Copyright Notice

© Copyright 2021 Brenda Swenson retains copyrights to all images (artwork and reference photographs). All images on this site are property of Brenda Swenson and may not be used in any way for commercial, financial or personal use without written consent. Brenda Swenson retains all rights to republication (printed and digital) and anything but personal viewing of artworks.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Sketch Collage: San Juan Capistrano

Do you remember the old movie posters that had multiple images that gave you the highlights of the best scenes? I do. They were beautiful! They were called a montage.

The technique of selecting, editing and piecing together separate scenes of a film to form a continuous whole. I often feel one sketch isn’t enough to capture the feeling of a place. This is when I sketch multiple objects on a page. I call this a "Sketch Collage". These sketches tell a bigger story of what I was seeing and experiencing. The very word "collage" means collection or gathering which is perfect for this approach. It’s not to be confused with a literal collage of torn papers assembled on a page and glued down. The challenge is arranging elements in a way that the page has a flow and balance.

Last weekend we visited San Juan Capistrano Mission. The day was warm and sunny, flowers were blooming and butterflies were flitting about. I wanted my “Sketch Collage” of San Juan Capistrano to feel painterly and less like an illustration, so I used pencil. The whites of the paper move the eye into the scene from the edges of the page.

Tips (not rules)

*Complete a sketch collage in one sitting or add images to a page over a span of time (a day or a week).

*Don't worry about objects being true to size in relation to each other. The poppies are bigger than the tower.

*Variety of sized objects.

*Have objects such as people, signs, road…pointed into the page. I didn’t follow the rule here and the Butterly is pointing out. It’s okay to change things up!

*Have objects overlap each other.

*Use a border around or a box to tie areas together. See how I put the butterfly in a box and used blue from the sky in the box to tie the upper and lower sections together.

Wherever you are…. be safe, healthy and creative!

Happy Easter!


I'm re-entering the workshop world with ample caution. I’m hosting 3 workshops at my STUDIO, May, June & July.  ONLY 3 participants per workshop that are fully vaccinated. If the COVID vaccines goes against your principles, I respect your decision but unfortunately I won’t be able to accommodate you at this time.  website.


  1. Thank you for the tips on how to build a collage. They are lovely and capture the feeling of a place so well. I also appreciate your stand on vaccinations,

  2. Always, you bring gifts of Colorful Joy!
    (I enjoyed your last DVD . . )
    Thank You for All You Do,
    love & love,

  3. Thank you for this wonderful reminder of how to build a collage drawing. I took your class a couple of years ago and have used your techniques, but yours is beautiful and inspiring.

  4. I adore your blog posts (and everything Brenda). The college tips are wonderful. And I am with you...hanging out with vaccinated folks only. I have your books (some out of print now!) and loved my class with you at Dillman's in Wisconsin some years ago. And I have your "artistic license" in my wallet at all times. stop by my blog sometime.

    1. Ginny,
      Nice to see your comment. Keep up the creative life!