The Colorful Parrot

The Colorful Parrot by collage artist Megan Coyle
“The Colorful Parrot” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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Lately I’ve been using more solid colors in my collages, so this time around, I wanted to mix in more textures. You can see that I’ve still used bits and pieces of solid colors, however the background consists of fragments of images of the outdoors, while the blue feathers and beak have a little more texture or patterns when compared to other areas of the collage. For the blue, I stumbled upon a blue tile-like pattern, and figured I’d see how it would look when I incorporated it into the piece. Sometimes I never know how a specific texture or pattern will work out until I layer it down on my artwork. I can always peel back layers if they don’t work out, so the process is always somewhat of a journey.

This piece was inspired by one of the many visits I’ve made to a zoo. Zoos are the easiest way for me to see exotic animals in-person, where I can take lots of pictures to later use as references for my artwork.

Collages Inspired by the National Zoo

I’ve found a lot of inspiration from the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Over the years, I’ve visited the zoo numerous times, and have taken lots of pictures of the animals in their different exhibits. I thought I’d share some images of the work I’ve made that was specifically inspired by some of the animals found at the National Zoo.

Red Ruffed Lemur by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Red Ruffed Lemur.” Collage on paper. 18″x24″
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I’m fascinated by lemurs, and think that the red ruffed lemur is a beautiful creature with colorful fur and bright eyes. When I was walking by the exhibit where this particular lemur lives, I just had to take a few pictures which later inspired this piece.

Fine Dining for Pandas by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Fine Dining for Pandas.” Collage on paper. 18″x24″
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Pandas are a lot of fun to collage. This collage was inspired by feeding time for the pandas, where one of the pandas was so engrossed with eating bamboo.

Tree Baby (Firefox) by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Tree Baby (Firefox).” Collage on paper. 16″x12″
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This collage was inspired by a day when one of the red pandas was pretty active, climbing around his or her home.

Cuddling Meerkats by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Cuddling Meerkats.” Collage on paper. 18″x24″
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Meerkats are one of my favorite animals. During one of my zoo visits, several of the meerkats were clumped together and looked like they were all cuddling with each other. I just had to take several pictures of them and use those images as references for this collage.

What Are You Looking At - orangutan - by collage artist Megan Coyle
“What Are You Looking At?” (Orangutan).
Collage on paper. 16″x12″
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It’s eerie how much orangutans look like people to me. They’re so expressive, and it seems like half the time I see them at the zoo, it’s difficult to tell who is really watching who.

Turtle that thinks she's a Giraffe by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Turtle that thinks she’s a Giraffe.” Collage on paper. 18″x24″
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During another zoo visit, I noticed a turtle that had an unusually long neck, and it reminded me of giraffes. From the turtle’s unusual appearance, I was inspired to make a piece modeled after that species.

Flamingo by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Flamingo” Collage on paper. 7″x5″
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I love how colorful flamingos are, and I always enjoy taking pictures of them to use as references for future works of art. I suppose I’m really drawn to their vivid pink feathers.

The Otter Sisters by collage artist Megan Coyle
“The Otter Sisters.” Collage on paper. 18″x24″
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I think otters are adorable and I always get excited when I see them at the zoo.

Animals are definitely one of my favorite subjects to collage. I love how they come in so many shapes, sizes, and colors. And I really appreciate that Washington, D.C. has a zoo that is so easily accessible to the public. Being able to visit the zoo frequently, makes it a lot easier for me to tackle my animal compositions.

Collages Inspired by the D.C. Landscape

I grew up in Northern Virginia, so I’ve become pretty familiar with the Washington, D.C. area over the years. And as I’ve grown to love different buildings and places, I’ve also found a lot of inspiration from my surroundings.

The Torpedo Factory by collage artist Megan Coyle
“The Torpedo Factory.” Collage on paper. 12″x9″
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The Torpedo Factory is an art center in Old Town, Alexandria. As a kid, I used to take a number of art classes there. In high school, I was mentored by a painter that had a studio there. And after college, I became a visiting artist for a couple of months over the summer. So over the years, the Torpedo Factory has had a big role in my development as an artist – it’s no wonder that I was inspired to make a collage of it.

Downtown Shopping by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Downtown Shopping.” Collage on paper. 12″x16″
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“Downtown Shopping” was inspired by the townhouses in Old Town, Alexandria. Growing up, I used to wander around Old Town, and I became really familiar with the bright and colorful townhouses that line the streets.

Paddle Boating by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Paddle Boating.” Collage on paper. 12″x16″
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Whenever I walk by the Tidal Basin, the paddle boaters remind me of the days when I was a kid and went on field trips around the city, or visited museums with my family.

The US Capitol by Night by collage artist Megan Coyle
“The U.S. Capitol by Night.” Collage on paper. 12″x16″
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“The U.S. Capitol by Night” was inspired by one of the iconic buildings in the D.C. area. It reminds me of the times I’ve lived in the city, or walked along the National Mall.

Air Force Memorial by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Air Force Memorial.” Collage on paper. 12″x16″
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The “Air Force Memorial” is a collage of one of my favorite memorials in the city. I love how the Air Force Memorial is abstract and sculptural. The fact that it doesn’t look like so many of the other more traditional memorials or sculptures, is what really draws me to it. I’ve made a couple of pieces inspired by this distinct landmark.

The Botanic Garden by collage artist Megan Coyle
“The Botanic Garden.” Collage on paper. 12″x16″
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The colorful glass sculptures outside the Botanic Garden have always caught my eye when walking past that building over the years. I like how they give the landscape a pop of color in an otherwise gray environment.

Air and Space Museum by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Air and Space Museum.” Collage on paper. 12″x16″
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I spent a lot of time at the Air and Space Museum back when I was in elementary school. I actually spent a summer going to space camp there, and always had somewhat of a fascination with space. It seemed only fitting to make a collage inspired by a place where I went on many school field trips and summertime outings.

National Gallery by collage artist Megan Coyle
“National Gallery.” Collage on paper. 12″x16″
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One of my favorite memories of art when I was a kid, was when I got to see a Vincent van Gogh exhibit at the National Gallery. I’ve been inspired by van Gogh’s work ever since I was in the second grade and did a school project on him. Over the years, I’ve continued to stop by this gallery to admire their permanent collection or check out the latest exhibit. I’m pretty grateful that I live in an area where museums like the National Gallery are free to the public. It makes it a lot easier to frequent the museum, and to continue to gather inspiration from artists throughout history.

National-Museum-of-the-American-Indian
“National Museum of the American Indian.” Collage on paper. 12″x16″
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When it comes the Washington, D.C. architecture, the National Museum of the American Indian is by far my favorite building. I love how different it is when compared to the more traditional buildings in the surrounding area.

The Washington Monument at Sunset by collage artist Megan Coyle
“The Washington Monument at Sunset.” Collage on paper. 12″x16″
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Over the years, I’ve made a number of collages of the Washington Monument. And I’ve also taken numerous photos of it whenever I’ve strolled by.

The landscape of the Washington, D.C. area reminds me of a number of experiences I’ve had while living here. With my collages, I enjoy focusing on these familiar places, and showing a them in a different way – in paper form.

Slow and Steady

“Slow and Steady” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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I’m drawn to making animal collages because I love how much variety there is when it comes to animals. They come in so many shapes and sizes. Each species has its own expressive quality and personality with whatever shape and form they take.

As a child, I used to be a bit of a nature kid. I loved animals, loved reading about them, visiting them at the zoo, and buying knick-knacks and souvenirs of them. I used to spend hours playing outside, playing games with my imagination where there were always some sort of animals present. And I suppose today, the way I stay in touch with that part of childhood, is by continuing to create different images and depictions of animals in my artwork.

This turtle collage is another example of how I’m continuing to explore compositions of different animals, as I continue to play with texture and solid colors to construct each image. For the background, you can see that I used fragments of images that had clouds and terrain in them. For the turtle, I focused on various solid greens, and made sure the shell had fragments of texture from images of street signs and shrubbery. Overall, I had fun making this piece – at times it was a bit of a struggle, but I’m happy everything got pieced together in the end.

Golden Girl

Golden Girl by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Golden Girl” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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I’ve always been a bit of a dog person. I grew up with a dog, and I always appreciate getting to visit my friends who own dogs. This is a piece inspired by one of those furry friends.

If you look closely at the Golden Retriever’s fur, you’ll notice that it looks like the texture of hair. That’s because I cut out fragments of images of blonde hair from models in the magazines I paged through, in order to construct this piece. The background is composed of fragments of landscape scenes, and the nose is made up of a few interesting textures I found.

Overall, I enjoyed making another collage of a grinning dog. Golden Retrievers are such fun dogs, and I’m especially a fan of adorable Golden Retriever puppies.

Why I Make Collages

I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember. I guess you could say that first I learned to walk, then I learned to draw. When I was in preschool, I spent an unusual amount of time in front of an easel. During grade school, I took after school pottery classes and other artsy classes, like bookbinding and drawing comics. In college, I continued to make art in my free time until I decided to major in it. And now, I can’t go a week without working on something.

But why collage? I’ve been making collages since high school, and over the years my style and technique have shifted. There’s just something about collage that makes me come back to it year after year.

Sea Explorer by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Sea Explorer” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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With collage, I like how I’m constantly surprised with what I’m making. I especially like the medium because I’m working with found materials. And since I’m not mixing my own colors, and I’m relying entirely on what colors I can find in other images, I’m never quite sure how a piece will turn out. It’s always a surprise.

There’s also something therapeutic with the repetitive motions involved with constructing a collage – paging through magazines, cutting and pasting paper. I’m drawn to how these motions help me relax and escape from the stresses of life. And for a moment, I can stare at something other than a computer screen.

Flamingo Dancers by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Flamingo Dancers.” Collage on paper. 12″x16″
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Back when I was first learning how to paint, I was taught to look at objects as being constructed of different shapes. With collage, I can actually cut out those shapes. Thus it makes it easier for my process as an artist, when it comes to visualizing my compositions.

Lastly, I am constantly amazed by artwork that challenges the limitations of different mediums. I love art that looks like it was made from one medium, when it was actually made by something entirely different. That’s why with my artwork, I like to manipulate paper in such a way that it mimics the brush strokes in a painting.

Collage is a medium that I’ve worked in for years. I’m drawn to how it surprises me, and how flexible it is – I can easily layer paper and pull up previous layers. And when it comes down to it, collage brings me joy, and I’m trying to do more things that bring me joy these days.

A Snail’s Life

A Snail's Life by collage artist Megan Coyle
“A Snail’s Life” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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With this piece, I decided to focus more on using texture. There are a few areas where I used solid color, although for the most part, I wanted to see how I could layer several different textures together. For the snail’s shell, I wanted to outline the shape with solid color so that the shell could stand out more.

This is my first time tackling a snail collage. I think it might be fun to rework this subject with arbitrary color – actually it might be good to play around with colors for a new series. Lately I’ve been making collages that use more realistic colors, so we shall see what I’m able to come up with next.

Mandarin Duck

“Mandarin Duck” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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Birds are always a fun subject to tackle since there are so many different species out there. This particular collage is my first attempt at tackling a mandarin duck in collage form. I love how colorful these ducks are, and I definitely enjoyed piecing this together from so many pieces of bright magazine pages.

If you’ve been following my work lately, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve shared quite a few animal collages. I’m thinking I should probably change gears in a bit and try to tackle portraits or still life sometime soon. We shall see though…animals are always a favorite subject for me, although it is good to break out of your comfort zone every once in a while.

Heels Collage

Heels by collage artist Megan Coyle

Although I started making collages back when I was in high school, I didn’t start getting serious about the medium until I was in college. “Heels” is a collage that I made in my free time outside of the painting classes I had to take as a painting major.

For this piece, I played around with using different patterns and textures, while still using some solid bits of color for the floor and wall in the background. Working on collages like this one is exactly what kept me interested in pursuing collage as a medium for my artwork.

Sea Explorer

Sea Explorer by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Sea Explorer” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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When I was growing up, turtles were one of my favorite animals. I remember I had a number of turtle figurines, and even had a turtle jewelry box. But of all the different species of turtle out there, my absolute favorite was the sea turtle. I thought they looked like such elegant creatures.

The other day I decided to piece together my first sea turtle collage, and as I was working on it, I remembered all those years that I was in awe of this creature. I think I should definitely tackle this subject matter again in the future.