Wednesday 10 December 2014

Using figures to create a narrative in your collage : 'Fortune & Geese Favour the Bold' Part 5


If you followed my tutorial for creating an altered book earlier in the series I do hope it's not been sitting empty waiting for this follow-up instalment! But, just in case, let's get started filling up those pages ...

The 'Fortune & Geese Favour the Bold' collage adventure itinerary ... so far:
  • Part 1: Prep notes and supplies list 
  • Part 2: Introducing a themed focus into your altered book / journal [looking at having a theme and a purpose before you begin]
  • Part 3: Turning an old book into a new home for your collage [a step-by-step tutorial]
  • Part 4: 101 alternative crafty supplies ... and where to find them [after reading this don't tell me you don't have any collage supplies!]

  • So far in this 'collage and altered book adventure' we've really been looking at how to prepare before you begin. [See the links above]. And now today, and in the next post, we're going to look at a way of filling those pages.

    Disclaimer:: Like I always say: this is just my way of doing things; I don't anticipate you'll get to the bottom of this post and turn into a Julie-clone ... [although, if that does somehow happen ... do let me know ... I might be up for some sort of scientific / technological innovation prize!]

    Well, I say it's just my way of doing things when, more specifically, this is was my way of making this particular book. Therefore my purpose for this set of posts is really to just:
    • share some ideas about playing with paper;
    • think out loud;
    • explain my methods complete with lots of example pages;
    • and to encourage you to think about how the images you choose can help you tell a visual story.
    Many of the collages in this book consist of two key elements which I held in mind while constructing each page:
    1. The figurative or narrative aspect of the page. These are the parts of it which feature a figure / a character / a clear theme which a viewer could connect with; it's the parts which tell some sort of story or which at the very least a viewer will attempt to interpret into a 'meaning'.
    2. A more abstract form which is more concerned about creating a general mood rather than a specific 'meaning'. And also a form which simply celebrates and outs centre-stage your favourite scraps of paper. [Because it is possible to have favourite scraps of paper isn't it? We've all been there ...].
    And, in the spirit of my 'Freezer Meals Approach' to blogging [make in bulk but savour one at a time] we'll look at both of these individually turn.  So, for today, let's just focus on the figurative and narrative elements.

    1. Using figurative or narrative elements on your pages.
    If you're on the look out for a cast of characters of your own to use in your collage / art journals / crafting than check out my Fabulous Figures [please note: that's a product promotion ... and not a come on] which are lucky-dip packs of mixed figures and characters ready to feature in your next artistic story!
    Now let's reflect back upon the PURPOSE of the book you're creating, the collage you're making, journal you're filling etc ...

    ... because it may well be that you're using your creative time to reflect something about your life, to tell a story, express an emotion, capture a moment and so on.

    In which case, using figures can be a direct way to transfer those feelings from your head to the page.

    Take a look at this figure and see if you can guess the feeling I was trying to convey when I chose to use this particular character over any number of other options:
    What do you think? Thoughtful? Uncertain? Pondering? Wondering?

    Well, the page documents a day where I had to make a work-related decision and simply couldn't do it on the spot over the phone; so my boss gave me overnight to think on it. And, as the journaling on the page explains ...
    I was afraid to say both 'yes' and 'no' ... hence selecting the little character who, like me, looked confused and deep in thought!

    Similarly I supported the theme by using the arrow illustration - to indicate having to choose a direction - and I also added a small figure in the top left corner who's wandering off in the completely opposite direction to the figure at the bottom!

    Now ... chances are you didn't pick up on all of that on first viewing but that's fine; but the fact that I had thought all that through while I was making it definitely helped me decide what to put on the page.

    With all the scraps of paper and images at my disposal .... having a clear narrative in mind helped me narrow down those options and pull together a cohesive page. 

    Same goes for this one:
    No one outside of my own head would know that this page is about me remembering that every year I've joined in with Shimelle's 'Learn Something New Every day' project I've documented a lazy September Saturday spent with James. So this page features a couple of figures to represent the pair of us and a tortoise to represent our relaxed Saturday-night-in-front-of-the-TV-with-wine feeling!
    As for the 'St.Ives' card ... that doesn't really mean anything! It was simply one of the supplies I'd sorted out to use before I began my pages and it fitted in with the colours of the page. The nearest it gets to contributing to the theme is that we've been there ... and it was nice and relaxed too!
    But your pages don't always need to be as subtly themed as those pages of mine which need to be unpicked and explained to a viewer. 

    You may want to be quite literal in your approach by creating a page which is clearly 'about' something ... and you use that 'something' to illustrate.

    Take the following for example ...

    Remember how all the collages in this book where all relating to my 'Learn Something New Every day' lessons during September? Well on this particular day I was reflecting on how I 'd been walking home when I spotted that my neighbour's gate was open. My neighbour who has 3 huge dogs!

    And I didn't know if the dogs were out in the street. And I panicked ... and didn't know whether to just turn around in the street and go somewhere, anywhere, else instead!!

    In the end I did reach home in one piece ... and eventually this page came out of the experience:
    [For the record: next door's dogs are a lot bigger than the one on my page! Even I would've managed to get past one of those!].

    So yes, it was a page about dogs and I used a dog to illustrate that fact. Nothing clever or obscure about that! 

    But that's one of the best reasons to use a figure on a page - to act as a readable and recognisable focal point which can quickly communicate the story you're trying to tell.

    Here's another ...

    The journaling here is about how you don't always need great big hugs to show someone you care. You can reach out and touch their fingertip ... and they'll still get the idea.

    And what did I use to express this thought? An illustration of a finger tip of course:
    And there's more hands in this close-up where the narrative was about being busy with work, and the image reflects the thought:  
    When I began this post I didn't realise there would be a hands/canine theme happening .. but here's another dog:
    ... whose pleading look I used to reflect how it feels to be a seller at a craft fair!
     And if you can't find a figure/character which quite fits the narrative you have in mind ... then customise one.

    I gave one of my figures a rather smashing set of petal wings to help her out with her climb:
    And if a figure isn't quite working for you, or if it's saying too much or  not conveying the right story ... then cut into it!

    Here I cut off the head:
    ... and reused it on another page:
    I covered over the face as it just felt a bit edgier, a bit more like I'd made the imagery my own, rather than let it say too much of something that wasn't part of my narrative:
    Plus it adds a bit of mystery ... because sometimes you want to keep the full story to yourself!

    And I'll leave you beneath that veil of mystery for today ... and leave you to ... :
    • Think about how you already incorporate figures into your work [are you a literal story teller? Or do you like to wander into the more metaphorical?]
    • If you haven't tried this style until now have a think about what will you take away from these examples today.
    • Have a look at the Fabulous Figures packs to see if they're something you'd find useful [there's 20% off all orders until Friday night [12th Dec] if you use the code that's stated in my shop description here.]
    • And do join in the conversation with a comment here or on my Facebook page ... I know I've been sharing a lot of collaged characters in these papery pages ... but it's always good to communicate with some real people too!
    I'll be back, when I can, with the second part of this look at filling up those pages. Next time we're going to go a bit abstract!

    See you then then.



    1. What beautiful, beautiful pages....[Note to self: must commission Julie to make me something for my office wall...].....and what brilliant tips.....thank you....

    2. I came across your blog Paula of Buenas Aires and My Numbers. Which I was impress with.
      I haven't done a college since grade school. Sure does look fun.
      Coffee is on

    3. Great pages Julie, and great explanation and ideas. I love those wings!!


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