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?!
Click that button above or click here and I'll email my Hamburger System cheatsheet straight to your inbox!
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.
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?
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EASY & CUTE Mixed Media Idea for Fall [Full Length Tutorial - Easy Enough for Beginners]
If you're new to the world of mixed media art, you're in THE BEST PLACE!! I have so many mixed media ideas, tutorials & tips for you.
If you're intimidated by mixed media, or struggling with how to layer your supplies, I'd love to teach you my SIMPLE mixed media technique for layering my supplies (it's the exact process I used to create this adorbale fall fox!).
Simply download my FREE Mixed Media Hamburger Cheatsheet. I know, "hamburger" sounds funny - but I pile on my art supply layers one by one - like I'm making the perfect burger. Click the button below, and you'll see exactly what I mean!
After you click the button above, you'll get an email with your cheatsheet. Make sure you print it out because it's an awesome reference to keep at your art table.
Now you're ready for action and have TWO choices...
#1: Learn how to make this adorable fall fox (stay right here & keep reading).
#2: WATCH my entire FREE Mixed Media Hamburger Playlist on YouTube. There's a video for every single layer of the cheatsheet (you printed that out, right?!) to help you learn my signature process from start to finish, step by step.
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.
Yay! I'm glad you stayed. Let's get moving on the fox project!
If you haven't met me yet, you'll soon learn I love hoarding art supplies as much as the next girl, but I ALSO love saving money and upcycling thrift store finds for my art.
One of my tricks is to purchase old record album covers to turn them into canvas! Kinda brilliant right? They're dirt cheap and I love the square shape.
You can also create your own mixed media fox on canvas, canvas panel, or in an art journal (just make sure the paper is super thick -preferrably watercolor paper). Do what YOU love!
If you're upcycling any old surface like a once glossy record cover, we need to cover it with a light layer of gesso.
Now it's time to start painting!
Apply a thin layer of orange acrylic paint. I love acrylic paint by Lukas Cryl. I discovered it years ago when my kids were tiny and I was REALLY on a budget. This stuff is gorgeous and lasts forever. I've been recommending it to my students ever since.
I wanted an edgey look, so instead of using a paint brush- I used the edge of an old credit card to spread the paint around. Looks cool, right? If you prefer using a paint brush, that's cool. Use whatever you have on hand. If you're looking for a new acrylic set of brushes, this is a great one.
Another cool element to upcycle in your mixed media art for collage is phone book pages or thrift shop books! I always look for the books that are on their last legs. The paper is thin and perfect for mixed media collage.
For the fox, I ripped up a page from an old phone book. Does anyone even get these anymore?! ?
Lots of people use mod podge to adhere collage pieces to their art journal pages and canvases, but I actually use matte medium. Why? It's designed to work with acrylic paint, and it actually has secret adhesive properties! I paint a thin layer on the bottom of my collage pieces, and another right on top.
Napkins and tissue paper are also excellent for mixed media collage. For this project, I had an adorable, floral napkin I was dying to incorporate. I peeled the napkin backing from the pattern side (this is really important because it makes your collage pieces thinner and easier to control). Then I ripped it into pieces and carefully adhered it to my piece.
If you struggle with getting the wrinkles out of your napkin pieces when you're collaging, this video is for you. It really demos my technique of using TONS of matte medium! I pour it on so there's a lot under my napkin pieces, and then coat them on top as well. If you think you're using too much matte medium, add more :)
Next start adding in some acrylics that tie in with the color scheme from your napkin. I did a very thin layer and used my finger to spread it into the corners to kind of tie things together.
My next step was to add a bit of texture. I love the look of polka dots, and I've found that painting a bit of acrylics over a corner of bubble wrap looks AMAZING in the backgrounds of my mixed media portraits! I've been doing this trick for years, and it costs nothing! Win-win!!
After I hit my layers up with my hair dryer, it's time to start making room for our adorable fox! To knock my background back a bit, I add a super thin layer of gesso all over in the middle of my piece. I used an old credit card here too, to keep that edgey look.
Next, I penciled in my fox outline. I used a black stabillo all pencil because I love how watersoluble it is. It smears when you add something wet to it from water to gesso. Some of my students don't like the unpredictability of the stabilo like I do. If you're one of these people, just use a pencil. When you like the way your drawing looks, start painting again with your acrylics.
When it was time to start adding in that fluffy white fur, I used more white gesso instead of white acrylic paint. I tend to do this a lot in my mixed media work because I love how the collage layers will peek through gesso.
As you'll see in the video, my stabilo lines activated here and there when the gesso hit them. I love how that softened the fox's edges and helped add shading to my little guy without even trying!
Once I felt happy with my painting layer, I sealed it all in with a layer of matte mod podge. Be prepared because that stabilo can activate again when your mod podge hits it.
Let this dry completely. Just walk away and do something else for a while. Or if you're impatient like me... hit it with your hair dryer or heat gun again.
When the surface is slick and dry, it's time to "paint" with our pitt pens! I freaking LOVE this step. It's like ice skating when these babies hit your canvas! If you're following along with your Hamburger Cheatsheet, this is Layer #5.
If you're loving the cheatsheet, this actually inspired not only the FREE 9-Part Series on YouTube, but a book by the same name as well. If you love the feel of a book in your hand, it's available on Amazon.
Once you're done "painting" and doodling with your pitt pens, it's time to add a cute quote. I love using stamps for quotes because I don't love my handwriting. Feel free to do either, or no quote! This is YOUR art.
Next to the last step is to pop in some highlights with a white paint pen. I love this simple set of three in varied nibs from Posca. I also love my Sharpie White Poster Paint Pen.
I love the look of a bold black outline, so you'll often see this in my work. I also love using a stamp pad and adding the look of black, distressed edging all the way around my canvas. Make sure you click over to the video to see exactly how it's done!
Just a quick heads up, when you do click over to this fun mixed media fox video, this was shot BEFORE I had even named my magical mixed media layering process, so you won't hear me talk about the burger layers in this video. You'll just see them in action, set to music!
Wanna learn TEN ways to save money with your art supplies? Check out this video. It explains how the layers in this very project can help you from buying out your local craft store :)
Thanks for hanging out with me today!
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I LOVE collaging art backgrounds for the mixed media portraits I create on canvas or in my art journal! Typically I will do a collage background FIRST in my mixed media art projects, but today I started with some gesso and acrylic painting followed by a little simple sheet music collage. I just LOVE how it turned out!!
If you love to watch a timelapsed project set to music for a little mixed media inspiration, today's video is FOR YOU! Enjoy!!
🍔 NEED HELP UNDERSTANDING or LAYERING your mixed media art supplies? I'd LOVE to help!! Check out my "Hamburger" System & Get all my FREE TIPS in this YouTube series!!!
😍 LOVE Mixed Media Portraits but NOT INTO DRAWING? I've got a template & a series for that!!
✏️ WANNA LEARN HOW to DRAW a Fabulous FACE in 5 Minutes?!
🔥 LOVE Mixed Media on Canvas, but wanna save $$$ ? Use the trick in today's video! Upcycle an old record cover & throw a little gesso on top!! BOOM! You've got a super cute sqaure canvas ready and waiting for YOUR masterpiece!!
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THE SECRET to EASY WRINKLE FREE Mixed Media Collage Backgrounds with TISSUE PAPER!
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!!!
THE SECRET to WRINKLE FREE Mixed Media Collage Backgrounds with Paper Napkins!!
Happy Friday!! Mixed media collage backgrounds with paper napkins are EASY to create and can add a gorgeous pop of color to your mixed media art journal. Today’s video is a FULL LENGTH 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 napkins...those WRINKLES!!
Don’t worry - I've got collage techniques that will make your napkins BEHAVE so there is a little texture, and your collage background can PEEK through your mixed media portrait, without taking over your whole art journal page!
Grab your art journal, a beautiful paper napkin, TONS of liquitex matte medium, some gesso, a black stabilo all pencil & come play with me!!
Today I'm working in my favorite Strathmore watercolor journal. These thick, beautiful pages can take anything I throw at them, which today is gonna be a vat of liquitex matte medium!!
If you haven't used paper napkins to create an art journal background - you totally need to give it a try! There are so many beautiful patterns and colors out there! The possibilities are endless. A pretty napkin can also create a no-fail color scheme for your mixed media project if you intend to do a little painting, like I did. Just look to the colors you see in your napkin, find paint shades to match, and BOOM. Solid win!
Napkins can be a bit tricky to work with because they are SO fine. To make matters worse, we need to separate the plys EVEN MORE so we're only working with the ply that has the pattern. If you haven't done this before, just work your nail into the edges of the napkin like I show you in the video, and slowly pull the plies away from each other. Sometimes the pretty napkins are 3-ply, like mine is today. So just watch for this so you isolate only that thin sheet filled with the pattern you love.
When you're ready to glue this down into your journal, I suggest working with liquitex matte medium as your adhesive. I love this stuff because it's super fluid, and WAY LESS gloppy than mod podge for this type of work. Plus, matte medium was CREATED to work with acrylic paint. So if I decide to add a painting layer to this piece, my surface is already prepped and ready to go.
Some people like to try and glue down the whole napkin sheet at once, but I find it's easier to manage and I can control the wrinkles a bit better if I work with smaller sections of my napkin at a time. Your napkin sheet is going to be fragile, so gently tear chunks of it apart.
Now, here is my HUGE SECRET... you need a TON of matte medium to work out the wrinkles that will inevitably pop up while you're gluing. No matter how tiny your ripped pieces of napkin are- you're till gonna get wrinkles!
To combat this, I pour my matte medium directly onto my art journal page and use what many would think is an "uncomfortable amount" of product. If you don't have an uncomfortable amount of it on your page right now- dump some more.
Don't be precious about your matte medium - you want a TON of it both UNDER and OVER your napkin pieces, so they are sopping wet. Any areas that aren't soaking, go back and add more product to. This helps you get rid of any psycho wrinkles trying to creep up!
My SECOND TIP for you to create a wrinkle free surface has to do with your foam brush technique! If you just drag your foam brush around, it's going to be easier for your napkin pieces to tear. Try using a pouncing motion with your brush to tap the napkin chunk onto your paper. This tapping motion will help your under layer of matte medium rise up and soak into the napkin. Watch the video to see what I mean.
After you've pounced a napkin chunk into position, try to systematically smooth the wrinkles out on top. Going slowly will help you not rip the napkin. Trust me! You'll see I rammed through a couple of them too quickly and had to slow myself down. LOL!
As you work around your art journal page, and sections begin to dry - just add more matte medium to edges that try to pop up on you. This will knock them back down.
When I'm done gluing all my napkin pieces down, I use a hair dryer to dry the page instead of a heat gun, because a hair dryer won't get hot enough to ruin my work, and it's faster because of the "blower" part. A heat gun doesn't have that kind of air flow/power so takes longer. And if you know me- you know I'm in a hurry and don't have the patience to watch wet stuff dry!!
I decide to add gesso to the center area of my page because I want to draw a face on top. While the background pattern from my napkin is beautiful, it is too dark and busy to draw anything over. To dial that back a bit, I turn to my gesso.
I have 5 favorite ways I like using to apply gesso and demo them in today's video. My favorite gesso application method for under a face is just using a foam brush or my flat gesso brush. If I want more of an edgy look and want the texture to really pop forward from any wrinkles that do show up in my background, an old credit card is perfect to rake your gesso over the page with.
I also love to pounce the gesso down with a sponge wherever I want it. This is primarily the technique I ended up using today. Then I pulled out my brayer to spread the gesso out a bit further and to draw a little texture into the foreground.
After I hit this with the hair dryer once more, and everything is completely dry- it's time to do a little mixed media drawing! As you'll see in the video, I ALWAYS sketch in my face drawing guidelines. They're too important to skip and will set you up for success.
I start my sketch in regular pencil, then when I'm happy with my lines, switch over to my stabilo to darken my lines.
As you can see, my stabilo lines are actually fairly light. When I hit them with my paintbrush and some water- it's pretty magical, what happens. Look...
Isn't it amazing how easily the stabilo is to activate with water?! It literally melts as soon as my brush touches it, and can be spread around like watercolor. This is one of my FAVORITE mixed media techniques!!
I typically do my stabilo in 2 -3 layers for a drawing like this. After I activate the first layer, I let that dry, then add more dry stabilo marks wherever I feel like there needs to be a little more definition. Sometimes I activate that second layer of stabilo too - it just depends on the look I'm going for!
For the finishing touches, I use my favorite white paint pens- posca and sharpie, along with my pentel pocket brush. Look at how just a few lines of ink from the pocket brush and a couple of dotted white highlights in and around the eyes and on the nose really make her pop!
Look at how the texture of that napkin peaks through, up close! LOVE IT !
In the end, I decided to add some of my Noodler's Ink around the edges in the background to tie into the florals of the napkin together, and I'm LOVING how that looks!!! So fun!
I hope you enjoy this mixed media tutorial / art journal project!!
Thanks for watching!! Stay tuned for Monday's Whimsical Women of the World Portrait Drawing prompt!!
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 ;)
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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