Collage Deer: More of a Challenge Than I Expected


When I started out to make a collage piece for my husband’s Christmas, I thought it was going to be way easier than it turned out to be. I started on Christmas Eve day and honestly thought I’d be able to gift it to Mark the following day. What was I thinking? It was not to be.

I am very happy with the way it turned out. My biggest error in judgement seemed to be every collage piece I had made before was with my female perspective in mind. That wasn’t going to work this time. Hmmm. Let’s see how it came about.

I began with a 10″ square hanging board and a bottle of Golden High Flow Acrylic. I just wanted to cover the whole piece to get a base layer on.

And I did. Hahaha! I chose a color I thought would be perfect with the deer in the background. However, if you look at that first shot of the finished piece – you see very little if any of this pretty green color. You can still see some of it around the side pieces of the board but that is about it.

I used to be a scrapbooker and I have tons of paper. I actually bought the entire stock from two stores that went out of business so I knew that I had paper that would work with this outdoor hunter theme I had in mind. I chose to straight cut one piece, to hand-tear-away from me one piece (that would be the top right one that doesn’t show white edge) and hand-tear-towards me the last piece (the one that does show white edge.) Dina Wakley’s clear gesso is my ‘glue’ of choice. There are many products you can adhere elements with – just be sure you use clear. I’ve tried the other and it obliterates your design. Trust me on this one.

Coat the backside with the gesso – use a brush you don’t want to use for anything else. Just decide this is your forever gesso brush, because it won’t be good for anything else. Ever. Think cheap-o Walmart craft aisle brush.

Lay your element in place and layer a nice coat of gesso over it being sure to hit those edges. I slide my brush along just under the edge all the way around, then give it a nice coat over the whole thing. This particular brand dries nice and clear and doesn’t show brush strokes.

You can use all types of papers for the collage work. This is a page out of a Korean dictionary. I think it’s Korean, I can’t actually read anything in the entire book. But the pages always give a nice contrast and texture-y look to whatever collage piece I add them to. This photo was taken after everything had dried.

While the collage work was drying, I turned to my Art Parts from Joggles and pulled out a package of deer. These Art Parts are really cool! I showed you some birds in an earlier post. They are die cut into watercolor paper, each deer has three places where they connect to the paper. I used Dylusions Ink Sprays to add color. I tried to stick with forest colors: water, ink and patience.

Art Parts from Joggles. com

I had two sheets of these deer parts, so I took the second and placed it over the first one. There was so much wet color, I knew I could prep both sheets of watercolor paper at the same time. Cause that’s how I like it – loads of water. I think it’s a character flaw. Hahahahaha!

I flipped the paper over to see how much color it picked up. Not that much. So I didn’t have the ink as wet as I thought.

I sprayed a little color and water and waited a bit. Then rolled a kitchen towel roll over the top to add some texture. I separated the two sheets and dried them with my heat tool. I had color on both sides of each sheet.

This is the first sheet I started with and the beautiful color I got on it!

Since each deer was only attached to the paper in three spots – it was easy enough to just clip those areas and free each deer. I immediately knew the hardest part was going to be deciding which deer – and facing which direction – I was going to use.

Between that stage and this stage in the photo just above, I missed a couple photos. I used a light wash of rust color acrylic to go over the entire board to tone it down a bit. Guy gift, not girl gift. I also brushed on some watered down black in several areas – just using my fingers. Nothing fancy. Just to grunge it up a bit. I also – apparently – added some flowers to the lower right, that clock face, some words along the top and a really out of place looking hand (just under the ink pad.) For this step, I brought out a large deer stencil, a new ink pad from ColorBox and a large finger dabber. Those little dabbers are awesome! You just use them to pick up the color from the ink pad and stamp it wherever you want color. I was thinking I wanted this to be a silhouette image, so I didn’t want the color too dark. That is why I went with the Graphite color. And I just pounced color right over that paper across the bottom of the board as well.

I also pulled out some smaller stencils made for ATC art and used StazOn ink to add some shapes here and there around the board. Think layers and texture. Just keep building.

And I dried it all with the heat gun. Even at this point, that green was all but gone.

This hand. I hated this hand. Why in the world had I placed that there????? I tried ripping it up. No good. I used my clear gesso very well and glued that sucker there for eternity. So I scrubbed some black ink over it to make it not so bright. And a plan started coming together. Thankfully!

I had this leafy piece left over from an earlier project and thought they looked pretty woodsy. Hahaha! And those leaves were big enough – perhaps just about hand sized – to cover up that stupid looking hand I had stuck on my board. As far as placement of the deer – I wanted it to be addressing the silhouette deer. Looking at each other, so to speak. So I went through the six deer I had colored and found one that I liked best and started playing with where I wanted the leaves and the deer to go.

And I glued them in place with the clear gesso using the same technique I outlined for you earlier. At this point all my elements were on the board. Now, let’s go back to that ugly hand. (Sorry Tim Holtz. It would be awesome on some other project, I’m sure!)  Can you find the hand?

If you look closely it is there on the left hand side just a couple leaves up from the bottom. And this is a zoomed in photo. I guarantee if you didn’t know it was there and you weren’t searching for it – you would never see it. It is very well camouflaged and hidden away. I told my kids many, many times over the years they were growing up and being concerned about something being ‘broken’ – nothing is usually broken to the point that it can not be fixed. With a little thought and ingenuity. Life lesson in a collage work! Boom!

And it was time to find ways to pull this whole thing together and finish it. I began with my black StazOn ink pad and scrubbed that pad along all four edges.

I even rubbed the ink pad over parts of the board surface itself – near the corners, along the long lines, along that ruler piece adhered to the right, over parts of the leaves and some of the deer die cut. Again thinking layers and texturing.

I used a stencil and a Tombow Mono drawing pen to add some detail to the leaves.

A white posca paint pen gave some details to the deer, the leaves, and the flowers. But it still didn’t seem finished enough. It seemed too dark overall. Yes, it is dark in the forest where the deer live. But I didn’t want the overall thing you noticed about the piece to be the darkness. So . . .

. . . I pulled that posca paint pen back out and added some more dots of light – everywhere. And now I love it. And more importantly so did Mark! The part I like the most is the smaller deer reflecting on the silhouette deer and those flowers. Now if I could just get a clear shot of this I would be totally happy. We are in the midst of having an ‘up to 16″ of snow’ storm and I guess I should be glad for any light we have at all. When it gets pretty outside again – interpret that to mean we can see the sun – I will try for another photo of this. Thank you for reading through. This is a learning process for me, of what works and what doesn’t. There is always more we can learn.

I’ll just leave you with a link where all these supplies can be found:

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12 thoughts on “Collage Deer: More of a Challenge Than I Expected

  1. Great words to end with, “We can always learn more.” Your gift project turned out very well, thanks for the walk through. Good luck with the snow.

    • thanks, Susan, the snowing has stopped for now . thankfully. we think we got 11-12″ overall so it wasn’t as bad as expected.

  2. I’ll bet Mark loved this to pieces! I agree about ‘broken’ art. I’ve often thought that the answer is to just keep arting on it until it’s good again. Of course, I have found exceptions, especially in watercolor.

    • I would think acrylics easier to keep arting on – I know dylusions don’t like it. hahaha! and yes, mark liked it. it is still laying on the counter and probably will be until I do something with it. >.<

  3. If you hadn’t mentioned that it was an experimental project I’d have thought you were an Old Master!! Your experience with different types of mixed media really is invaluable & how to knock back colours when they’re too bright. I have to say my favourite part is also the way that die cut deer is ‘reflecting upon’ the big shadow deer & the flowers. I’m so pleased Mark loved it – it’s very much his theme isn’t it? Now that hand is actually pointing towards the focal image……… albeit ever so discreetly.

    • When I put the hand down I did intend to have it pointing at the deer. The die cut one. I hadn’t remembered I had that stencil at that point. I think the stencil is probably my favorite part. But that might change tomorrow hahahahaha!

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