Professional Tips For Going Beyond Paper and Canvas

Every week during one of the meetings I attend, editors bring to the table new books that our teams have worked on. We pass the books around quietly as the meeting continues on to other topics, and then return them to the editors. But not this time.


Recently, Alternative Art Surfaces made its way around the conference table and found itself in my hands. After reviewing it for a few minutes, I made eye contact with its editor, Kristy Conlin, and silently mouthed the words, “Can I keep it?” She smiled and told me that I could borrow it for as long as I needed, and then after the meeting I cradled it all the way to my desk, where I then paper-clipped a few of the pages for future reference.


Written by Darlene Olivia McElroy and Sandra Duran Wilson, Alternative Art Surfaces includes more than 100 techniques that celebrate going beyond canvas and paper. Two of my favorite ideas include making acrylic skins for mosaics and using nylon as a form to create three-dimensional art. When I saw these, I got my own ideas for similar projects that I want to try (more on these later).

Been There, Be Back (cardboard, key, frame, keyhole on panel) by Darlene Olivia McElroy


In the meantime, here’s a snippet from a chapter that includes tips on incorporating found objects into your mixed-media art:


Preparing Your Surface
Make sure your surface is clean, and sand if necessary so the paint will stick. In some cases, you may want to prime the surface with gesso.


This should be in your thoughts while constructing the piece. Perhaps part of your sculpture is the base, or you might buy a premade sculpture mount to finish off your sculpture. If it’s a wall piece, you might want to mount it to a frame or use a piece of wood with a keyhole for hanging.


This will vary greatly depending on your surface. Transfers will work best on flat surfaces.


Painting and Drawing
This can vary with your surface. If oil-based paint is already on the object, you should continue with oil paints or pastels, or prepare the surface by sanding. Otherwise, acrylics should work in most cases. If there isn’t enough tooth to draw on the surface, consider applying a light layer of clear gesso or absorbent ground.


Sanding, rusting, patinas, and weathering paint all give you an aged look.~DOM and SDW


“Nothing should ever go to waste,” they advise. “Searching for found art elements is much like a treasure hunt, and as your collection of finds grows, you’ll probably want to organize it into some order. Like working a puzzle, your imagination and the found objects together will create a story.(Like this? Tweet it!)


What found objects have you used creatively? Buttons, cowry shells, wine corks—all ideas are welcome, so feel free to share them on the Cloth Paper Scissors Today blog!

Until next time,


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