What Tools I use for my Artwork

The Curious Penguin by collage artist Megan Coyle

When you see one of my collages in-person, it’s difficult to tell what they’re made of. I think when it comes to art in general, it’s hard to imagine how a work of art was completed from start to finish. I like to post time lapse videos of my process every now and then, but I also thought I’d share more information about the tools I use to make my artwork:

1. Magazines

These are the main ingredient of my art. I like using fashion magazines since they’re full of patterns and bright colors. I also like using magazines like National Geographic when I work on landscapes.

2. Scissors

These are my tool of choice when I cut paper for my collages. I don’t ever use things like X-Acto knives, although I’ve heard of some collage artists who enjoy using them for cutting intricate pieces of paper.

3. Watercolor paper

I like using this as my support or the material I make my collages on. It’s lightweight enough that I can cut out pieces of a collage I’m working on – if it isn’t quite working out – and glue them down on another sheet of watercolor paper. It’s also durable enough that it can last for years.

4. Acid-free glue stickes

This is my adhesive of choice. I like using glue sticks when I’m working on a work in progress, since the glue isn’t completely permanent, and I can pull up previous pieces to undo any details that aren’t quite working.

5. Graphite pencils and erasers

Every collage I make begins as a sketch. It helps me map out my compositions so I can get a sense of how well a given idea will work. And erasers are necessary for when I need to redo parts of a sketch.

6. UV-protective varnish

When one of my pieces is finished, I’ll varnish it with a UV-protective varnish. Varnish helps seal the magazine strips in place, and gives them a more permanent adhesive than the glue sticks I use when the artwork isn’t quite complete. It also helps protect the paper from sunlight over time.

7. Archival frames

Whenever I frame my artwork, I like to use UV-protective glass and acid-free mats to help protect my artwork over time.  

How to Keep a Sketchbook

Sketch by Megan Coyle
Sketch by Megan Coyle

Sketchbooks are a wonderful way to practice your craft as an artist. You can use them to plan out future compositions, as a visual daily journal, to practice (so you can improve drawing various subjects), or for one of the many other reasons artist keep sketchbooks.

If you’ve decided to start keeping a sketchbook of your own, here’s what you can do to get started:

1. Get your supplies

Head over to your local arts and craft store to pick up a sketchbook and drawing materials. You may want to use regular graphite or something like color pencils, oil pastels, or water colors.

2. Figure out your sketchbook’s purpose

Do you want it to be a free-form daily journal, or a book of potential ideas? Should it be used to practice drawing? Or will you use it to produce mini, original works of art? Figuring out the sketchbook’s purpose will help keep it focused.

3. Pick a schedule and stick to it

This will help you ensure that you consistently use the sketchbook. This also helps document how your work in the sketchbook changes over time.

4. Occasionally revisit previous entries

Taking the time to review your work every once in a while, helps you evaluate what you’ve previously done, and make a mental note of the direction you’d like to move in.

And there you have it – a list of steps to get you started with a sketchbook. Good luck and happy creating!

Go Bananas

Go Bananas collage by Megan Coyle
“Go Bananas.” Collage on paper. 7″x5″
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Another day, another collage made so I could put together a time lapse. Still life has always been a struggle for me, so I’m trying to challenge myself by working on subjects that I don’t ordinarily work on. This piece was especially difficult to piece together, and perhaps it’s simply because I’m not used to making too many food-related collages. Anyway, I’m not sure if this is entirely finished, but it’s finished for now.

Avocado Time

Avocado Time by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Avocado Time.” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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I’m generally drawn to making animal portraits, but the other day I decided to do a still life collage. I wanted to film the process again to create a time lapse video (you can see the results for this one below). And I thought it would be interesting to tackle a simple shape that could be made to look more abstract.

This was my first time making an avocado collage, and although the finished product turned out a lot rounder than I intended it to be, I’m still pleased with the overall look. The shadows and highlights played nicely this time.

The Long Haired Dachshund

“The Long Haired Dachshund.” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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I’ve made quite a few dachshund collages over the years, and the other day I wanted to work on making another long haired dachshund portrait. I also decided to film the process. The interesting thing about filming my collage process, is that sometimes I feel a little nervous about filming my work. I never know how things will turn out and if I’ll be pleased with the finished collage. However with this piece, I was happy with the results.

And here’s the time lapse video:

Donut Give Up

“Donut Give Up.” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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I have to admit that it’s difficult for me to focus on subject matter other than animal portraits. What can I say? Animals are my favorite subjects to make art of. So this past week, I ventured off and made another donut collage. And of course, I couldn’t help myself but use a pun in the title.

This was another collage that’s part of my quarantine collage series, where I film my process and create a time lapse video:

Owl Be Back

Owl Be Back is a collage by Megan Coyle
“Owl Be Back.” Collage on paper. 7″x5″
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This past weekend I worked on a couple of new collages where I filmed the process so I could put together more time lapse videos. I’ve always liked owls, so I decided to make another Barn Owl collage. I also couldn’t help myself with using a pun for the name of this piece 🙂

Filming my process has helped me set more of a schedule for working on my artwork. I like how I can share how I’ve tackled various subjects with my technique. I’m thinking that up next, I’ll make a few still life pieces, since I’ve worked on so many animal portraits.

Pug Life

“Pug Life.” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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Sometimes working on a work of art can be a bit of a struggle. For instance, this piece started out in one direction, but after completing the initial sketch, I ended up erasing it entirely and sketching a different version of the same subject. Then when it came to the layers of paper, it took a bit of reworking the details to get things looking the way I wanted them to.

I don’t know if I’m finished with this piece, but I’m done for now. The wonderful thing about art is that you can always revisit older pieces and rework them when you have a fresh pair of eyes.

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

The Soaring Sea Turtle

The Soaring Sea Turtle by collage artist Megan Coyle
The Soaring Sea Turtle by collage artist Megan Coyle
“The Soaring Sea Turtle.” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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When I was growing up, sea turtles were one of my favorite animals. I’ve only made one other sea turtle collage before, so I figured I’d give it another try while filming my process for another time lapse video. I like how quarantine has gotten me in the habit of recording my process. I’m not always really excited with the finished product, but I was pleasantly surprised with this piece.

The title for this piece was inspired by how I feel like underwater creatures almost look like they’re flying. The ocean is such a magical and strange place.

Since I took several months off from making art last year, I’ve felt a little rusty. And by working on a time lapse video every week, it’s helped me get back into the groove of making artwork.

Art for Coffee Enthusiasts

Coffee Art by Megan Coyle

If you’re a coffee enthusiast or know someone who is, coffee-inspired art can be a great gift (or great way to treat yourself). Coffee-inspired art works well with decorating kitchens or dining spaces. Decorating a room with art inspired by the room’s function, is a creative way you can customize your home.

Over the years, I’ve made several different coffee cup collages with bold, bright colors. I’ve used coffee cups as a subject to experiment with color. As a result, I have made a number of coffee cup collages using a variety of colors, which makes it easier to find original art or prints that work well with your home’s color scheme.

I use a process to make my collages that I call “painting with paper,” where I mimic the brushstrokes of a painting by layering magazine strips. My collages have a unique and colorful style, that would work well with any room with bright decor. My art also works well with adding a pop of color to any room.

You can check our my original coffee cup collages and prints available in my online store.