Book Review: The Collage Workbook: How to Get Started and Stay Inspired
The Collage Workbook: How to Get Started and Stay Inspired by Randel Plowman. (2012). New York: Lark Crafts. ISBN 978-1-454-70199-6
The Collage Workbook, written by Randel Plowman, is an easy to read and follow book about collage making. If you are wondering how to begin or have been practicing for a while but want to explore varying techniques, this book may just turn out to be your go-to for ideas.
The first section of the book will help readers learn what basic materials to collect to get started (papers, backing materials, paints or other media for mark-making, adhesives, etc.). There are also tips on where to find these materials (home, secondhand stores, on your daily walk), as well as links to websites that offer copyright-free images to include in your work.
Plowman also provides readers with some background information on the elements of design and encouragement to beginning collagists:
Ultimately, creating collage is the art of sitting down and staying open. I actually never need an idea before I start; I let the materials inform me. I encourage you to do the same: sit down and take a look at the materials in front of you. Start moving the images around. Let your materials "interact". Eventually, an idea will take root, and a story will unfold...The good news is that you'll probably learn just as much by your "mistakes", and you might uncover a new way of working on surprising solution in the process." (p. 23)
For readers not quite comfortable working without a prompt--and, perhaps, those who might be feeling stuck or uninspired--Plowman includes 50 Project Prompts and an Image Library at the end of the book. These project prompts are delightful, ranging from making five 5-minute collages (prompt #1) out of 3" x 5" cards and a pictures from magazines or other imagery to taking the "color plunge" (prompt #5) and making monochromatic collages using various shades of that color to using a dream (prompt #30) as a starting point. Go in order or skip around. There's an activity to fit every mood, interest, and skill level. The copyright-free images will help you explore the idea of adding "ephemera" to your art pieces.
After having spending the last couple weeks reading some heady art history and philosophy books, I found The Collage Workbook to be a refreshing change of pace. The prompts are simple to follow, playful, and, as the subtitle of this book indicates, inspiring. People often ask me at shows how to get started with collage. This book will definitely be among my top recommendations.
Have you read this book? Let me know what I've got wrong (or right!).
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