You’re Sweet as Pie

You're Sweet as Pie is a collage by collage artist Megan Coyle
“You’re Sweet as Pie” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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Some desserts are a little more intimidating to collage than others. I decided to tackle a pie, and was afraid that it might end up looking like a nondescript blob. I’m happy that this one turned out better than I expected.

This is part of my dessert still life series, where I’m tacking subjects that I used to avoid as an artist. I used to think that still life art was boring to make, and this exercise of completing a series, has made me really enjoy the art of still life – specifically, the art of food art.

Bosty goes to the Outer Banks, NC

Bosty goes to the Outer Banks

Bosty loves the beach, so he wanted to head off to the Outer Banks for the week. It might be September, but that doesn’t mean that the summer weather is over!

Bosty goes to the Outer Banks

He spent hours basking in the sun, and admiring the beautiful blue ocean. Bosty loves looking at all the colorful beach towels and umbrellas in various arrangements on the sand. He enjoyed spending the majority of his time out and about on the beach.

Bosty goes to the Outer Banks

Some days Bosty would wander across lawns right by the shore. He realized that he preferred the soft grass to the sunbaked sand.

Bosty goes to the Outer Banks

To finish his week-long adventure of lounging around by the water, Bosty decided to be a little more adventurous and go boating. He loved feeling the wind in his face as he stared off at the ocean from his perch on a kayak. Bosty definitely can’t wait to have more challenging adventures in the future!

Q & A: How Long Have You Been Making Collages?

Figure by collage artist Megan Coyle

I’ve been making collages ever since I was a kid. My first collage was made back when I was in middle school. Then for a few years, I continued to experiment with the medium. I had a tendency of working in a number of mediums and collage was simply another area I explored.

Writer's Block by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Writer’s Block” Mixed media on paper. 22″x14″
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By the time I was a senior in high school, I started exploring the process of cutting magazine strips while focusing on color and texture. Before then, my collages looked a lot more like what you think of when you think of traditional collage – where it’s obvious that the work of art was made from fragments of photographs.

Orange Girl by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Orange Girl” Collage and oil pastel on paper. 18″x12.5″
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My last year in high school was when I started painting with paper, where I manipulated paper in such a way that it mimicked the brushstrokes of a painting. I also had a habit of incorporating oil pastel with my collages, until a peer asked me why I was covering up all my hard work by drawing on top of it. When I realized I didn’t have a good answer for her, I decided I should focus on making collages entirely from paper.

Ali by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Ali” Collage on paper. 18″x24″
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My senior thesis exhibition was my first cohesive body of work that was made entirely from paper. And since then, I’ve continued to hone and explore my craft. I have no idea how my art will evolve in the next ten years, and to me, that’s pretty exciting. I’m looking forward to my future artistic adventures.

Have a Bite? Donut Mind if I do!

“Have a Bite? Donut Mind if I do!” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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There’s just something sweet about making artwork that has sprinkles. I had fun coming up with the title for this piece, as well as cutting out all those tiny pieces for the sprinkles. You can see that the pieces of paper for the donut, as well as the plate, involved a lot of tiny pieces that were layered in such a way that the fragments of paper were almost blended together.

The background consists of one texture I found in the background of a magazine ad. I also layered a little bit of solid color on top of the background, to help with shadowing. Overall, I had some fun depicting a donut that had a bite taken out of it.

Why is Art Important?

The Wise Lizard is a collage by Megan Coyle

Art is important for a number of reasons – it makes life more interesting and cultivates an inspiring environment. It helps define our culture and reflects the state of the world when a work of art was created.  Art is a wonderful tool, that allows us to:

1. Express Ourselves

Art allows us to tell stories visually, and share the way we see the world. There are so many different mediums or materials that can be used to make artwork, which is part of the beauty of using it as a form of expression. This makes it easier for artists to craft their own unique style and voice.

2. Inspire Others

Artwork can inspire others in the arts and even serve as motivation for people in different industries to create something of their own. Making your own artwork, and making it to the best of your abilities, can inspire others to make their own art – which can inspire others as well. Art-making can create this fantastic chain reaction of inspiration and creativity.

3. Make the World More Interesting

Without art, our lives would be pretty dull. We wouldn’t have artwork decorating our walls at home or work, and we wouldn’t get that inspiration from visiting art museums and galleries. There wouldn’t be designs and patterns on our clothing, bags, or rugs. There wouldn’t be cartoons or illustrations in publications or on TV. Quite honestly, the world would be a pretty bland place. Art makes the world a more vibrant and interesting place to live.

4. Record our History

Even if we’re not aware of it, the art we make helps record what life is like at a given point in time. This can be done simply with the materials used that can date the work, or the subject matter depicted. Art serves as a record of how life was when the work of art was created.

 

Overall, art makes the world a more interesting and beautiful place to live. It helps us make sense of life, and add meaning to different moments in time. Art is something that makes life a little more magical, allowing us to express ourselves and communicate our different viewpoints.

Rural Fields

Rural Fields by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Rural Fields” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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Landscapes are one of the subjects I seldom tackle. I suppose I’m more drawn to animals than I am to different environments. However, tonight I decided to sit down and complete a landscape piece from start to finish.

My landscapes have a tendency of looking more abstract, since I’m focusing more on abstract shapes of color and texture. I also wanted to limit my time on this collage so I wouldn’t overwork different areas of the surface.

I filmed a time lapse of this piece that you can view below:

Why Should You Plan Out Your Art Composition?

What a Pair (the Otter Sisters) is a collage made entirely from magazine strips by Megan Coyle

Art is a process, and figuring out your composition before you get started, will speed up the art-making process. So what does planning out your art composition really mean? It means figuring out what you’re going to create:

  • Define your subject matter
  • Define your color palette
  • Research (let that be via practice sketches or studying the subject in more depth)
  • When you’re ready to get started, sketch out your composition. That way you’ll have a guide to use as you develop the piece.

Why does planning out your composition matter?

1. Saves Time

Sketching out your composition first, saves you the time and effort of reworking your artwork when the composition you had in mind isn’t panning out. Planning this out before you start using your materials, will help you figure out what may or may not work.

2. Saves Money

Time is money after all, and if planning can save you time, it will save you money as well. Also, eliminating compositions that don’t seem to work when you sketch them out, means you don’t have to learn those lessons while working with your materials. For instance, if you’re making an oil painting, you won’t have to waste time and materials painting over an unplanned composition that just doesn’t work. Planning will uncover possible issues.

3. Defines the Vision for the Artwork

Planning can also assist with the direction of the art – with the tone, and overall look and feel.

4. More Control Over the Progress

By determining what your work of art will look like beforehand, you’ll have a better handle on how things progress.

5. Get More Consistent Results

If you have defined the vision of your work and have more control over the progress, you are more likely to get more consistent results. Identifying potential issues by working them out with sketches, will also give you more successful results.

 

Even after planning out your composition, there is still the possibility that it won’t work out the way you were hoping it would. These things happen, and they’re simply a part of the creative process. However, planning will ensure that more times than not, you’ll have a product you’re satisfied with.

The Serious Cheetah

The Serious Cheetah is a collage by collage artist Megan Coyle
“The Serious Cheetah” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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I’ve taken a short break from my dessert-inspired collages to return to one of my favorite subjects, animals. This time I thought I’d tackle something I’ve never collaged before, a cheetah. I enjoyed working on the patterned background, as well as cutting out all the intricate shapes for the cheetah’s spots and whiskers.

After completing this piece, I realized that there’s a pattern with the color palettes I use. A lot of my animal pieces use oranges and greens. I suppose I’m drawn to the color green when it comes to the background for my compositions. And I’m looking forward to experimenting with something a little new for my next pieces.

Why do Artists use Sketchbooks?

All in a Row sketch by collage artist Megan Coyle

Sketchbooks are a great tool for artists to practice their craft. You can think of sketching as creating a rough draft of a work of art. Sketchbooks often hold a collection of sketches or ideas for new work.

Here are a few reasons why artists keep sketchbooks:

1. Practice

Sketchbooks can be used to master the art of drawing something specific, like the figure.

2. Exploring Ideas

Before committing an idea to canvas, or whatever the materials are that the artist is using, the idea can be explored with a series of sketches. That way the artist can determine beforehand what the piece might look so she or he won’t waste materials.

3. Troubleshooting Layout Issues

If the composition for a work in progress isn’t quite working out, sketching can help figure out possible solutions to the composition’s layout.

4. Journaling

They can be used like a visual journal where an artist can sketch out his or her thoughts on a daily basis (or however frequent is necessary).

5. Inspiration

Through the sheer force of practice, if an artist forces his or her self to frequently sketch or do different exercises in a sketchbook, even when feeling uninspired, it can help spark inspiration.

6. Works of Art

Other times it’s simply an easy way to store polished works of art.

 

If you’ve used a sketchbook for some other creative reason, feel free to share about it in the comments below.

How to Create a Portfolio

Portrait of a Horse by collage artist Megan Coyle

If you want to start exhibiting or selling your artwork, it’s important that you build out a portfolio so people can sample the work you’ve done, or see the work you’re capable of doing. Review the artwork you’ve made thus far, and select the strongest pieces. How do they compare when they’re grouped together? See if you can meet these requirements to ensure that you have a good portfolio:

  • Is there enough variation?
  • Do they show that you have range?
  • Are they consistent?
  • Is each piece memorable in its own way?
  • Do you have at least 10 pieces?

If you weren’t able to meet all the requirements, or if there were any pieces you weren’t thrilled with, you can make more art so you can fill in any of the gaps. Your portfolio should be a body of work that you’re proud of, so you should replace anything that you’re not crazy about with newer, better art.

If you’re compiling a portfolio to apply for an exhibit:

  1. Make sure the artwork speaks to the gallery – meaning do the research on what they’ve exhibited previously, and if your art looks like something they’d show there.
  2. Make sure it fits the requirements.
  3. Organize the art in such a way that it flows nicely – that each piece can call attention to itself and that there’s a good balance of color.
  4. Have someone look over the portfolio and provide feedback. Often times it’s easy to stare too long at our work and get to a point where it’s difficult to curate or edit the pieces.
  5. Provide supplementary information with your portfolio, like an artist bio, artist statement, resume, and any good articles that have been written about your work.

When it comes to pulling together a portfolio when you want to sell your artwork, you’ll want to use it to mainly market your work:

  1. Make sure the portfolio has a good sample of the work you want to sell
  2. Have someone take a look at the art you selected and provide feedback. Does the work make them want to see more?
  3. Come up with a strategy for how you’d like to market your art from your portfolio. How will you share the images?
  4. Have an online store where you can direct users to.

As an artist, you’re never done building your portfolio. You will constantly review the new work you’ve made and update your portfolio when needed to keep it current.