Creating a Mixed Media Collage

Mixed media picture finished

Mixed media collage

In my experimental painting and drawing class, Sally asked us to cut some images from magazines and use them to make a mixed media collage. She asked us to choose the pictures we were drawn to, so I put my brain to one side and went with my feelings.

I found this both exciting and challenging as it encouraged me to combine things which didn’t initially seem to go together, and it forced me to think about composition.

The collage also enabled me to combine different materials together, which created some unexpected effects.

What I love most about working with mixed media is that I can work very freely and I’m not too worried about making mistakes. In fact the times when I feel I’ve made a mistake are the best because I’m forced to think about it from a different angle to put it right.

The “Mixed media collage” picture above is the completed mixed media collage and I’m going to explain how I created it.

How to Create a Mixed Media Collage

1)   Choosing the Images

For this piece I chose a door, a window, an egg shape mosaic for the wall, 3 mosaic pieces for the path and a picture of Singapore’s Solar Powered Supertrees.

I was particularly drawn to the door because of its gorgeous vibrant colour.

I stuck the images on a heavy weight cartridge paper using PVA glue. I diluted the PVA with some water so that it was thinner and easier to apply. After sticking the images on the paper, I put another coat of PVA on top of the images to secure them further in place.

2)   Connecting the images

I needed to find a way of connecting the images together. The door, window and mosaic tiles have a Mediterranean feel to them, so I thought that was a good starting point. The Supertrees brings in nature so this was something else I could work with.

3)   Using texture paste to create a wall

I thought a wall connecting the window and door would be the perfect way to bring the two together. I thought texture paste would be the best medium to use to create the wall.

I first put another coat of diluted PVA over the door and window, and also applied it to the surrounding area where I was going to apply the texture paste. The texture paste is quite heavy, so applying the PVA beforehand helps to strengthen the paper and prevents it from tearing.

I used a small palette knife to apply the texture paste around the window and the door. I applied it so that it looked like stone, and was a continuation of the pictures. I waited for the texture paste to dry before applying any paint.

Wall created using texture paste and acrylic paint

Wall created using texture paste and acrylic paint

4)   Applying acrylic paint to the wall

I mixed up two sets of colours in acrylic, the golden yellows and browns for the wall surrounding the window, and the blues for the wall surrounding the door.

I applied the paints using a brush. I also used a paper towel to take away some of the paint which exposed the lighter shade underneath. This helped to achieve the effect of the stone, which can be seen clearly in the “Wall created using texture paste and acrylic paint” picture on the left.

I used charcoal to highlight the egg shape mosaic shape on the wall and made it look like an eye.

5) Using white acrylic paint to soften hard edges

White acrylic paint is fantastic for softening the edges of the magazine images, and it’s also great for creating streaks which can make the image look faded. This can be seen clearly with the Supertrees.

I also used white acrylic paint to soften the edges of the wall and the 3 mosaic tiles in the centre.

Creating the mosaic path

Creating the mosaic path

6)   Creating a path using the 3 mosaic pieces

It did take me a while to figure out how I was going to create steps or a path using the 3 mosaic tiles. I ended up getting some soft pastels in lilac, blue and turquoise and started applying them gently around the tiles. I then blended the colours using my fingers.

The pastels didn’t look very good and looked out of place, so I got some white acrylic paint and gently painted over the soft pastels using a brush. This faded the colours and they started to fit in more with the picture.

I wanted to give the impression of mosaic tiles, so once the white acrylic paint was dried, I used some charcoal to apply some lines to the path. The result of this can be seen in the “Creating the mosaic path” picture on the left.

 

Adding a potted plant

Adding a potted plant

7)   Filling the empty spaces

I needed to fill in the space of the centre left and bottom right of the picture. I thought plants and pots would connect the pieces of the collage.

I decided to draw the potted pant on the bottom right hand side of the picture. This can be seen in the “Adding a potted plant” picture on the left.

I decided to do the pot in lilac to complement the colours in this area and I used oil pastels to create the pot and plant.

When I finished the potted plant, the colours looked too bright and didn’t fit in with the rest of the picture. The white acrylic paint came to my rescue once again.

I softened the area with the white acrylic paint, and I also used diagonal strokes, especially across the pot. When I applied the acrylic paint on top of the oil pastels, it took some of the colour with it, but this created a lovely soft colour around the pot and plant.

Once the paint had dried, some of the definition on the pot was lost. I applied a tiny amount of charcoal dust, using a paint brush, at the base of the pot, and a tiny amount on the edges. I then used a white oil pastel to add some soft highlights.

I really liked the effect created around the pot, so I thought I’d use the same technique for the base of the Supertrees. This time I covered the bottom area with a lilac soft pastel and blended it with my fingers. I then used the white acrylic paint to soften the colour and to blend everything together.

Connecting the window to the Supertree

Connecting the window to the Supertrees

8)   Connecting the window to the Supertrees

I decided the best way to connect the window to the Supertrees was by some sort of a vine.

I drew the pot with oil pastels and used water soluble coloured pencils for the vine. I used a slightly wet brush on top of the coloured pencil so that it looked like water colour.

The shape of the branches falling down from the pot are similar to the top of the Supertrees. I thought this would tie the two together perfectly.

I drew the branches using the water soluble pencils and then used white acrylic paint to soften the lines. This can be seen in the “Connecting the window to the Supertrees” picture on the left.

I must admit, the finished mixed media collage was an unexpected surprise, it turned out better than I imagined. It did take me time to think about the best ways to connect the magazine cuttings. I had to think about colour, style and composition. By experimenting, making mistakes, and just seeing how things turn out, I have achieved something that I couldn’t have imagined before.

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Using Cling Film on Inks

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Heart

You can create some beautiful effects with cling film,  the patterns sometimes look like cracks. I have used cling film on all the pictures on this page.

Using bleach on the inks can create some striking lighting effects as well. The best inks to use for this are non-permanent and non-waterproof. For me Seawhite Drawing Inks are perfect for this. They also take a bit longer to dry, which is perfect when working with cling film.

Details about Seawhite Drawing Inks and where you can purchase them can be viewed in my post Seawhite Drawing Inks

How to use cling film on inks

1)   Wet a sheet of cartridge paper with water using a brush

There are many weights of cartridge paper available, but I find 220gm paper ideal to experiment with, especially since it is cheaper than water colour paper. However, water colour paper is the best option for more finished pieces.

2)   Apply coloured inks to the wet paper with a brush

You can do block colours going straight across the paper, which can be seen clearly in the “Cling film on inks” picture below, or you can apply different colours randomly on the paper, which can be seen clearly in the “Heart” picture above.

3)   Put a piece of cling film on top of the wet inks

Take a piece of cling film and put it on top of the wet inks. For the best effects make sure the cling film is creased when it goes onto the paper. This happens pretty much naturally, but you can always make a few more creases. It is the creases that will help create the patterns.

You will also notice that when you put the cling film on top of the inks, the inks will move around and create different patterns of colours. This creates some wonderful and unpredictable patterns.

4)   Let the piece of paper dry completely before removing the cling film

Let the piece of paper dry completely. I usually find 1-2 hours enough. Once it is dry, remove the cling film and you will see your ink picture completely transformed. It’s like magic!

The piece below was the first one I created using cling film. The effect of it looking like an icy surface completely surprised me. Both inks and cling film are very unpredictable, which makes them exciting to use.

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Cling film on inks

Adding details using soft pastels and bleach

After removing the cling film, you can add details to your picture using soft pastels. After removing the cling film on the “Heart” picture above, I noticed the heart shape on the right. I highlighted the shape further by using a red pastel to make the outline more defined.

You can also use bleach to create some striking effects. I have used bleach in the picture below to create the lighting in the sky. I used an ear bud to apply the bleach, but you can use a brush to apply it as well. You only need a very small amount of bleach.

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Bleach and soft pastels after cling film was removed

I then used a white pastel to soften some of the areas, and create lighting effects both at the top and bottom of the page. You can also darken colours or make them even more vibrant with soft pastels.

I have used bleach to create patterns, which can be seen in the “Bleach on inks after cling film was removed” picture below.

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Bleach on inks after cling film was removed

Using Oil Pastels

Oil pastels are great at forming a barrier to the inks and water, so you can use it to create patterns before applying water and inks to the paper.

I have used an oil pastel in the “Cling film on inks and oil pastel” picture below. I used a white pastel to draw horizontal lines toward the bottom of the page and I also drew some vertical long leaf shapes on the left and right sides.

I then wet the paper with some water and added the colours to it. I put some cling film on top of the wet inks and then removed it after the paper had completely dried. You can see the parts which were drawn with the white oil pastel.

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Cling film on inks and oil pastel

The great thing about these experimental pieces is that you can enjoy trying new things and seeing how it works. You can find some more ways of working with the inks in my post Experimenting with Inks.

Working freely means you will be constantly surprised by the results, and as I mentioned before, the unpredictability of the inks and the cling film makes them very exciting to use.

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Seawhite Drawing Inks

inks-4I really have fallen in love with drawing inks. They are so beautiful to use. I have explained how they can be used in a more experimental way in my Experimenting with Inks post.

There are different types of water based inks available, but my personal favourite are Seawhite Drawing Inks. The colours are bright and vivid, thanks to their high pigment content.

They also react brilliantly with bleach and salt to create some wonderful effects. You can create some lovely lighting effects with bleach and some gorgeous flower-like patterns with salt.

I have found that Seawhite Drawing Inks react better to bleach and salt compared to other water soluble inks on the market. This is because they are not waterproof or permanent.

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Seawhite Drawing Inks

Unfortunately not being permanent means the colours will fade if exposed to sunlight or UV light, but they will not fade under incandescent light. They will also not fade if they are covered, for instance when they are in a sketch/drawing pad or in a portfolio. If you want to frame your work, there is special glass available, such as UV absorbing glass, plexiglass or you can use acetate. The special glass will protect your work and ensure its colours don’t fade over time.

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Winsor and Newton Drawing Inks

If you need waterproof inks, which are necessary if you want to layer colours on top of each other, then I would recommend Winsor and Newton drawing inks. They contain shellac, which is a binder, making them waterproof and permanent. Bleach and salt don’t react very well to these inks and the inks dry very fast, which I personally found made it slightly difficult to work with. It really depends on how you work and what effects you want to create.

You can purchase Seawhite Drawing Inks on-line from Artesaver. Winsor and Newton Inks are easily obtainable from most art shops and on-line.

I have done all the pieces here using Seawhite inks. They also produce a white ink which creates some lovely effects. This can be seen clearly in the pictures below.

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Experimenting with Inks

I am having so much fun using coloured inks. This is the first time I’m using them. I absolutely love the fluidity of the inks and the vibrancy of the colours. The inks flow beautifully and the effects are so unpredictable. I never quite know how the picture or the colours are going to look like until it has dried.

The inks I use are Seawhite Drawing Inks. For more information on these inks, and where to purchase them, please go to my Seawhite Drawing Inks post.

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For me adding inks to water is just like magic. The colours flow unpredictably and the effects can be stunning. One of my favourite effects is soft feathering, particularly on the edges. This can be seen clearly in the heart picture above.

Creating an experimental picture with inks

ink-leaves1)   Wet a piece of thick cartridge paper with water using a brush

I find 220 gm paper ideal to experiment on, as the paper doesn’t warp too much. This is a great way to get a feel for the inks and see how they behave. Water colour paper is more expensive, but it is the best option for more finished pieces.

inks-3You can cover a large area of the paper with water or you can create some shapes, like I did with the leaves on the right.

2)   Add the inks to the wet paper using a brush

You only need a small amount of ink. You can randomly put the colours on or create shapes, whatever takes your fancy.

You will see the inks quickly disperse. You can aid the flow of the colours by tilting the paper, this can blend and merge colours together, and it can create some lovely dripping effects. The dripping effect can be seen in the picture on the right.

Sometimes sharp edges are created, which you can see clearly on some of the leaves. This is noticeable as the ink dries.

The only thing I find difficult is replicating effects I like, but in some ways this is also the wonderful thing about the inks because each piece will be unique.

Adding salt to the inks

When you add salt to the wet ink, the salt absorbs the inks and creates some beautiful flower-like patterns. This can be seen in both the pictures below. The white flowery shapes can be seen very clearly on the black in the bottom picture.

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Using soft pastels to add colour and detail

Once the inks have completely dried, you can use soft pastels to add additional colours or details. I have used different shades of yellow pastels at the bottom in the picture below. I find you can create some lovely lighting effects with them.

ink-with-saltWhen I start an experimental picture using inks, I tend not to have a picture in mind, I let the flow of the colours guide me. I find this way of working quite exciting because I never know how the picture is going to look.

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Using Oil Pastels for the First Time

I used oil pastels for the very first time two weeks ago in my experimental painting and drawing class. I was surprised with the vibrancy of the colours, and how easy they are to apply and blend. They really are beautiful to work with.

Choosing Oil Pastels

There are many brands of oil pastels on the market, some are softer than others. There are advantages of using both soft and hard oil pastels, and you can use both at the same time to create different effects. It is a matter of finding the right ones that suit your style of working.

For quality, high pigmentation and ease of blending nothing beats Sennelier Oil Pastels. They are so soft, smooth and creamy, it’s like drawing with a lipstick. Sennelier are the luxury brand of oil pastels, and the price certainly reflects the quality. They are worth every penny.

There are cheaper oil pastels on the market. The pigmentation may not be as high as the Sennelier oils pastels, but they are a great way of experimenting and seeing how they behave.

I have used Cray-Pas Expressionist Oil Pastels on the pieces on this page. I have tried a couple of other branded oil pastels, but in my opinion, after the Sennelier Oil Pastels, these are the best ones to use. They have high pigmentation, so the colours are vivid. They are lovely to use, not too hard, and it is easy to blend colours together without any oil pastel coming away from the paper. Cray-Pas Expressionist Oil Pastels are readily available to buy on-line from art shops as well as Amazon and ebay.

oil-pastel-abstractI started the picture above with a few curved lines and then filled in the areas, using different colours and different methods of applying the oil pastels.

I blended colours together using my fingers, and I layered one colour on top of the other using lines. Since some oil pastels are harder than others, you can use a paper towel or cloth to blend the colours together.

The picture below is not complete. I started with the outline of the mountains and applied the colours very quickly by layering the different colours on top of each other, using short and long strokes, criss-crossing the lines and blending.

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When using oil pastels for the first time, I think it’s important to get the feel for them. It doesn’t matter what you draw, it can be just lines. See how they blend, use different strokes and lines, layer colours on top of each other using both lines and block colours. Have fun getting to know them and enjoy seeing the colours come to life.

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