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Four collage tips, adhesives, mediums

September 25, 2017


I received this recently from an artist friend.

"I love collage and do a lot of it but have been plagued by technical issues over the years."


Below are answers to her questions. Collage-maker's, what are your best practices?


Glue/adhesive: gluesticks? spray adhesive?


The first adhesive I always use is white glue, whether I am adhering materials to paper, wood or even canvas. White glue is inexpensive and consistent. I usually water it down a bit. I hate spray adhesives because they clog and don't allow me to move the materials around on the surface. I never use glue sticks for collage work, even so-called acid-free ones. They may be acceptable for scrap-booking but I do not trust them for permanent work.


Medium? matte or gloss? fluid or gel?


Because I like my work to look like watercolor and I usually apply several layers, I use fluid mediums. I use Liquitex brand because it is reliable and reasonably priced. I lOVE their air-brush medium which allows me to paint highly transparent and fluid washes without compromising paint quality. Gels are useful for photo or copier transfers. I finish with a matte or satin medium. Gloss is too shiny for my tastes.


How do you keep paper collage backgrounds from wrinkling when watercolor is applied?

Ok, here is my secret medium that I use in almost all my work: clear gesso. Clear gesso protects surfaces and allows you to paint on them without wrecking sensitive papers. It dries clear with a tiny bit of tooth so it also creates a great surface to paint on.


People seem to be biased against paper collage that does not include paint, drawing, ink etc.

What do you think?


I do like to see the artist's hand in most work so I probably prefer some indication that the artist hasn't just arranged pieces of paper. This is why I love Rauschenberg, because his work contains such strong gestural elements.  Picasso and Braque, arguably the founders of collage as an art form usually incorporated drawing or painting in their pieces. However, Matisse famously created his beautifully cut paper collage pieces as late-in-life masterpieces. Just scissors, papers and various glues.


Thanks for the questions. I appreciate the opportunity to share and hope to hear from others.

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