Three Stress-free Collage Background Techniques

Do you want a quick way to get over blank-canvas-itis and jumpstart your collage art? Of course you do!

But I'm feeling generous, so I'm going to give you three tips for how to make a collage background you don't have to stress over.

collage background by jane lafazio
collage by jane lafazio
Jane LaFazio's patched collage
background (top).
The finished collage (above).

Spread on some white stuff. Gesso, molding paste, gel medium-it's all good. Spread it on your substrate with an old credit card (or similar), then make marks in it with the end of a paintbrush or a skewer. Let dry and paint a wash of paint over it. Build up your collage from there.

Or, spread the white stuff through a stencil or just paint it on here or there. Let dry, then paint a wash over it. The white stuff will act as a resist.

Spray on some color. SmoochTM inks, spray paint, and the like give your substrate instant texture with all those little dots. For more interest, spray through stencils (even overlapping them) or spray the paint or ink and then tilt the substrate this way and that to make drippy lines.

Patch it up. Make a patchwork of patterns and textures on your substrate with found papers and fabric scraps. Just cut (or cull) ephemera, fabrics, old text, textured art papers like mulberry paper and so on into smallish pieces. Then spread adhesive onto your substrate with a credit card or palette knife and place the background pieces one by one.

I learned this technique from mixed-media artist Jane LaFazio. Jane says this process works best (read: less stress) if you don't overthink it.

"Remember, it's the background. But do think of your composition in terms of darks and lights, heavy texture and flat surfaces, to create a balanced arrangement," she writes.

I love Jane's technique, because not only is it fun but you get a chance to use all those bits of papers and fabrics you've been collecting. And personally, I find cutting and gluing extremely relaxing.

All three of these collage background methods can be done in batches ahead of time. Spend 30 minutes to an hour spreading, spraying, or patching, and you'll have plenty of backgrounds ready to go when you want to make a collage.

Jane demonstrates her technique for making collage art with plenty of texture and interest in volume 2 of our new downloadable Art Lessons series, Textured Backgrounds, Transparent Foregrounds. This tip- and technique-packed interactive art lesson is like taking a class with Jane herself, for a fraction of the price. Download yours now.

P.S. What's your most relaxing art technique? Share below!


Art Journaling and Lettering, Blog, Collage, Mixed-Media Techniques


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