew much but I am still mixing collage with paint and find it to be my pathway these days.
      My study with you helped keep me on the Art road rather than the Craft road.
      THANK YOU.
      In a way I'm sorry to hear that you're winding up your teaching career but that will leave you more time to pursue your own work. I stopped teaching about 6 years ago. I miss it, and I don't miss it. Working in my own studio is all I need at this time.
      Will you keep your studio or move to a home studio?
      Again, thanks for getting in touch. The piece shown in this post hangs in a prominent place in my home and is the most commented one I've done. I recently sold a print of the original photo that I used in this quilt.
      Now I want to get back to doing some photo transfers.


I appreciate comments and questions.

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