Mixed Media More: Collage

Introduction to Mixed Media More

Welcome to a new series in which I’m going to be (hopefully!) helping you make more art, specifically more mixed media art. As someone who is constantly mixing media—including collage, acrylic paint, and inks of all kinds—I’m in a situation where I have combined enough art supplies to be able to anticipate the reactions of different media when they are used together. Many people are comfortable with the concept of “mixed media,” i.e. using multiple different types of art supplies together, but recently I have noticed that even within the realm of mixed media there is a list of unspoken rules. We see watercolors coupled with colored pencils, acrylic paints used to accent marker art, and especially white gel pen ink highlighting almost any other medium…but why not more unconventional pairings? Mixed media should be far more liberating than this, allowing an artist to remove their barriers and be limited by their imagination rather than their supplies. Hopefully, after reading this, you’ll look at your supplies with a little bit more imagination.

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Mixing It Up: Collage

Firstly, lets talk about the one supply everyone has right now in their home: collage material. It’s more than just magazine clippings: it’s your junk mail, your receipts, your ticket stumps, and your doodles. A lot of artists—especially art journaling artists—like collage because it allows non-drawers to incorporate imagery into their work and can be done quickly. It’s drying time is almost nonexistent, and allows busy artists to create on a time crunch. Many times we see art journal pages slathered with acrylic or watercolor paints, which is then layered up with collage material: heck I know I’ve done it a few times myself! But so many of us use this single formula, and call it a day. Why don’t we keep going? And what we would we do if we did in fact keep going? I recommend that you allow for your imagery to be apart of your art rather than to sit upon it.

5 Techniques For Collage

1. Use pens to accentuate lines. If your imagery is an animal or person, trace their facial features and the folds in clothes, or the textures in fur. Even non-drawers can be tracers, which might help to get you to the drawing stage of your art. The plus of this is that it lets you personalize an image without totally changing it

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2. Use your paint to recolor the image. You can paint parts of your imagery, or use the image to act as an underpainting for an entire new layer. If your imagery is a person, try giving them an acrylic makeover; if you imagery is a floral, give it an exotic flare. Even if you are using the same color that the imagery currently is, you can still add new texture with paint strokes.

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3. Dismember and replace! Instead of just cutting around the edges of your imagery, use those scissors to also dismember your imagery For example, remove the limbs of a model and draw them some new and more interesting ones! Remove the stem of your florals and let them grow from the new ones that you paint.

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4. Change the color of your imagery (I do this one A LOT!) Use transparent watercolors to tint the colors on your imagery, rather it be just one part of the imagery or the entire thing. You can also use pigmented India inks to wash your imagery in waterproof colors, which will not react with other supplies that you may then add on top of your collage material. If you use this technique on black and white photos, you can completely control the coloration, which is my preferred technique.

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5. Distress your collage. You can alter the entire style of your collage by warping it in water (let it dry before attaching!) and then using it in your art. You can also distress imagery by lightly sanding it with a fine sandpaper, scratching it with scissors, or muddying its appearance with coffee or tea. This looks especially good with imagery that is vintage or sepia toned, giving it an “old” feel.

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Bonus: Let it pop off the page, literally! There a two options for this technique: 1) only attach part of your collage material to the page, folding it to create a 3D effect, and 2) use small pieces of card board or foam board strategically under collage material, gluing the collage material to the cardboard pieces and the cardboard piece to the page. This technique can be somewhat difficult to accomplish without repercussions if used in a bound art journal and not a singular page or canvas, so be wise in your application.

More Information

Look out for the upcoming video, in which you’ll see me use all 5 of these techniques! I’ll show you my preferred way to arrange and glue the collage material down–which surprisingly comes in multiple steps–and how I tie in a background. Hopefully these tips get you arting! Let me know in the comments below if you have any tips of your own, or how these tips have inspired you!

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