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Symbolic Mixed Media Collage- “Windows & Doors”

abstract mixed media collage

This mixed media collage is literally a huge mess.  🙂  I wasn’t sure what I was doing when I began, I just started working, hoping for it to take on a life of it’s own.

Do you ever finish a piece that you don’t really like, but you love all the individual elements and parts that make up the whole?  I don’t even know if that statement makes any sense, but that’s how I feel about this piece.  I confess- I am not in love with my finished work here.  And yet, I see so much symbolism shouting at me and there are things about it that I just love.

I love how every layer is peeking through.  I love how the chipboard and texture paste on top of the chipboard look like new layers added over layers of age and decay, as if they’re trying to make up for or cover what has happened in the past.  I love how the text is peeking through the gunky texture paste and colors, as if there are things written or done in the past that someone is trying to hide.

Of course, the chipboard is the namesake element- some are solid squares and some are open and filled with paste and ink while still allowing a bit of the background to show.  Those squares are like focal points, highlighting certain ideas and opinions while ignoring or blocking others.

mixed media collage with chipboard

I know it’s my personal beliefs coming through, but every collage I create represents universal truth.  All these elements- text, texture, chipboard squares, colors- they all represent what is true, what is not, and how human beings try to cover or reinterpret what is true for their own benefit.

mixed media collage with text

So it’s true… I struggle with this piece.  It is not beautiful or neat- in fact, it’s dark, dreary and, well… ugly.  But every time I look at it I see something new that reminds me that understanding what is true and what is not is a struggle.

Wow, what is it about collage that makes me try to be philosophical all the time? Even when I don’t know what form my mixed media collage will take, it always ends up being symbolic in nature.

mixed media collage with muslin

I’d love to know what each of you see when you look at this collage.  Do any of the elements have meaning for you?  Perhaps the way it’s assembled strikes you in a certain way?  I’m always so inspired by your answers, so I hope you’ll share them!

Stitched Paper ATC’s

stitched paper

I have some fun ATC’s for you today!  I had several cards left from my sister’s wedding, and I wanted use them in a project.  I grabbed several of them and got to work.

  • I took 2 or 3 and cut them into strips and squares, and added a layer of white gesso.
  • I used some different script stamps with distress inks to add some text.
  • Some ripped pieces of tissue wrap were mixed in with these stamped pieces and adhered to 6 full cards.
  • With the backgrounds and stamped pieces, these cards already looked pretty cool, but I wanted to work a bit more on the stitched technique I did a few days ago.  I grabbed some coordinating threads and went to town adding stitches to each card.
  • It took a little while to tie a lot of the tails together, but these close ups show you the cool details the threads add.
  • As a final step, I added some sketch lines and dots with my calligraphy pen and some colored india ink.

stitched paper ATC'sStitched paper technique

Beyond the fun stitches and stamps on the surface, the long threads really extend each card and work really well with the splatters in the background.  I love these effects!  And it was really such a simple process- not too many steps, just a few layers of paper and some runs through the sewing machine, and you have your own stitched paper ATC’s, cards, layouts, tags, etc.  You can’t go wrong!

stitched paper ATC's Thank you for reading!  I hope I’ve inspired you in some way today.  Have fun creating!!

Silent Message- abstract calligraphy collage

abstract calligraphy collage "Silent Message"

What a relaxing week this last one has been!  My husband and I had the last week off from work, and instead of going anywhere, we had a “staycation” and did very little besides staying home and vegging out.  We may have slept in and watched a bit too much tv, but in the midst of all the relaxing, I was able to do some creating.  I just can’t turn it off!

abstract calligraphy collage close up

I don’t think it’s a big secret that I love incorporating text into my artwork, and this calligraphy collage has so much I just love looking at it, especially since much of it is obscured.  The reason I’ve entitled this piece “Silent Message” is because the words are difficult to read, yet we know the meaning is there, because we can see the words peeking from beneath the surface.  The message may be “silent” because it is muted, but it can still be understood through careful examination and study.

calligraphy collage close up- white text

Much of the text I added to the surface with white india ink, which you can see in this shot, but is not readily visible at a glance.  I love the subtle way it enhances this piece.

Don’t forget to check out my video tutorial of this process- and I’d love for you to subscribe to my channel.  I have many more pieces and videos in the works.

Supply list- (this list contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission for any purchases that are made through these links.)

Tim Holtz tissue wrap

patterned paper

white gesso

Liquitex gel medium

Liquitex modeling paste

Tim Holtz bubbles stencil

oil pastels

linseed oil

walnut ink

india ink

Encaustic Art with Paper Elements

I’ve been doing a bit of practicing recently. Encaustic is one of my favorite artistic mediums to use in mixed media art, but there are times when using my heat tool can really mess up the look I’m trying to create if I’m not very careful.

mixed media quilling art on encaustic medium with oil paint

With this piece, I used a little oil paint with the wax to get that green color.  I used chunks of tim holtz’ tissue paper with the chunks of color to create a color blocking effect, and then it was time to add my paper pieces.  Usually when I add these to my encaustic pieces, I just set them on the surface, brush some wax over the top, and use my heat tool to fuse the pieces with the wax.  This doesn’t really work that well, especially if I want the wax to be smooth without little pebbles in between the paper pieces.  Plus, I did not want to mess up the squares of color and paper I had created.  So this time, I worked slowly.

mixed media encaustic art with quilled paper pieces

I set the pieces on the wax and pushed them in as far as I could.  I did this step a few times after heating the area very slightly, each time pushing them a little further into the wax.  Once I could see a build up around the bottom of each piece, I used my heat tool to very carefully fuse the build up of wax with the bottom of the paper.  It took a while and I didn’t quite get it right on some areas, but for the most part I was able to fuse my paper pieces into the wax without having a build up on top or in between the pieces.  It will take some more practice (and patience!) but this is how I’ll be adding elements to my encaustic art from now on.

Symbolic Text

full collage with symbolic text

 I’ve been thinking lately about using symbolic text in my artwork.  Letters and words at their core are just a mix of curved and straight lines.  Language is the art of taking those lines and giving them meaning. The result is that when we write down certain line shapes in certain order, we understand the meaning behind the markings.  It’s pretty fascinating to think of text in this way- as symbols we use to communicate thoughts and ideas to each other.  Without understanding how these lines and curves form letters, words, and sentences, language is meaningless.

collage with symbolic text

 In that sense, how does text add symbolic meaning to our artwork?  For example, the word “memory” above- how does this word gain additional meaning as part of my collage?  How does my collage become more symbolic through the use of this word?  The words we include in our art become more than just words- they serve as symbols on multiple levels and lend our art a depth that is difficult to achieve in any other way.  What are your thoughts on adding text to your artwork?

Commissioned Triptych

 A full commissioned triptych I finally managed to finish…  Yay for late nights and messy fingers!!  So many layers are included in each of these pieces… Tim Holtz tissue wrap and tissue tape, torn book pages, patterned scrapbook paper, and lots of stamped images are peeking through the modeling paste that covers much of the surface.  A few gears, keys, and chipboard elements complete each piece.  I’m hoping their new owner loves these as much as I do!!

This is actually my third attempt at creating the right combo for this commission, but I finally was able to catch the vision.  Here are my first and second attempts, both of which I love, but we ended up deciding on different colors.

triptych with torn paper and pastetriptych with lots of paint dripstriptych commission

  • Each canvas was painted a base cream color.
  • I used Tim Holtz’ tissue wrap, patterned scrapbook paper, and torn book pages to form the first collage layer.  I purchased a used bible and used pages from that to add specific scriptures into the collage.
  • Much of the papers were covered/highlighted by the addition of liquitex modeling paste.  I used stencils and palette knives to add the paste to the surface in a rough, very texturized way.
  • I used a foam brush with fluid acrylics to brush paint on the surface in specific directions.
  • A few splatters of paint were necessary, too.  🙂
  • Repeating the main steps and adding another layer of paper, paste and paint gave the paintings more depth.
  • These needed a few more elements, so I added some washi tape, altered gears, chipboard, and even some keys.

triptych with gears elements triptych with chipboard music notes triptych with lots of elements

They loved their triptych!  🙂  Let me know if you love it, too, and subscribe to my newsletter so you can see even more projects and techniques like this.