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Exploration # 1.5 – Language of Line Collage

Posted on: September 12th, 2011

Here is a link to a handout/paper version of this explanation:

The project

Create a black and white collaged composition that expresses power, interest, variety, and beauty of line. Use your sculptures as a starting point to shape and inform the composition, and as a way to get drawing.


  • To experience compositional power of line
  • To work with spatial problems of building a composition
  • with balance
  • work with visual pathways and movement


  • Paper,
  • scissors,
  • glue stick,
  • wide variety of black drawing media, such as India ink, ink pens, markers and sharpies
  • black and white construction paper,
  • exacto knife,
  • several sheets of 14 x 17” vellum Bristol,
  • tracing paper,
  • rulers,
  • sketchbooks

Collage size:

Collage must mount onto a 15 x 20” black board but collage need not be a rectangle

sketchbook warm-ups:

  • Four pages of fun with lines: in your sketchbook, cover four pages totally with line. Each page uses a different type of line. Aim for variety and maximum contrast within the four pages.
  • Two or three gesture drawings of your sculpture: in your sketchbooks, warm up by doing several gestural drawings of your sculptures. Do close-ups, partial views, whole views, altering viewpoint. Use black drawing media. Vary the media. Your sketches should have a linear quality to them.

Starting your Collage:

To start, you need to produce sample pages of lines that you can cut up and glue down. Experiment freely with a wide variety of line types. Use any and all media— pencil, charcoal, pen, brush, but also try more exotic instruments such as string, straws, sticks, ball bearings, etc.

Line is the subject here; investigate any form of distinctive mark-making that you can. You must use some elements of typography (cut up letterforms or lines of text), not as words but as line.

In your experimentation, explore:

  • contrast of value (light and dark)
  • contrast of scale (big vs little, near vs far–enlarge and reduce on the photocopier!)
  • contrast of type (geometric vs organic)
  • contrast of character etc. (Consider what a pattern of ruled line might offer when placed next to dripped line)

You’ll need line collateral for your collage to cut, paste, arrange, rearrange. Experiment with combinations and arrangements of lines, observing how they interact visually. Start intuitively, then proceed to refine. It will be an organic, iterative process seeking good design potential. Cut a frame to use as a compositional tool.


Consider the techniques for building a composition and apply them to this problem as you create your composition. The hallmark of collage is that it is malleable and can be manipulated and rearranged endlessly. Allow the lined papers to become pure subject.

Make these collages exciting, fun, exuberant!!!




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