Are you ready to to dig deep and explore
the magic of layers?
This is a fun, simple project that’s also
quite therapeutic and meditative.
Enjoy, dear friend!
Materials you will need
** Mixed-Media paper of desired size (I recommend Strathmore brand)
— You could also use something sturdy you have laying around like recycled cardboard or mat board
** Various pieces of paper that you think will work well together
** Solid color or decorative tissue paper
** Gel Medium or Mod Podge
** Gesso (don’t go for the cheaper stuff, it’ll be far too gritty; I recommend Golden or Liquitex brand)
** Pencil and eraser
** Fine tip archival pen (Micron pens,
Faber Castell Pitt Pens, and the traditional pen and ink or fountain pen all work well
** Something to add color!!
** Acrylic or Craft Paint
** Oil Pastels
** Embellishments like lace, twine, fabric or wash tape, buttons, glitter, sequins, whatever you have!
Recommended (but not required)
Materials I love
** Craft Heat Tool (for drying the layers, which helps speed up the process)
** Oil Pastels
** Pen and Ink
** Ink and Stamps (to add colorful little designs)
My advice is use what you have, and perhaps purchase something new that will excite you. The set of Cray Pas Oil Pastels I have linked above are truly incredible, and I used them in this project. They are professional quality, so smooth, and such a great price too!
Another fun way to play with color you may not have tried yet– water-soluble crayons! Faber Castell created a line they call Gelatos, which I have linked above as well. You simply color lightly as you would a crayon, then add a little water with a brush and voila! Like magic, the color smooths out and blends beautifully.
Anyways, let’s get started!
Step One: Gather Materials, and graciously allow your left brain to do it’s thing
The left hemisphere of our brain is the logical, analytical side. It loves to organize, solve puzzles, and have opinions about everything. It’s good that we have it, but honestly, the left brain likes to try to insert itself into our creative work and hurt our feelings with critique and over-thinking.
If we aren’t careful, it can prevent us from doing our best work.
The forte of our left brain is to be anyalitical and critical. However, it’s important we only allow the it to dominate our creative process in this beginning stage; as we organize our space, completely clear the surface we will be painting on, and get our palette and supplies in their positions.
Let us thank our left brain for being so good at these tasks.
Whilst gathering supplies and such, be sure to prepare the right brain for an artsy adventure. Let that vibrant right hemisphere explore the colors and textures of the materials, and allow its rhythm and intuition to softly guide decisions of choosing what to work with.
Step Two: Adhere the most dominant collage piece
Now that you’ve let your left brain do it’s thing, go ahead and invite it to take a nap on the imaginary love-seat in the corner of your studio.
It’s time to let go…
Enjoy the simple process of cutting and ripping paper. Feel the childlike joy in that.
You’ll want to tear up the paper pieces into various sizes, and try to avoid a lot of sharp edges.
I like using funky scissors on a few of the edge pieces. The decorative cuts work best on edges; if you go too crazy with the funky scissors on all sides of your collage pieces, they may not jive well when put together.
But that’s just my opinion– feel free to try whatever you feel moved to do!
Trust yourself. You know best.
After all, this is your creation.
Securing down the most dominate layer is a great place to start.
I prefer to use Liquitex Fluid Matte Medium for adhering my collages. It has the perfect consistency and transparency, and it’s quite affordable as far as professional mediums go.
Mod Podge is great too. Whatever your budget allows, find a medium that you like. Be sure to note if they have a gloss or matte finish– choose whichever you prefer.
Step Three: Play with the positioning of other collage elements
Before sealing down the rest of your collage pieces, play around with how they’re going to fit together. I always tend to start with way more pieces than I actually use in the end. But it’s fun to play!
Don’t worry about trimming the elements to exactly fit your paper. After the medium dries, you can cut them off.
Now’s the time to decide to add or take away some pieces. I usually end up taking away some things when I start gluing. It’s never to late to take something away or add something totally new.
Trust yourself. Your muse is with you!
When everything in in position, start by gluing the pieces that will be on the bottom, and then work your way up the layers.
Be sure you lift up the corners and brush a little extra medium in there.
Step Four: Allow time to Dry before
trimming the edges
Optional: You can use a craft heat tool or hairdryer to speed up drying time
Step Five: Add a semi-transparent Gesso Layer
This is my collage before I’ve applied the gesso layer. The goal for this step is to flatten the layers so they all blend to create a background.
It’s important that your gesso layer is quite diluted so that the collage papers show through. Simply add water, testing the transparency on a scrap paper to ensure you like the amount of transparency.
You could also tint your gesso if you want to add a warmer or cooler tone to your collage. Here’s an example of a collage in which I tinted the gesso [with Titan Buff and the tiniest bit of yellow] to give it an aged, warm tone. It really helps to unify all of the collage elements.
Also notice how I have a lot of sharp edges … Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. I wish I had thought more about the edges in this one and smoothed them out better, but it was a good learning experience! And I still love my sweet little fawn 🙂
It can be helpful to have a paper towel or baby wipe handy to take away the gesso in some areas. Also, I tend to make my gesso layers so transparent that I put two or three layers of it on. Makes me feel like I have more control and I like using a paintbrush as much as I can, teehee.
Ta da! Now you can see how the gesso really helps to soften everything up.
Step Six: Add tissue paper to soften edges and add more texture and interest to the background
After I added some of the Tim Holtz decorative tissue wrap (gosh I love that stuff,) I started penciling in my main subject. My sweet little artista begins to take shape. I use a very soft-leaded pencil, and to erase I use an Eraser Stik. I keep my fountain pen next to me for when I’m ready to add outlines.
Step Seven: Adding Color, Detail and Dimension
Because the paper behind my artista was so dull, I used a pastel pencil to color in the whites of her eyes.
Pastel Time for this one! If you’re using pastels, I have a handy bit of info… You can certainly use pastels directly on Gesso, but keep in mind that all Gesso has a gritty texture (even the nice stuff.) I like the gritty texture, but if you want a smooth surface to work on, you can apply a layer of matte medium and use the pastel on top of that.
These pastels <3 I’m telling ya, they’re so wonderful to work with.
I’m all about texture and adding layers of dimension. Using fabric tape, I cut some pieces out to create a lovely floral scarf. Super easy, just cut and stick!
Lastly, I added the lace in the upper right corner, and with a paper towel, lightly distressed the pastel to give a more grungy, vintage look.
Hope you are inspired to create a lovely collage of your own!
I’d love to see what you create over on the Prismatic Heart Facebook page 🙂
P.S. If you like this tutorial, remember you can totally share it with your friends!! Sharing is caring!