Let's Get Your Creative Juices Flowing!!!
Creating a mixed media collage background is SO MUCH FUN and happens to be the first layer of my signature mixed media process called the Hamburger System.
Recently I received an email from a viewer asking me WHAT materials work best for collage backgrounds. I have hundreds of ideas, but here are my TOP 20 FAVORITES to use on canvas OR in my mixed media art journals!
Do you love collage or have always wanted to try it in your art, but aren't quite sure how to do it without making a HOT MESS? You need my FREE Hamburger System cheatsheet.
If you're new to mixed media, collage, art journaling, mixed media on canvas - any or ALL of it, my Hamburger System is gonna rock your art world! You'll learn my tried and true process of how to create a mixed media MASTERPIECE every time. It's simple, step-by-step, tells ya exactly WHICH supplies you need, and did I mention it's SO MUCH FUN?!
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My Hamburger System series on YouTube has been watched by over 140,000 people and even became a book, available on Amazon.
I LOVE starting my mixed media canvases and mixed media art journal pages with a layer of collage! There's something so simple and relaxing about this process that connects me with my inner child. It's honestly pretty brainless and kinda serves as an art warmup to get my head into a creative space.
Collage is also one of the BEST things to do to bust through creative block whenever it strikes (and trust me- it hits ALL of us).
Here are my TOP TEN favorite mixed media collage materials. Make sure you scroll down and watch the video to see TEN MORE ideas and watch a super fast mixed media collage tutorial I think you're gonna love!!
I LOVE a good scrapbook paper pad. This is the perfect collage material for people who have a hard time picking papers that go together and those who might be in a hurry or feeling lazy who just wanna grab and go!
With scrapbook paper, the work has already been done for you because EVERYTHING in the scrapbook paper pad only features colors and patterns that go together. All YOU have to do is pull out your favorites and start ripping.
Scapbook paper even tells you exactly what color paints to use for your acrylic layer! It's awesome :)
Make sure you click over to the video to see the mixed media collage examples I show you of how I incorporated scrapbook paper into BOTH the background and foreground of a mixed media portrait on canvas.
Phone Book Pages
This adorable mixed media fox painting was originally done on an upcycled record jacket I found in a thrift shop. I used the record jacket as my canvas. If you look closely at the pillow I had made of this canvas, you'll see some type in the background. Those are just phone book pages! So simple, right?!
Sheet music collage is a favorite of mine, super cheap, and beautiful to use in both the background and foreground of your mixed media art.
You can either turn an old book of sheet music from a thrift shop into an altered book art journal or rip old sheet music into collage pieces like I did below.
Isn't it beautiful how the music notes peak through the skin tones in the painting?
If you wanna create the piece above with me, it's one of the projects in my Mixed Media Magic book over on Amazon. Check it out!!
I LOVE a vintage dictionary! The really old ones have a yellow tone to them and rip SO easily for collage. They also have a distressed look to them already because they're old. I think these are fun to have peaking through the background in a mixed media face, or to use strictly in the background. Your options and endless (and SO CHEAP) here!
This art deco mixed media portrait project is available at Awesome Art School as a stand-alone project if you'd like to create along with me!
Lots of people don't even think of masking tape as a collage element, but it's weirdly a perfect surface to art upon and creates a lovely texture to your art. It also accepts gesso, acrylic paint, and all the mediums you would typically reach for to create mixed-media art.
Look closely at the piece below and you'll see some subtle, horizontal lines from my masking tape collage layer.
You can totally use TRASH as a mixed media collage element. Hilarious, right?! I've enjoyed using beer bottle labels (I love to collect these when I travel), foil candy wrappers (shown below), discarded tissue paper from a gift, you name it!
See this project being made in my cereal box art journal or create along with me.
I once found this pretty fabric with an adhesive backing to it that peeled off like a giant sticker. I used that to create the background of this fun Bathtub Babe in my cereal box journal. Don't be afraid to think outside the box with the collage elements you choose!
Washi tape is SO fun to use in mixed media collage. I love how there are SO many fun colors, patterns and thicknesses of washi tape. I use it a lot like how I use scrapbook paper. Sometimes it's strictly in the background. Other times I've used washi tape in the foreground as hair or clothing (like the tutu below) and it looks SO awesome!
Washi tape doesn't always adhere the best, so you'll want to go over it with a sealant to keep it in place.
Maps are becoming SO old school now, but they can be such a fun way to create an art piece based on a place you visited or want to visit. In this one, I have elements from a map of Inverness, covered them in gesso, and went to town.
You may not even know this, but duct tape comes in SO many fun patterns now!! I've used this kinda like I use washi tape- in the background or foreground.
In this Mixed Media Retro Girl project, I carved out my entire girl so I could use this fun camper duct tape for her clothes, shoes and hair. So cute, right?!
Just a quick warning on using duct tape as a mixed media collage element - it's super glossy, so can be tricky to paint on top of. Just make sure you seal it so the paint doesn't peal off when you're done.
This is only HALF my list!!
Make sure you click over to watch today's video to find out what my other TEN mixed media collage elements are. I KNOW there are some you haven't considered yet and just might love!!
Need more resources to get your creative juices flowing?
❤️ CHECK OUT ALL my art books on AMAZON
❤️ CHECK OUT ALL my online art classes @ Awesome Art School
❤️ MY FAVORITE ART SUPPLIES on AMAZON (affiliate links)
❤️ MY BELOVED FACEBOOK GROUP
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Founder of Awesome Art School. Mixed Media Artist. Author of 18 Instructional Art Books!
"Karen is flipping hilarious and she's very real...I like the way she teaches in a way that really gives you confidence, whether you're a beginner or advanced there's always something new to learn!"
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Karen, you are absolutely fabulous! You make me feel like I can draw anything. I have recently retired and finally have the time to do some of the art that I have loved since I was in school. I am really at the beginning of my art journey and I hope to learn as much as I can. Thank you for all you do.