Mixed Media Collage – Make It Your Time to Shine

Mixed media collage using bright colors, flowers, clock references

Today we’re going to take a look at one of my favorite forms of expression – the mixed media collage. It’s the artist’s version of an English cottage garden. What appears to be colorful mayhem is really the deliberate placement of carefully chosen elements which allows a story to gradually unfold. There’s nothing random or haphazard about it. Let’s dig a little deeper…

It's time to tell your story

Do you ever have the urge to make something pretty but you don’t exactly know WHAT? You want to paint, but you don’t know how. You’d like to write, but you’ve never written more than social media posts. And you’re jealous that your 6-year old gets to play in fingerpaints.

Enter the mixed media collage.

In visual art, mixed media is an artwork in which more than one medium or material has been employed. Assemblages and collages are two common examples of art using different media that will make use of different materials including cloth, paper, wood and found objects.

In broad terms, the difference between assemblages and collages is as such:

Assemblage art usually consists of more three-dimensional elements attached to a defined substrate, whereas collage art is more two-dimensional where the materials are glued to the base surface. (Though there are often 3-D elements on collage pieces as well.)

My piece is rather a combination of the two because there are plenty of protrusions (more in alignment with assemblage art), but there are also plenty of glued down bits (collage aspects).

And that’s the beauty of mixed media – there are few, if any, rules!

Unlock your story layer by layer

This mixed media collage was created on a 5×7″ canvas board, which is a piece of canvas glued onto high-quality stiffened board and primed with multiple coats of primer. It’s quite sturdy and perfect for this technique.

I started with the base coat of color using acrylic paints. I didn’t have a particular color scheme in mind, I just let my mind inspire me. I love color, lots of saturated color, and I ended up here with the rich colors of a beautiful sunset, starring only three acrylic paints available from any craft store – a deep yellow, cherry red and vivid purple.

I stamped a “chicken wire” stamp on top then stenciled through lace using black StazOn ink through that. I used StazOn because it won’t smear with the application of decoupage glue which would come soon after. StazOn “STAYS ON.”

I also stamped a large clock off the lower right corner centered with an image of the Eiffel Tower. Stamping off the page (or canvas) gives more of a free-flowing feel to the piece. If I had tried to corral that image and keep the whole thing on the canvas, two things would have happened:

  1. most of it would have been covered up with the decoupaged leaves, and
  2. it would have felt “tight” and artificially constrained, neither of which you want on an art piece. Loose and free-flowing is the name of the game here.
A close up look at the painting, stamped image, decoupaged leaves and custom-painted small flowers
The beauty is in the details

There’s a lot going on in this photo. First up, the leaves. I cut them out of a page from an old book (bought specially for this type of art) with my Big Shot and a Spellbinders leaf die. Then I decoupaged them to the board with Mod Podge decoupage glue and painted them (roughly, I might add) with thinned green Gelatos (mixed media, water-soluble art crayons for grownups). I didn’t use acrylics because I wanted the print to show through.

I then applied a tiny bit of Mercury Glass Stickles (my favorite color – it goes with almost everything) and immediately smeared it with a finger. I do this when I want a slight glitter effect but not a raised glitter texture.

I painted my favorite Sweetheart Blossoms with my homemade shimmer paint, and attached them with glue dots.

One last tiny detail – I outlined all of the decoupaged shapes (leaves and words) with a charcoal pencil then rubbed it with a finger to blend it into a smoky line. Kind of like smoky eyeliner from the 90’s. (Hey, I resemble that remark.) It’s a neat trick artists do to add definition to shapes.

In a private garden, wacky flowers are always welcome

When you’re telling your story, you get to tell it your way. My story takes place in my garden.

Author's garden bed
The head gardener's flowers beds usually contain a piece of art

I’ve grown hundreds of flowers, many from seed, and my flower beds are usually a riot of color. The same holds true with my art. However, that’s where I take artistic license. Because my art flowers come straight out of my head, not out of a seed catalog.

Which explains the flowers on this piece of mixed media art. Because… blue? Yes. Blue.

Close up of clock piece, painted flowers
Fantasy flowers are the norm in my world

I wanted a rose there, but I didn’t have a rose that was big enough, so I used what I call “floral blanks” (empty layers that you can mix and match) until I had the right size fantasy flower. The original rose was red and only needed a little shimmer paint on the edges, but the other two pieces were enhanced even more with my homemade shimmer paints. I wanted just a skosh of blue on the whole piece, which allowed me to use the blue pearl in the frame. But more on that frame in a moment.

The other flowers are the cherry blossoms which I’m so fond of using in my projects. I painted them with homemade copper shimmer paint.

The miniature wood clock piece, part of a set from Prima, came from a local craft store.

The hoarder's perfect excuse: "I'm an artist"

This teeny tiny frame is a perfect example. It was a prize in an English Christmas cracker one year, completely useless for anything, but it was so precious I held onto it anyway long before I started crafting. How could anyone throw something this cute away?

And there it was, the perfect fit for this exact spot. Granted, it needed a little dressing up. It was bright silver, which wouldn’t do at all. So I coated it with layer of gesso first (artist’s paint primer), painted it with shimmer paints then accented the flowers and leaves with Copic markers. Then I sponged black ink (regular stamping ink) over all and immediately wiped it off to dull the bright colors down a bit.

Close up of tiny metal frame on the collage
A tiny prize from a Christmas cracker

Before adhering the frame to the canvas, I smeared a bit more Stickles in that corner. Then I attached the frame and then a blue pearl.

A tiny metal bird and the words "Time to Shine" finish this piece
Finishing touches

A little bitty bird and the words “Time to Shine” stamped onto off-white cardstock and cut out were adhered to the canvas. I edged the words with gold glitter glue, then I applied the charcoal “eyeliner technique” around them. Makes them pop off the canvas, doesn’t it? Just remember to keep a paper towel nearby if you do this. Trust me.

That’s it for today, my story’s complete. I’ll have to let the smell of E6000 clear out of my craft room before I go back in.

How about you? What are you going to make for your mixed media collage? Are you inspired? Have you ever done this before? Will you try? We’d love to see your story. If you have one, please share it on Facebook and share the details of your story.

We’ll be waiting – happy crafting!

Angled view of mixed media collage

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Hi, I'm Shea!

Hi, I'm Shea!

Do you prefer handmade to store bought? Would you rather make something than buy it? If you want to tap into your inner creative genius and say, "Yes, I made that," stick with me. From greeting cards to soap to old-fashioned desserts "from my mother's recipe box," (sprinkled with tales of life as an almost-senior), you'll learn that handmade beats the socks off store bought!

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