Book Review: Approaches to Collage

Approaches to Collage Title Page

Approaches to Collage by Warren Farnworth. 1976. New York: Taplinger Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-800-80280-6

Approaches to Collage by Warren Farnworth divides how artists approach collage into four main categories reminiscent of the Meyers-Briggs personality tests: material/technique, visual approach, formal approach, and imaginative approach. While no artist relies solely on one approach throughout the creative process, any one approach "can act as a starting point to an activity." (p. 12)  As the project matures, artists often times pull in techniques from the other areas to round out their art work.

Left: House, garden and trees using a variety of edible materials in Approaches to Collage.

Left: House, garden and trees using a variety of edible materials in Approaches to Collage.

If you like lists, this book is for you. There are lists of materials to use: papers, fabrics, fibers and filaments, natural materials, waste materials. There are lists for making changes to the surface of your artwork: changing surface texture, changing color and tone, changing the shape of a material, changing material edges. There are lists for supports and adhesives: paper, cardboard, boards and wood sheets, cold water paste, PVA, epoxy, and the like. No one reading this book will walk away without an idea of where to start or what materials to collect.

Book pages from Approach Four: Imaginative in Approaches to Collage

Book pages from Approach Four: Imaginative in Approaches to Collage

The majority of the book focuses on individual aspects of each of the four approaches. When a person chooses materials and techniques (approach 1) as their starting point, the artist may be inspired by the properties of materials (texture, size, shape). Playing around with these variables can create dynamic and surprising results. Someone interested in the patterns and textures of their environment (bark, peeling paint, ripples on a pond) may use visual cues to start their work (approach 2). An artist using traditional design elements to start their project, focusing on pattern, movement, relationships may be using the formal approach (3). And, someone arranging objects or images to express an idea or feelings may be starting off with the imaginative approach (4). The author provides readers with further explanations of each of the approaches and many images (most black and white) and illustrative examples throughout the book.

Left: Shaped support turned into decorative fish; Right: Collection of steel engravings transformed into a man and his dog in Approaches to Collage.

Left: Shaped support turned into decorative fish; Right: Collection of steel engravings transformed into a man and his dog in Approaches to Collage.

Approaches to Collage is a somewhat analytical approach to collage meant to help people build an awareness of their particular creative style. It is a quick read that may assist readers in gaining an understanding of alternative ways to start and progress through art projects.

Have you read this book? Let me know what I've got wrong (or right!).

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Cheers!--Janyce

 

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