Let's Get Your Creative Juices Flowing!!!
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?
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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!!!
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 ;)
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.