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two mixed media backgrounds

October 1, 2010

morning friends! i have been super busy this week getting everything ready for my altered book class. i already have five students and due to the size of the space, i only have one slot left. wahoo! have i told you yet that i am excited? well, i am.

i have been experimenting with different backgrounds lately. in mixed media, your background is simply your “starting point”, or at least that is how i look at it. you see, mixed media is all about layers and texture. the more layers, the better. and the cool thing is that you can use any technique as a background or starting point, as long as you layer other techniques on top of the first layer. does that make sense?

i often start my backgrounds with collage, but i have been trying other backgrounds for my altered books.

mixed media altered book

these are the two backgrounds i am going to teach you today. i don’t know if you can see it in the first one, but there is a design etched into the page.

etched gesso

journal page


sharp object for etching

watercolors or watercolor crayons

india ink in white


the first background starts with a very thick coat of gesso. slop it down on your page with a big paintbrush, covering the entire page in a very thick manner. working quickly, use a sharp object like a pencil or the other side of your brush to etch a design into the the thick gesso. let it dry. then cover the page with watercolors, or watercolor crayons. allow it to dry again. then using india ink in white, repeat the same design that you used to etch into the gesso. repeating a pattern in your piece creates harmony.

watercolor wash




india ink


the second background is a watercolor wash. first cover your page generously with a coat of gesso. let dry. then move onto your watercolor paints. watercolors are great for creating washes because of the transparency of the paint. and i love watercolors because they mix colors while you work with them. for this page, i chose an analogous color scheme of greens and blues. analogous colors are simply colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. using colors like these creates dimension on your page. and the more dimension you have in a piece, the more interesting it is. let the wash dry. then take some india ink and drip a few drops on your paper. using a straw blow the ink around the page in a random fashion. after the ink is dry, take your gesso and paint a design anywhere on the page. i did two flowers and i love the effect of using gesso. it almost looks like a resist when you paint with the white gesso.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 2, 2010 2:08 am

    These are gorgeous!! I really love them and thanks soo much for teaching us!! Such a wonderful tutorial. 🙂 Have a lovely merry happy weekend and love to you!

  2. October 2, 2010 7:55 pm

    Good day!This was a really wonderful website!
    I come from uk, I was luck to seek your subject in digg
    Also I learn a lot in your theme really thank your very much i will come daily

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