Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Artful Collage from Found Objects" Inspires Creation of Visual Biographies, Memories and Dreams

I don’t know about you but I can go to a very special happy place when I read of famous, acknowledged style icons engaged in the same enterprise as the experts I know and love.

I was reminded of this recently when I read that interior style icon Charlotte Moss has been scrapbooking with abandon since she was a child.
Her latest book, Charlotte Moss: A Visual Life: Scrapbook, Collages, and Inspirations details her dedication to what she terms are a “fingerprint, a visual diary, a photo-autobiography.”   

That House Beautiful Magazine feature triggered how I’d been remiss writing about the antecedent to Moss’ publication.
Not that long ago I was honored to have been given the opportunity to review the Artful Collage Found from Objects book written by my garden friend, Ellen Spector Platt. 

What is the difference, you may ask, between Collage and Scrapbooking?
Not much.
A quick Google search yields:
Art journaling is focused on the creation of a visual journal or diary using your artistic skills and techniques, whereas scrapbooking is focused on the collation and presentation of memories, photos, small keepsakes and memorabilia, using creative techniques to enhance these.
A scrapbook is focused on capturing memories, photos, keepsakes, and memorabilia. The goal is to preserve these for generations.

The line between art journaling and scrapbooking can be blurred depending on an individual’s preferences and creativity. 
There are simply no fixed rules about what you can or can’t do in an art journal or when scrapbooking.

Journaling is based on a visual journal or diary, using art supplies, collage, stamps, markers, recycled paper, photos, etc. It’s a place for you to write your thoughts and dreams, ideas, personal reflections, future plans….philosophies.  It’s for the happy side of you and the sad, angry side. It’s a vehicle for spilling out your feelings… It’s a place to save ideas, quotes, and observations of when you are at home, work, or travelling.
So it is that Collage and Scrapbook -- thoughts of the personal, memory-inducing autobiography honors a not dissimilar style of art.

I put forth that Collages lean more toward the personal vs. a diary or journal's scrapbooking. 

Plus the collages as Platt helps us create, belong more to the “fine art” world.  

And no doubt, these kinds of Collages are given places of honor in our homes or offices – on the wall or perched on the desktop, mantle or other places of “eye-candy” distinction. 

And in the spirit of collage-as-art, you have to respect Platt notation that Picasso used newsprint in his collages.
She writes, “Now brown in tone, Picasso knew newspaper turns brown but used it anyway.”  Plant asks rhetorically, “Who am I to disagree?”

I think this notion of a visual autobiography is heightened with the gateway to a more public or “accessible scrapbooking” -- otherwise knows as: Pinterest.

See, it seems that we’ve all had the pent-up passion for collage and now its unleashed.

Collage and scrapbooking and Pinterest render memories and dreams in an artistic way.

And to enhance our private and public collage, scrapbooking, and Pinterest board-postings, we can all use the guidance and expertise of Platt.

The Artful Collage is Platt’s first published work on scrapbooking.
Platt has authored 11 books on garden plants and craft design.  A favorite is her best-selling Lavender book: Lavender: How to Grow and Use the Fragrant Herb (

Her design cred is well established.

Artful Collage is a full-color, full-sized, step-by-step, detailed How-To and inspiration.   

The book embraces nearly 50 sample Projects that are Platt’s hands-on, real-world, collage art process.

Platt provides a succinct overview of what you’ll need to collage in the Basics chapter. 

Here, there are all the materials used in Collage and that you probably have, including, scissors, glue, brushes, pencils, and rulers. 

And then, there are the suggested “Found” materials.

It’s almost a liberating discovery to learn you can create collage artwork “from junk and treasured objects and keepsakes” according to Platt.

Artful Collage provides 10 Project chapters featuring Collage project suggestions.
Here are a few examples:
·      Remembrances of Things Past
·      My Landscape
·      My World
·      Vacations
·      Seasons of the Year
·      Holidays, Hobbies and Gifts

Nested within each Project chapter include three to six examples.

Key to successful, artful project completion is Platt’s How to Do It chapter
Platt advises Collage Art is a six-step process:
·      Gathering
·      Imagining
·      Manipulating
·      Designing
·      Adhering
·      Displaying

Plat says: “Steps do not always follow in that order – one can imagine or dream before the gathering…"

Platt suggests staring with a theme in your world and "ideas will come pouring in.” 

If life is an amalgamation – artwork is the same also. 

Art is all about telling stories. 

A Collage Q & A with Author Ellen Spector Platt:

Q How did you start Collage/What got you started? Do you continue to collage?  

A. I started by accident when I was between herb books and looking for an interesting course to take at Cooper Union. My editor wanted a craft book just around the time I was falling in love with the process of Collage.

Q. In your opinion, is this a "hobby" for folks of certain age or does it run across all ages and demographics?
A. Collage art is now my third career, and it can be enjoyed seriously by kids and adults alike.  In fact, I’ve worked with my grandkids – now 13 and 11 – and they make collages for gift sometimes.  I teach collage at Brooklyn Botanic Garden and other places.  I also show and sell my Collage work.

Q. How did you come up with the collages featured in the book?

A. I was trying to illustrate various styles and techniques to give readers a guide on how to get started.  In my own work, I now use lots of my own photos printed at home on regular paper, cut or torn, with other found elements.

Q. What has been the feedback on the book? How has it changed your world  -- your approach to found objects?

A. I notice everything in my surroundings in greater detail. All objects in the city are potential art materials.  One day, leaving a diner with a friend, I saw a perfect, green, roundish piece on the pavement and bent down to pick it up and save for some future collage.  Only after I got quite close up did I recognize this green piece as a slice of pickle. Not quite something I wanted to save…

Q. How has the garden influenced your collage?
I use many twigs, pressed flowers and leaves, pods and cones – even when the subject of the Collage isn’t botanical.  The shape, color, or texture of natural objects lend themselves to Collage and are readily available, even on the streets of New York City.  

Q. What book or project are you working on now?

A. I'm doing my own art – showing and selling my work.  My last group show and sale was at a Gallery in the Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage.

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