The tenuous balance between variety and unity continues to challenge me. In my monoprint collages, I begin with a monoprinted matrix — the beginnings of unity. But as I add different elements — vintage maps, monoprints, monoprinted maps — too much variety can be, well, too much.
Smartphone Camera to the Rescue
My collage Made Manifest, was one such exercise in my quest for a completed image that feels energetic, but unified. Without this unity, the work will feel like a stressful crazy quilt, encompassing many ideas but feeling disjointed. I felt this way when I had cut out all of the pieces of Made Manifest. To identify the cause of my unease, I took a photograph of the (unglued) collage with my phone (see image below.)
With nearly all of the areas covered with other materials, the underlying monoprint matrix was only visible in the thin lines. The collage itself felt more crowded that I wanted as well. The somewhat counterintuitive solution was to remove some of the collage elements. With more light green showing, the components seemed to have space to breathe, benefitting the entire composition.
In the search for unity, sometimes less is more.