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134 Main Street East
Stewiacke, NS, B0N 2J0


I have 'connected the dots' between awareness, movement, intuition and creativity to enhance the daily lives of people in my community. 

Theme Collage:  Fun, or Self-Discovery?

Wellbeing Blog

Musings and interesting info on wellbeing.

Theme Collage: Fun, or Self-Discovery?

Terry Stanislow

You may already collage or keep an art journal, or perhaps you have thought about it. Those of us who do such things are always looking for ideas to tweak our creativity. Recently, I had the opportunity to do that very thing with my niece.  Anyone can do this.  All you need is a piece of sturdy paper or a journal with good paper, some magazines or other paper, scissors and a glue stick.  We had inexpensive pan watercolours and a brush – tempera or acrylic paint would work too.

It can be kind of fun to choose a theme to collage.  The theme could be a colour, a hobby, nature, pets, children, fashion, other people – the possibilities are endless.  We had a great discussion before we got started and we decided to settle on a theme that came out of the conversation.  Our theme was something like this:  Where do I go (either physically or in my mind) to find peace or hope, to find the faith that everything is going to be OK, to express gratitude, to look for the meaning in things, etc.   While we were exploring the idea, we agreed – some folks may go to an actual physical church – some may go to nature or to other practices.  So, we also worded our theme "where is my church?"  Keep in mind – these exercises are meant to be fairly intuitive, immediate and completed in a relatively short time.  They are not meant to be comprehensive masterworks in any way – simply a capture of where your thoughts/feelings are at one moment in time while pondering an idea – and using the resources available. 

First, we put a background of watercolour on the paper – I just made stripes of colour that I found made me feel happy at the time and related to the theme.  Then, we scanned through a few magazines and books that we like, some printed papers, a box of stickers that Katherine had brought along, and a couple of other resources like stamps.  We each pulled out the ones that felt like they fit the theme for us.  Then, we cut out the parts we liked, arranged them on the page, and glued them on.  We sat for about an hour and a half, chatting while we cut and pasted.  That's all!


My 'finished' page reflects some of my own sources of inspiration, peace and contentment, at that moment in time, from the images available.  I put in a rainbow of colour because colour makes my world whole.  I love the prayer flags – It makes me feel so hopeful and comforted that there are people in the world hanging up those flags with the intent to cast all of those positive prayers around the globe – it really appeals to my sense of global community and caring.  Breathe – of course – it is so central to how I practice my own self-care and what I want to share with others!  "Remember the quiet wonders."  I am all about peace and quiet.  The kayak photo reminded me of a day on the water in a kayak – one of the most peaceful moments I ever experienced in nature.  And floating on a river, looking up at the sky – which we so rarely do – another great experience.  Nature is my church.   A botanical border – anyone who knows me has seen my endless photographs with botanical themes – one of my favorite things to do to relax and feel connected to the amazing natural world around me.  "I have arrived I am home" – the words of one of my esteemed inspirations, Thich Nhat Hanh.  Yes, home meaning – being in the warm and loving embrace of my family home, of my friends, or – the home inside of me – which is always there and that means -  I can be at home anywhere – even in Venice!  Of course, travel and exploration is another thing that makes me feel whole and hopeful and inspired.

A Discovery:  Doing this kind of thing – picking a theme to collage, or draw, or paint, or even to write about (maybe a poem?) – is really – a mindful practice.  For a few minutes or an hour or two – it gets us exploring an idea with some amount of focus, while the rest of the 'stuff' that usually whirls around in our mind fades away for a little while.  The act of collecting the pieces, choosing what we want to use, applying them – while we are doing that, we make little discoveries about ourselves that can be interesting, amusing, amazing . . . And I found Katherine's to be so surprising and marvelous as well – I learned something about her while we were reviewing our pictures.  After you are all done, talk about what you did if you like – or, if you would prefer, keep your little creation for yourself and reflect on it at some future time.  Then – plan to do another one soon!

I highly recommend that you give it a try.  You already have some experience because you have done this already – when you were a child!  You can do it on your own, but I recommend – finding someone else to chat with first – even a couple of people – pick a theme together, or decide on one for each of you – and see what you come up with.  Fun AND educational – you always learn something about yourself and your co-maker(s)! You can build in a nice treat break too, which is a bonus. To answer the question – it's fun AND self-discovery all together!