I’ve always been one to trust my gut, and it’s never let me down. When I first saw Laly Mille’s dreamy, layered artwork, I knew it was something special, and I knew readers of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine would like it too. When we were putting together the March/April 2018 issue, with mixed-media abstracts as the theme, I immediately thought of Laly’s artwork and asked her if she’d do a feature on creating abstract florals. Lucky for all of us she said yes, and now you can learn how to create these very special blooms too.
I’m thrilled that she generously shared her techniques, because I would have spent a frighteningly long time trying to recreate them, with probably little success. As soon as the issue came out I couldn’t wait to try her methods, and at my first opportunity I opened my art journal and went for it.
For the first layer, Laly offers options: collage book pages, stamp images, or add sewing pattern tissue. Since I’d been doing a lot of book page collage backgrounds lately I figured it was time to mix it up. I stamped damask patterns in two shades of blue onto 140-lb. cold-press watercolor paper, thinking the classical designs would be a nice counterpoint to the free-flowing abstracts.
Over that went a layer of gesso, which I applied heavier in some spots than others. And over that went journaling in pencil. I purposely made my handwriting sloppy so you can’t really read it, but I like the suggestion of hand-written words. After that, more layering, including scribbling with water-soluble artist crayons, smudging them, and adhering photos of flower blooms taken from a magazine. Don’t worry—incorporating photos isn’t cheating, and these add a unique element to the piece. In the article, Laly gives you detailed instructions for every step, with lots of photos. The process is truly foolproof. I created a sort of swag design for my abstract florals.
Adding the next layer of acrylic paint was so fun, and there’s a big emphasis on working intuitively and not overthinking the process, which is incredibly helpful. I applied the paint with a brush and my fingers, and both techniques added a lot to the look of the piece. This is when you start to understand how these abstract florals are formed, and you see your piece really begin to take shape.
More paint was incorporated, and this time drips were added with very thinned-down green paint. Laly also gives you a heads up on an important part of the process: pulling your artwork back from the hot mess phase. “At this stage you might feel like your page is very messy and busy,” she writes. “That’s okay.” Then she shows you how to fix it by adding more white, as well as other elements.
I am so thrilled with these techniques, and I can’t wait to try them again, perhaps using a different color palette and other collage elements. When you try this project and put your own spin on it, I’m sure you’ll love the results as well.
Here’s an awesome bonus: Laly created a time-lapse video that shows her creating her artwork for “A Secret Rose Garden!” Be sure to check it out!
When Laly sent her artwork to our offices, I noticed that she made the art journal that held her abstract florals by hand. I was so enamored with it that I tried making something similar, and I’ll post the tutorial soon.
See how Tracy Verdugo interpreted nature in this beautiful abstract piece that incorporates inks and a gel open.
Have you discovered the joy of creating mixed-media abstracts yet? These resources are filled with techniques and inspiration for all levels!