30 day collage challenge

day 18 - results


This isn't fully cooked yet.  And am somewhat ambivalent about how to get it there.  I may have to do some gesso/craft paint scraping to knock back areas of the ground paper's pattern.  This one will be a lot trickier than the goat/moon background.  Thought I'd have to resort to painting rather than scraping.  Then I remembered my still-new miniature spatula!  Will try working on scraps of all the paper/elements in this spread with this tool to see if that might be viable or not.  Maybe someday I'll learn not to work backwards.  Maybe.


The only reason these elements look like they contrast with the background paper is because I rough cut around them. The kraft paper background shows the clear difference between the first and second layers.  But this is not how I wanted my finished effort to look because it's not at all how The Center feels to me.  I thought about the pieces, their combined purpose, and what I had on hand at copier paper weight that I could use as a thin highlight outline.

Nothing made me happy until I glanced at a pile of patterned wrapping paper scraps topped by a clear bright aqua water-patterned paper with many bubbles outlined in dull dark gold.  YES.


Included the above image for those who haven't worked this way previously.  Audition your options by placing pre-trimmed or torn collage elements on the paper as if it was their background layer.  If the background is patterned make sure you place your elements far enough apart to see each piece individually and in sole relationship to the patterned edges of the background paper that will become part the single element you'll glue to the real background.

note:  This is exactly like cutting out separate applique motifs on cloth.  You need to leave enough space between elements to have the border width you want for both pieces.  I usually leave plenty of room rather than cutting things too close.  In my experience the cut-aways/extra background paper will not be wasted.  See the first image for examples of how I used cut-away pieces to form a rough border suggestion and also the seven free-cut lotus seeds mentioned in the second paragraph below.

When you make your choice take a few minutes to fidget with the top layer's position. You only want to create a thin outline so as not to distract from the central element you're further highlighting with this extra layer of paper.  If there's a pattern with lots of lines (or any dramatic color shifts) on your outline paper choice make sure you're arranging the top piece in a way that will yield disjointed segments of the ground paper that pleases you rather than an unwelcome surprise right at the end of your process. 

  Glue the elements down.  Usually I cover the results with wax paper and press them for awhile but today I had limited time to devote to getting this post created and scheduled.  I finger burnished really well, let it sit 20 minutes and then cut the pieces apart.   If you look at the finished page at the top of this post you'll see I also added 7 free-cut lotus seeds.  That's the primary design reason I want to knock back some of the other circles - so the seeds stand out more as being Story rather than background 'interest'.

(what remains to be seen is whether my Center's lotus pond needs to sparkle or not .  Am thinking not.  Definitely not.  But will sit with that for awhile and see.  Maybe just the bottom of the pond - where the seeds would naturally fall among muck - needs to have some sort of glow to it.

isn't it amazing how many different detailed ideas can grow instantaneously from scraps of paper and your two hands connected to your heart-brain throughline???

Day 18 - Morning Post

This prompt is either spooky or simply right on target in light of a conversation going on in response to Dee's post here.

Marti and Dee were discussing dancing with great abandon and also Gabrielle Roth.  Just thought I'd leave the note that the day I holed up in the studio to create these prompts I was listening to her cd Intiation on auto repeat. I often collage and move about while that cd is on but it isn't the kind of moving you two were discussing.  It's more about moving my muscles and bones with total awareness of how the motion flows through both and whatever that moves their union to express in the moment. To reach a cosmic heartbeat level of abandonment I need Prince.

Prompt #18

consider The Center of it all.  As that relates to you and your life/the world you've made around it.

Not - although I know it's a rather impossible ask but just try - the center that can't hold.  Not the center of a statement you feel that you must personally make/carry/protect/live by and through as much as humanly possible. Not even the center of why your individual life feels important and vital to something larger than yourself.

Instead focus on the center of our body's coiled energy.  Consider the center of your instincts and refined vision.  The center of your heart - the never-had home so many of us don't so much carry in our hearts as we are carried by it.  The center rediscovered every time we have an opportunity to breathe deeply and just Keep Still(ness) for a moment.

what does that center look and feel like?


I wanted to use the above lotus seed pod as a hat or crown chakra flare for yesterday's Crone totem.  The scale wasn't remotely workable.  And although it currently looks okay in relation to the background that's only because the circles are about 3/4 of an inch.  The pod is lost on the page overall.  So I have two choices.  I can construct a multi-parts seed pod that fills in the page nicely or I can go with something more like this:

(the partial pink upside down lotus at the very top is my way of conveying an over-lit/divine universal Lotus flower medicine spirit sending energy and blessings from Above)


Originally included this scrap book paper because I thought selected circles here could represent seeds and I would cover the rest in various ways.  But then when I chose it as the place to respond to this prompt I started to see it differently:

as if "the Center" had an ability to help me separate mish-mashed thoughts, obstacles, unwelcome developments, startling opportunities, mundane buzzkills that demand centerstage and so forth.  The Center allows me to isolate the ceaseless chatter pattern by encouraging the individual topics to migrate to its own little bubble pattern.  I can visualize some floating away or at least out of my immediate focus range.  Each is contained so I only have to deal with one component of a Thing at a time.  And they're in the background.  Waiting politely for the right moment to seek the Center's attention.

Can't decide yet. Lotus seeds aren't circular,  If the rest of the Lotus representations look true to themselves so should the seeds.  And so forth.

Day #16 - morning post

Congratulations on reaching the half-way point of the challenge! Now we're embark on the second half.  The prompt I created for this day seems like it might have strong resonation on multiple levels..

Prompt #16

Build yourself an appropriate protective talisman, lucky charm, or kitchen witch/guardian totem for your real-life garden, private inner realm, or a special corner of your home.

For inspiration consider what would best represent the vibe and themes that have emerged from the first half of our challenge's time/focus commitment.


try taking in the atmosphere of the part(s) of your home/landscape where you spend the most amounts of quality time and feel the most connected to both Place and personal dignity.  What does it speak of?  How can that be most creatively protected and held sacred?


This is my crone totem.  I think it was born from a seed MeMl's comment cast into my brain.   But as I was uploading the image from my phone I took off my glasses to just study the shape.  Was amazed to see how closely this resembled a frog.  But it is ... some kinda...hybrid creature of sorts.  I started with the tissue paper montage of a calla lily superimposed on top of a cactus, separated by a generic leaf.  Thought how well the three in combination represented how I'm feeling about my Third Act stage of life:  More female than ever because now that's all I am expected to be.  An old WOMAN.  Who is quite a bit more prickly than Before especially when it comes to suffering fools who are clearly wasting my time and/or the earth's dwindling resources. 

Another facet of aging for me has been learning how to more automatically buffer the extremes of my thoughts and emotions by discovering, over and over again, how much simpler it all becomes when you get clear on the art of consciously deciding to LEAVE well enough alone.  LEAVE-ing myself a lot more conscious space in which to consider whatever specific extremes I'm feeling as I'm in the midst of feeling them.  And just plain green/deep earth juice.  To me that might be the most specific/visceral feeling I have of 'holding wiseblood'.  Don't know if the blue stars are eyes or some sort of multi-sensory antennae.  Don't know if the green and blue gelli print part is the torso or head.  Which means I also don't know if the botanical tissue paper is the torso or the haunches.  But the half-flower two-toed feet seem solid to me. 

It just needs a little more marination and I don't want to rush that part with a swiftly dwindling window for getting a usable shot.  So it's another super-rough layout until this afternoon's post ...

Day 14 - results

Today I've been using my challenge-oriented window of time in a way that wasn't directly related to collage making. When I first woke up I thought I might use the lion's share of said time creating a words-only post here but have since realized I subsequently wrote a short-cut version of what I had planned within a comment I left here after yesterday's afternoon post.  Which I wrote and posted just a few hours ago when I first saw it. 

Yesterday I got more email about the challenge than anything previously experienced.  Including people I had no idea were keeping track.  People who attached images of collages they've been creating privately.  People who have never "shown" themselves but had several important things to convey.  All at once.  Throughout the day and evening. In addition to the the usual email back and forths but with a lot more crankiness on both ends of the spectrum.  I'll condense the entire mishmash into  You aren't taking us out on a limb anywhere near far enough or consistently enough - I don't like being asked to imagine things that aren't already a concrete reality for me/I never participated in a challenge that was anything like this.  Explain yourself.  NOW.  And don't use too many words itisdrivingmecrazy

The bulk of what I read was so wildly contradictory that reading it in the order it was received in my mailbox was borderline enervating. The diametric nature of their senders' intended point(s) is very emblematic of the way life is these days for everybody both on and off line.  Have consolidated the specifics of what i felt it was important to say in a deliberate way at an easy to find location.

I'm honestly not struggling with self-expectations related to this challenge.  Long practice with my particular mental and emotional forms of fragility has taught me to IMMEDIATELY seek a consistently workable/authentic sweet spot that insures I care for myself as the main priority while also maintaining as much of my life's ongoing plans as I comfortably can.  That's what led me to cut my original expectations in half as soon as I realized I needed to afford myself that kind of slack and its diligent maintenance due to matters above and beyond within the mainframe of my life.   It's also what led me to choosing this challenge as my main creative focus for the month.


I am however beginning to feel like I might struggle with the apparent expectations of others.   More specifically I'm perplexed over the individualized contradictory nature of varying objections/personal needs seeking resolution in order to feel good about the challenge - not to mention how overwhelmingly blatant a dilemma it is from the perspective a person self-tasked with leading a group this small.

Due to the second bold-faced reality yesterday delivered I'm willing to conclude I've fulfilled my intentional act of karma yoga within the first half of this challenge. Anyone who has benefited from that has helped me to manifest a sponteanous loving intention exactly as i envisioned it.  Being in that sort of energetic sync and creative affinity makes the gift more than worth giving.  It makes the gift what it is.

Because this is indeed a very small group, yesterday's outpouring was a microcosmic right-in-my-face view of what every leader faces.  Have never led an online collage challenge before but I have certainly lead various other real-life and remote groups gathered for an array of different reasons.   I know how it's done at an across the board and unilaterally respectful level enough to know how to do

THIS as a formalized act of moving forward together in the spirit of increased unity:

Should the challenge stay the way I designed it or would the majority prefer that it not?

Day 13 - results


I could have gotten all the narrative bases covered for this spread if I'd put a fragment of Italian paper covered with various frog species in the place where I thought I put it after I cut a lot of it apart - creating individual motifs to include in Grace's special collage kit/supplies.  Alas I did not and must now locate and clip from the remainder which is "filed" within my paper stash storage shelf. And it's at the very bottom of my deceptively compact/dutifully color sorted recycled/gift/designer/self-made art papers.  Because it's an older piece from older-old days when retail sheets were significantly larger.  Thus it's under everything else including my stash of watercolor and drawing paper destined for future sketchbooks.  If I want to preserve the space-conscious system, I'll have to remove things one careful layer at a time.  In other words - not today. 

My personal self-assessment for the first third of this challenge is that I've not been stretching either myself or my pre-set Rules for this experience nearly enough. Instead I've been feeling my way into a comfortable fit with the leadership role.  And staying on top of these twice-daily/set time postings as a non-negotiable part of how I set up my days' structure and to-do lists.  THAT'S how I've stretched.  The results are all well and good (not to mention considerable) for my personal growth curve but it hasn't helped me tighten-up and deepen my collage-based skill set(s).  To that end I'm resolved to actively stretch in some measurable way for each day of the challenge's duration.  See what happens.

My biggest intentional stretch for today's prompt involved allowing myself to cover up the busy scrapbook paper. Normally (meaning with-in my non-challenge creative life) I'd cover up whatever I please but part of picking the paper was pushing myself to work around the significant challenge/obstacle it presented.  Sometime in the later afternoon yesterday I decided working with one half of the sheet's pattern was sufficient challenge and I could let myself off the hook with this half.  I 'allowed' myself to make this choice so I'd have a lot more uninterrupted (and far higher contrast) space to articulate things that are especially dear to me about this anchor-point in the property's original landscape design and its enduring execution.  Used white gesso laced with a tiny amount of beachy green craft paint and scraped a few careless wet-on-wet layers to get some texture and hints of the dark colors underneath.


The rather celestial paper flower was cut in half to represent the two dominant tree medicine spirits (hemlock and maple) that stand tall over the pond.  Had planned to play with visual resolution a bit by allowing the alchemical sun transparency on the adjacent page to serve as the third star.  But now that piece is simply holding space until I can get what I've decided to use instead appropriately sized, printed out and affixed.  Have added a second small holographic star reflected in the pond water.

When I had to cut my original eyeball freehand oval into a smaller shape I was left with an elongated sliver of a crescent moon.  Was born during the waxing sliver so this particular image - frequently oversized as it is here - appears in a lot of my autobiographical collage projects.  I have been to the frog pond late at night in this lunar phase.  It's a good sync for Frog medicine and other historical & mythological associations frequently ascribed to these wonderful little creatures.  Not sure how widespread this is but here on the east coast many native frog colonies are losing ground to a fungus very similar to athlete's foot.  This year our own colony was healthy but somewhat elusive.

On a later spring morning, en route to the pond, I suddenly noticed a portion of an adjacent landscaping rock move very slow-quickly.  Didn't have my distance glasses to sharpen the precise details but grew up in South Jersey.  Can thus recognize at a fair pace the unique lower rear shell of a snapping turtle.  It is always the same - even on very small/young offspring. The one at our pond was barely four inches long at that first siting.  I was initially - childhood reptile geek that I was - enchanted.  Then fearful for the frogs. 

Somewhat less pressingly but no less pragmatic was my fear T's special kitty could easily lose a paw or even part of her face.  Had no idea how fast these turtles grew.  Multiple online info sources confirmed their growth rate would be commensurate with the scope of their food supply.  At this stage of their lives these turtles are largely carnivorous. This particular turtle had chosen to live in and at the edge of a (relative to its current size HUGE) water source loaded with a few hundred pollywogs.

Eventually my concern for other creatures was eclipsed with worry for our newest reptilian neighbor.   The turtle had crested 6.5 - 7 inches (estimate) by the time it was clear the frogs hadn't been able to save more than a small percentage of their young but they'd otherwise seamlessly adopted a far more low-profile way of thriving rather than being driven-off.  In later September I noticed the turtle's upper carapace was saturated with some kind of parasite or fungus.  It wasn't going in the water anymore but simply lurking between the pond and a thriving juniper bush.  The problem with its carapace looked like the beginning of a lichen colony on a rock.  I spent a few days calling around to MA-based people who might either know something about what I was seeing or could put me in touch with somebody who did.  In those 2-3 days' time the turtle appeared to vanish.  It never re-appeared and on the second day of my noticing it gone the frogs were once again scattered all over the flat landscaping rocks that ring the pond.  As if the disturbance in their routine had never occurred.

(The little snapping turtle is remembered and wondered-about in the form of the oversized star swimming in the pool.)


Since I was in the mood to fill more space and (re)solve some additional problems I returned to the inside front cover of my booklet.  Got another vertical tree column in place.  Recognized that the only true value I saw to any of the remaining imagery from the original art paper was the wood tree a bird was turning into its home. 

Additionally I very much liked what Dee extrapolated of the chair's symbolic meaning placed there among living relatives.  Wanted to keep that potentiality active and emphasized.  So I added flowers to cover the eggs (which I originally thought could be a callout to the innumerable hens and at least 7 roosters who live at the farm across the road.  but that didn't work.).  They don't represent what grows there so much as the color signifies the number of hummingbird-friendly plants I've cultivated in an area where these beautiful Tiny Giants of the bird world now return to nest and thrive year after year.  It's also the very first 3-season fueling site in the bee-centric food highway that winds its way throughout our property.

Used rolled up washi tape to stick-down a fragment of brayer cleaning paper.  This will remind me to keep an eye peeled for similar options in the narrow but electrified green color range - to evoke a certain greenish haze that epitomizes late spring through high summer here.  It's great to feel on far greater track with my envisioned progress rate.  BUT ...


This is what my work desk looks like right now.  Sometime by the end of next weekend I hope to have everything dialed-back and cleared to the edge of the cups full of pencils, brushes, and small "other" tools I find indespensible

Day 13 - morning post

 In two more days this challenge will have its Equinox of perfect balance - equal parts done and undone.  Anticipating that moment - I'm going to ask you to step back just a bit from the deeply personal meaning and making you've been engaged with. 

Step back just enough to assess your amassed collage work the way you'd assess whatever creative form you believe to be your primary and most accomplished/gifted form of Making.  JUST.  ENOUGH. 

Prompt #13

a. Review your challenge work to date as a total entity. Locate any absence of a specific color that isn't a deliberate choice.  Correct to taste if you can.  If not - move forward with a dedicated exploration of how the missing color(s) might be successfully integrated moving forward.


b.  Search further for any color over-abundance that isn't a deliberate choice.   Consider also a deliberate choice that feels off to you.  Is it the rest of the composition or is there simply too much muchness involved with your statement color?  Find collage-oriented ways to mitigate the overkill.

Pro-tip:  In order to keep the challenge in the challenge:  don't simply cover up what you don't like with a single image UNLESS what you have left forms a creatively satisfying/cohesive frame for the new focal point. 


[part of] my own assessment:

a. Due to the way world/national events have been playing out my left brain is pretty saturated in the same dreary tones as our winter landscape. Thus when I'm engaged in my challenge time I've actively avoided working with darker/muted colors.  However there's no way to do a tribute to my landscape and not include the frog pond.  This means breaking out some darker muted colors.  Which in turn gives me a chance to cut apart my very first gelli print - one of many items I pledged in advance to use in its entirety during this project.  I free-cut an oval shape positioned to include a lot of the bubbling imagery.  This put me in mind of the masses of frog eggs that bloom on windfall forked branches I set out - partially submerged  - in the pond during the winter-spring switchover week.   The bright spots in the coloration remind me of the way the sky reflects in the pond water.  There's a larger bright blue spot I might collage on top if it looks right.  Just to balance out more accurately where those spots would be located in the actual pond.

b. Have not decided yet about the color overkill angle.   Might not like all that Botticelli-apricots coloration in the book's centerfold map.  But what I'd be most strongly inclined to do to 'tone it down' could go horribly wrong.  HORRIBLY.  So that part of this prompt will need more thought time for me ...


Day 12 - results


Today something crystallized for me and I realized the ultimate 'end run' for this project when viewed as a prototype. 

[This is my larger creative purpose with collage frequently enough to explain why getting it exactly absolutely perfectly just-so - right out of the gate - doesn't concern or even particularly interest me.  That doesn't mean I don't want whatever I create to maintain a consistent degree of fluency and competence with the medium but for projects like this I realize the booklet's ultimate purpose is to be exactly what and how it is.] 


The gifts my cosmic form sent my earthbound self living in today's world begin (as ever and always) with the packing material.  Decided cosmic me would surely have access to feathers that have the ability to expand and retract and thicken or thin according to intergalactic traveling conditions.  Looks like this form of me packs everything with feathers instead of evergreen branch segments.  I also sent myself seven seeds for growing various foods not currently known on earth - food more nutritious and easier to plant, pick, pack and prepare than we'd believe to be possible.

Sent myself eight holographic silver stars from Uncle Ganesha in his Star Thrower guise.  A very big star containing coded maps so I'll know how to get back to my true home when the time comes.   Two kinds of magical beetles.  One species eats ticks in such prodigious numbers it could be the size of an elephant instead of being so tiny even a baby tick never sees it coming.  The other species builds thick impenetrable webs to encase the eggs and nests of tree-defoliating relatives anywhere in the cosmos.  The eggs and nests are flown away in the webs by astounding glittering groups of these beetles - returning to their source so the defoliators may be gently reprogrammed enough to populate a world I don't know the point of yet so we'll stop right here.

I sent myself a sun that eradicates ozone devastation.  Special translucent color-diamonds full of specifically sequenced energy shifting power(s) for healers who want to be more whole than wounded.  Two "legs to stand on" diamonds that clear all toxic cultures' waste and debris from our collectively over-burdened solar plexus centers.  You can see in the image that they've already scoured through enough grime to let areas of pure solar yellow shine through.

A color diamond that pulls fully optimized solar energy into the green realm of our earth-bound heart chakra.  It is Love Your Mother medicine for the planet as well as evolutionary human illumination.  A color diamond loaded with bright clear orange/sacral energy tonic riddled with gold and pure-white threads of focused vibrational karma juice to leapfrog us into a place of being authentically clean & clarified psychically and emotionally.  And then hold the capability of re-programming ourselves without resistance in ways that allows us to stay elevated on these 'lower' planes.  A color diamond mixing heart and throat energies into a beautiful organic turquoise range of gold flecked truth telling. 

[I internally associate turquoise with CroneSpeak based on wisdom a woman's age will provide in great bounty if she's been seeding her inner garden spaces diligently throughout her Time.]

Little fast-flying golden beings that transmit love and cosmic wisdom.  You know.  Just for fun. 

The blue butterfly flew off on its own accord to land here and there throughout the booklet without finding a place it wishes to settle yet.

Day 11 - morning post

Prompt #11:

A benevolent dream spirit has slipped out of its natural realm in order to leave you a gift.  What does it look like?  Make a connection between the gift's unexpected appearance and what you instinctively know about its healing/positive purpose in your daily life.

The image below highlights two elements I'll use as symbol keys at the bottom of my surrealistic field map.  They are NOT what I intend to use/include in my prompted response of the day.  They do, however, show the first blink/grab-and-consider items I reached for when I came into the studio and headed for my work desk rather than the couch.  They'll be affixed more or less where I placed them once a few other background matters are attended to.  Meanwhile I've gained clarity concerning my "real" collage activity - and a dreamtime gift well-worth memorializing - of the day.


Day 10 results


Today I worked with really lovely bio-degradable packing material.  Parts have a light sponge consistency like very old crepe paper.  Other parts are pleated and have a shinier finish.  Just touching it brings me a sense of timelessness.  When I first used a single damaged layer to mask parts of a purchased art paper I didn't like - the paper's long rip happened to fall near the eye of a vintage farm girl's three-quarter profile.  This helped me express my sense of searching through layers of history as I conjectured about ways this sort of highly effective packing paper might have been used over time. Improved upon.  Brought into an age of those horrid little air pillows and albino cheese doodles. 

The eye was meant to signify my own imagination but as I worked with the paper in layers I was struck by how much the color and varying textures put me mind of the trees in our front yard.  Which is where I originally wanted to begin my visual narrative.   But none of that was in my conscious mind's focus when I chose to fulfill this prompt right at the start of my gluebook.  I just wanted to cover things I didn't like; using something that looked at home with the parts I left unconcealed.

Once this major piece of continuity uncertainty fell into place at a conscious level - I began thinking of the eye as an attentive tree spirit.  Not sure yet if it's Grandfather Hickory keeping watch over All or not.  More and more I see how this might be a prototype for a less informal and far more paint-oriented project holding many similar themes.



Must now determine if I feel the need to ink in some color PLUS one versus two layers of collage before I add the tissue paper finishing statement, or what.

Day 10 - morning post

Prompt #10


Collage enthusiasts attract paper like a dark pair of slacks magnetizes pet hair.

Prompt #10

Consider paper that's entered your life since this challenge* began.  Zero in on whatever most strongly attracts you.

Use as much as you need/can allow yourself - mixed with other collage elements - to tell the story of what your attraction means to you.  Rely on symbolism, color palette, and your inner creative GPS to express something a viewer wouldn't know unless you left them a clue.

*If you've frequently collected paper in the past but had not been actively engaged with collage prior to this challenge you might instead choose something you hadn't seen in long enough to have forgotten it prior to re-discovery. 

note:  The key to this prompt is visual and/or tactile resonation.  Your selection may also yield more creative involvement if you work with something you didn't consciously acquire.   It could have been a gift or perhaps it entered your life - as it did for me -  in the guise of earth-conscious packing material. You might also consider completed lists especially those related to routine grocery/hardware store needs.  I find these irresistible in part because they're also mundane yet revealing records of things we rely upon and consider vital to ourselves and our home at the nuts and bolts level of daily life.  When we start literally taking that level of human nature apart and reassembling it the results can be fertile creative seeds.

do you not know what to "do" with this prompt?

Anything you've recently put aside while searching for ways to fulfill earlier prompts "just in case I need it" is probably an excellent place to start assembling today's collage especially if the prompt seems too open-ended and you don't know where to take it.