Let's Get Your Creative Juices Flowing!!!
Mixed media collage backgrounds with tissue paper are EASY to create and can add gorgeous texture to your mixed media art journal. Today’s video is a 45 minute, FULL LENGTH mixed media project, so if you love collage mixed media art & mixed media tutorials - this is for YOU!
I know what you’re thinking about collaging art journal backgrounds with tissue paper ... those WRINKLES, those BUBBLES, or worse yet - the rips!! Don’t worry - I've got collage techniques that will make your thin tissue paper BEHAVE so the texture of your collage background can PEEK through your mixed media portrait, without taking over your whole art journal page!
To get some inspiration flowing for this project, I flipped back through one of my favorite art journals of all time.
I discovered every single page had started with collage! I don't think I even knew that before!!
For me, collage is something I naturally gravitate to - to start a project. It's like a mindless art warmup. It sets the color scheme for my project, gives me a second to breathe and takes me to my creative happy place!!
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!
Like I often do, today, I'm working in my Strathmore Watercolor Journal because every single page of this sucker can really take a beating! This is my 4th one THIS YEAR!! I use them for drawing, watercolor, ink, juicy mixed media layering- this paper can take ALL of it.
I found this little scrap pack pictured above, and decided to use these cute little tissue paper squares to get going on today's art journal page background. Shockingly, I chose to line them up a bit methodically. If you've been hanging out with me for a while, you know this is SO NOT ME, and I can see you laughing right now at how much this challenges me!
When I do collage - no matter what material I'm working with- I spread out my pieces fairly evenly and "take turns" alternating colors and patterns, to spread the love!
Tissue paper is REALLY porous, so it's fantastic for collage because the adhesive really soaks in.
I'm using matte medium for my adhesive- for SO many reasons. I know I can sound like a broken record here - but it's so awesome for mixed media collage -especially if you plan to paint with acrylics on top, or even think you might go that route.
If you're a mod podge fan (like me!), don't worry - I have plenty of times I reach for that as well, just not usually for my first layer. If you haven't seen my video about how to know when to use Mod Podge vs Matte Medium - it's super helpful!
Now...onto today's mixed media background with tissue paper! If you've done tissue paper collage and had any issues in the past, I HEAR YOU! It's super easy to get not only WRINKLES, but bubbles. You definitely don't want bubbles because those can pop and leave a hole in your piece.
If you've experienced tissue paper ripping in the past while you're collaging art backgrounds in your art journals or on mixed media canvases - I've got some tricks up my sleeve for YOU!
My BIGGEST SECRET is actually so simple...
Use a TON of adhesive. That's it! Seriously!!
I've got so many students and artsty friends who use their products sparingly. This is one you DON'T want to be precious with ;)
If you want to make an AWESOME mixed media collage background (and that's what we want, or why are we doing this?!), you need to use a TON of product. In this case- matte medium- both under AND over your collage chunks!
If you're new to mixed media - you'll soon find out, it's equally as much about creative problem solving as it is about planning and execution.
I'm ALWAYS running into issue I need to solve, and today is no exception.
Take a look at this....
I know the pic is a little fuzzy, but you can TOTALLY see there are fibers from my tissue paper scraps hanging off the edge of my foam brush. EWWWW!
I had NO idea that was gonna happen. But I was already in it to win it.
I kept going and tried to use this time to think about how I could intentionally work WITH the fibers or bury them!
I know things always have a way of working out, so didn't stress. When these happen to you (AND THEY WILL!) just keep your confidence up, learn to pivot, and go with the flow! A solution will present itself to you.
While I was thinking about these crazy tissue paper fibers, I started thinking about the other types of tissue paper I could've used including my favorite Tim Holtz collage tissue paper. Suddenly, I had a solution.
I tried a few different sheets of tissue paper from my Tim Holtz stash and ended up using my absolute favorite style that I have from him with the music notes and butterflies.
I actually like to glue this down as one whole sheet. There is a little bit of an art to this- so be sure you watch the video if this is something you want to try with your own tissue paper art.
The same as before. Use MORE matte medium. Underneath AND on top. In this case - more is better!
Seriously... check out how much matte medium I'm glopping onto my art journal page right now for my BOTTOM layer! You want it to be SOAKING wet.
If you're getting wrinkles, and bubble especially - you're not using enough product. It's kind of like wallpaper.
Once you work your sheet down, it's time for a massage.
Work out the bubbles that appear from your bottom layer of matte medium, and become one with your art piece for a few minutes! Use your fingers to spread out each bubble - and work your way across the page until they're gone.
I put SO much adhesive down that while I'm massaging my bubbles down, the glue is rising up through my paper. That's a good thing!
You have a little window of time to do the smoothing out. Once it's drying - you just can't move it anymore. It will rip.
I had a student ask me the other day how long she needs to wait for her matte medium to dry before moving on to the next layer. My answer to that is - I never wait!! LOL.
I just grab my hair dryer and let it blow until my collage feels dry when I touch it. I use a hair dryer instead of a heat gun because I feel like the air flow makes the drying process go faster. Sometimes heat from a heat gun can be too intense, and can even be damaging to certain products.
So for me - I'm all about the hair dryer- it's fast, safe, and effective.
I decided to use my face template that I made ages ago to draw a face over my fun new background! The easiest way to use the template is to grab a sheet of graphite transfer paper, lay it dark side down, and put the face on top. Then just trace over my lines of the face I drew for you with your pencil.
The drawing will show up on your collage background. Awesome right?!
If you're new to drawing or don't love drawing faces, but want to try playing around with one in your own art journal? Please feel free to download my face shape template!
I decided to lay down a little gesso in the face shape area before doing the full transfer of the facial features in my template because I had a lot going on in my collage and it was too hard to see my transfer lines. I love using gesso INSTEAD of white acrylic paint for something like this because there is a level of transparency with gesso, and I will still be able to see the collage peeking through the face I create.
Once my gesso was dry, I grabbed my all time favorite -stabilo all pencil and started drawing!
If you're new to using a stabilo - be forewarned that these are SUPER reactive! I love that effect, but it tends to freak out many of my students. It WILL react to water, gesso, matte medium, mod podge, paint- whatever you throw at it.
Since I'm using matte medium to activate today- it actually "freezes" whatever I do here in place.
I drew in a quick bun and drug a little matte medium through this area, then worked some of the leftover gray on my paintbrush into the face as shading.
I thought about leaving her black and white, but decided to smudge some gelatos in to add a bit of color.
Remember each time you add a color - you want to repeat it somewhere. You should also always look to the colors in your background for inspiration. These become your color palette. Each time you repeat your background colors- you unify your piece. Take a look at how she pops when I add a touch of blue to her eyes...
After I sealed this layer with more matte medium, I pulled out my pentel pocket brush to doodle some details like eyelashes, etc. Then I decided her lips needed to be redder, so pulled out some acrylics. I loved the way that looked so kept going - adding a touch of blue to her eyes, and a bit of yellow to the butterfly at her neck.
Cute, right?! I hope you enjoyed today's tutorial!! I sure did!! Super easy, and a FUN, artistic release!!
See ya on Monday for the next Whimsical Women of the World drawing tutorial over on my Drawing Channel!!
I LOVE creating mixed media collage backgrounds using vintage book pages! They're EASY to create, and SUPER CHEAP because you can upcycle old books from your local thrift shop for next to nothing. Today’s video is another FULL LENGTH project, so if you love collage mixed media art & mixed media tutorials - this is for YOU!
What inspires you with creative ideas for your art projects? I'm often inspired by objects in my environment!
Today's project all got started with a glance at my 1950s record player that hangs out in the corner next to my studio. See it there to the right over my shoulder?
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!
From the record player, my thoughts wandered to my collection of vintage books reserved for collaging mixed media backgrounds!
I totally LOVE thrift store shopping and digging around in used book stores in search of vintage dictionaries, old ledgers, magazines, books of sheet music, and books written in different languages! I find these pages look AMAZING in the background of my mixed media art - just peeking through whatever I paint or draw on top!!
When you're looking through this stuff for your own collage art - just bring home the ones that have pages with a super matte finish. These are the BEST for collage. The pages in these old books are super fragile and easy to rip. They're also really porous, which means they're gonna soak up whatever adhesive you want to throw at them!
Some people might be horrified by me tearing up old book pages, but I don't feel bad because I'm breathing NEW LIFE into them by collaging art backgrounds! Plus, I only upcycle books and magazines that are in really bad shape- without a cover, with missing pages- stuff that is mostly garbage to other people.
Your supplies for today's mixed media project are all pictured above. I'm working on wood canvas because I LOVE a hard surface when I'm doing collage art. A regular canvas has some "spring" to it, and that's not what I need here - I need a stable, sturdy surface that I don't have to be precious with.
I've also got my liquitex matte medium, my distress stains, stamps, a vintage magazine to upcycle as my collage paper, and my How to Draw Art Deco Style books out because I need a little more inspiration and direction regarding where I want this project to go!
I'm feeling the need for something sparkly, but don't know what it is yet, so plan to flip through the section on sketching jewelry.
Before I do that, I rip some chunks out of my vintage magazine. I feel like the sections with images are going to be too distracting, so steer clear of those parts. I also love using the CORNERS of these pages because then I have some nice hard lines to line up along the edges of my wood canvas.
Make sure you're using tons of matte medium under and on top of the chunks you're gluing down. If you don't use an "uncomfortable amount of product," this is how bubbles and wrinkles appear in your collage. Sometimes that effect is fun, and it's a personal preference too. Some people love that look, others don't. Using lots of adhesive under and over the collage paper is just one of MY TRICKS to keep the background as smooth and wrinkle free as possible while still showing a bit of texture.
Wondering WHY I'm using matte medium instead of mod podge? TONS of students ask me this all the time, so if you're new to me be sure to check this reference out!!
If I don't have a clear plan as to where a project is going (which I totally don't right now!!), I reach for matte medium as my adhesive because it's strong and specifically formulated to work with acrylic paint. Since I often paint with acrylics over my collage backgrounds, matte medium is my go to.
As I continue getting my collage layer together, I begin thinking I might like doing some painting with fountain pen inks on top. Since these perform much like watercolor, I decide to pull out my absorbent ground to add a thin coat of this in the center of my collage. Absorbent ground preps any surface that isn't watercolor paper to accept watercolor or fountain pen inks. It's SO magical!!
If you're not in the mood for watercolor or inks [SPOILER - OR if you watched the video already and saw I didn't actually end up using watercolor OR inks!!] - skip the absorbent ground and grab your gesso instead.
All we want to do is add a thin layer of white to the center of our collage so we kick all those words into the background. We still want to be able to see them, so if you're following along, keep your layer transparent. You just want to be able to work ON TOP of the words and bring whatever becomes your subject into the foreground.
Once I'm finished adding a thin layer of absorbent ground to my wood canvas, I use my hair dryer to get the area completely dry. Next, I move on to the stamp portion of the project because I'm in the mood to add a quote!!
While I'm thinking about sparkle, I suddenly get the idea to add ACTUAL BLING to my project, and feel as if I'm 5 years old again. LOL!
I taught kids FOREVER and have a TON of leftover supplies like these craft gems, pictured below. Some of them have adhesive backs. The big ones need a glue gun. I have THE BEST TIME sifting through the gems and working out a color scheme in my mind. In no time, I'm on a roll, and moving on...
By the way, if you haven't thought of this already, this is THE PERFECT ART PROJECT to do with a daughter or GRANDDAUGHTER!! Can't you just see her eyes lighting up as she hunts for the perfect gem for her canvas?!
I LOVE IT!!
After I stamp out the bulk of my text, I play around positioning my main gem, then start drawing in a winding chain so it looks like the necklace is casually lying on my wood canvas.
Then I pencil in the main word from my quote... SPARKLE, and add even more tiny craft gems along my chain for added interest.
You can use whatever you want to add detail in the chain and to the words of your quote. Paint pens and pitt pens would be great!
I end up falling in love with the look of a gold paint pen and keep that up throughout my piece for chain detail and to highlight the main word of my quote.
How CUTE is that?!
I used my distress ink stamp pads along the edges and borders to give the piece a bit more of a vintage-y feel and think it adds a fun frame.
My finishing touch is to run my blending stump under the chain line of the necklace to give it a little shadow and depth.
So love it, and so know exactly who I'm giving this to!!
I hope you have as much fun doing this project as I did!! Be sure to share your work in our Facebook Group. I'd LOVE to see what you created!!
Thanks for watching!! See ya next week!!!
This project is SO FUN!!
If you were with me on YouTube the last couples of weeks - this project is similar - another decoupage / collage project, AND it's easy enough to share with an artsy little one in your life if you want to - OR to gift to that special little one for his/her bedroom walls (if you can bear to part with him!!).
SUPPLY LIST for THIS no draw Mixed Media Collage PROJECT:
Once you've gathered your supplies, CLICK HERE to meet me on YouTube for this mixed media tutorial!
The first thing we're gonna do is cover your entire art journal page or mixed media canvas with two complete layers of acrylic paint! I know you'll probably think one layer should do it- but trust me ;) I've got you!
Apply one juicy coat of acrylic horizontally, dry it, then apply a second juicy coat of acrylic vertically. This will ensure you've covered every inch of your canvas, so when it dries- no teensy white space will be poking through!
While you're waiting for the second layer of background paint to dry, let's move on to your puppy!
Grab you sheet of transfer paper and one of your sheets of scrapbooking paper. Lay the scrapbook paper face down, then lay your transfer paper face down on top of that. Finally, stick your puppy template printout on top. Finally, just trace the outlines of the puppy FACE and BODY from the template with a sharp pen or pencil and the design will totally transfer onto the back of your scrapbook paper!
It's EXTRA cute if you trace the puppy ear and/or tail onto your second sheet of scrapbook paper ;) Or - use a different sheet of scrapbook paper for each body part!! That would be adorable too - do whatever YOU think will be cutest!!
When all of the body parts have been outlined and transferred to scrapbook paper, simply cut the pieces. If you have a favorite punch - use that to cut out some additional scrapbook paper decorations in the background. Then it's time for mod podge!!
Slather a thick layer of mod podge where you want your puppy to sit on the canvas and set him down gently. Next cover him on top with a thick layer of mod podge, and just keep going- allllll over your canvas! Even if you're using matte mod podge- there will be the teeniest bit of sheen in the areas of your canvas WITH mod podge- so just cover the entire canvas at this point so everything looks uniform.
As you're slathering that top layer of mod podge... lay down the puppy ear (and tail if you chose to cut that out separately) and any background decorations you may have punched out (in my case- they're flowers). Be sure to fling that puppy's cute little ear in whatever direction you want to add a little extra personality to your piece!! Remember to layer even MORE mod podge on top of the ear and background decorations so everything has mod podge under AND on top of it. The more mod podge you use, the fewer wrinkles you'll have in any of the scrapbook paper you lay down.
Once you have your mod podge over the top of your entire piece, hit it with the hair dryer (if you have zero patience like me!!) LOL!!! Then go ahead and add a button eye, nose, and center to your flowers (if you added those to the background). A dab of hot glue works great to glue those buttons down.
Isn't he SOOOO CUTE?!!!
I hope you have as much FUN making him as I did!!!
See ya next week ;)
I'm not gonna lie, today's project started off as a HOT MESS CANVAS. I fought with my mixed media collage background WAY longer than I thought I would. I've had this happen WAY too many times in my journey with mixed media art to give up. I chose to push through what I call the "ugly phase," & I'm SO glad I did!!
If you were with me last week- we did a very similar NO DRAW, decoupage collage project using scrapbook paper, wood canvas & the same female body template :) I loved doing that so much, I thought we'd do her one more time in a totally different way!
Here is your supply list for today's mixed media art tutorial:
As you'll see in the tutorial, if you choose to work with a wood canvas or wood panel, this material will TOTALLY soak up your matte medium, mod podge, and acrylic paint - just like a sponge! Luckily I knew that going in, and reached for my Weldbond glue to get my scrapbook pieces onto my wood.
Even so - I ran into issues, soon after. I used WAY more paint & covered more of my cute scrapbooking paper than I had intended.
Y I K E S !!!!!!
Instead of giving up- I reached for my stencils and stamps to help me, and KEPT GOING!!!
When you've got your background to a place where you're happy... it's move on to your girl!
You'll need your sheet of transfer paper, a sheet of trace paper , 1-2 sheets of scrapbook paper for your girl's clothes, a separate sheet of scrapbooking paper (or sheet music, etc.) for the girl's body, and a printout of my body template.
We'll start with the sheet of paper you want to use for the girl's body. Lay that sheet face down on your art table, then lay the transfer paper dark side down on top of that, and my body template printout over that. Use a sharp pencil or pen to trace the body template.
When you're done, you'll see her on the back of your scrapbook paper- all ready to be cut out ;)
At this point, it's time to create some clothes. Lay your girl cutout right side up on your art table. Then lay a sheet of trace paper on top of that. Using a pencil, simply draw an outfit right onto your trace paper. We're basically making a pattern for her clothes! If this part of the video goes too fast, you can click on this video from last week to see me working in real time on this step.
For this project I decided to create a one piece, flowy dress. If you want to do a 2-piece outfit using multiple pieces of scrapbook paper, and are feeling stuck at this point, click over to last week's video for a quick demo of how I did that.
When your clothes pattern/s are all drawn out onto your trace paper, you'll need the scrapbook paper you've selected for her outfit. You'll also need your transfer paper again.
Lay your clothes scrapbooking paper face down on your art table, then lay the transfer paper face down on top of that. Finally, lay the trace paper with your pattern right on top!
Cut your outfit pieces out once everything has been transferred the way you want. Set those pieces aside and pop back to your canvas to glue your girl & her clothes down with some good old mod podge!
After my girl and her outfit were glued down and dry, I added a cute little bag, drew in shoes with my pitt pen...
Added hair with a paint marker, and shaded a bit of dimension on the sides of her dress and arms (with faber castell pitt pens). When I felt like she was all finished, I added a few stamps as well - one of which came out TOTALLY crooked.
The good thing is- THIS is mixed media. If ya don't like how something looks- keep going. Try something else! When I hit a point like this - I tend to throw a quote over my mistakes ;) Just like this ...
And there ya go!!!
I HOPE you have even MORE FUN than I did making this girl. And YES- I STILL had TONS of fun even though I had a hot mess canvas for a while (twice in one project actually!!). I hope I've inspired you with some new ways to work out the kinks if run into any while you're making your own creations!
Just remember to KEEP GOING. Try everything until you're happy ;)
Today's SUPER FUN Mixed Media tutorial is a cute piece of art inspired by a book by Julie Nutting called Collage Couture Techniques for Creating Fashionable Art. I'm a HUGE fan of Julie's and have loved this book since it came out in 2011. In fact- I used to do a variation of some of her cute projects with my students when I used to teach art classes in person!
For today's project I've got a FREE download for you in case you'd love to SKIP OVER the DRAWING part and get straight into the mixed media goodness!
Here are the supplies you need for today's project:
Once you have your body template cut out, trace her onto the back of a piece of scrapbooking paper. Quick tip here - choose a contrasting pattern for the body vs. clothes. For example- if you pick a tiny/subtle pattern for the body/skin - select a bolder pattern for the clothes (or try the reverse!).
Next we're gonna design some clothes! We need a mini pattern first, so lay a sheet of trace paper right over your cutout and let your imagination run wild! Today, I drew in a 3/4 sleeve shirt, skirt, and some cute boots for my girlie!!
Next, choose 2-3 sheets of scrapbook paper that go together to be her clothes. Lay one sheet of scrapbook paper face down on your art table. Then lay one sheet of transfer paper face down (dark side down) on top of your scrapbook paper. Finally, lay your trace paper with the clothes patterns you just created on top of that. Sound confusing?
CLICK HERE to watch the video.
I promise it's SO EASY! I used different sheets of scrapbooking paper for the top and the skirt for my girl. Look how cute she is looking already!!!
Since I'm working on a wood panel (and I LOVE the look of wood), I'm leaving the background somewhat naked for now. If I had chosen to work on canvas or a canvas board, I totally would've painted a background of some kind before gluing my girl down.
GRAB YOUR MOD PODGE to glue your collage pieces to the board. I used matte medium and I actually wish I hadn't!! Mod Podge will make your collage pieces slippery and creates a beautiful surface to doodle on top of. So go for that look if you can!!
Once your girlie is glued down, just HAVE FUN with her! I have a ton of cute punches and am a cat mama of 3 - so my cat punch came out to play for this piece, along with some flower punches in different sizes. I used a paint pen to add hair, and then stamped a quote to make me smile ;)
I continued doodling on the flowers and cat to carry over that look from the outlines on her clothes and tie it all together. Lastly, I added buttons to my large flower punches, and DONE! Isn't she SO CUTE?!!!
Once I had everything all glued down, I applied a huge layer of mod podge over the entire thing. That allowed me to doodle in a bit more dimension with my pitt pens because this is something I LOVE to do. You can leave bold pen strokes, smudge your strokes to add shading, or do a combo. It's what I do ALL the TIME with my hamburger style girls!!! I love the way it turns out...
I hope you ENJOY this super fun project!!
Remember to DOWNLOAD your free, no-draw BODY TEMPLATE here.
Then come back and press play for the full length, mixed media tutorial!! See ya next week ;)
I love a simple mixed media art project!!
This one is quick and easy and trust me, ANYONE can do it (even YOU!).
All you need are the following supplies:
Also, if you have been wondering when to choose matte medium instead of mod podge for your mixed media art projects, THIS VIDEO is A MUST WATCH!
So grab your supplies and meet me at your art table and press play!
there's so much fun to be had!
"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.