Making Art Inspired by Life Happening Around You

This mat board collagraph started as a doodle on a scrap piece of paper. You don’t have to look far to find Mat Board Collagraph Printmaking Design ideas. Your own life is full of them.

I’m surrounded by young women with babies, meandering through different chapters of motherhood. It’s fascinating and nostalgic to watch little families grow and transform with the addition of wiggly beings.  

We make art from the happenings around us, and it documents our lives in a beautiful way. What’s in your life this season that informs and enhances your art-making?

Scrap paper doodle that became a tiny collagraph
One of my favorite tools for cutting matboard collagraphs – a retractable, micro-blade, swivel head exacto knife. Great for tiny details.
Scrap mat board and Liquitex Gloss Medium: a marriage made in heaven for creating collagraph prints
Carving the uppermost layer from the back of mat board to create recessed, very shallow lines that will hold ink to print a collagraph plate
After sealing the plate, applying different colors using a inking dauber made from rolled crafting felt and masking tape
After wiping the ink from the uppermost surface, buffing more of it away with newsprint. The ink embedded in the recessed lines cut into the mat board will print this design when pressed against printmaking paper.
Pulling a collagraph print from a mat board plate after a trip through the press
Edition of five freshly printed prints, hanging to dry in my studio (the drying rack is made from one unit of closet maid shelving)
After the ink is dry, I can add other pigments to the collagraphs. In this example, watercolor is painted into the design to add color and values.

Collagraph Plate and Print Video Instructions

If you’re interested in learning more about making a collagraph print from mat board, here’s a link to a playlist of youtube videos on my channel.

You’ll find a variety of carving and inking demos there, and every tutorial has a “show more” link under the video-window to expand a description area that’s full of links to supplies needed for each project.

As always, you can come back here and leave any questions you have in the comments. They are often helpful to other printmakers wondering the same things.

Fueling the day with coffee and list-making

An Interesting Read on Living the Artist’s Life

Cynthia Morris went on a two month trip to Paris to live the artist’s life. Doesn’t that sound delicious?

And what exactly does that “artist’s life” part mean?

Her post outlining the shifts from work-related screen time, to real life watching and sketching, is wonderful. Read about insights she gained from offering instruction, absorbing inspiration, and then switching from a mode of serving others to making things for herself.

Another collagraph print – this time – featuring a Great Dane in the garden. (My neighbor’s dog.)

Making More Art in Your Life

It’s inspirational to design an artist-life experiment for yourself. Pick a start-date, and plot a course on your calendar (with friends for accountability). Concoct a few creative experiments of your own this season. If you don’t have the wherewithal to get to Paris, meet in a friend’s garden instead, or on someone’s front porch, or in a cafe to sketch your surroundings.

A black and white collagraph print
Collagraph prints drying in the studio. This one is featured in a tutorial video about wiping single color collagraph prints for best results using a value scale.

Spend As Much Time Connecting to People as You Do Connecting to WIFI

Yesterday, I went to my neighbor’s 100th birthday party. It’s quite a contrast from the young women with babies in other parts of my life. Nancy is tiny-but-mighty. I’ve only known her for two of her hundred years on this planet, but she feels like family to me.

On good days at dusk, she enjoys the ocean view from her driveway, and treats herself to a little glass of Attitude Adjustment (see photo below).

She’s lived all over the world as a military spouse, lost two husbands, raised four children, and her sense of humor is infectious.

making a mat board collagraph
Using pencil and an xacto knife to make a figurative collagraph plate.

Quit Saying I’ll Make Art Later

I asked my neighbor what she thought about turning 100.

She said “It goes by fast, so you better not miss it.” I’m taking that to heart today.

The planet continues spinning around the sun, and every hour frittered away on stuff that doesn’t matter could have been spent making art.

There’s so much art to make, so much to feel and so much to share.

We’d better get to it, don’t you think?

Thanks for visiting, and I’ll see you in the next post!


having a cocktail with my friend Nancy Dressler
Clinking our glasses together in the garage for a Happy Life toast. Me and my 100 year old neighbor, Nancy Dressler during Driveway Happy Hour.

Art Quote

Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy…. this book… is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.

Stephen King: On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft
Mama’s Day 4.5 x 3.25 Collagraph with watercolor (Available here)

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4 thoughts on “Mat Board Collagraph Printmaking Design Ideas”

  1. Catherine Sugrue

    Belinda just trying cola graph mat board printing of my niece who just had a baby and would like to try watercolour on the print afterwards what mix of paint would you use for skin tone

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