I don’t know about you, but during this stressful time I struggle to focus and my mind wanders more easily. To manage this, I’ve been using the art-making process of creating a mosaic collage out of old magazines, calendar pages, and advertisements.

This art project involves ripping or cutting colorful paper into small pieces. Then I glue them onto a canvas, board, or thick paper to create a colorful mosaic collage.

The physical action of ripping or cutting paper can help us release stress, but we don’t stop there. When composing a pleasing image, we need to slow down as we make selections from our various pieces of paper. During the collage process, we make design decisions which help us to focus. It soothes and calms us as we apply glue to the back of each piece and build our collage design, one piece at a time.

This activity also helps us make a shift in how we view the things around us. We now might look at a magazine page or advertisement as art materials and not junk mail, for instance. Learning to shift our view through the art-making process can make it easier for us to look at our lives from a fresh perspective as well.

Art Activity: Getting Started

Your mosaic collage design can be whatever you want: a landscape, flower, abstract image, or even a portrait made from various images of eyes, lips and hair. This is also a good art project for students. You can use it to practice color theory, compare patterns, and learn shapes.

Gather materials:

  • Old magazines, advertisements, calendars and even old artwork
  • Scissors (optional)
  • Glue stick or bottled glue
  • Canvas, board, or paper (paper bags also work well)
  • Muffin tin or containers for sorting (optional)
  • Damp rag or paper towel for wiping fingers

Preparing Your Materials

  1. Look at the collected items for color and pattern. Then use what you see to help you decide on your design.
colorful printed materials for art activity
Old magazines & flyers work well

2. Tear or cut pages into approximately 1” size pieces. You decide if you want the pieces to be bigger or smaller, and they can be whatever shape you want. I find that squares are the easiest to cut out quickly.

Square mosaic collage pieces ready for art activity
Cut colorful paper into squares

3. Sort the pieces by color, pattern, and maybe words. A muffin tin works well for this. For instance, place separate colors, leaf patterns, and flowers in different sections. This will make it easier to select your pieces when you are creating your design.

Muffin tin with sorted mosaic collage pieces
Use muffin tins to sort paper by color or pattern

4. Place your sheet of paper on the table in front of you. Set out your glue and a damp rag for wiping your fingers next to it. Place the muffin tin so you can easily see all the pieces.

Create Your Mosaic Collage

5. Decide what image you want to create. Do you want to make a self-portrait, or a landscape scene, or a bright colorful flower? You could even choose a famous art piece and recreate it with your mosaic pieces. It can be silly and wacky or soothing and calm. You get to decide what you want this to be.

6. Start by laying out a few pieces and arrange them until you are satisfied. Take time to play with your layout. Have fun!

7. Glue these pieces down before adding more.

Mosaic collage by Lisa Lounsbury
Mosaic collage example by Lisa Lounsbury

8. Keep adding pieces and gluing them down. You get to decide when your piece is finished!

9. Set your new artwork aside to dry and don’t forget to clean up!

Congratulations! You turned trash into treasure. Well done. Now, share your picture with family and friends and invite them to make one of their own!

– Lisa Lounsbury, MA, LMFT, ATR-BC, Executive Director of Art Lab Rx, LLC

Art Lab Rx, LLC
1613 99th Lane NE
Blaine, MN 55449

Phone: 612-226-5472

Art Lab Rx, LLC was created in 2015 by Lisa M. Lounsbury. Art Lab Rx is a registered trademark. © 2023 Art Lab Rx. All rights reserved.   Artwork on this site was created by Lisa M. Lounsbury unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.