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What is collage? Collage comes from the French word "colle" which means glue. In collage, shapes are cut or torn from paper or other material, then glued down to make a picture.
To make my collages, I paint large sheets of paper with the different colors or patterns I will need for a book. Then I carefully tear the shapes I need to make each picture.
How do you make the shapes so fuzzy? By tearing my shapes, the fibers of the paper are separated. This creates the soft edge. Tearing is one of the hardest parts of my work, because even the slightest mistake means I have to start again! But I love the effect for children's illustrations.
How do you put the final collage together? I lay out my background pieces on a clean surface, and place the largest shapes first, gradually filling in with smaller shapes. Sometimes I match my original sketch, sometimes at this stage I think of new ideas. If there are details that I cannot get with small pieces of paper, I paint them in very carefully. Hopefully at this point the composition is starting to work, so I lay a piece of clear Plexiglas on top so nothing slips out of place.
After a few hours, or a few days, I go back and take another look. I continue to rearrange or add shapes, and then, when I feel it's done, I glue down the pieces.
How did you come up with this style? A number of years ago I was experimenting with a new kind of paint and paper to make paintings. The images were more like designs than things you would recognize. I put these paintings aside, and when I went back years later and found what I really liked about them was the way the colors had blended. So I tore around the different colors and made them into collages. After talking with a friend I experimented with making two collages for children, one of butterflies, another of bears. But I wasn't sure what to do with them so I stored them under my bed with the rest of my art.
A few years later I attended a children's book illustration class, I was struggling to come up with a style that I could work in. Then I remembered the collages I had made some years back and on the last day brought them into class. The teacher and other students encouraged me to pursue this style. That was lucky! So I made some sample collages, this time of people, different animals, and other storybook objects. I took my portfolio to show to publishers in New York City where I was living at the time. It was very exciting when I was asked to do my first book!
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