A needle felted autumnal design, steampunk art dolls, and a printmaking idea for a spirit shrine. Do I have your attention? Good. 🙂 Each of these mixed-media art projects, and dozens more, can be yours with the Best of Fall Mixed-Media Bundle, featuring four September/October issues of Cloth Paper Scissors. Here’s a sneak peek of some of the tips you’ll find for creating any type of art. Get this bundle for fall-inspired ideas and techniques that you can use all year long. ~Cherie
Rust and Relics: Exploring Mixed-Media Art Ideas by K. Wayne Thornley
Mixed media is a process of constant experimentation and discovery. Here are a few tips, tools, and techniques for your creative explorations.
• Layer for Texture: Encrusted, aged surfaces are created by layering gesso, Liquid Nails® or Red Devil® Quick Paint Caulk, and washes of acrylic paint. I always use Golden® Artist Colors acrylics. These paints are very rich in pigment and do not lose their brilliance when mixed with water or other media. My favorite colors include quinacridone/nickel azo gold, phthalo green, burnt sienna, and dairylide yellow.
• Add Cryptic Marks: For fine, detailed marking into gesso or paint, I use wooden shrimp skewers from the grocery store. Coarse textures can be made by dragging a plastic hair pick through gel medium or caulk.
• Personalize with Handwriting: Handwriting is evidence of human existence and an important visual element in my work. It’s hard to match the beautiful cursive writing on vintage letters, cards, and journals, but don’t be afraid to use your own handwriting. If you really hate your penmanship, find a friend with writing you like and ask them to scribe for you. They’ll enjoy being asked to participate in your creative process.
• Use a Dremel Tool to Distress Papers: I use the sanding tips to create rough edges, obliterate text, or simulate moth-eaten holes. Dust off the paper and tint it with a wash of color. If you want to build multiple washes of color, coat the paper, both sides, with Golden Acrylic Glazing Medium or a gloss gel. When finished, brush on a coat of matte medium to remove the shine.
• Experiment and Document: Gesso some paper swatches and play with layering different combinations of paints and glazes. Make notes on the back of the swatches to remember what combinations you used and keep them as reference.
• Distress and Age New Wood: When not using scavenged wood or vintage boxes, I purchase new wood products and age them. For boxes, Darice® has a nice range of sizes. Most come with hinged tops, which I usually remove and use in other projects.
• Always Seal the Surface of New, Unfinished Wood with Gesso: This helps stabilize the acidity in the wood and adds longevity to your work. The gesso base also gives you a brilliant white surface for paint or collage.
• Elevate Specific Elements by Gluing on Spacers: Old wooden Jenga® game pieces and Scrabble® tiles make perfect spacers. Jenga pieces are made of high-quality wood and can be picked up at your local flea market for a song. Glue Scrabble tiles together to create different heights. Use clear Liquid Nails or some other strong glue made for wood.
• Use Gel Medium to Create the Look of Encaustic: I bury collaged elements below a couple of layers of gel medium, and then color wash or dry brush over them. You can create the depth of encaustic without having to fire up a melting pot.
• Rust for Richness: Rust adds a rich, antiquated aura to your work. When gluing a rusted object, always sand down to the base metal at the contact points to ensure a strong adhesion. Remember, rusted objects will continue to rust over time. To slow the process, brush rusted objects with matte medium or spray with a sealer like Krylon® “Make It Last” Clear Sealer.