Upcycle Your Magazines Into Fine Art
Don't throw away those old magazines when you can create artwork with them.
I have been a dabbler for a long time. There is something very appealing about turning trash into treasure. Although I have been an artist for a long time, I never really tried collage before a couple years ago but now Im hooked.
I look for magazines with the shiny, glossy surface so that my finished piece has a shine even without varnishing it. I save key words that I think will add to the finished piece. These words will be the last to add to the picture so I set them to one side.
The photos and even text pages are torn or cut (or both) and laid out like a pallet. I like to layout my pallet like a rainbow. Starting with red, then orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and last the earth colors of tan, brown and black. I usually use a reference photo, preferably one I have taken myself so there are no copyright issues. I draw the subject onto a large heavy piece of paper, 80 pound cover weight, or sometimes the back side of a watercolor I didn't especially like. Watercolor paper is usually very heavy weight, 140 pound or better. The collage doesn't need to have paper this heavy but it is nice.
Lay out the paper scraps like a pallet rainbow.
Fine Art Collage
Draw the picture and start gluing pieces.
Rubber cement is my glue of choice because it doesn't warp the pieces or change the color. Most rubber cement will yellow with age but if you want to spend a little more, they do make an archival quality rubber cement that will not yellow the paper. Of course, magazines are NOT printed on archival quality paper and these portraits will yellow with age. It does seem a lot of work for something that won't last the test of time. However I have found that a lot of people don't care if a painting will last the next 100 years. They usually grow tired of a painting within 10 years and want to change up their décor anyway. Plus, in this digital age, the photo of the finished collage will probably stay nice long after the original has aged and yellowed. It is hard for die-hard artists to change their thinking on this point. We have been taught to honor quality and always work on paper and materials that will stand long after we are gone. These collages will not do that, unfortunately. That hasn't prevented me from getting awards for them and selling a few. I have enjoyed the process either way. And I find most average people don't care.
Just like my paintings in oil or watercolor, I like to start by filling in the background colors. Then I put in the shadows and build up to the highlights. The fun thing about collages is that people don't notice the little things if the color is right. That's how I manage to place peoples faces into the hair on my Carrie Collage, or the apple, red high heel shoe and orangutan in the Green Hat portrait. Those are fun and it's an "ah-ha" moment when people see them.
Photo Reference: My table with magazine pieces laid out and Curious Girl in process.
Recycle, repurpose, reuse?
Have you ever tried a collage?
Collage for a Children's Book
A little patience goes a long way.
It does take a little patience searching the magazines for just the right color to fit in a transition area, where you want the nose to have a smooth soft transition from light to dark, or little jewels in the Cowboy hatband. Sometimes I will put a collage away because I can't find just the right color I want and later stumble on it in some circular ad that came in the mail. As you see in the photo of the little girl I am working on, the glaring white of her hands and arm show that I am not finished with this piece, and I'm still looking to find just the colors for the fingers.
I have actually won awards for these collages, entering them in art shows in San Francisco and some local ones here in Fresno, California. I have received a Portrait Award, People's Choice Award, 1st and 2nd place ribbons and cash awards for several of the pictures shown below. That's a nice complement for recycled magazines, don't you think?
Photo Credit: My portrait of the Cowboy Hat Collage.
Just a few of my collages.
During the summer I spent some time creating more collages. I started with the background and then added the facial tones. The dress and foreground fencepost were last. I designed this collage from a photo I took of my granddaughter at the zoo.