Symbols of Myself Collage

Stevie's "Symbols of Myself" Collage

Just as Frida Kahlo found solace in her art, you, too, may discover that art can provide a means to profound self-knowledge and growth. However, the kind of self-portraits that Frida was capable of producing may be just a little too intimidating (I’m speaking for myself here, okay?), so instead, we’ll focus on making a collage.

If you haven’t already done the Symbols of Myself activity that we posted last week, begin by completing that.

Once you have come up with at least three symbols that represent aspects of yourself, you can start thinking about how you might want to incorporate them into your collage.

As with some of our other activities, the directions for this collage will be pretty loose, because the process itself is pretty loose.


There are really any number of materials you might want to use in your collage. Here are a few ideas (but feel free to add your own):

Something to use as your background or base: a piece of cardboard or foam core or a canvas. Make this fairly large—at least 8” x 10”  (11” x 14” or even larger is probably better)

Paper: Construction paper, origami paper, gift wrap, scrapbooks paper, handmade paper, etc…

Paints, Markers, and More: Watercolor paint, acrylic paint, glitter glue, pastels, crayons, stamps and ink pads, colored markers, etc.

Glue, glue gun, and /or Mod Podge

Assorted collage materials—whatever you have on hand or can find around. Some suggestions include: photographs, illustrations or text cut out of magazines, silk or plastic flowers, tiny toys and miniatures, small pieces of cast-off jewelry, lightweight tin, colored foil, sequins, colored foam decorations, natural items like shells or seed pods. The list could go on and on…


Begin by playing around with your materials–try combining different media and make some samples or smaller components that are not on your collage background. As you become satisfied with the results you’re getting, apply these same techniques to your collage and/or begin incorporating some of your smaller sample swatches into your collage. Remember that the goal is to include at least three of the symbols you came up with earlier to represent aspects of yourself. You may want to do a couple of practice runs with these, in particular, until you come up with something you really love.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Layering materials and images often adds to the richness of the finished piece. Keep at it until you’re satisfied. If you need to start all over, don’t be afraid to do that, either.

Once you have a collage that pleases you, keep it out where you will see it on a daily basis. Don’t hide it away in a closet somewhere. Spring for a nice frame and put it where it will make you smile.

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  1. Thanks Kitty for a wonderful summer project that revealed for me that the sea, the forest, and the beings who call those places home are my soul’s symbols–no wonder I feel a wee bit stressed and challenged by our relentlessly hot Tucson summers! To make peace with these seeming conflicts, I’ve created a small alter of green with my collection of small, ornate cobalt blue glass bottles full of Pacific Ocean water and Yosemite spring water against which I prop photos of me at green & water places, around which I’ve scattered tiny pine cones, moss, dried seaweed, shells, etc. My collage now graces the center of this little place of reverence and reminder. Thanks Kitty! Come on monsoon! Love & Water Blessings, Kaitlin

    Kitty Williams Reply:

    Hi Kaitlin,

    Great to hear from you–I was JUST thinking about you, too!! Glad you enjoyed the activity. I know what you mean about water–the other night it was raining just a bit and I went out and laid down beside my pool just to feel the drops hitting my skin. We desert rats do get to the point that we physically–and emotionally–crave water, don’t we?

  2. stevie mack says:

    Kitty, Thanks for posting my collage. I really enjoyed making it. My focus was on serenity, something many of us seek in our hectic lives. Some of the shapes I enjoy the most in the collage (the egg-like shapes tumbling forward) were created from printed magazine photographs. When you are looking for the papers you want to use, if you focus on the color or texture of the paper (and forget the subject represented) you can discover all kinds a wonderful textures and colors that can add a fresh dimemsion to your work. Clustering and overlapping shapes also helps create a cohesive design. I hope our readers have fun with your posts this week!

    Kitty Williams Reply:

    Thanks Stevie–that’s all great advice. Adding different textures is always fun!