Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Collage Made From Compost

In the Garden
Collage on paper
My boxes of compost are my most cherished art supply. I've talked before about how I build compost out of colored papers of all kinds and that I call it compost because as I dig through the piles of papers and stir up the mix new and exciting color combinations and compositions happen naturally.  That's what happened here.

The bright orange is the substrate which I painted by smooshing acrylic paint around on the surface. There's a bit of paper napkin, a photograph of maple leaves, a magazine image, and a color copied strip from an old painting. Simple items and a combination of stripes result in a happy piece.

Then there's this one.

Collage on Paper
8 x 8"
It's a similar layout and color combination but to my eyes it isn't as successful as the first one, but who am I to criticize it? I'm always critical of my own work; there's always something that could be improved, especially that strip of orange up the middle.

Let's analye it according to the elements and principles of design:

  • Line: vertical and diagonal suggest movement.
  • Texture: visual texture of printed vs plain vs translucent invites touch.
  • Color: Complementary violet and yellow with an accent of blue green.
  • Composition: Cruciform
  • Balance: yes, in all directions
  • Value: ah, there's my problem with the orange strip. It tipped the scale of value toward equal balance of value. Without the orange strip the dark areas dominate and composition is better. But I just couldn't leave well enough alone.
  • Repetition: There's plenty of repetition within each color family as well as repetition of line.
  • Contrast: yep, lots of that.
  • Dominance, unity, harmony: check.
The list is longer but these will do for today.

Do you ever pull out your list of elements and principles and use them to check your work? I find it's helpful when I'm puzzled about why a piece leaves me with a negative feeling.


  1. Good idea to pull out the e &p list as a guideline. I really like your header Jo!

    1. Thanks Leslie. That workshop we took with Cathy Woo helped to understand how to apply the E&P.
      The header is simply a shot into a paper drawer.

  2. Your title really grabs the attention, LOL, enjoyed learning about your artist compost :-) Not sure I'd have been able to break it all down as well as you have, but for me it's simply that the strip of orange stopped my eye from moving about the piece, it divided it and stopped movement for me. But the colour combos and textural elements in both, brilliant!

    1. We learned about the elements and principles of design in Art 101 and I even taught it but until the past few years I never applied it to critique or even execution of a work. It's so valuable to understand how to use these age-old principles.
      And you're right about the orange strip... it stops the eye from an easy move from side to side. One good thing about collage is that one can always glue something on top of offensive areas.

  3. amazing! i love chaos! it's one of the greatest pieces of mixed media i've ever seen!


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