Features,  Techniques

Mixed Media Experiments

It seems to me like the more creative projects I get myself involved in, the more I want to do – my mind seems to be in a state of creative overdrive at the moment so that I have at least half a dozen projects on the go.  Of course I don’t really have time for it all, hence I have been somewhat quieter than usual online! At some point they will hopefully all come to fruition, but in the meantime I wanted to share one of the projects I’ve been working on. This combines several different areas I’ve been exploring of late – layers, spray inks, and oil pastels, which have all come together into some mixed media artwork. I love mixed media – pretty much anything goes, and it can be a great way of exploring lots of different effects, and bringing different techniques together. As my kids weren’t involved in this, it’s also been a good way for me to experiment and enjoy myself!

The starting point of this artwork was the layered paper canvases we did a few weeks ago. I really enjoyed creating these, and wanted to explore the technique further. This time I used the combination of crumpled tissue paper layers stuck down with wallpaper paste along with spray watercolour inks to build a surface to work with.



Preparing the canvases took time. I used white tissue paper and sprayed the watercolour onto it. I then added further layers one at a time, leaving each one to dry before adding the next. In terms of colour, I worked from light to dark, as the layers acted almost as a series of semi-translucent glazes, creating lots of depth and luminosity as well as texture. You could of course just use coloured tissue paper, but then your colour palette would be restricted much more, and the colour fugitive, which is not ideal if you wanted to keep the artwork in the longer term.



Once I had about 6 dry layers on there, I sprayed the canvas with water, and started work selectively removing areas of different layers for creative effect. With the abstract canvas, which was the first one I did,  I actually removed very little. However for the woodland scene I attempted to manipulate the layers to create a recognisable scene. As you can imagine, this was more challenging!



To create the woodland scene I started with a prepared canvas whose final layer was blue. I left much of this in place at the bottom, for the bluebells. At the top, I peeled away vertical strips to the lighter coloured lower layers below to create highlights of light through the trees.  I had also deliberately included a layer of newsprint, to use as the trunks of the trees.

Once I’d finished removing paper, I used black oil pastel rubbed lightly over the textured surface to create the effect of branches where it caught the crumpled ridges of the tissue paper. I then rubbed smudged blue pastel highlights at the bottom, and lime green at the top.

Finally the top and bottom of the picture were spattered with green and blue acrylic paint respectively to represent foliage and flowers.



Both pictures were finished with a coat of artist’s gloss acrylic varnish, both to protect the texture, and also bring out the depth and luminosity of the colour.



I love the overall textured effect of this technique and hope to find the time to explore the addition of digital imagery (as in the example above) a little further!