What is “Painting with Paper?”

Sunflower by collage artist Megan Coyle
Megan Coyle. Sunflower.

Megan Coyle calls her collage technique “painting with paper” because she makes her collages look like paintings by manipulating pieces of paper. She only uses a pair of scissors, acid-free glue sticks, and magazine strips to make each collage. Once a work of art is finished, she usually seals it by painting on a layer of clear varnish. The varnish helps protect the pieces of paper from sunlight and UV-rays. Paper is a pretty delicate material, and it’s necessary to take steps to make sure the colors don’t fade over time.

Coyle makes her collages look more like paintings than paper collages by focusing on color and texture when she pages through magazines. She isn’t interested in complete images that you find in magazines – she’s more interested in areas on magazines pages where she can find bright colors and unusual textures or patterns.

How is Coyle’s technique different from other collages?

Megan Coyle. Purple Pansy.

Usually collages consist of an assortment of different images from photographs or magazines. Take a look at an example. Other times collage artists will use a variety of materials like paper, fabric, paint, and string to make mixed media collages like this one.

Compare Coyle’s “painting with paper” collages to her older collages from the links mentioned above. How are these collages different from one another? How are they similar? Can you see how Coyle’s “painting with paper” collages look like paintings when compared to more traditional collages?

Pieces of Paper that look like Brushstrokes

Water Lilies by collage artist Megan Coyle
Megan Coyle. Water Lilies.

So how does Coyle get her magazine strips to look like paint? When Coyle makes a collage, she likes to think that every object is made of different shapes of color. Take a look at this photograph with its shapes outlined. Coyle cuts out different pieces of color that match the shapes of shadows and highlights in objects. She uses smaller pieces for more detailed areas and large rectangular strips for large areas – like walls and sky. The shapes of color then appear to look more like paint – especially when she uses rectangular pieces of paper.

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Mixed media collage by Megan Coyle

This piece was made with magazine clippings, oil pastels, and acrylic paint.