Films to Photomontage: Using Color, Tones & Textures To Create Cinematic Narratives

This is a specially curated series in collaboration with two VAWAA artists – fine artist Clarissa from United States and collage/ photomontage artist Annette from Greece. For three consecutive Sundays, from May 24 to June 7, we’ll learn how to tell our own visual story, through the combined lens of film, photomontage and art history.

Each session will last 90 minutes. In first two sessions, we’ll look into the use of color, tones, textures, depth of field that help create subtle visual cues and emotional arc to support the narrative of the film. When we consider one still image, it contains the same structural elements germane to photomontage, collage, or painting. There are differences in method, and language, perhaps, but both are united in the goal of telling a visual story. We can look to one as a resource for the other. This relationship is varied and fascinating. In final session, we’ll learn how to apply these elements to create your own visual story through a cinematic photomontage.

You can sign up for an individual session for $25 or the full series for $70.

Please note that VAWAA Online Pass can only be used towards individual sessions.

Joining us from a different time zone? Be sure to convert the time.


Session 1: Symbolic Use of Color in Film
May 24 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM EDT
Led by Clarissa

Color is used both overtly as well as in a subliminal way to convey certain aspects of the story or the scene - through subtle visual cues to represent a character's emotional arc, to create a visual world that embodies the thrust of the scene or the larger story, to present a psychological portrait or in visual messaging that supports the themes of the story.

We'll discuss the broader subject of color symbolism and color psychology through cultural, religious, art historical and pop cultural references and comparisons. Continuing the examination of film stills with works of art for comparison, we'll see the correlative relationship between certain film genres and paintings genres throughout art history.

We'll look at films and productions by Sam Mendes, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Baz Luhrman, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorcese, Michel Gondry, Sofia Coppola, Tim Burton, Richard Gilligan and Peyton Reed.

Session 2: Understanding Tone & Textures Through Film
May 31 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM EDT
Led by Clarissa

What contributes to the tone of a film? What are the stealth cues that create the mood and atmosphere? Besides composition, visual cues, symbolic use of color, there are other, more photographic elements that play a part in creating the universe in a narrative. Space, color temperature, and depth of field are all cinematographic elements that change how we perceive the scene in front of us, and tools that subtly direct our emotional responses to what we're viewing.

In this segment, we'll examine these photographic and tonal elements in several different productions and how they create an environment, and build a rich textural world. These are all translatable to other forms of art-making and will help to develop the choices in how best to create an impactful environment in your visual narrative.

We'll look at films and productions by Steven Knight, Andrew Dominick, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, Audrey Wells, Baz Luhrman, Sofia Coppola, Joe Wright and Matthew Weiner.

Session 3: How to Use Color, Tone & Textures to Create Cinematic Photomontages
June 7 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM EDT
Led by Annette

What makes for a convincing photo montage? How can you consciously use color or depth of field in your own photo-montage to create a specific atmosphere and subtly direct the emotional response of the viewer? We’ll analyze photo-montages of Martha Rosler, Sean Hillen, Louise Erhard and Annette Luycx, to see how they combined photos into a convincing visual narrative. We will look at the techniques of composition and perspective they use to initiate you into the practice of photo-montage: letting the disparate photographic elements meld seamlessly to create a sense of magic realism.

Then we’ll learn how to create our own cinematic reality that uses space, color, temperature and depth of field in a photo montage.

Joining us from a different time zone? Be sure to convert the time.

What you'll need

Session 1 & 2: Feel free to bring images of film-stills to share and discuss.

Session 3:
- Cut-out photos from photographs and magazine clippings of a person you like (whole body or just face), a landscape or room with filmic atmosphere, maybe a wall or window cut out from another photo, trees and any other part of a photo you like!
- scissors
- UHU stick glue
- paper or cardboard to use as background

How to join

We'll be hosting this VAWAA Online on Zoom. We'll send the link and details to join via email a few hours before each session begins.

About Clarissa

Clarissa is a fine artist with a background of almost twenty years working in the film industry as a scenic artist. She studied film and fine arts in art school, university, and through many studios around New York, as well as having been a lifelong film buff. Her paintings are largely inspired by cinematography, photography and other issues of filmmaking, which led her to develop this series, which examines all the ways that elements of film pertain to painting - composition, visual cues, symbolic use of color, lighting/value.

Clarissa’s work embodies the same spirit of visual storytelling, and she loves nothing more than talking about film and pop culture and how it relates to art history.

Visit her artist page to learn more about her in-person VAWAA.

About Annette

Annette is a collage and photomontage artist based in Athens beautiful countryside. Trained in prestigious art schools in United States, France, Austria and Greece, she has been focusing on collage, photomontage and mixed media for three decades. Led by a passion for theatre and the human soul, her photo montages look like "film stills" of human relationships and made with scissors, glue, found photographs or photographs taken by her. She creates collage portraits that are deconstructions of familiar everyday faces, to shed light into the sinews of their being. She strives to merge fantasy and reality in each composition that lead us to the dreamland of human emotions. Dostoyevsky, Ibsen, Bergman and Hitchcock inspire her, including collage artists like Hannah Hoch, Max Ernst, Martha Rosler and John Stezaker.

Visit her artist page to learn more about her in-person VAWAA.


"This is the kind of learning experience you never want to end. Clarissa is a knowledgable, experienced and inspiring teacher. You can't help but have fun while you're learning. I highly recommend her classes!" - Joyce

"This lecture was fantastic! Clarissa draws visual comparisons between master and contemporary paintings,  and classic film compositions by iconic directors. Fascinating subject presented by a delightful and knowledgeable artist who clearly loves her subject." - Jennifer

"Thoroughly enjoyed. Inspiring. Look forward to more sessions. Well done." - Lisa

"I’ll just say this- working with Annette left me hungry to know more." - Colleen

"Annette's passion for collage and human discovery shine brightly. I loved the format of the entire workshop. Thank you for an insightful two hours of creative expression!" - Christina

"This was a delightful hands-on experience which allows us to tap into our inner selves and try to express what we find. Annette is an excellent teacher and clearly knows what she’s doing." - A.

Sessions are ticketed to support artists, makers and our small team. If you’re experiencing financial hardship, please reach out. We may have a generous participant who has paid it forward and would ask that you pay the love forward by sharing online sessions with 3 new friends.