Thursday, May 30, 2013

May's Artful Readers Club (ARC) entry

Darcy at Art and Sole is about ready to share her May Artful Reader's Club entry, and I'm now ready to ONCE AGAIN show mine.  Some of you may remember I showed this post a week early and now I'm sharing it again.

I wanted to first say a few words about the book I reviewed in April.  Several of you suggested I alter the book, because it was so old and useless.  Truth be told, I had borrowed the book, and had already returned it to the owner by the time I created the totem.  But I thank each of you for thinking along those lines.  As I told a few of you, I hope the owner doesn't use the book to make anything in it for me!

This month, I'm reviewing something a bit more promising:

Collage Playground: A Fresh Approach to Creating Mixed-Media Art
by Kimberly Santiago

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: North Light Books (July 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160061793X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600617935
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.6 x 10 inches 

This is what the book looks like on my work table.

The Table of Contents in this soft-cover book showed it contains 25 projects and 10 techniques.

The introduction provided insight into the author, Santiago, who is a graphic designer.  Her collages looked very controlled, something I appreciate.  I've said in the past, I'm not a big fan of willy-nilly collage, and these examples looked quite ordered and orderly.

Chapter One begins with the basics.

Like I've come to expect from many authors of this genre, I've decided it seems the design or layout of the pages is more important than the actual relevance to the written word or material in question.  In fact, I'd never heard of some of the materials, including self-adhesive mounting board, vellum bristol board, or double tack mounting film.

An internet search showed this product from GRAFIX (the double tack mounting film), although self adhesive, was quite expensive.  It cost over $9.00 a sheet (that's US dollars).  And vellum bristol board was over $7.00 for one sheet of 9" X 12" and nearly $17.00 for 14" X 17".  I apologize to all my British readers, but the sizes were not available in metric dimensions, so I didn't convert.

Thankfully, I had heard of, and own most of, everything located on page 12.  One thing I enjoyed under "Hide and Seek: Collage Resources are Everywhere You Look!" was the statement:
If you don't already have a box full of collage resources, cast your eye on some of the everyday items you don't normally give a a second look--you'll be amazed at how much is hiding in plain sight.

I am fortunate in that my friends know my attraction to collage resources, and they are always donating to my cause.  Put the word out; I bet you will be pleased with what your friends give you.
                                                     Quoted from page 13

Truer words were never spoken.  If I didn't have my friends to feed my collage habit, I would not have all the collage fodder I've managed to hoard over the years.

Then, on page 15, Santiago further states we should keep the playground clean, something I advocate in my own "playground."  After all, littering is littering, and messy is messy.

Chapter Two focuses on creating your own original collage elements while incorporating items like old book pages, transparencies, scanned images, vintage textiles, pressed flowers, and other elements into the artwork.

One of the projects Santiago demonstrates is the woven pages, like the one you see in the lower left above.  Of course, Santiago adheres an entire sheet of double tack mounting tape to the entire back of the woven page, something I would never do.  And believe me, I have woven many, many altered book pages in the past, including ones where either the weft or the warp (and occasionally both) gently curved over the length or width of the page.
For the most part, I enjoyed the pieces she created using book pages.  That was fun, because it was right up my alley.  However, I must be a bit dense, because it took me several pages before I realized the step-out instructions were all demonstrated inside a frame.  At first, I didn't get the connection (You can stop laughing anytime, now).
In Chapter Three, Santiago shows how to build on the elements that were created in Chapter Two.  She shows her methodology and the five steps she uses to construct a collage.  Again, the graphic element is quite visible in her work.

 In Chapter Four, we are told to put on our play clothes.  However, Santiago doesn't mean "play clothes" like I wear.  You know, the ones that have paint, glue, and gesso hardened on the sleeves or at the elbows.  What she is referring to are vintage textiles.  Of course, I love textiles, so this truly piqued my interest.  In fact, several years ago I cut the center out of a vintage handkerchief.  It looked very similar to one Santiago demonstrates.  Unfortunately, I can no longer find it, after the ravages of a flood when many items were pitched, and boxes were then taken to storage.

Chapter Five takes you to the math room, where you are taught to add and subtract.  Of course, what Santiago meant was she would show how to add images, take some away, and make some from other images.  She also introduced the reader to "found poetry," something several of the altered artists I'm familiar with (and visit) practice a lot.  They often find words written on the book page and make art around those words, or they use the entire page and tie the words together by coloring out most of the words.

On this page she shows how to create a door, and place an image behind it.  Of course, she used a craft knife, something I have a real problem with.

At least I was now finally used to the step-out pictures being shown photographed in frames.

In Chapter Six, Santiago suggested ways for you (and me) to stand out on the playground.  Here's what she wrote on page 106:
"You learn how to define an image by piecing it as an individual collage, and then applying it to a background.  By creating the separate collage shape you have the opportunity to look at a variety of backgrounds before permanently committing to them.
But don't get hemmed into art within a frame--"

I personally thought that last line was hilarious, since she uses frames exclusively to demonstrate her step-outs.

It took me reading all the way to the Resources page (pg 140) until I found my inspiration piece on page 141.

I remembered from Chapter Six that Santiago told the reader to create a few backgrounds, so

that was what I did.  I decided on the blue/green page that began with watercolor paper as the substrate for my background.

Next I created all the elements using (from back left) a Martha Stewart punch, patterned paper cut in strips and assembled using double sided tape, and a bird I created and cut to size from a stencil using three Pan Pastels.

I forgot to take photos of the patterned papers before I made the pieced assembly Santiago advocated, so all I have is a photo of the package prior to cutting all those papers into strips.

I decided to call this collage "The bird on the box."  I hope you can see where I got my inspiration.

So what did I think of this book?  It was an interesting approach to mixed media, but I didn't learn many new techniques.  It was confusing at first with those frames, but once I got used to them, the book became an easy read.

Once again, I didn't much care for the "basics" and the way the materials, tools, and supplies were introduced.  I'm still trying to figure out why artists infer you know what each material looks like, so they don't bother showing these materials, especially ones some of us have not heard of before.

I enjoyed the clean lines and simple artwork Santiago used in her collages.  I attribute that to her graphic designer background.  Overall, I think this is a book geared to a mixed media or collage newbie, and just enjoyed seeing how she put various ephemera together in her unique way.  Of course, I see that same uniqueness and diversity when I visit my mixed media friends' blogs.

Having said all that, I feel I owe it to Santiago to give this book 3 1/2 stars.  Buy it at your own risk, unless you are new to altered art, mixed media, and collage, at which time you might find it enlightening.
This is the book I'll be reviewing for the June ARC.  I seem to be on a mixed media kick lately.

And please don't forget to visit the other ARC members whose links are found on Darcy's blog.  They will appreciate it as much as I do.

27 thoughtful remarks:

Teri said...

Cool! Kimberly is a friend of mine and I've taken quite a few classes with her. She has a fantastic little shop in downtown Clarksville. She is a real sweetheart.

Yvonne said...

I have the book you reviewed and I agree with you. I didn't learn many new things. I have not seen your June book so I will look into that one. thanks.

Janet said...

I enjoyed your review. Very objective and honest. I like your bird on box page but also think this exercise rather constrained your usual much free-er style. Your work is great!

Janet xx

see you there! said...

Good review. After reading what you wrote I won't buy the book but I'll see if the library has a copy.

I really like the Bird in a Box piece so something good came out of all your reading.


Craftymoose Crafts said...

Nice review, and I agree with Darla that even though I am less skilled in collage than some who have been creating them for years, I probably would look for this book in the library first.

I do like your bird on the box. I admit I found the frames distracting and felt the demo photos could have been larger.

Dianne said...

An excellent review...and beautiful piece inspired by the book! I generally like North Light Books, but am being very choosy about what I buy these days...I am going more for 'inspiration' rather than step-by-step projects. I have to admit I like the "playground" idea in the title. Art play is important to art growth!

Anonymous said...

Nice bird on the box taken as inspiration. As someone who does collage all the time, the perfectly neat playground just doesn't work for me. It's the hunt through a pile for that perfect bit that informs the process. I too have the book and found that it is geared to the formal and as you say more the newbie.....good review Elizabeth. Thanks and have a good Memorial Day Weekend. xox

Rita said...

Good review!
I think if the book is more for beginners she shouldn't be promoting such expensive materials. I think it would certainly put off beginners. I have a lot of supplies (from assorted art interests but am basically pretty new to mixed media) and that would put me off. But I also do appreciate neatness...maybe a little too much--LOL!
Love your bird on a box.

Halle said...

I don't think I've ever seen that book. I wounder if our library carries it. Would be worth a "free peek" at it I'm sure.

Magaly Guerrero said...

It is nice that you found some commonalities with the author. I'm absolutely with both of you when it comes to friends feeding our habits. My friends understand my book lust, and I get books all the time--which makes me very happy!

Your art made me think of the circus: a bird walking on a ball ;-)

abby j said...

Good honest review...LOVE your artwork inspired by the book (or a page in the book... :) )

NatashaMay said...

This looks like a fun book. I really like what you did with the art. :)

Anonymous said...

i love your bird on a box! thanks for the review, i'll check it out!! hope you are well, E


Jez said...

I like the clean lines and colours of your bird on a ball oon a box. A nice idea, and it gives me the feeling that he is going to start rolling the ball along with his feet soon like a trained bird.
The drawbacks you mention seem to apply to so many collage books, especially supplies which are unheard of or unavailable in UK.
Well worth reading your review, very fair and clear.

Darcy said...

willy-nilly hahaha love that saying.

*sighs in dismay ay my messy,messy playground*

Think I will give this book a miss, seems a bit basic for me. I understand how you might want photos witht he list of tools, but for me I find those pages annoying and repetative. Every book I have has the same tools pages in it. I would rather have a few more pages of projects.

Julie Ann Lee said...

I love altered books and collage and I have done a few myself so your choice of review was really interesting to me. It's a shame it was all a bit basic for you and I hate it when these kind of books introduce really expensive materials. I'm a fan of Grayson Perry and he says you should be able to create art on the kitchen table with the cheapest everyday things. I have no workroom and - oh dear - I try not to, but I do get a bit messy! I loved your artwork. I'm crazy about anything featuring birds and I'm a lover of patterned papers. Thanks for sharing xxx

Sarah said...

your artwork is lovely but I'm not convinced that this book is for me and my messy table....

~*~Patty S said...

Well that was a comprehensive review...thanks for sharing E!

After your Ruth Rae book review I treated myself to her 'layered tattered & stitched' book with a 50% off coupon :)

As much as I like books I learn best by seeing and doing

~*~Patty S said...

oh and WHEN are you writing your book :)

Leialoha said...

Mahalo for this thorough review of the chapters...loving how the soft background frames your beautiful collage...a happy page!

Jen said...

I do enjoy looking through books on mixed media projects but if it took until page 141 for you to feel inspired maybe not this one. I like your background and bird very much.
Jen x

Maz said...

Nice, detailed review. I think I'll give this book a miss but love the artwork you've done.

Shirley said...

A really honest and informative review. I have had this book for while and agree with your comments on it completey. Your bird in the box certainly looks great and the backgrounds you have made look like they will be fun to work on.

Gina said...

Very thorough review of this book, and even though it didn't excite you, it certainly inspired you to make a beautiful piece. love the "created" striped paper. (and this brit never went metric so the measurements were just fine) :D XXX

San @ Made in Hem said...

Fun book, great Art!!! ♥

DocAngi said...

Thank you for the comprehensive review! I enjoyed your blunt and fun comments with each chapter along with supporting book quotes and loads of images. This looks like a book I may like to borrow from the library, but not own, as I am pretty sure I have other books in my personal library that cover many of the same techniques Santiago demonstrated. Your art piece is a great tribute to the book!

SusieJ said...

Mmm....thoughtful review I need another book on collage?..meh...will put it on my wish list and see what happens....
Thank you for the honest review and the beautiful art work...
Hugs xx
p.s. looking forward to your June review as I seem to be on a collage kick at the moment!