Maggie Maggio

Exploring Color in the 21st Century

Exercise #4 Color Inspiration Collage

first collageI began making color collages when I moved into my first out-of-the-house studio in 1996.  I finally had lots of wall space and decided to pull out the basket with postcards, greeting cards, clippings, art catalogs, and memorabilia that I had saved over the years and get them up on the wall.

At first they went up willy-nilly, but when I stepped back I realized I had to take them all down and sort them into groups according to color.

This is the first collage of the five that I sorted that day and I’ve been making color collages ever since.  Lindly and I have made hundreds of collages over the years. Have fun making yours!

Weekend Extra Exercises

Make lots of collages!


The more clippings you have the easier it will be to see ” color themes” in the clippings that you like.

Remember that you are not designing a color scheme – you are documenting one.

Work quickly and intentionally.

If you are struggling to see a “theme” – pick one of the clippings you like the most, and then audition the rest of the clippings. Do they feel the same? Do they have the same colors?  Do they “hang with” that clipping.

Don’t settle for “it almost goes.” Find more magazines and look for clippings that really do have similar colors and are similar in feeling.

Try to divorce your preferences for texture and imagery from your preferences for colors. Its hard to do – you may have to resort to the old trick of turning the clippings upside down.


1.  Do I have to cover the whole board? Yes – the background will shift the colors so cover it all up.

2. Can I use just part of a clipping? Sure, feel free to cut away anything that is not working for your collage.

3. Does it matter what size the clippings are? No – you can use a full page from a magazine if that is what you are responding to – or you can use just a corner of a small photo if that works well with your collage.

Here’s the first (and maybe the last!) video made in my studio. You can just make out the first set of five collages in the background.  It was done in one take and its a little bit dark. I was hoping to edit it and brighten it up a bit but I’m afraid the video editing software is currently way beyond my skills! With any luck I will be able to get my nephew, Joey, to come down to Portland from Seattle sometime soon and give me a tutorial.  There are few parts that make me cringe (who picked that music??) but I want to share it with you anyway. One warning – color collaging can be addictive!


  1. admin

    October 24, 2009 at 6:08 am

    Thanks Sue. Color collaging is what I do whenever I need a little inspiration. Sometimes I just close my eyes, pick out a clipping and go from there. I’m always amazed at what falls into place.

  2. Will get your book based on this terrific exercise. Loved the video. I have no art background but love pc. Can’t wait to try collaging – what a great approach to learning about colour! Thank you.

  3. A tip for those of us who don’t have piles of disposable magazines laying around: google flower catalogs! A lot of seed sellers will mail you a free copy of their catalog full of glossy colorful pictures. I’m working on my collage and planning next year’s vegetable garden at the same time.

  4. Thanks for the video. Ive read your book once completely. Going to go back and try some of your suggestions. This one with the color collages is a great idea. REading the book is one thing, but having the video has encouraged me to get started. Thanks.

  5. admin

    October 4, 2009 at 7:22 am

    Thanks Sue. Its true. Collecting clippings is part of the addiction. My neighbors give me their old magazines and I have quite a luxurious stash. Clipping is meditative. I love it!

  6. Hahaha, I have found that just clipping the pictures is addicting. I haven’t yet made my collages, but I probably have at least 500 clippings. Even doing that has helped me find my “preferences” colorwise and I’m ready to glue the first set down. You answered a couple of my questions, that were holding me back, in your post today. Thank you, for that and a great inspirational book. Hugs, Sue C

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