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de Youngsters Studio: Horizon Line Collage Inspired by Ed Ruscha

Inspired by the painting A Particular Kind of Heaven by Ed Ruscha, this activity invites you to create a simple collage landscape representing an ideal place, focusing on the horizon line. While exploring the landscape’s color and composition, consider including a word or message. This is a common practice of Ruscha, who sometimes refers to the text in his artworks as “accidental poetry.”

Collection Connection

This project connects to the painting A Particular Kind of Heaven (1983) by Ed Ruscha, part of a triptych in the de Young’s permanent collection. Ruscha’s word choice asks those who look at the work to consider what their own ideal place is, which for Ruscha is the California landscape.

Watch How To: Horizon Line Collage inspired

de Youngsters Studio: Horizon Line Collage Inspired by Ed Ruscha

Materials

  • Spare paper
  • Pencil
  • Eraser (optional)
  • 2 different color sheets of paper, each sheet 8 x 10 in. (or painted newspaper cut to size)
  • Small binder clips (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Black paper or cardstock, 11 in. square (or cardboard/brown grocery bag cut to size)
  • Glue stick (or any type of glue)
  • Black and white pencils and/or pens for lettering
  • Alphabet stencil (optional)
  • Alphabet stamp set and ink pad (optional)
de Youngsters Studio: Horizon Line Collage Inspired by Ed Ruscha

Questions to Consider

  • What do you notice about the horizon line in Ruscha’s painting A Particular Kind of Heaven
  • Thinking of your ideal place, how does the horizon line look? Is there a hill or valley, a small house or a large tree? Is the horizon line low, showing lots of sky, or is it high, showing lots of land or sea?
  • Consider what words or message you want to use as you’re making the collage.
de Youngsters Studio: Horizon Line Collage Inspired by Ed Ruscha

Steps

1. Using some spare paper and a pencil, experiment drawing simple horizon lines. Keep in mind this line will ultimately be cut with scissors, so it needs to be simple. 

2. Choose two color rectangles, each of them 8 x 10 in. Think about how different colors make you feel and what fits best for your ideal place. The color choice can be realistic, abstract, or symbolic.

de Youngsters Studio: Horizon Line Collage Inspired by Ed Ruscha

3. Stack the two color rectangles together. Lightly draw the horizon line on the top sheet only. Cut the horizon line through both sheets of paper at the same time; hold the sheets firmly by hand or use binder clips so they don’t shift. (Tip: move the paper, not the scissors, to follow any bumps and dips in the line.)

de Youngsters Studio: Horizon Line Collage Inspired by Ed Ruscha

4. Experiment placing the two different color pieces on the background 11 in. square paper, to see which color you want at the top and the bottom. Vary the placement options, close together or far apart, straight or at an angle. Try matching the cut horizon line like two pieces of a puzzle, or flip one of the pieces over. Stick the two pieces onto your background square using a glue stick (or any available glue) or experiment and stick all four cut color pieces.

de Youngsters Studio: Horizon Line Collage Inspired by Ed Ruscha

5. Consider what word or message to add to your collage, the words could be about the place, or what you feel when you’re in or thinking about that place. Practice writing out the words on some spare paper first and envision their placement and size on the composition. You can use an alphabet stencil, alphabet stamps and ink pad, or write the words by hand. 

6. You can add some simple drawn details such as a building or tree on the horizon line, or you could accentuate your written message by outlining the letters or adding some drop shadows.

Reflect

Imagine you are in your ideal landscape. What feelings does it give you?

What about this place makes it a “particular kind of heaven” to you?

How might you expand on the word or message in your collage to make a longer “accidental poem”? 

Share

Perhaps after making the project and showing your family and friends, you could invite them to contribute their word or message, which you could compile into a community “accidental poem.” We would love to see what you make too. Email pictures of your artwork to families@famsf.org or tag us on any social platform with #deyoungsters.

de Youngsters Studio: Horizon Line Collage Inspired by Ed Ruscha
de Youngsters Studio: Horizon Line Collage Inspired by Ed Ruscha

Image credit: Ed Ruscha, A Particular Kind of Heaven, 1983. Oil on canvas, 90 x 136 in. (228.6 x 345.4 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Mrs. Paul L. Wattis Fund, 2001.85