Working as I do in mixed-media collage, I’m an avid ripper and clipper and scanner – old magazines and books, old photos, images I love and want to use more than once, things I pick up on my walks – most recently a beautifully dried and partially shredded shiny brown palm frond. I am a keeper of the scraps.
Like others of my ilk, I have boxes filled with bits and pieces, remnants along with books and magazines still intact but with pages ripped out for my arcane purposes. When I buy used picture books, the sellers often note how beautiful the pictures are. I hate to break their hearts by telling them I’m going to rip them up for art.
The upshot of all this is that about once a month I decide to organize my collections. I have boxes and files and little drawers and all manner of places to store my bits, but I never get it right. “Put all the people in one place,” I tell myself, “and all the plant material in another,” but as soon as I begin, I know I’m in trouble. So I regroup and decide to sort by color. This leads me nowhere as well.
The problem for me is that my mind and creative spirit don’t put the pieces together this way. Other collage artists may be more organized or know exactly where they’re going, but I’m not there. My eclectic mind wants to have fun with the work and I don’t know when I begin what I might want to put with what. I work slowly and add images and color a little at a time.
Case in point: I have a small collage in the works. I prepped the background in a new way to get some color combinations I haven’t tried before, rather quiet combinations, then I added the tissue scraps I use, a scrap of a dress pattern and then a bird I’d had in mind for this piece. All in all a pleasant little piece, but I’m not about pleasant little pieces and something was missing in the upper left space.
While going through one of my boxes, I found just the thing and have now added a smallish image of a happy accordian player behind a row of red geraniums. I had no idea he’d show up here, but he’s quite perfect and it makes me laugh to see this guy with the lovely bird.
I realize once again that I can continue to buy boxes and drawers for all my treasures, but my collection will still be stored in my quirky random way because I never know what’s going to inspire what. Or make me laugh.
My world has never been perfectly organized like some cosmic underwear drawer. My boxes of treasures are, in my old professor’s words, rich and complex to me, not complicated or confusing. And that’s good enough for this fledgling.