Let's Get Your Creative Juices Flowing!!!
This mixed media portrait tutorial was filmed BEFORE I'd even identified the steps in my signature mixed media layering process, let alone named it "The Hamburger System!"
When I watch this full-length tutorial now, I can see many of the Hamburger steps I was using, even then. This fun his and hers art journal spread was painted into an altered book art journal I upcycled from my local thrift shop. To this day that art journal is STILL one of my favorites.
If you're new to mixed media, or struggling with how to layer your art supplies so you create a MASTERPIECE instead of a mess - you need to download my FREE Cheatsheet outlining my signature mixed media layering process, called the Hamburger System.
Simply click the button below, and I'll send it straight to your inbox!
In many of my mixed media canvas and art journal pages, I often love to start with a collage layer, as I explain in my FREE YouTube series breaking down each layer of the Hamburger System. After this - the cheatsheet I HOPE you just downloaded, will make complete sense!!
With today's mixed media project, I felt the need to start with face drawings, instead of collage. I think I was just too excited to dig into this face drawing reference image (below), that I'd found on Pinterest.
I wish I could credit the artist here, but I couldn't find one for this image.
I felt the need to use a dramatic color scheme, so I selected teal, red, yellow and black.
Since I'm working in my altered book, I need to prep my pages with a thin coat of gesso. This will knock back the opacity of the book's original illustrations and make it so I can paint or draw over them more easily.
Once the gesso is dry, I started this face drawing as I do ALL of them - by sketching in my face drawing guidelines. Even if I'm doing stylized, whimsical drawing (not realism), it's still important to sketch in guidelines so the facial features look more proportional.
Do you love drawing and shading faces too? Or maybe you're just learning how to draw faces? CLICK HERE to download my FREE whimsical face drawing guidelines. They're super easy to follow, and will help you draw a simple and proportional forward facing face.
If you're a total beginner with face drawing, you might want to check out this playlist over on my YouTube Drawing channel to practice your face drawing guidelines with me step by step before trying out today's project. The face drawing tutorials in this series are are short, sweet, and perfect for beginners. Here's one of the faces you'll learn how to draw...
Real quick, before we continue - super quick announcement: All product links are Affiliate. I may earn a small commission if you choose to order through these links but by law there is never any additional cost to the consumer for doing so. I thank you for your support.
After my initial sketch for today's project is done, I pull an old flat paint brush out and add a little more gesso along the outer cheekbones and jawline to correct my proportions since I'm working with a pencil that doesn't erase.
Gesso is a bit magical like that in the world of mixed media art! It can give you a fresh start and work like an eraser to hide any little mistake you want.
Be sure whenever you use gesso that you're using an old paint brush because it will totally destroy your brush. I have one that I've designated for myself to use only for gesso. I highly recommend you do the same.
In this particular project, I added an additional thin layer of gesso over my subject's cheeks, nose, forehead and neck to knock back some of the background that was still peeking through from the book's original illustrations.
Next, I applied some acrylic craft paint in ivory as a base skin tone layer all over her face and neck. Since this piece is purely for my own enjoyment in my own personal art journal, and I'm not selling it, etc. - craft grade acrylics are fine for this application.
When I started adding red acrylic paint into the background behind my face drawings, I decided to scrape some onto my journal page for an edgier look using an old credit card! This is a really fast way to cover a lot of ground with your acrylics.
At the time this project was created, I'd just published my How to Draw Fun Fab Fellas book, so you'll also see me working on a guy's face in this mixed media tutorial.
If you're interested in drawing male faces, one of the things you need to watch out for is to go easy on the lips. If you're not careful, these can turn feminine real quick! You also want to be sure to keep the lines in male faces very angular, except for the eyeballs- these are really the only true curves you should see in a male face drawing.
Next, I decided to add some detail work in with my black stabilo all pencil, before I sealed both pages with clear, matte mod podge.
Usually I LOVE how water soluble the black stabilo all pencil is (even though I know it totally freaks some of my students out!!), but today, it muddied the skin tone of my female portrait because I had doodled in stabilo on top of the eyebrows. This was just too dark and dissolved everywhere once the mod podge hit it.
If you're new to my world, you'll quickly learn how relaxed I am about "mixed media mistakes." I think everything is fixable, and encourage my students to ALWAYS keep pushing through on a project.
I ended up adding gesso, more acrylic craft paint (ceramacoat) to save her face, and blending some gelato skin tones on top to do some face shading, and tying things together with my pitt pens and posca pens- "Hamburger" style.
If you've never used creamy gelatos to help you "paint" a variety of skin tones into your face shading, they're amazing and something you've got to try.
This chick totally gave me a run for my money, but I had a blast and am happy with the end result. Be sure you click over to the video to see her unfold in real time.
Thanks for hanging out with me today!
Don't forget to grab my FREE HAMBURGER SYSTEM CHEATSHEET. Once you print it out, join me on YouTube for my Hamburger System Series, and I'll explain everything you need to know about mixed media art supplies, and my simple mixed media layering process!
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I've been IN LOVE with Bryn Nguyen's mixed media portraits since she started posting them in my Facebook Group about 6 months ago! I'm so excited she agreed to do an art journal flip through with us & talk about how she creates these beauties with tombow markers on sheet music!
If you're into sheet music art, or have been looking for fresh mixed media art journal inspiration, altered book ideas, & new ways to sketch or paint mixed media faces - today's video has your name on it!!
Bryn shared that she started this altered book / art journal in a book of violin sheet music she bought at Goodwill for 99 cents!!! I LOVE doing this kind of thing too! It's so pretty to see the music notes peek through your art work. If you haven't tried it yet - you have to!!
Bryn has created a gorgeous style that's all her own and SO unique... you just have to come see for yourself!
While we chatted, she explained that she started this altered book back in March - when we all started hanging at home because of covid. She said she typically begins each page with a thin layer of gesso over the sheet music, then sketches her portraits in using a reference photo.
Bryn uses a combo of painting and shading techniques using tombow markers, copics, micron fineliners, posca pens, india ink, and polychromos to create her beauties, and said each of her mixed media portraits takes a couple of hours to complete.
Just LOOK at this insane masterpiece!!!!!
Bryn was an art minor in college and shared that she's constantly taking art classes, and that's how her style has evolved over time. She said she took a number of face courses a while back that weren't clicking. Then she stumbled onto my Fun Fab Faces books over on Amazon and did my #100FunFabFaces challenge last year. She even did ALL 100 faces!!!! Not many hung in there for the long haul like Bryn. I'm so proud of her, and her dedication shows in her work!!
Bryn also credits Toni Burt (LOVE HER! Everything she does is magical!) for helping her develop a looser style in her work. In addition to Toni, she loves James Burke (ME TOO! Totally "stalk" him and his gorgeous work!).
I'm super lucky to have Bryn as a long time member of BOTH The Fun Fab Drawing Club AND Mixed Media Society. I have to share a quick look at one of the pieces she did in The Fun Fab Drawing Club earlier this year...
FYI - if you're interested in either of my clubs - Bryn has some GREAT ADVICE if you're someone (like us!) who loves BOTH drawing and mixed media, so stay tuned for her thoughts if you've been on the fence yourself!
After you watch Bryn's flip through, make sure you head over to Awesome Art School to sign up for my TWO SUPER FUN challenges beginning on Monday, September 21st!! Here are the links ....
✅ CLICK HERE to SIGN UP for my MIXED MEDIA CHALLENGE
✅ CLICK HERE to SIGN UP for my DRAWING CHALLENGE
Each challenge is going to run for 5 days and kicks off open enrollment for The Fun Fab Drawing Club & Mixed Media Society! SOOOOOO .... if you've been waiting for these clubs to open up - your wait is almost over!!
We're having a blast and hope you come join us!!!!
See ya next week!
"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!"
- Elizabeth W.
What Fans Are Saying
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.