How to Overcome the Fear of Starting a Collage-by Ann Baldwin

by Ann Baldwin

Here are some ways I try to break through the procrastination barrier:

(1) I make several photocopies or computer scans of the most important collage pieces, so that I'm not afraid to glue something down and regret it later. Once I had started a collage with a wonderful focal point featuring a picture of a chorus girl, which I'd photocopied from an antique magazine. Somehow or other the poor girl got buried
under paint. Fortunately, I had another fresh copy of the image which I was able to glue over the old one. I almost never use original copies of images from rare sources.

Five of Diamonds by Anne Baldwin

(2) I often find that by laying out all the collage pieces successfully to start with, I inhibit the development of the painting. Therefore, I begin by gluing down some unimportant
pieces, knowing that I can always cover them with other pieces later of I change my mind.

(3) I go back and forth between paint and collage, so that I don't get too hung up on the position of pieces. By using paint, I can easily cover up anything which doesn't look right later. Sometimes I find that starting with paint helps me to feel less preoccupied with the collage.

(4) Try using repositionable glue to move the pieces around until you're really satisfied.

(5) I occasionally photograph my work in progress with a digital camera, then look at it on the computer instead of in my studio. Somehow this gives me a more objective view and helps me to make decisions about where to go from there.

(6) I tell myself ALWAYS that there is more than one way (in fact dozens)to make a particular collage. Most of my pieces turn out very differently from the way I expected and often I am pleasantly surprised with the results.

Exeuant by Anne Baldwin

(7) I work on several pieces at the same time. When I get stuck on one, I move on to the next, back and forth.

(8) Sometimes I do one piece which I think of as the 'real' collage, and another one beside it which is 'just fooling around'. I can't tell you how many times the 'just fooling' one turns out to be just fine.

(9) Even the most successful artists make lots of 'failed' paintings. These 'failures' are some of my most valuable learning experiences. Making an artwork involves continuous problem-solving. The more problems you have, the more you learn. An important breakthrough came after three hard weeks trying to make a painting work. In the end, I gave up and painted over the whole thing with white gesso. I then painted nothing for
about a week. When I did pick up a brush again, I experienced a sense of relief and greater understanding of the creative process.

 (10) Ask yourself who are you creating the collage for - yourself, a friend, an art class, an exhibition, the general population of art buyers, a gallery. If it's just for yourself, you might wonder why it matters so much that it might not turn out the way you want it. Remember, we are often the harshest judges of our own work. Try not to judge, just DO. Regard the process of making a collage as an achievement in its own right, never mind the final product.