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ART BLOG article

Artist’s Play Date: Collage

I’ve been talking for a while about how much I wanted to have an Artist’s Play Date. So some artist friends and I decided to do it. My friend, Carol, was the leader for our “play” time, and she thought collage would be a good assignment for us painters because it’s totally different from what we usually do–but she also knew we would need to have a point to the “play.” So she created a collage assignment based on value and variety using the book, Harley Brown’s Eternal Truth for Every Artist.

I decided I’d work on exploring value, as it’s something I teach and I can use all the practice I can get.

Here are some of the elements I used before I assembled them. I decided to practice working with  value. From Harley’s book: “Value refers to light and dark in a painting: the whole range of tones from white to black. A painting must have a dominant value: either it’s light, or it’s medium, or it’s dark.” 

The color images below show pieces of my final collage and the black and white images show the value.  It can be a tough concept to understand–especially when you’re working in color. That’s why I take a picture and look at it in black and white. Seeing the different values of orange, blue and green hues is challenging, but when the work is shot in black and white, it becomes more obvious.

Light dominant

Medium dominant

Dark dominant

Because we are all working artists, we had to keep reminding ourselves, “It’s just play–we don’t need to sell anything.”

So we put “Thanksgiving Radio” on Pandora and danced and sang along to Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and Michael Bublé while we played.

Here we are working and showing off final collages. We loved it and are definitely going to do more playing! I look forward to creating more collage papers and using this exercise to teach my students about value.

Will keep you posted.


Annie Salness

Artist, wife, mother of 4 great kids!, lifelong learner and fine art teacher.


  1. Gayle Pedemonte on November 25, 2018 at 5:30 am

    wow, that sounds like you had a fun time!

  2. Jacqueline on November 25, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks for the collaging tips! I’ve never thought about the effect of varying texture from ripped to scissored edges. Also adding the touch of complementary color near the dominant color.

    What a treat to read about artists at play!

  3. Alyson Stanfield on November 26, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    I love your collage, Annie! And fun to see Gretha in the house!

    Would have enjoyed singing and dancing with you all.

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