Amy Cohen, an artist and art teacher based in New York City. She has more than 30 years of experience as a private art instructor and portfolio consultant for aspiring art school students.www.AmyArtCohen.com
Some people avoid artistic endeavors because they don’t consider themselves skilled at drawing or painting. But even people who lack technical artistic skills can create works of art.
Bonus: Engaging in the artistic process can relieve stress, spur creative thinking and boost self-esteem.
Three fun art projects…
Collages are artistic compositions created by combining things such as photographs, scraps of paper featuring distinctive graphics or drawings and small swatches of fabric.
First, collect materials that appeal to you. You can do this by buying old books containing evocative photos or drawings in thrift stores or at library book sales…saving small pieces of attractive or interesting wrapping paper or cloth…and/or saving product packaging that includes distinctive graphics. I don’t recommend saving images from modern magazines—they’re not particularly intriguing.
Next, cut out elements from the materials you have collected, and glue them to a paper backing in combinations or patterns that you find compelling. Use heavy-weight drawing paper—look for “Bristol” paper—and an acid-free glue stick. These are available in art-supply stores, craft stores and even some office-supply stores. Don’t use standard Elmer’s glue or a child’s glue stick—these could discolor or otherwise damage the materials.
Some collage artists create collages with specific themes, perhaps forming a nature scene by combining an image of a tree, a photo of a fish and a piece of blue cloth to represent a lake. Other collage artists pull together materials that have no particular thematic connection. If you are not sure how to start, just pick an image that you find compelling, cut it out, glue it to a page, then find another image that you think looks good when paired with it and repeat the process. Keep doing this, and see where it leads.
Helpful: The book Cut & Paste: 21st-Century Collage by Richard Brereton and Caroline Roberts (Laurence King) is full of interesting collage ideas. Or search the Web for the word “collage” together with the names of artists Hannah Höch and/or Max Ernst to find collage examples to use as inspiration.
Art projects made with soda or beer cans often appeal to people who don’t consider themselves artistic, because they involve skills such as hammering and metal cutting that are very different from the classical academic art skills of drawing and painting. Start by looking through your empty soda or beer cans before taking them to be recycled. Save any that have colors and graphics that you find appealing. Use tin snips or a strong pair of scissors to cut off the tops and bottoms of these cans, then cut open the cylinders. Unroll the cylinders, and press them flat under something heavy, such as a stack of books.
Warning: Wear sturdy work gloves while cutting aluminum to avoid getting cut by the metal’s sharp edges.
Next, use small nails to affix a piece of aluminum flashing onto a rectangular piece of wood. Rolls of silver aluminum flashing can be purchased in home stores, often for less than $1 per square foot. Cut this aluminum so that it completely covers one side of the wood.
Once your cans have been pressed flat, cut shapes or patterns out of them, then use small nails to attach these pieces of colored aluminum onto the aluminum flashing to create distinctive metallic art. You can use the colored aluminum to create patterns or even to construct pictures.
Search on the Web for “soda can art” to view examples of projects.
Duct tape might seem utilitarian and prosaic, but this well-known adhesive product now is available in a wide range of colors and patterns in art-supply stores and crafts stores.
If you purchase a selection of duct tape in different colors, you can combine them to create eye-catching artwork and crafts without ever touching a paintbrush or pen. My students, ages six to 90, love it!
Duck brand duct tape lists some of these arts and crafts projects on the company’s Web site. (On www.DuckBrand.com, select “Ducktivities” from the “Duck Tape Club” pull-down menu.) Or search the Web for “duct tape crafts” and/or “duct tape art” to find potential projects.
You can create duct tape pictures with strips of duct tape on a piece of plywood or heavy cardboard. Or you can layer different colors. Then use a sharp craft knife to cut out sections of the top layer(s) and peel them away to expose the colors below.