When the famous artist Matisse was older, he was diagnosed with cancer and confined to a wheelchair. Anxious from the thought of not being able to sculpt or paint, he turned to collage to express his artistic voice. Matisse called it “painting with scissors.” I love this approach to making a collage, and these paper collage techniques are the perfect way to put it into practice on your next paper crafts projects.
Explore painting with scissors using these 6 unique paper collage techniques!
Before you begin, you’ll want to decide what materials you want to use. Just look around — you probably have a lot of them already in your home! Magazines, junk mail, fabric, glue, colorful tape and thread are all great things to use.
1. Cut out shapes from painted pieces of paper.
Have you ever read the classic children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle? This technique is similar to how he created his delightful images. Using a prepared surface and your favorite painting techniques, fill the paper with different colors and textures. After it’s dry, draw the shapes that you’d like to use and cut them out.
To complete your image, work in layers. Start with the most general shapes and gradually add more delicate details. Assemble the newly-crafted pieces and secure them with glue (a glue stick works well).
2. Combine different types of “junk” papers for an interesting background.
You’ve probably never given patterned security envelopes or gridded paper a second thought. Well, now they are all viable collage materials for creating an interesting image. Combine different “boring” papers that you’d normally toss to create different compositions. Use a glue stick to paste them to a base sheet of paper. You can stop there, but you can also use Mod Podge® or acrylic matte medium to make the surface suitable for painting and drawing.
3. Try textured paper with photographs.
Photographs can make for some funny, expressive or even sentimental collages. Look through old magazines for images that appeal to you and rip out the pages (National Geographic from the 1970s is always fun). A good starting point is to illustrate a recent dream you can remember.
When you’re ready, set the “stage” for your photographs with a textured paper background. You can texturize it in several ways. One of my favorite ways to add texture is the splatter technique, where you’d dip your paint brush in paint and fling it onto a prepared surface.
4. Use embroidery thread and fabric.
Scraps of fabric and embroidery thread make great collage materials. Try pairing unexpected combinations of color and patterns with paper, or try cutting the fabric in a special shape to accent your project. If you have a sewing machine, you can even sew the fabric to the paper. Just remember to go slowly and carefully!
5. Stamp on a mixed-media background
Making a stamp is easier than you think. It can be done with something as simple as a potato! If you’d like to try it, cut the potato in half and draw a design (bold shapes work best). Anything you carve away won’t be printed, so keep this in mind. Cut out your design and dip it in paint. Stamp it on the intended and prepared surface.
6. Weave paper strips for a tactile texture
Cut out strips of different paper to weave together. Use two different colors of paper to create a visually interesting texture that can accent a scrapbook page or greeting card. Or, you can make it large, serving as the centerpiece of your project.
Feel free to mix, match, and experiment with these techniques. One of the most exciting parts of working in collage is that there is no “traditional way” of working. Things don’t have to be perfectly rendered as they would in a realistic drawing or painting. You make your own rules!