Sunday Morning Collage

A photo of a collage
A photo of a collaged page with bits of paper and stickers. Images in the collage include a skull with a purple moth on top, a snake, a girl with an umbrella patting a dog, tulips, a stamp, a few vintage-looking photos of people and ads, small painting of coloured circles outlined in black on a brown background with black pinstripes, and text reading ‘impressions of reality…’ ‘crystal’ and ‘stones, bones, and skin’

Well, truth be told, I started this last night but I’m still playing with it this morning.

I was just holding a small piece of flower-printed paper over the right hand side of this collage trying to figure out where to put it when I was struck once again by how weird the creative process is.

When I’m writing, particularly fiction, the feeling of getting things ‘right’ is really strange.

Sometimes my words come easily and sometimes I have to carve each one by hand but they often (always?) feel like I am remembering or uncovering them rather than inventing them. As if they are something I already know but I have to go through a process to remind myself.

And when I am trying to figure out something about a character or to iron out a plot point, there is always this sense that I am trying to figure out something that already exists. Like I am guessing until I get the correct answer. Sure, sometimes I have to put an ‘almost right’ answer for the moment so I can keep the story moving but I always know I will have to come back to it.

So, there’s a certain feeling to it when the words or the ideas start to work. And then when I go to revise, there is a different feeling of sliding words and ideas from place to place until they fit- like figuring out the picture in one of those little square puzzles made from tiles.

A similar thing happens in storytelling or in creating a workshop, I uncover the ideas and words until I *get* them and then the story or the presentation is mine.

When I draw, I usually start with an idea of something to draw and then go through the process of discovering what else wants to be in the image, what else belongs.

With collage/junk journaling, unless I am using the process to work through an issue, it’s rarely about expressing a certain idea.

Mostly, I start with a piece of text or an image that appeals to me and then I flip through my current junk journal to see what kind of background page it needs.

Then I go through my bits of paper, my stickers, my ephemera, to see what else belongs with that starting piece.

That sense of it ‘belonging’ or (in drawing) of it ‘wanting’ to be there is very much the same kind of feeling as ‘remembering’ or ‘discovering’ in my writing and storytelling.

There is that real feeling that the thing I am making, be it a story or be it an image, already has a shape, a reality, and my job is to figure it out.

I often find myself saying ‘Oh, right!’ as I scribble words down, as I outline an image I have drawn, or as I finish moving an image around my collage and set it in the right place.

For example, the collage in the photo above, was going to be two separate things. I was just working on the left hand side until that rectangular piece of paper with the woman on it ‘wanted’ to bridge both pages.

That’s when I ‘discovered’ that this was a two page collage and that the left hand side would have one type of images while the right had something entirely different.

And my little piece of flowered paper belongs on the right, not the left, but I just don’t know where yet.

I’ll just keep moving it around until it tells me where it belongs.