Faux Faces for Mixed-Media Art

The beauty of mixed-media faces is that they’re instantly recognizable. With enhancements of colorful backgrounds, added collage elements, and in this case, some creative photo manipulation, you can take a simple headshot and turn it into a complete artwork that’s worthy of framing.

Artwork by Kari McKnight Holbrook
Artwork by Kari McKnight Holbrook

Kari McKnight Holbrook has a unique (and fun!) way to incorporate photos of people into your art with a technique that helps you make the image your own. This way, even if you haven’t mastered the skill of drawing portraits, you can still include them to create the work you desire. She explains more in “Faux Faces,” a feature article in the January/February 2015 issue Cloth Paper Scissors.

“Many artists avoid including faces in their artwork because they feel their drawing skills are inadequate,” says Kari. “The benefit of this Faux Faces technique is that it helps you become familiar with the planes, curves, highlights, and shadows of faces, improving your drawing skills.”

But what about copyright? Kari advises that: “As long as a historical image is released from copyright into the public domain, it should not be a problem to use it in your artwork. Generally, published works that are pre-1923 are copyright free, although each image’s provenance should be researched. For vintage faces, I use images from the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress has more than 14 million prints and photos, and generally gives a clear indication if the photo is in the public domain, or is restricted in its usage.”

Find her step-by-step demonstration for “Faux Faces” in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, and for even more instruction, check out Kari’s series of videos:

• Mixed-Media Faces Made Easy
• Gelatin Plate Printed Journal
• Painting Collage in Layers

There’s so much to choose from!

All best,


Blog, Collage, Mixed-Media Techniques


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