Worship Arts Blog

Didi’s Collage Meditations

We continue looking at great stay-at-home worship arts ideas, this time with longtime community member, artist and archivist Didi Graves, who generously shared her collage process.

I started making paper collages in May of 2018. In one way or another as an artist I have been making assembled pieces for many years, first in jewelry and then paper lamps. If you want to try your hand at making a collage it’s super easy and accessible. Just have fun and experiment.”

“These are the basic supplies…I use Yes glue slightly thinned with water. I don’t use glue sticks, but you certainly can. I use watercolor paper as a base for the collages with a background paper on top of the water color paper. But you can use any paper you find. I use these fiskar scissors (super sharp) and exacto knife for cutting, The gloss medium is a top coat that protects the final image. “

“One of the questions I get a lot is where do you find your images. Well, images are everywhere, books, magazines, old calendars etc. Like I said everywhere.”

“Here is the beginning of choosing images. I try to start with one strong central image. Here it is the ‘machine’ type image in the center with the armadillo on top… There are certain images that you see a lot in my collages including hands, armadillos, eyes and animals to name a few. At this point I have a vague idea of what I’m going for here. All of the images have to have a certain feel or look.”

“As more images go down on the paper it’s all just trial and error at this point. I learned early on to photograph the collage as I go along. I can see things in the photos that I can’t see with my eyes. What looks right on the paper can look not right in the photograph.”

“Here you can see I took out some images and put others in. I will often have an idea of what I want to use, but I’ve learned I have to stay open to making lots of changes in the process. There are times when what I thought was my central image or theme just isn’t working out so I have to give myself permission to change and abandon my idea to something new coming through.”

“Another semi obsession with me are numbers and words. Things are starting to fill in here. I’m still moving things around quite a bit, swapping out different images. While to some who look at this, it may seem like a bunch of unrelated images, it makes sense to me. They all have a certain same quality.”

“In this picture (above), I’m trying out a background paper that I thought would look cool. I liked it when I looked at it with my eyes, but not so much when I Iooked at a photo of it. The images got lost in the background paper. So I need to try something else.”

“This (above) is the second background paper I thought would be cool. I’ve learned over time to wait to glue anything down until I am sure it looks right to me. I sort of liked this, but ultimately decided it wasn’t right. Trial and error. When I get into a situation where I am struggling to make it look right I often have to walk away from it, to not just keep pushing. More often than not when I am away from it I will hear a voice or a notion will come over me. It might be a phrase or an image of what to do so I always try to follow that inner ‘voice’.”

“When I was trying to figure out what background paper to use I got the idea to use this paper. I will sometimes use just a plain white background, but not often. In this image you can see I also started moving some of the images around. There is a sort of internal click that happens when I get it right (right to me anyhow).”

“This is the final collage. Creating the titles for me is a big part of the process. This one is entitled My Imaginal Mind. Illustrated. Section 7. I have done a series of these Imaginal Mind pieces. I have an image of my mind, my imaginal mind (which is pretty active as you can see), as a sort of warehouse, with all different sections, holding ideas, memories, thoughts, places, people and images. This is a visual representation of that.” 

I have been making collages since May of 2018, every day mostly. I have definitely gotten pretty good at cutting. I make postcards, other collages different sizes, 5 x7, 8 x 10, 9 x 12 and 12×12 mostly. People ask me what do I do with them. The majority of them are in a box in the room I use as a studio. I post every day on Instagram @didi_sharp. I also started posting regularly on Facebook during this pandemic as a way of connecting. I didn’t have any big plan when I started all this and still don’t. I made a book for my son for Christmas of a series of collages I call the Dream Scrapbook.

Making these collages has been the most fun and fulfilling time as an artist for me. I hope you enjoyed looking at these. Let me know what you think. Love, Didi.”

Many thanks to Didi, and also to Cindy McComish, for the inspiration.


Send Your Blog Ideas

Do you have ideas about more Worship Arts we can share online?  Worship Arts means anywhere that creativity meets spirituality, so don’t be shy about suggesting something.  W/A Director Erin McGaughan would love your input.  ErinM@seattleunity.org.