Collage is often the best way to illustrate something more subtle than a narrative story.
In educational textbooks and almost always for English, this style lends itself to illustrating poems.
Collage may seem rather vague as a style but like the beer ad, it reaches the parts other (styles) cannot reach. We all react differently to various images. That’s because we bring our own heritage, upbringing and culture, to anything we look at. And these are only some of the filters through which we see the world. In this way, we bring ourselves to anything we look at.
Collages and mood
Having said that, there are some things that are universal in that they are a hotline to our emotions. The way we react to colours is not always standard. But a harmony of lines and the way they convey mood in a picture is fairly standard. So collage tends to go to the right brain, to the emotional side.
The creative part of us likes to connect one part of a collection of objects with another. Next, we try to find relationships between them and find meaning and relevance to our upbringing, society and heritage. And thus a story happens. Things that seem out of place start to make us curious. And a mood that reflects the feeling of the poem, can be born.
In my collages I look for relationships of line. In other words, the background ‘line’ running through the pictures from one to the other, can form a unifying shape that pulls it all together. Making collage takes a long time sometimes. It’s hard to make it work together without looking chaotic. Therefore, removing things is the other half of the work. But then suddenly it all comes together and the magic happens.
Collages are also great to make for a birthday or anniversary card to celebrate someone’s life. Photos of people or objects that are/were dear to the person can be combined into something beautiful.
For the beginner, making the overall image cohesive can be a problem. Try using only one colour or concentrating mainly on one colour with odd contrasting bits to heighten the interest. Or use a strong underlying shape, like a spiral, an S-curve or a U curve.