Sunday, October 21, 2012

Coloring Book Collage

Collage by Number @ Suzy Cucumber

I adore the works of the masters. Alas, I choose not to wield a paintbrush with their skill. I have better things to do than devote my life to mixing the perfect crimson. Plus, someone has to cook around here or there’d be fast food wrappers piled to the ceiling.

Collage is the answer! I copied a page from my Color Your Own Great Flower Painting coloring book onto cardstock and grabbed a glue stick and the stack of magazines I’ve been too busy to read.

Collect the colors by ripping pages from magazines.

I chose to recreate Jan Van Kessel’s A Vase of Flowers, which is found NO WHERE on the Internet for reference. Jan painted many flowers in many vases, but I could not find this particular painting.


I followed the reference photo in the coloring book as best I could with some magnification and a color reference map. I like texture and variation in my colors, so I usually look for magazine pages that match the overall hue. I collect all the colors I think I may need beforehand as my palette. It’s no fun looking for more green with sticky, gluey fingers.

Collage the background first. 
I start with the background and rip the pieces to fit. I glue the pieces down one at a time with a glue stick, tweezers, and toothpick. I add elements from back to front.

  The work in progress. 

Seal the paper bits with a layer of Mod Podge in matte.
When I’m satisfied all my flowers and leaves are covered, I seal the whole piece with a layer of matte Mod Podge. It’s the same idea as sealing a puzzle you’ve completed. You don’t want any pieces popping up when you run it through the printer.

Yes, my poor printer gets abused again.

But, what if I don’t like a color choice I’ve made? A wash with thinned acrylic paint after sealing with Mod Podge will tone down any color errors. I didn’t like the light gray tone across the top, so I washed the area with black paint and repodged it.

Vase of Flowers before
Vase of Flowers after

My inkjet printer is learning to say “No” to my schemes, so I had to fool it into reading the dark background as white with a line of masking tape across the top of the collage. I then overprinted the original coloring book page on top of the collage work.

Click to see the large version.

I think the coloring book lines minimize the “I–copied–a–serious–piece–of–artwork” vibe. My art school daughter liked it, so I trimmed it to 8x10 and framed it for her dorm room. She said her Design professors would be impressed. The whole process took about 16 hours, so I hope they’d be!

The final artwork framed and on the wall.

The whole process is like collaging by number except you get to choose the colors, which opens a whole can of art worms.

Do you have a coloring book picture in mind to collage now?

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