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Erin McCluskey Wheeler: Color & Collage

We will explore color and composition and use collage as a starting point for painting and further mixed-media work. Students will have the option to create several small pieces to experiment with color composition, layout, gluing and connecting techniques, or to create one larger piece. This is a wonderful opportunity to re-purpose and give new life to old painting, drawings, prints, and photographs - if it’s on paper and it’s okay to cut it up - you can use it! In this class you will generate new ideas for creating abstract art and think deeply about color and composition through the fun, accessible medium of collage. Open to artists of all levels of experience.

Day 1: We will sort through materials brought in by the instructor, items you have brought in from home and create complimentary collage materials with paint and paper to build our collage(s) 

Exploring color 

Creating a color story of papers 

Cutting forms and working with composition 

Day 2: We will work on solidifying our compositions and talk about editing techniques in great depth. We will look at ways to connect and enhance the composition with drawn and painted lines and how to edit with white paint and perhaps further cutting. 

•Working with disrupted forms and connecting shapes

•Building layers and the editing process

Materials to bring: 

Collage material you’d like to work with 

Mixed media weight paper and/or watercolor paper - any size you'd like to work on. You will need 5 - 10 sheets of at least 9 x 12 paper and perhaps one larger sheet of watercolor paper.

Paint (opaque watercolor, gouache or acrylic) in colors you like or a set of mixed colors

At least one small detail paint brush and one larger paint brush

A brush you’re okay with using for glue

A small container for water

One of the following glues: Yes Paste, Mod Podge (Matte), or any acrylic gel medium (matte, regular body)

Scissors - ideally a short blade scissors (2 - 3 inch blade)


A self healing cutting mat and X-acto knife

Cradled birch panel(s), unprimed, or any size smaller than 12 x 12

Materials provided: 

Additional collage material 

Additional glue and paint to experiment with

About the Instructor: Her work, like quilting, is full of strong and vivid color combinations, asymmetrical and strip piecing, reused old material, uneven and large line work (stitching), and the use of hidden protective charm symbols. Erin views her work of cutting and piecing and gluing and painting over as a method to record and share events of familial and personal importance.  In piecing together these disparate pieces, she gets to explore the themes of regeneration and rebirth, of bringing new life to old things.  

All of the pieces in the Papers Series start with accumulated and collected paper: postcards from family and friends, envelopes, sketchbook pages, her daughter’s doodles, old wallpaper and photographs, hand-painted papers, and office supply stickers. Erin pieces the papers together following colors, forms, and shapes. There is often the suggestion of topography and water, botanical forms, and big curves of space.

Erin is represented by Jen Tough Gallery


California College of the Arts / MFA, Writing

Beloit College, graduated Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude / BA in Studio Art (Honors)

BA in Art History + East Asian Studies

Class will run 10:00-4:00 each day. Doors open at 9:30 AM each day.

Unlimited + free bottled waters, coffee and tea (bring your own carafe or mug). Sodas and sparkling waters available for $1 each.

Limited to 12 students.

Lunch: We offer a delivered lunch from one restaurant (with limited selections) each day for $20, payable each morning of class. Students are also welcome to bring their own lunch and store in the refrigerator, or take a longer break and drive to Benicia’s First Street, 2 minutes away, for a variety of dining options.

Later Event: October 19
Carol Dalton: Working Small