Collage and Photomontage Class with Mark Faigenbaum, part two

Last post, I told you about day one of the two-part collage class I had at San Francisco Center for the Book with Mark Faigenbaum.  (Read it here).  Well, today, I share with you what I learned and created in the second part of the class.

The second day was about incorporating transparencies and photos into our collages.  Mark went over the different adhesives we could use when working with transparencies.  His personal adhesive of choice is PVA, polyvinyl adhesive, aka, bookbinding glue, but also suggested we could try using gel medium. Both adhesives dry clear, so there is no concern about the glue showing through the transparency.  Mark also likes to apply PVA to transparencies after everything is glued down to cut down on the glare.  Other choices for coating transparencies include gel medium and Mod Podge.

Mark had suggested we bring in black and white transparency images for this class instead of color ones because from his experience, black and white images blend better with other types of images.  So I made copies of some black and white line drawings I had and brought them with me to class.  Unfortunately they proved to be too busy for layering, as the images became obscured when layered together.

I decided to experiment with using photos with my transparencies.  Mark had brought in some vintage photos for us to use.  I picked out this black and white cabinet card:

Vintage cabinet card

Vintage cabinet card

I found a transparent image that was about the same size as the photo.  As messy as it was, I decided to use the gel medium I had for the first class to glue the images together.

Matte gel medium

Matte gel medium

Transparency over photo

Transparency over photo

Because the photo was matted and recessed a bit, there was a thin pocket of air between it and the transparency where most of the gel medium ended up, hence the messy white looking streaks of glue in the above photo.  Mark warned me it’s going to take weeks for the glue to dry completely.

I decided to play around with some text, as Mark had some examples of collage that incorporated transparent images over newspaper.  I asked him for some pointers on how to layer transparency and text, and he gave me a few examples of what worked and what didn’t.  Here’s an example of layering that doesn’t quite work:

Transparency layering that doesn't work as well

Here’s an example of layering that works:

Transparency layering that works

I decided to add the above layered image to my cabinet card collage.

Layered transparency photo collage

Layered transparency photo collage.  The glue is still drying!

I played around with more transparency and text:

Transparency over text

Transparency over text

Meh.  Fumbling around in the dark is more like it!

I have to admit, it was much harder to layer images directly on top of one another for a cohesive look than it was overlapping non-transparent images together like we did last week.  It’s almost as if your brain has to work differently.  My brain certainly had a workout!

I decided to use transparent images a little differently for my next collage.  I started out by tearing and cutting up an image of the sky to create a kind of mosaic.

Mosaic background created from cut up picture of sky

Mosaic background created from cut up picture of sky.  Pardon the bad glue job!

To be honest, the reason why I did this was because I couldn’t find the right picture of the sky that was the same size or larger than my white background, so I decided I would suggest complete coverage by covering my background in a mosaic pattern instead.

I ended up creating something completely outside the box, for me, at least, that’s much darker than my usual cheerful, sunnier stuff.



This was a confluence of several things.  I found a photo of the building on the right side that looked kind of like a church, but instead of a cross on top of the tower, there was what appeared to be an open globe sitting on top.  I immediately thought of a tower signal of some sort and found several transparent images of circles in different designs, one of which I ended up gluing to the top of the tower.  Well, that gave things a more ominous feel.  I then found an image of a military plane and positioned it to look as if it was targeting the tower.  Add that to the shattered sky background, and things definitely took a dark turn.  To make things even more palpable, I decide to add a photo of three children.

I was surprised by this outcome, as I definitely did not plan this out.  It just came together organically.  I guess I started tapping into the darker side of my psyche.  I am shocked at what came out from just playing with the different elements.  The muse works in mysterious ways!

The last thing Mark showed us was how to raise an image off the canvas using pieces of balsa wood.  He had two examples of this.

Framed collage with a 3D effect 1

Framed collage with a 3D effect 2

If you look closely, you can see a colorful backdrop behind the cut-outs of the above images.

Detail of framed image with a 3D effect

Detail of framed image with a 3D effect

Each image was raised by gluing small pieces of balsa to the back and then framed under a thick piece of plastic.

All in all, the collage and photomontage class with Mark was amazing.  I learned so much, dabbling in another art form and developing myself artistically.  When you go into a class with hardly a clue as to what to do, and leave feeling like you’ve conquered a demon of sorts, that is success!  Thank you, Mark, for a truly enlightening class :0)

Mark Faigenbaum, collage artist and instructor

Mark Faigenbaum, collage artist and instructor

What have you done to challenge yourself artistically?  What fears have you been able to conquer? Please share in the comments.

Please note:  I have not been compensated in any way, nor will I be, for mentioning any of the people or organizations in this post.  All thoughts and feelings are completely my own.

About Serena Y Lee

Serena worked in the biotech industry for 18 years before leaving to pursue her life purpose – to live in freedom with creativity and simplicity. Her love for baking, creativity, and story-telling compelled her to start blogging to share her ideas with a wider audience.

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  1. New Magazine Collages | Crafty Creative Gal - July 5, 2014

    […] ever since I took the collage and photomontage class with Mark Faigenbaum (read about it here and here), I have been looking to create more collages with my stash of images from old […]

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