Starting something new
A few weeks ago I stumbled on a post about paint by number kits and it got me thinking. What if I could create a collage by number kit? A collage that could be used for handmade cards, stationery, and journaling.
Would people like the idea?
I posted the image above on Instagram and asked. The positive feedback gave me the boost I needed to move forward with the idea.
It's still a work in progress. Here is how it started and where I am.
November is Pomegranate Month, so I thought a pomegranate (or three) would be a good start. I've always loved a nice botanical illustration and decided to go in that direction.
This is the first illustration. Not one pomegranate, but three.
Figuring it out
You can see by the numbers, it was fairly complicated. I decided to create the template, cut the pieces, and do a test collage. I cut the pieces and used color pencil to add the color, just as a trial. That was my second mistake.
Persistence and testing
It was way, way too complicated. With more than 30 pieces - small pieces - I realized it was just too much. I overwhelmed myself, never mind anyone else trying to figure it out. That was my first mistake.
The second mistake was not using the materials I would normally use to create a collage. I always use painted sheet music. This time I printed the sheet with shapes and added the color with colored pencil. It didn't work. Partly because it doesn't look any of my other collage work.
When I work with the sheet music, what I pick is influenced by the color on the sheet, the music notes that show through, and the textures that come from brush strokes and density. I lost all of that when I tried to use the color pencil.
Back to the drawing board - literally. I decided to simplify the image. I created a new sketch (which is always how I start a collage). Then I cut the shapes from the painted sheet music. It still took a bit of trial and error to figure out the best shapes and sizes, but the process was closer to my usual process, and I think that's why it works.
I still have to figure out a few things, but I'm excited to move forward. Is it a good idea to provide the shapes and instructions rather than let people create their own?
Sharing my collage work is a way to help others start. The idea is to provide the framework. Each person can add or subtract elements and make it their own.
At a letter writing workshop years ago, I provided the template for a birthday cake collage. At the start of the workshop, I wondered if it was a good idea. I thought they'd all look the same when we were done. They didn't! I was remarkable. Everyone started with the same materials, but there were no two alike.
Collage is a forgiving form. It's where I've found my comfortable place. I tried watercolor and other forms, but felt constrained to make things perfect. Collage is perfectly imperfect.
The first kit will be ready soon. I hope you'll give it a try and give me feedback. My test is one thing. How it works for you is what matters most.