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Deconstruct/Reconstruct: Cubomania

Lesson 8 from: Experiment with Abstract Collage Art

Amy Wynne

Deconstruct/Reconstruct: Cubomania

Lesson 8 from: Experiment with Abstract Collage Art

Amy Wynne

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Lesson Info

8. Deconstruct/Reconstruct: Cubomania

Don’t let another day go by without utilizing a grid structure. Experience the freedom that comes from working with industrial shapes and multiples within your masterpieces.
Next Lesson: Outro

Lesson Info

Deconstruct/Reconstruct: Cubomania

I'd like to play a game with you. I'd like to play a game called cuba Romania. And cuba mania is something I like to play when I'm trying to generate new images in particular, when I'm looking at images that have more of an industrial kind of quality to them. So even though I tend to have a preference for working with more organic shapes and organic images, which I can show you here in in this drawing of a tree that I made. You know, I took this drawing of a tree, which is very fluid and and very organic. And I took it and I actually uh blue get up and I made a uh tracing out of it. And I took that tracing and I'm gonna show you how to do this. And I cut it up in multiple ways and placed it with itself. And when I placed it with itself, and we're going to go through this step by step, I was actually ultimately able to make an image like this, which is a real abstraction from the tree. It still has, like, the feeling of tree nous to it a little bit. Um but I transferred that tracing, I ...

painted it in and it was just a really nice way to move from um something slightly organic and realistic to something more abstract through this idea of using a grid or using kind of cube shapes to assemble something new. So, I want to show you that first, I want to show you sort of looser ways. I've used industrial images. You know, the sometimes I'll go out and I'll take um you know five or six photographs of an industrial area here in Rhode island where my mill building is. There's a lot of old um mills that are being torn down or or derelict. And so I'll go and take photographs, multiple photographs and actually make collages out of those photographs that are a little more free form. And that might be something that you would enjoy. But what I want to show you is how you might use industrial shapes, industrial images to make something that um might even have more abstraction or more variation through cuba mania. So first I'm gonna show you the process and then we're gonna do it together so you can see how I might work with it. Alright, so I really need basically a sharpie, a dark pencil, some scissors, a ruler, and some glue. Also an image, a little bit of tracing paper which you'll see in a moment. It's really simple in terms of materials to do this. So this image here um is gonna be the example image. And then I'm gonna do another image for the whole process. But this is a photograph I took in India um it has some organic shapes but it's also got some you know, hard lines and industrial shapes. So I took that image and I actually cut took a smaller version. I cut it up, I took a section and cut it up and I made um a bunch of little squares out of that image. So here in my little squares, um I cut it up into sections. And I took those squares and I just made a whole bunch of um different versions of it, like different uh possibilities. And so that might be a possibility. I took a photograph. I could make another possibility by like a puzzle, shifting these pieces around, took a photograph, another one took a photograph. And so this is a way that this this image here, the realistic image could become again an image generator, an abstract image generator. Something that was born from something hard edged, something where you're actually using a hard edged technique to relate it to itself in different ways and create new forms. So you could make collages in this way and say this is my outcome. I really like this idea of cuba mania, I like you might arrive at a certain configuration and say that's my collage, I'm gonna glue it down, or you could just keep these pieces, which actually do. I never really glued them down. Keep these pieces as a way to continue to experiment and create images. Because if you do that, there's a possibility of actually um making tracings of the images, making tracings of the images, which could potentially turn into drawings and then those could potentially turn into paintings. So there's a possibility of like as you look ahead of using some of these images in new ways and perhaps having this practice of just assembling shapes again and again feed other media that you might be interested in. So that's some potential. That's that's sort of the process. But I wanna hands on show you how I might approach this. So I'm gonna put the example aside and I'm going to show you this photograph I took um out. So I took this picture um last summer out on Cape Cod, looking down into a fishing boat. I love the fishing boats because they have really beautiful colors and really strong shapes. So I took this picture and then I um I with my sharpie, I went in with a ruler and I just Sort of partitioned it off into nine squares. This is easier using squares. These are not like perfect squares, but if your images are square to start with, it'll make it a little easier to associate it with itself again. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to cut out these squares. I'm gonna actually put my um original image up here so we can sort of see how playful this can be and see what see what we end up with. So I'm going to cut out the boundary because the white area really isn't going to serve me. So I'm gonna cut that off using a sharpie depending on the image. You know, you want to use a pen when you divide it up into shapes to play cuba mania. You want to use a pen that's gonna show up. So you sort of know where to cut it. All right and put these aside and then you can start to Cut out your nine squares and at first I'm actually gonna cut them out and sort of leave them in the order, you know, in the arrangement of the original, just so we can see before and after and as I cut them apart. Actually, what I also find interesting is that, you know, each one of these, you know, you could divide each one of these again into shapes and or you know, each one of these little abstract sections of this image could be in and of itself an inspiration. I mean there's a lot going on in just this little square. So, but we're gonna work with the whole thing. So right now this is a cut up version of that. The pieces are laid more or less in the order that they are in the picture. But now it's time to play the game. Now it's time to play cuba mania. So we can start to place and shift things in a way that feel good to us. You don't have to know a ton about. You don't have to get all like intellectual about composition to know that when we move a shape, right? When we move a shape and please sit down in relationship to another shape, that there is a conversation like I just moved this blue net up to this side. So suddenly I feel like there's almost like a sense of motion like our king through. And if I take this sort of wood beam and put it here, there's an echo happening. That's quite interesting to me. So I'm just playing, I'm playing this game. I'm moving things around. I'm seeing where you know maybe by creating a new arrangement, this might become um a possible abstract image that I find appealing. So I like this arrangement um at this point I certainly could glue it down. That definitely could be something I could do. But as we saw in the last image, you know if I don't glue it down, it might be interesting to work in a way that has um some uh variety ultimately to change it and make some variety out of it. So I'm just going to quickly transfer this onto this paper and reveal my trace paper. And the trace paper is really the next step if you decide that you want to create multiple images out of this. So I'm gonna just put these up on the opaque paper and just arrange them just a little bit more great. And then I'm gonna put this trace paper on top and you can see that these are not lining up perfectly. I'm not super concerned about that, you wanna kind of keep the grid as much as you can. But if they end up being a little bit off that's okay. We are working with abstraction after all. So you could glue them down but I'm gonna work with this a little bit more freeform. So at this point you can begin to maybe start to source and I'm going to actually create a little boundary around this just so that when I lift the trace paper I know you know like where the edge of my images girl and then the trace paper obscures the image a little bit. It makes it a little harder to see. So I'm just gonna go in and I'm not gonna actually draw the divisions between the pictures. I'm just gonna pull out some major players some major shapes that I find kind of interesting here. I'm not also yet really thinking too much about how these things might hook up together even though when I laid the images down I did make you know a note of like that shape could lead into that. But for now I just want to work with the things that seem to be dominant. The shapes that seem to be dominant through the trace paper and because I'm not working with every single detail. This actually I feel like the trace paper is a little bit of a gift because it's really not allowing me to obsess about details so much and you can be as painstaking, lead accurate or um you know detailed or careful as you want with this. Um I sort of enjoy that sometimes, but sometimes I also just enjoy um working a little bit more rapidly and just picking out really key shapes because sometimes when you go too slow you end up getting a little caught in um thinking a lot and arranging and planning and there's something about just letting it be fluid that can often at least for me be a way to work with things in a slightly more abstract quicker way. So I just have a few more to kind of fill in here. I know we're all waiting for the big reveal, right? And and also as shapes turn in space, you know, this is already so abstract in my eyes, you know, I have a sense that yeah, it's an industrial image, but I don't almost no anymore. Like if you're just looking at this and didn't know what where this was coming from, you might not know like oh that's the deck of a fishing boat, like it becomes a little bit more ambiguous. It comes a little bit more universal. And that's also interesting to me in terms of image making and the way that abstraction can um make an image feel a little more universal, a little more universal. And then sometimes um more accessible to people. Okay, basic shapes outlined. I'm going to um take my grid and move it aside and then I have these uh kind of wonderful lines and shapes happening here. Um and what I would like to do, and I do have a little hint of where the grid comes in. I have a little hint of where the divisions are. And the next thing I like to do is I like to start to just use what I'm feeling to start to connect some of these shapes. So this is an industrial image. So, I'm actually interested here in possibly keeping the shapes pretty rectilinear or using in the last one we worked with, we used a lot of curved shapes and I'm wondering here what it might be like to work with uh straight lines, because working with straight lines is what drives this image and working with straight lines is what ultimately um is going to give the character I think that it was born from. So I'm just gonna extend some of the lines. Close up some of these shapes a little bit, bring it out maybe all the way to the edge. And you see that when you see why this boundary also is actually kind of helpful because, you know, it terminates like these lines terminate at the boundary, here we go. And just a couple more straight edges here. Yeah, I'm liking, I'm liking where this is going and again, I had no idea, I could not predict, you know, what this particular game of cuba mania and I do play this game quite a lot. Um I couldn't really predict where this would ultimately go. Um but it is a wonderful way to make um one an abstract collage which could keep on configuring itself, but to maybe end up with industrial style drawing, you could add color. Um you could make multiples of these based on, you know, multiple configurations as we saw. You know, it can be a really satisfying, and for me, it like, really heightens my curiosity about the possibilities of photography, the possibilities of collage, the possibilities of an image really being an engine that can keep working for you. Collage is an amazing catalyst for that.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Collage Materials
Collage Papers
Collage Value Map - Inverse
Cubomania

Ratings and Reviews

Susan Gold
 

Fantastic class! I am a beginner when it comes to abstract collage, and Amy demonstrates a generous number of techniques—all accessible and with clear instructions. She shows how each step can yield exciting variations, and she inspires play. Many of the techniques utilize a photo as a “muse” or “mother image," and it’s fun to discover new possibilities for my photos.

a Creativelive Student
 

Antsy G
 

Student Work

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