Category Archives: collage





Music is ingrained in my father’s family. It is a way of life. To better understand this, I thought I’d share some facts about my fathers family, and then come back and explain what you see in the above collage – which is primarily material from my father.

Below is a picture of my grandfather and four of my father’s sisters as they get ready to perform on WDUN-AM in Gainesville, Georgia (the radio station still exists!)


Aunts Caroline, Martha, Mary Lou and Colene with my granddad

My father rebuilt pianos, my grandfather was a piano tuner. Even tough my father knew how to tune, he  preferred putting the piano together again. I began taking piano lessons at age five (from my aunt Colene pictured above).

When my father died and I was asked what I’d like to keep that belonged to him. I asked for his piano tuning fork – pictured below lying on my piano. 


Now – back to the collage above.

Not only do you see music in the above collage, but you see pages from my father’s piano tuning book. Everything handwritten is in my father’s hands. You can see the cover of the book – kind of anyway (look to the left – see the letters FIR). There are the words “showing off the piano” – partially obscured – this is what a piano tuner does when the piano is properly tuned.

The keyboard you see at the bottom left is the Bearings Scale – which is the traditional “laying the bearing” or setting a central octave to proper pitch using the method of counting the beats (I don’t pretend to understand all of this! – but I heard discussions about counting the beats growing up).

At the top of the collage, there is a picture on the right and a drawing on the left of the “action” of the piano.  What is the action?  The Piano Tuners Guild says:

“The three systems involved in regulation are the action, trapwork and damper system. The action is the mechanical part of the piano that transfers the motion of the fingers on the keys to the hammers that strike the strings.”

The printed portion on the lower right are definitions of different part of the piano, such as string, damper, felt, etc.

Here are some additional pieces of art that were inspired by my family’s devotion to music.

The Butterfly

The Butterfly

The Buttefly uses my recital piece from about 6th grade. Here is proof!

recital copy




And – I know you wanted to see this – scroll down!

Here I am with my very first piano! (I remember sitting on my grandfathers lap about this time and learning where “Middle C” is located – it confounded me that is wasn’t in the middle of the keyboard!)

Image 014

Now – if you have read this far – I have a gift.  Subscribe to my blog (see block on the upper right corner) When you have done so – email me at and on March 21st (first day of Spring!), I will draw 10 names and send them each 10 pieces of original music like what is pictured below to use in your own collage!DSCN0008

BTW – an aside about the piano. I have long considered it a percussion instrument, because the sound is made with the hammer hitting the strings. Lately I’ve heard more and more are considering it a string instrument, as the musical tones originate in the strings. Any way you look at it, it is a chordophone.

I had to much fun putting this together, I’ve decided to do a series of blogs about where I find inspiration. Next up – for equal time, find out what of my mom’s I continue using in my artwork!





My local library recently began a new program called SKILL SHARE, which is, in their words” brings together people willing to share their special knowledge and skills related to their hobbies and crafts through library-hosted workshops.” About six months ago I put in an application and was accepted to host a COLLAGE PARTY at a local library.  I led six wonderful adults through the art of collage and here are some of the results!


Getting ready to start!

Christine's collage

Anita’s collage


Christine finishes up!


“M”‘s lovely collage

Ruth finishes up a collage

Ruth finishes up a collage

I supplied all the materials and gave each participant a pre-cut mat so they were able to go home and put their finished artwork into a standard sized frame to hang and enjoy!

This was a fun evening and all six of the participants enjoyed it! They probably would have stayed longer if the library wasn’t closing!  I hope to do something like this again.  If you want to have a COLLAGE PARTY, contact me for specifics.



A souvenir is from the French, for a remembrance of a memory. Are you like most people and just stick them in drawers or in albums?

However, there is a way to enjoy them and share them with your friends.  Below is an example of a collage I did for my niece. She kept all her ticket stubs through the years.


Mallory's ticket stubs ©Vickie Martin

Mallory’s ticket stubs ©Vickie Martin

This collage was placed in a memory box, which allowed me to layer the tickets and make them more visible.  If you look closely, you will see a ticket stub from The Rolling Stone, one from a concert in Europe, and even the wrist band from a live taping of Conan O’Brien!  Can’t you just imagine one of tickets from major sporting events adorning a man cave?

A collage can be made using souvenirs of a major event or a trip. Here is one made from my niece’s year spent in Europe.


mallory_collageIn it you will find souvenirs from Ireland, England, Paris, Germany, Spain and Italy (organized based on the map). 

How about a collage made from memories? My father rebuilt pianos. Here is a collage I made based on that, using some of his notes on piano tuning. When I see this, I have wonderful memories of my father in the basement happily working on pianos.

Dad's Music ©Vickie Martin

Dad’s Music
©Vickie Martin

Do you have “stuff” stuck in drawers. Most of the time, this “stuff” means something to you. Get it out! I would love to help you put it in a form that can easily be displayed and shared!  Contact me at





MY ARTIST DATE – with myself and Little Vickie

I have embarked on a year long journey with over 60 women from around the world committed to working through the transformative book The Artist’s Way.  One of the basic principles of the book is to take yourself on an artist date.  This is done alone spending time with your little artist nurturing and having fun.  So –  I took Little Vickie with me to the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

Boy, Little Vickie does look excited and I think she and her doll have  on the same dress.

So, off we went to see the exhibit Fast Forward, Modern Moments 1913 – 2013.  I am a regular museum goer, but it had been A LONG time since I have gone with just Little Vickie.

Exterior of the High Museum

Just a note, the name The High Museum does not refer to “high” art, but for the High Family that donated the land for the museum.

This exhibit is organized by six pivotal years in the world of art and this blog will be about the first two, the years of 1913 and 1929.

  • 1913 – New Art for a New World
  • 1929 – New Visions
  • 1950 – Action and Abstraction
  • 1961 Art and Life
  • 1988 Constructing Identities
  • 2013 The Near Present


Probably the biggest change during this time was new technologies in travel, most remarkably the airplane. Flight became a widespread symbol in paintings, drawing, music and literature. This was also the year Charlie Chaplin signed with Keystone pictures, the first Armory Show in New York was held, the Panama Canal was opened and the Model T was introduced.  Take a look at some of the paintings from this year.

Matisse, The Blue Window

“An artist must possess Nature. He must identify himself with her rhythm, by efforts that will prepare the mastery which will later enable him to express himself in his own language.” Matisse

Mondrian Composition in Brown and Gray

“Every true artist has been inspired more by the beauty of lines and color and the relationships between them than by the concrete subject of the picture.” Mondrian

I can’t look at a Mondrian painting and not think about music and rhythm. Did you realize he was quite an accomplished dancer?   Click HERE for a short video of art historial Kermit Swiller Champa talking about Mondrian’s  interest in dancing and the boogie woogie.  The above painting is consider analytic cubism.

Picasso, Glass, Guitar and Bottle

This painting is synthetic cubism, which grew out of analytic cubism. Developed by Picasso and Braque, they discovered through the repetition of analytic signs their work became flatter. This was the beginning of collage, when real pieces of paper and music began replacing depictions that were painted.

Umberto Boccioni, Unique Forms in Continuity in Space

This is considered a Futurist sculpture.  Don’t you love the movement of this apparent human form in motion that suggests speed and power? An interesting fact about this piece, the lack of arms is an homage to Rodin’s Walking Man

Juan Gris – Grapes

Juan Gris studied mechanical drawing.  He also designed ballet sets for Diaghilev and his famous Ballets Russes. “You are lost the moment you know what the result will be”.  Juan Gris (originally known as Jose Gonzalez-Perez.


Not only did the stock market crash in 1929, but it was also the year of both the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and the year Stalin took power.  The Vatican became a sovereign state and Hemingway published A Farewell to Arms.

Salvador Dali had his first solo exhibition in Paris. Andre Breton, considered the founder of surrealism,  said of the show “It is perhaps with Dali that for the first time the windows of the mind are opened fully wide”.

Salvador Dali Illumined Pleasures

The title “Illumined Pleasures” is thought to refer to the “luminous” objects projected into the theaterlike boxes.  Dali’s painting are extremely detailed, but many of them are very small. (this painting is a mere 9 3/8 x 10 3/4).  “Have not fear of perfection, you will never reach it.” Dali.

Magritte The Palace of Curtains III

Magritte shows us two images in this painting, one of the sky and the other with the word Ciel, which is the French word for sky.  The word and the image are the same in their meaning.   “An object never serves the same function as its image – or its name.” Magritte.

Max Ernst The Birds Above the Forest

I loved this painting. Forests and birds are subjects Max Ernst returned to over and over again. In fact, Ernst had an alter-ego Loplop, who is a birdlike character that reappears in many of his works.

Georgia O’Keeffe Farmhouse Window

Georgia O’Keeffe is one of the few women represented in this show. I liked the lines and the simplicity of this painting.  “I know now that most people are so closely concerned with themselves that they are not aware of their own individuality… and it has helped me to say what I want to say… in paint.” Georgia O’Keeffe

Gerald Murphy Wasp and Pear

Gerald Murphy probably painted less than 20 paintings in his lifestime. This painting is one of his last, and is considered a mix of the styles of Cubism and Art Deco.  Murphy and his wife Sara were ex-patriots living in both Paris and the French Riviera.  They are remembered for their salons, attended by Picasso, Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.  In fact, he and his wife are the models for Nicole and Dick Diver in Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night.  I plan on learning more about this artist and his life.

Alfred Stieglitz Equivalent Series

This is part of Equivalents, which is a series of over 200 photographs primarily of the sky without a horizon, and mostly without hills, trees, buildings, making them among the first abstract photographs.  He said of this series “I know exactly what I have photographed. I know I have done something that has never been done…I also know that there is more of the really abstract in some ‘representation’ than in most of the dead representations of the so-called abstract so fashionable now.”

I think this enough for now!  I will write about the years of 1950, 1961, 1988 at a later date.

So, what did I and Little Vickie learn?  I learned by going alone to the museum I could take the time to really look, read and listen to the audio.

What in an exhibit gets your attention?




I recently spent a weekend helping about 80 people make collages at the Atlanta Art Festival.  Also, I’m part of an online group led by the ArtBiz Coach called the Artist Conspiracy  designed to help artists take their art career to the next level.  Recently I signed up for another online class called Flying Lessons  taught by Kelly Rae Roberts.   I feel my participation in these two groups has put my mind into overdrive and I’m seeing possibilities in places I never noticed before.

I helped four college girls put together collages at the Atlanta Art Festival. As they were leaving they asked me if I ever hosted “collage parties”.   I’d never thought about it, but a seed was sown that might not have sprouted at another time in my life.  Later, several girls, ages 6-10, wanted to do a collage of a “fancy” dress.  I drew a template in the shape of the dress below and helped them pick out paper to make their personal “fancy” dress.

Needless to say, the girls were thrilled!

What else can I do? I also had several boys ask for help on a collage of a dinosaur or car.  The possibilities are endless.

Right now – ideas are coming – next step is to work out the logistics.  It is important to keep watering this seed while keeping the weeds of self doubt out!

Do you think this is a do-able idea?  Do you think it is worth pursuing?  Coolage Party is just a working title – any ideas?  



Putting Marilyn together

I’ve posted about this project before.  But, just in case you missed, to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of collage, The Atlanta Collage Society put together an 8×8 foot collage.   This consisted of 841 separate collages, made by approximately 70 people, ages 7 to 70!

You can see a video about this project HERE.




Doesn’t she look great!!!!!  This is the end result of what The Atlanta Collage Society  called The Marilyn Project.  In celebration of what is commonly considered the 100th year anniversary of collage used in fine art, we put together this collage last week at The Museum of Design in Atlanta in conjunction with The Art Partners – High Museum of Art .

The collage measures 8 ft. x 8 ft. and is made up of 841 individual collages mounted on a 3×3 inch canvas.   There were approximately 70 people involved in this, ranging in age from 7 to 70!

While this “performance” was only for one evening, we are sure Marilyn will make other appearances around town!




This year, 2012, marks one hundred years since Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso made their first collages, introducing this medium into the world of Fine Art. But, what is collage?  from the French word, coller, meaning to glue.  The Webster dictionary defines collage as “an artistic composition made of various materials (as paper, cloth, or wood) glued onto a surface.”

Actually, collage dates back to the time of the invention of paper in China, around 200 BC.  Caligraphers began using it in 10th century Japan to apply paper when writing poems. Collage appears in medieval Europe when gold leaf panels were applied to Gothic catherdrals, and gemstones were applied to religious icons, images and coats of arms. But, after that, it was used primarily by hobbyists for things such as photo albums and books. However, most art authorities agree that artists began using collage as a technique with the advent of modernism.  By adding glued on patches of paper, Braque and Picasso added a new perspective to their paintings when these patches became  integrated into the painting. This gave artists a new found freedom of expression, allowing them unfound freedoms to experiment by adding new elements within the frame they were working with. Braque started the concept of collage by applying it to charcoal drawings, and Picasso possibly used it first in paintings.   Braque began by purchasing  a roll of simulated oak-grain wallpaper and began by cutting out pieces and applying them to the drawings.

Georges Braque 1913

Next, Picasso embedded an piece of oil cloth with a chair-cane design onto a painting, and the world of art was off and running

Pable Picasso

Artists began added newspaper, colored paper, cloth, basically anything that caught their attention.   They began added things such as sand and coffee to their paint to create texture.  Many artists even cut of pieces of their work they weren’t happy with and applying using these in new art.

Collage also also extends to 3d work, often referred to as assemblages.  In recent years, photomontage and digital collages have become popular.

So, when Braque and Picasso began gluing paper on their paintings, they opened a whole new art world to anybody that wants to experiment!

To celebrate, the following events are coming up in Atlanta

The Marilyn Project – The Atlanta Collage Society will put together an 8’x8′ collage consisting of 841 pieces on 9/13 at MODA, sponsored by The Art Partners with the High Museum of Art. click HERE for details.

I will be doing a collage demonstration – at the Atlanta Arts Festival, 9/15 – 16.


Fighting Fire With Fire 5×7


Come out to Piedmont Park next weekend, September 17 and 18!   I will be doing inter-active collage demonstrations throughout both days as part of Creation Station.   I will help with people to do a small 5×7 collage they can take with them as long as supplies last.   To make it simple, I have chosen four “suggested designs” and am putting together the materials for these.

The first design is a dress – and while anybody can put together any type of dress they want, I am using the following as an example.

I have included several types of paper, as well as dress patterns, paper from a player piano roll, a french book amd a few other things.  If this is a design that is chosen, this dress particular dress is just a suggestion.  Any type of dress can be done.  Embellishments can be added with thread, stamps or colored pencil.

The second design I am including is a musical piece with collage put on top of a piece of music.  Below is an example using an old recital piece of mine!

I will help people with a simpler design of this, and I have been busy busy punching out different butterflies and birds for this.   I will make copies of the actual music, as well as adding a piece of music called “Yellow Bird” and one called “Dragonfly”.   I will bring a stamp of a butterfly to use as embellishment.

The third design is much smaller.   I did a series several years ago using Tarot cards as the base.  See below for an example.

I am bring a regular pack of playing cards that can be collaged on.  I will bring some sand paper because I like to rough up the surface a bit, as well as some sequins, thread, stamps, envelopes to name a few things I used on these.  I also liked melting crayons on these!  I am bringing a stack of magazines too, so images can be found in them also.   
The fourth design is an abstract piece, using primarily white and neutral pieces of rice paper.   A sample is below:
I will also demonstrate dying paper, using Nev’r Dull on magazine pages, and layering paintings and using a blow torch to work with the layers.
So, come on out – and take home a collage that you have made!!!!!