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!!
Drawing eyelashes on mixed media portraits can feel super intimidating because it's probably one of the LAST things you add to your masterpiece! So many of my students ask how to paint eyelashes that look realistic and just what paintbrush or supplies work the best, because they know I've tested them ALL!! Before I demo my secret weapon, we need to talk for a hot minute about how to draw eyelashes step by step...
If you're just learning how to draw eyelashes, or if drawing eyelashes is something you feel you want to improve upon, you need my free HOW to DRAW EYELASHES Cheatsheet.
Simply click the button below, and I'll send it straight to your inbox!
The first thing to keep in mind when drawing eyelashes is DIRECTIONALITY. As you can see in my sketch below, I start by drawing a set of parentheses on the outer edges of both the top and bottom eyelids.
One of the first things to keep in mind when you're drawing eyelashes, is directionality. I think of eyelashes like parentheses, and curve my outtermost eyelash on either side accordingly.
The midpoint of your eye drawing is where the directionality of your individual eyelash lines will change. That midpoint lash will basically be a straight line, followed by consecutive lashes flicking out in opposite directions, like you can see below.
Once you fill your lashes in on the top lid, repeat the process you followed for the lash line on the bottom eyelid. The second important part of drawing GORGEOUS eyelashes has to do with the amount of pressure you apply with your pencil (or whatever you're drawing with!).
You begin each lash line with MORE pressure, then flick up and out according to whatever directionality each eyelash needs to go. Confused yet?! WATCH the VIDEO ;) It makes WAY more sense when you see it in action....
Once you have all the eyelashes drawn in for the top and bottom eyelids, it's time to take a second pass across each lid line, because as humans - we have TONS of eyelashes! And let's be real...you want the girl you're drawing to have fab lashes, right?! Let's glam her up!!
While you're adding in a second set of lashes on each lid line, be sure to vary the length of each line. This is how our eyelashes are in real life. If you look closely - they're all different lengths. Paying attention to that little detail will make the eyelashes you draw look even more realistic!
Did you grab your FREE How to Draw Eyelashes Cheatsheet yet? Make sure you click on that link, and I'll send it straight to your inbox. It's SUCH a helpful reference to keep on your art table.
Now... how do you put all take this amazing-ness into action for your MIXED MEDIA PORTRAITS?!
I'm so glad you asked!! Let me introduce you to my secret weapon!!
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.
I'm in LOVE with the pentel pocket brush pen. Here's why...
First of all, I love this pen because it contains permanent ink. This is extremely important to me in mixed media work because I have lots of layering going on with sealants, etc. I NEED my ink at this point to be permanent. If I want to add a final sealant over the pretty eyelashes I've just drawn, I KNOW the ink I just laid down with the pentel pocket brush pen isn't going anywhere!
One of the cool things about this pen is the tip of it is actually like a very fine brush. That means it applies like a paintbrush! Lastly - it's just a beautifully crafted pen!!
I will give you a tiny warning about this pen though... it's super sensitive, and honestly takes a bit of practice to get a feel for it at first. You'll want to play around with it in your sketchbook before using it right out of the box on your latest mixed media canvas! Just draw a bunch of practice eyes in your sketchbook and see what kind of pressure and look you like best!
If you're struggling to control the pentel pocket brush, use a black pitt pen marker in a brush nib that feels more secure for you.
After today's little eyelash lesson, I'll take you straight over to put this into practice on one of my mixed media hamburger system girls! This particular piece is from a couple of years ago- before I discovered my fav little pocket brush. Watch as I add these lashes in real time - using directionality, pressure, and varying my lash lengths. This cute little pen is also awesome for touching up eyebrows for a little added drama.
Come on over to YouTube and practice your eyelash drawing with me!!
If you're a member of either the Fun Fab Drawing Club or Mixed Media Society (YAY!! I'm so happy you're here!!!), the Eyelashes Cheatsheet is already in your membership guide!!
I hope today's free drawing lesson helps you create mixed media lashes you are PROUD OF!! See ya next week ;)
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!
Today is Friday which means NEW FREE YouTube lesson!!
This project was particularly satisfying for sooooo many reasons! Well, I'll just list them off so you know what they are! First all, I got to paint with my fountain pen inks. They are soooooo vibrant and juicy and satisfying (due to their vibrancy and juiciness) that I cannot even compare them to any other medium I love them so much! This is the one I use for skin color. It's DIVINE!
I can now draw hands after publishing a book on them! I can finally dive into any project that involves them and has truly opened up a whole new world of faces and characters now that I'm no longer afraid to tackle any drawing!
I spill 3 oz. of permanent ink all over my studio floor. There's nothing quite like an explosion of ink to liven things up in the old art room!
Glasses. Having the guts and courage to draw OVER and ON TOP OF a completely painted girl, is, well, TERRIFYING! But then the level of proud you feel when you actually pull it off is the BEST FEELING EVER!! So while it's scary, it's worth it!!! So my advice to you is to simply GO FOR IT.
The references I used today are so super cute!! The original reference photo was taken from Vogue Japan and I just fell in love with it when I saw it!!!
Another reason today's project was so fun was because of my little feline side-kick!! Oh Tippie!!!
So after the spill and the cat play and the juicy brushes filled with ink I was just delighted at the final outcome. Click on the video here to watch how YOU can learn how to paint glasses on YOUR mixed media girls!!
"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.