Art Of Paper Collage Painting

The art of paper collage as an element of painting is discussed in this article.

Collage with paper requires a few basic tools, and a sense of balance and style. The first step is learning to collect and create the paper collage. Throughout this article we are going to use paint and paper as our basic medium


The tools for paper collage are very simple. You will need a scissors, a craft knife and a ruler. You will also need some wood glue or any other paper glue and, most importantly, a large piece of board or masonite, about half a metere square, on which to work. Rather work on a board than a table, as this can be quite a messy activity. In order to begin integrating paint into the collage, you will also need a few basic tubes of acrylic paint- the primary colors, red, yellow and blue will suffice- and a bowl of clean water as well as a few house brushes. Finally, have a small sponge and some clean rags available.


Obviously, you will be using paper. However, this is where the simplicity transforms into complexity. There is an enormous range of possible papers for inclusion into your collage. There are many different types, textures and colors, and the first problem is to select the paper for your work of art.

It is a good idea to place your found and created papers into different folders or boxes that you can categorize and select from. I have found that to have piles of interesting papers becomes frustrating when you are trying to find that particular paper for your artwork.

The paper.

Papers are your palette when working with collage. They are the basic colors and textures that will form the finished artwork. Collect your paper and assign them to the different folders. For example, you can have folders for different colored papers - these can vary in texture and density. Alternatively, you can use a different classification system with folders for different textures and grains. It really does not matter how you divide and categorize your paper collection. What is important is that this system suits your particular style and that you can find the particular papers you are looking for.

It is worthwhile spending some time searching for different papers. This search can begin in the art store, where there are many different types of paper, including pastel papers, course paper and silk paper. Your collection of papers should extend to the common and ordinary- the newspapers, magazines, even sweet papers. The important thing is to keep your eyes open to form and texture, and more importantly, to textures that can be worked on and transformed into something else. This is the beginning of your collection that will form the foundation of your future collage work.

Collecting collage paper does not have to be a passive process. There are many ways that ordinary images from magazines and newspapers can be actively manipulated and

"worked on". Take some ordinary newspaper and magazines and place them in a plastic tub. Fill the tub with water so that the papers become saturated. Then take this tub and place it outside in a sunny spot for about a week. When you return to the tub, you will find that the water has evaporated and that the dry papers remain. The papers will have combined in different ways and produced some strange results. For instance, the ink for the newspapers will have run creating unusual and interesting textures. Another technique for preparing paper is to add oil paint to the mix. You can also create paper in a more linear and controlled way of course. In other words, you can take a paper image and paint over it directly. It is also important to study other artists who have used paper collage as a medium. Particularly interesting is the work of Kurt Schwitters, who used ordinary papers very effectively.

Collage and paint.

It is often best to begin intuitively when starting a collage. However, many beginners may feel intimidated by the blank page and the large variety of papers. The following is one way of beginning a collage.

Begin by applying a wash to the surface that you have chosen. This can be stretched watercolor paper or board. As we are working with paper collage, we do not need a rigid support. However, working on hardboard or some other rigid support can have advantages if you wish to include heavier collage objects

Apply your wash of acrylic color to the support. This can be any color, but it is a good idea to spend some time choosing the correct color for your painting. The color you choose will help to integrate the different aspects and textures in your collage.

Now to begin with the actual collage. Start by choosing some papers at random from your collection. Take two or three papers and paste them onto the surface of your artwork. Remember that acrylic is a natural adhesive. Therefore you can insert the paper into the wet acrylic paint. Step back from the collage and spend some time viewing and discovering the relationships that have been set up by the collage pieces. At first they may seem to be nothing more than disparate shapes on the surface, but you may see some abstract and even realistic relationships to work on. If you do find a formal relationship between the papers, begin by reinforcing these relationships with paint and the addition of other papers to strengthen this relationship. This is a very intuitive process without any formal rules.

What do you do if you do not find any relationships between the collage pieces? There are a number of things that you can do in this case. Firstly, you can refer to a natural object or image and use this as a reference point to build up your collage. For example, a flower or tree, or any other image may be used. The idea of using this type of image, is to use its shape and form as a pattern, a "map" as it were, for your collage and the placement of collage papers.

Another method that can be used if you are stuck for inspiration, is to wash over the collage, and papers, with another layer of the same or different color. You can then apply the collage paper to this semi-transparent wash. The secret is to be alert. At any moment a new relationship may come into view. This relationship can be followed and added to by using both paint and paper. The process is sometimes frustrating but, if you persevere, ultimately rewarding and creative. Once again, it is always a good idea to refer to the established masters of collage art.

Trending Now

© High Speed Ventures 2011