Thursday, May 5, 2011

My First Mixed Media Collage - Grungy Monday

Recently I was roaming around my local Michael's store and found a lovely book called "Taking Flight, Inspiration & Techniques to Give Your Creative Spirit Wings" by Kelly Rae Roberts. It's not a new book. In fact when I mention it to my friends, many of them have heard of it and of Kelly Rae Roberts. Maybe I'm just a late bloomer, but this was a new discovery for me.

Maybe it's like people asking me "Just who is this Tim Holtz you are always talking about?"

Can you imagine?

Back to the book. If you've ever seen it, the cover alone calls to you. Just the name "Taking Flight" speaks volumes. Then there are the whimsical illustrations of simple faced women with a sense of peace and happiness about them. And as you turn the pages, you are enveloped in colorful collages, with layer upon layer of distressed goodness, not to mention (the main point of the book) encouragement, inspiration, understanding and a sense of camaraderie. I couldn't believe how she spoke to me. Directly to me. It was as if she knew exactly what's been going through my mind and where I currently am on my creative journey.

Needless to say, I highly recommend this book if you are a creative person.

This week's Grungy Monday Challenge seemed like a good opportunity to mix both a unique technique by Tim Holtz with art inspiration from Kelly's book. The challenge this week is to recess something into your artwork. Tim has a great tutorial on his blog right here.

Here is what I came up with...

If you click on the image, you'll see the details better. Namely the recessed area of the girl's heart.

This was my first attempt at a mixed media art collage of this magnitude. I pretty much played with this all day, and loved every single second. It was something new for me and I was a little intimidated at first, but that is precisely Kelly's point in her book. Overcome those creative fears, try something new, explore, learn and grow!

My piece is 12 x 12 and if you're interested, keep reading and I'll share with you my steps along the way as I created it.

Much like Tim, I started with a 12 x 12 piece of black foamboard. I sketched my girl with a white pencil and cut away the heart with a sharp Xacto blade where I wanted to create the recessed area.

Kelly does hers a bit differently. I decided to do more of a patchwork-style art collage using many of her techniques in distressing and the details. I don't know if my method is a good one. I just know it worked pretty well for me. I made a tracing on an overlay of vellum that attached lightly to the top of my foamboard so that I could flip it down periodically to check the placement of my paper pieces.

I cut closely around the tracing on the vellum as I went along to make it easier to place the paper pieces down. I knew I was going to be overlapping papers, so I had to work strategically in my placement.

Once I got all the paper pieces down, this is how it looked. I was thrilled so far. I was actually doing this!

Here's where Tim's technique comes into play. I flipped the board over and cut through the center of the heart, then made these snippings so I could fold them over and stick them down. If you sew, it's kind of like clipping curves.

This is how it looks from the front now.

Kelly suggests using a brayer and a few neutral colors of fluid acrylic paint to cover the artwork to give a more uniform look and texture. This really toned down the bright colors nicely. (I didn't really know what fluid acrylic paint was, so I added a little water to my regular acrylics.) I added some alcohol ink (green) to the brayer for a little more color. Then a final distressing with Walnut Stain on my finger for the edges and over the artwork in certain places.

For the hair, I painted on some Espresso dabber paint with a brush, thinning it a bit with water but not too much. And for the girl's skin, I used a fleshy color acrylic paint thinned with water quite a bit. I really wanted to be able to see the script writing under the layer of paint, especially in her face.

See it? I love how that looks. I added charcoal pencil around most of the artwork, smudging it with my finger. I even used my Copic markers on the girl's lips, just to see if they would work with all the paint and layers. They did.

I added a layer of paper behind the recessed heart then added this butterfly from the craft store in the floral department. It had lots of green in it which went well with the green alcohol ink accent I added earlier.

I finished off the piece with stamping in her hair and rub-ons here and there. The flower in her hair is a button from Tim Holtz, and in case you didn't notice, minus the girls' dress, most of the paper piecing is done with Tim Holtz Vintage Shabby paper stash.

When I created this piece, I had the "Taking Flight" concept in mind. The girl is at peace, her heart is open to new possibilities and her arms are outstretched in her willingness to soar and grow.

I enjoyed making this so much, that I'm already designing my next one in my head and am eager to begin.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a wonderful day.


  1. Hi Annette
    wow!! This is just such a beautiful piece.
    Thanks for sharing. WOW! WOW! WOW!
    Lisa and Elaine @ Destination Art
    Western Australia

  2. Your art is absolutely beautiful! i loved your description - I could actually visualize you making this. Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. Beautiful!Thanks for the glimpse into your heart! fab project, thanks for sharing.

  4. Pretty soon you will be teaching online classes! Fantastic for your first mixed media piece!

  5. All I can say is WOW.....Your art takes my breath away.

  6. Wow!!! This is an amazing piece of work. I have the book but haven't looked at for a long time, I think I'll have to take it of the shelf and read it again.
    xxx Hazel.

  7. Girl this is FABULOUS and your first one. wow love it I need to create one, thanks for inspiring me.

  8. I have this fab book too. You have done an amazing job - just wonderful and the heart is so beautiful. Great work and creation!
    Sarah at 54

  9. WOW! How very cool! Your creativity and inspiration definitely took flight!

  10. I love this book - its a favorite in my creative library. And I LOVE what you've made! I have shamelessly been copying from "Taking Flight" I might have to follow your lead and actually 'take flight'

  11. Annette, This is absolutely inspiring and wonderful! Any chance I can buy it from you???


  12. Absolutely beautiful, Annette! So creative and inspiring! Loved your detailed description of the process -- we can tell you poured your heart into this.

  13. Wow! This is spectacular! I love the way you did the niche as the heart!

  14. Annette, your ability never seizes to amaze me. What a gorgeous piece! Ellen

  15. Spectacular! Truly inspirational! The butterfly and heart niche are perfect!

  16. Breathtaking.....a true "peace" of art.

  17. Annette,

    Amazing!!! Love the way it all came together. I couldn't help but think of Jamie as the beautiful girl. Did you realize she was your inspiration???? Hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day. Love - Tricia

  18. WOW...WOW....WOW...abosolutely breathtaking.


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