Collage Play with Crowabout

I recently joined an online collage-challenge group:
Collage Play with Crowabout ~ Nancy Baumiller's Flickr group for weekly collage challenges. She supplies us with a collage sheet of random images once a week on Saturdays, and we have until Friday to complete a collage piece of our own using those supplied images.

We're supposed to use at least three of the images in our own piece (though ideally you'd use them all in some fashion), and any other images or mediums are not only allowed but encouraged. I've seen many people use their own imagery in both handpieced paper collage as well as many wonderful digitally produced pieces - however these are my own self-imposed rules for my weekly pages:

1) Must use each & every image Nancy suplies (whether in whole or part)
2) Must use ONLY those images! no other printed or found images or items
3) Tools and media allowed such as paper punches, paints, markers, pens, chalks, etc.

Thought I would use this past week's page to do a step-by-step procedure posting on how I create my pages, which I am doing in a 10" by 7" spiral bound journal book. And here we go!

First thing I do of course is print out Nancy's collage page, on a letter size page of plain white cardstock. I usually adjust the brightness and contrast a bit in Photoshop first, so that the printed images are clear and bright. Then I color my page background, using either watercolors, pastels (chalks), art crayons, or - as in this case - direct to paper inking. I just randomly apply color in two to four shades, contrasting or co-ordinating depending on my whim of the day:

I then cut out all the pieces as they are on the page, and start figuring out what can become what. At this point I don't usually have any idea for an overall page theme or design, I just let it come to me as the individual elements work themselves out. Right off the bat here I see the two orangey striped triangles as legs, and as I try to incorporate a character or figure into all my pages, I know that's where I will start. I cut out bits and pieces until I've created these folks:

I like'em! but now what? Originally I'd intended to use the partial clockface as an umbrella, but once the figures were done I decided I would make it into the arch over the top of a doorway, which led to the idea of having the couple welcoming the viewer into their home. This is where I used the leftover sliver of home interior image and the large wood piece to create the doorway and door. I didn't like the blue BG showing through, so I painted behind that with a mix of ivory and burnt umber craft paints. Though it now looks as though a waterfall is pouring through their entryway - eyeroll

Now my page theme is taking shape ~ I see the cracker images as headstones, so I cut them smaller and add a bit of the text imagery for the "names" , and I decide to stagger them along a path of some sort ... I used the chickenwire image as a fence, and drew in my own path, utilizing my horribly disjointed sense of direction and perspective (is it a tomb tree? a funnelcloud? Jack's beanstalk, or what?!) to make a pathway meandering through the couple's yard, littering it with the dead along the way ...

Finally I add my *handwritten text (PITT pen): "The Bailey's Welcomed Everyone to Stay ... Permanently ..." to show my charming couple inviting you to enter their home, 'cept you don't realize there's only one way out and it ain't the way ya came in!

I also outlined everything in white Signo gelpen to help it standout - and I ink all the edges of the individual pieces with shades of brown before they are glued down to the page, using either Sharpies or inkpads, depending.

Now, I love the couple! and I like the "story" behind it, but overall I don't care for the entire piece as a whole. Yes, I AM my own harshest critic, but don't feel you have to comfort me or boost me up! - 'cause while I am definitely hypercritical, I am also usually my own biggest fan and that side tends to win out in the end : )

*One of the group members had asked for input on how everyone was doing their hadwritten journaling on the pages, and this is what I sent her, thought I'd included it here too for anyone else interested in my own lettering process ...

Take care now and havva GREAT day!
~ gem ~

First, get some good gel pens and markers (I like Signo gelpen in white, PITT ink pens or ZIG Millenium memory book writers, and of course SHARPIES - note the new Sharpie pens, they are fine line Sharpies in black or blue ink but no bleedthrough on your paper ...

If you look at my 2 most recent Crowabout collages, they both have lettering I did freehand right to the paper. And you can really tell the difference between those and the previous 2 which I did in my USUAL manner of writing, which is:

1) After the collage is done, I write out my text on a piece of scrap paper until I get the exact wording I want.

2) I take a thin sheet of writing or drawing paper (or tracing paper if need be) and lay that over the section of the collage that will be journaled on, drawing an outline of the basic shape of the area in pencil. Then either using a ruler or freehand (depending if I want say, curvy or shaped lines of text) I mark out my lines -

3) I practice writing my text block (still in pencil) on these lines until I get it layed out evenly and spaced how I'd like. Once I'm happy with it -

4) I carefully and LIGHTLY draw pencil guidelines on the collage itself. Then I copy the text from my practice page onto the collage in pencil, (just by eyeballing it, making any adjustments if need be) and once I have THAT done and am satisfied it's exactly how I want it, I go over the lettering in my choice of pen or marker.

5) Gently erase all the pencil marks including the guidelines (this can be a bit tricky if your BG is in say chalk or pastels like alot of mine are!) and then go over the letters again in your pen/marker, this time adding little flourishes or thickening the edges, etc ...

6) Accent with another color marker or outline in contrasting ink, whatever you want and TaDa! you've handlettered your page!

I know it sounds like alot of work and while I don't do EVERY page like this, it is how I prefer to do it (but that's cause I'm a nitpicking perfectionist so take that for what it's worth), but I think you can see the difference in those pages where I have done my method VS freehanding it all the way ... all in all it's at the very least good practice at lettering so that eventually you'll be able to just write away directly to your pages :)

Hope that helps give you some idea of how to go about it and that you see not all of us are supremely talented at journaling and handlettering - we gotta work at it! (though I do envy those who can just straight up write the page out freehand and have it look all font-perfect, grrr!)