Bookreview | The Collage Workbook by Randel Plowman

There are sooo many books on mixed media, painting, art journaling and drawing these days that I am amazed every time a new one comes out. Many of them includes ideas on how to work with collage elements on a page, but not many are so entirely devoted to the fine art of collage as this one, The Collage Workbook – how to get started and stay inspired by Randel Plowman. A collage handbook, finally! Right?

the Collage Workbook

In art journaling collage is often something used in the background, something that you paint over or work around. But, at least for me, collage has become the main thing, the way I express myself, and therefor this book is a gem! And I think anyone interested in making collages will love it too!

The Collage Workbook how to get started and stay inspired book cover I actually love everything about this book, including that all of the artwork is by collage artist Randel Plowman himself (also the author of A Collage book of the Masters that I’ve also reviewed).

The book is a great way to get started for newbie collage artists, but it also works perfectly well for people like me who have been dabbling with collage for many years!

Plowman goes through the basic tools needed (like paints, scissors, crayons, different kinds of adhesives and support materials) and how to get a imagery collection started. His own creative process is very similar to mine:

For any given collage, I start by sifting through my boxes of paper and imagery. As I look through these boxes I start to sort out little piles of paper that I like. Some are arranged by color, others by content, pattern, or whatever else I am drawn to. Next, I just start gluing things down. I’m not too worried about anything at this point. As the work progresses, I’ll have to start making more careful decisions about what to glue down next.

That is pretty much how I work too, letting the serendipitous of my imagery folders or boxes do their magic. Often the first paper I grab is where I start, I’m not very picky (or maybe I am but I love every bit of my paper collection).

Plowman talks a bit about storage too, which is something I always struggle with. The cutting, sorting and sifting is a huge part of doing collages. With no right way I find it difficult to know the perfect solution. Plowman recommends you find your own solutions. He uses plastic storage bins from a local discount store. In them he tosses everything without organizing at all, because he enjoys randomly picking a box and going through it… Others might work differently of course. Personally I’m still looking for my favorite solution, though I still love my inbox of scraps idea and use it every day.

Book spread collage color plunge from The Collage Workbook

As a help he also writes about the elements and principles of design, basic composition ideas and layering. After that the main part of the book consists of creative exercises (50 of them!). Each new spread or page is a new exercise, illustrated in a descriptive prompt and several finished collages. I totally adore each and every one of these collages, whether they are Color plunge monocromatic (above) or material inspired (below).

Book spread handwriting and patterns from the book The Collage Workbook

The last pages include a pretty image library like ledger paper, vintage handwriting and many black and white illustrations that you can copy, scan, and print. I told you right? This book is a gem!

I find new inspiration each time I open this book. As I continue my own artistic journey with the project of 365 collages in 2013 I am keeping this book close by!

Further inspiration

* The Collage Workbook – get it on amazon
* Randel Plowman – webpage and blog A collage a day
* The Collage Workbook’s site is a great resource with some extra images to print too!

8 Responses

  1. I bought this book a few months ago and avidly read it cover to cover. I too found lots of good information and enjoyed the ideas in the prompts. Then, put it aside and totally forgot it! Thanks for the reminder.

  2. I recently got this book, too, Hanna, and just love every bit of it myself. I toss my collage bits and scraps into a big deep drawer, and just sift through it prior to a project, taking out what strikes me and deciding how to use the pieces once I have them all together. I LOVE the process!

  3. This is one of my favorite books! I have a big box of “stuff” too I throw interesting bits of daily flotsam into and that I shift through when I begin a new collage :-)

  4. Thanks for the tip, this seems an interesting book.
    And it’s funny, I immediately recognized the woman on the collage at page 40: I also used her in one of my own collages, but there she’s still holding her hand next to her mouth (shouting). We fish in the same picture pond apparently.

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