Layering Mixed Media Papers

I got a question the other day about how to layer papers when it comes to mixed media. Of course, I’m new to all this and still experimenting, but I’ll tell you how I usually do it. The question specifically was about if I layer the papers first, or after the picture “gets going.” The answer is both.

I’ll show you what I’m working on now. I found a collection of papers that I like which included pattern paper, sheets from an old music book, and pages from an old palmistry book. I got some of these pages from estate sales, and some from that great library sale I went to a few weeks ago.

I took the papers and covered two different canvases with them. I usually cover a couple canvases at once, so that I can just pick up one when I’m ready to paint. At this point, I just put down papers where I like them and where they feel good to me.

After the papers are down, I think about the picture. Since I’ve got these cool palmistry illustrations on these, I may paint something related to it. Or not. I haven’t thought about it yet, but I’m going to try and finish these for next week so you can see it from beginning to end.

I like starting on a canvas that is covered like this. Even if I cover up most of the words or whatever, I like having them there underneath the picture. But the layering doesn’t stop there. It all depends on what you’re trying to do with the picture.

For the “Addicted to Love” picture, I kept the layering in the background. I just put different colors on top and painted the picture over it. I liked where the background layering peaked through and didn’t feel the need to add to it.

For the “Keep an Eye Out for Someone Special” picture, I did some initial layering and then a lot afterward. I just keep layering until I liked the final design. If you want some really good examples and tutorials, artsy blogger June has a ton.

So in terms of layering, it all depends on your picture and what you personally like. I find myself pulling back sometimes because one too many layers can ruin a picture for me. The great part about this type of medium is that if you feel you’ve “gone too far,” plop another layer on and start over. The more you experiment, the more you find your own personal style.


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