Journaling with Words and Images: Collage

Download/print the Collage Exercises 1, Collage Exercises 2, and Collage Resources from this workshop.

Collage is a word that comes from the French verb coller, to glue. It refers to the art form that is an assemblage of images, writings, items from nature, textiles — almost anything — to create a new art piece. Collage can tell a story, capture a mood, focus on a color, illustrate and incorporate a song, a poem, a quote, a family history.

According to Kay Marie Porterfield, writer and journal writing teacher, “Starting an art journal is a powerful way to move beyond words. Not only does working with images access a different part of our brains than words, making art is a source of playfulness and creative joy.”

Writing exercise
Word collages are a visual way to include words instead of complete thoughts on the pages of your journal.

List 100 words to describe who you are right now.

Or List 100 words to describe who you WANT to be. After you write as quickly as possible to make your list, use an online program to make a word collage or write them out yourself in a word collage.

This can also be used to make a gift for someone else, a collage of memories or descriptions about them.

Listing exercise
List 25 topics/focal points for future collages in your personal journal.

Collages may spark your creativity or help you address the underlying emotions of tough topics.

What collages would you like to take the time to make someday?

Collage Exercise
Choose one image as a focal point and add the rest of the collage around that using words, drawings, or additional smaller images.

Working outward: Write one word, phrase, quote or thought on your page and then add the collage around that focal point.

Working inward: Create a collage from available materials, leaving space in the center or one corner. When you are finished, add a word, phrase, quote or thought that captures the meaning of your collage.

The difference between pictures and words. Choose images or words torn out of magazines to create a small collage on the topic or theme of your choosing. In the pages of your journal, write out the significance of each choice, the hidden meaning, or the reason you included each thing. For you, do the images have the same effect as the words when you look back at both? Which do you prefer?

Recommended Books

Find these books and more at

  • Realistic collage: step by step by Michael David Brown
  • Scrapbook collage: the art of layering translucent materials by Trice Boerens
  • Collage unleashed by Traci Baustista
  • Stitched collage: creative effects on paper and fabric by Sherrill Kahn
  • Creative collage techniques by Nita Leland
  • Collage with photoshop by Russell Sparkman
  • Handmade paper collage by Dawn M Ackerman
  • Collage discovery workshop by Claudine Hellmuth
  • Collage discovery workshop: beyond the unexpected by Claudine Hellmuth
  • Collage with color: create unique, expressive collages in vibrant color by Jane Davies
  • Collage lost and found: creating unique projects with vintage ephemera by Giuseppina Davies
  • Watercolor and collage workshop by Gerald Brommer
  • Collage, assemblage, and altered art by Diane V. (Diane Vogel) Maurer-Mathison
  • The art of paper collage by Susan Pickering Rothamel
  • The complete guide to altered imagery: for collage, altered books, artists journals, and more by Karen Michel

You can find me at the Media Desk and helping people with their Interlibrary Loan requests. I love to talk (and learn more) about spinning, knitting, weaving, crochet and any other fiber arts you can mention. Need assistance with a pattern or technique? I might be able to help. I am currently reading (and being inspired by) An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler, The Circle by Dave Eggers, and Made from Scratch by Jenna Woginrich. Current projects: making special gifts for new babies, cooking new recipes, discovering old (but new-to-me) crochet stitches, and getting my floor loom warped.