by Debbie Hodge
If you love working with an “explosion” of elements and getting an artsy look, the free form cluster is a page foundation that lends itself to this kind of creativity and variation.
Celeste Smith‘s photo and title work are arranged in “shaped cluster” (i.e., one that resembles a familiar rectangular shape). The brushwork and floral embellishments beneath this grouping transform that predictable shape with soft and organic lines that make this page more delicate and interesting.
The center photo on Krista Sahlin’s page of kids playing on the trampoline jumps up and out of the cluster, supporting the subject well. The layered papers and series of word stickers have the same sharp corners as the photos: corners jut out all over like sharp elbows. A big loopy title along with a button, a flower and a ribbon swirl balance those edges with just enough curve.
The cluster on Emily Pitts’ “Free Flowers” is a grouping of rectangular blocks (the photo, the journaling, and the four parts of the title) along with a couple of circles. While the two layouts we just looked at relied on layering to build a cluster, Emily used almost no layering here, instead combining the elements to create a free-form shape that tells her story. Journaling brackets each side of her title, which results in the title becoming a part of the journaling.
Sara Gleason has “clustered clusters” on “Four,” a page about her daughter at age four that features four of her daughter’s favorite interests. Four circular “interest” circles combine with a square photo and rectangular block of journaling to create a free-form cluster that has a circular flow that keeps the viewer involved in the page — circling around for another look.
Emily Pitts placed handwritten journaling, clouds and a sunburst around woven strips that jut out in unexpected places. The result is an original free-form shape with both curves and corners.
“Target Practice” is a cluster of three photos backed up by several layers of patterned paper. It’s a “heavier” cluster than those we’ve already looked at and takes up much of the canvas space. This design is just a few unaligned edges and extended blocks away from a regularly-shaped rectangular cluster.
Kelly Purkey‘s cluster covers a diagonal swath of her canvas and houses title, journaling, 12 small photos, and 7 pieces of memorabilia from a Las Vegas trip. The memorabilia create the foundation, and the photos are arrange in four clusters.