I Could Start Every Painting This Way

Here’s an oil painting by Casper David Friedrich that I have on a postcard called The Sea of Ice (1824, oil on canvas, 38 x 50). I used it in a winterscape collage for inspiration for the coming holidays.

An Engine for Your Creativity

In college, I created a series of mixed media collages that incorporated several of the same images, but each looked different in its final form and presented a distinctive narrative. It was a marathon of nights filled with cutting and pasting, but I loved the way you could layer different meanings and have multiple ideas in each work.

Since then, I’ve found that collage is a prompt for me, in and of itself. If I want to start a painting, I reach for my sketchbook and do a little impromptu collaging. It helps me focus on the most important elements I want to incorporate into the work. It also makes me think about how to achieve my goal with different methods of mark making, colors, or even different media.

I collect images, objects, and scraps of paper, cloth, and photographs and wait until something comes together for me. And usually that happens when I try to work through a collage. It becomes the starting point I use as inspiration for a full-on painting or even a series of mixed media works.

For example, for a landscape painting that I want to paint sometime in the future, I have a mixed media painting collage going that features fluid and loose pen and ink lines from a graphic design that I found in a magazine that I’d love to try to imitate; streaks of a silvery gray oil pastel that I’ve been wanting to use; a handful of postcards featuring female portraits; and a ruby-red scrap of cloth that I can’t even remember the origins of.

A collage can contain building blocks for a great painting. It can also be a work of art in and of itself. Mixed media collage by Alisa Burke, above.
Mixed media collage by Cindy Wunsch.
Mixed media collage by Cindy Wunsch.

Touchstones and Resources

The point being that all of these parts, together in the collage, encompass what I want to have in my painting as touchstones. They are things that will guide me through the work and keep me centered and focused. Some of it is about method and technique; some of it is about narrative and message. I don’t know how it will turn out, but the mixed media art collage helps lead me along.

To me that’s the lure of collage–and mixed media art journaling. The processes inherent in both allow me to think all around an idea or memory in a way that feels fluid and organic. Nothing is forced. And from there I can take my creativity wherever I want it to go. So when I found out about the Art Journey Collector’s Bundle I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

This kit shows us yet another way to gain inspiration through abstraction and realism, painting and mixed media, collaging and writing. These prompts and inspirations can be a starting point for thinking about your next art piece–or several works riffing off the ideas that spark you when you explore these resources. Either way, I hope you find the Art Journey Collector’s Bundle as much of an artistic asset as I do. Enjoy!


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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

3 thoughts on “I Could Start Every Painting This Way

  1. I love to start my painting with collage also. Thank you for sharing your techniques. I get so inspired from other artists. The Collage in Color eMag is TERRIFIC! I got it when it first came out and am still going through it over and over…talk about inspiration and techniques! This eMag is full and the great part is it’s interactive which helps me as I learn better from seeing than reading.