Sunday, May 18, 2014

my five faves -- art mediums

In no way would I ever describe myself as a mixed media artist. I love seeing layers of art mediums, found objects, colour and expression seemingly thrown on a canvas to create something so personal and so stunningly beautiful.

But I'm a scrapbooker at heart. Creating these canvases is not something that comes naturally to me and, to be frank, I have so much scrapbooking to do, I really don't have time to create mixed media canvases.

However, that doesn't stop me from playing with art mediums on my layouts. It's really not as crazy or difficult as it sounds. Mixed media adds a certain something -- sometimes texture, dimension and/or colour -- to a layout. It's definitely worth trying out!

Where to start? I found the world of mixed media to be complex, overwhelming and a little intimidating. A few classes and some cool artsy friends took the fear out of playing with art mediums so I gave it a go. I was totally surprised by how great it turned out and, more importantly, how much fun I had with them.

So I thought I'd share my scrapbooking take on how to incorporate five art mediums into your scrapbooking layouts. This is a post by someone fairly new to mixed media for scrapbookers who are thinking of starting to use mixed media in their layouts. I hope you find it useful.

1. Inks
I'd be willing to bet that you own a bunch of inks already. I would place another bet that you probably use them mostly for stamping. I've used them for colouring background paper, edging cardstock and patterned papers, and adding colour to embellishments and modelling paste. In addition to stamps, you can use them on daubers, sponges and with masks and stencils. My favourite thing right now is to tap a finger into my ink pad and spread it over embellishments, letters or paper.

I have four favourite inks right now:
  • Tim Hotlz Distress Inks
  • Donna Salazar Mix'd Media Inx
  • Prima Chalk Chalk Edgers
  • Close to My Heart Inks
These inks are non-archival, which means that if you use them with another water-based product, like a spray or another non-archival ink, they may bleed and smudge and generally look awful. If you're combining your inks with another art medium, you really need to use an archival ink to keep the colour and your stamped image crisp. But this may not always be the look you're going for! Try spraying water onto your ink. Step back. Take a deep breath. Tilt your paper or run a wet sponge over the ink. Something awesome is sure to happen.

2. Mists/Sprays
You probably already have mists and sprays in your stash. I've written about some sprays in a previous blog post (missing from this post are Prima's Color Blooms and Lindy's Stamp Gang's sprays, which I really want to try, and Smooch Spritz, which I've just re-discovered).

Mists and sprays have a mind of their own. If you let go of your expectations and use them sparingly, you are sure to love the results. Sometimes your layout needs a bit of shimmer or shine -- a shot of Glimmer Mist or Color Shine will give you that colourful sparkle. Sometimes your paper needs a little more excitement and, when used with a mask or stencil, a spray immediately changes that paper (like in the first layout below). Sometimes your embellishments need some colour and a quick spray will make them look perfect on your layout (like the snowflakes in the second layout below). Sometimes you want to dive into some trends like drips or flicks and a spray will give you that effect pretty quickly and with very little effort (see the gold flicks on the second layout below).
Me and my two left hands could not master the techniques of spraying and misting no matter how many videos or classes we took. It was only when I watched a video by Anna Dabrowska (aka Finnabair) who said that you never know what you're getting with sprays, that I decided to uncomplicate things and just spray. Sure, it doesn't always turn out the way I expected, but it always looks great.

3. Modelling paste
Modelling paste is used by artists to create texture on paintings (think of waves in a seascape tableau). I don't who first thought of using it on a layout, but I'm of the view that person is a scrapbooking genius.

Modelling paste looks and feels like cake icing. All you need is a palette knife or a plastic knife or an old credit to spread it on your paper. Spreading it over a stencil will give you great results. You can spread it thin, thick or unevenly to get vines, a doily or a damask pattern, (see pictures below) on your page. In the first two photos, I added a damask and a doily pattern to give a bit of texture to my page and to fill in the white space. I kept them white so they would look softer on my page. In the third photo with the vines, I painted the vines using a paintbrush dipped in ink. In the last photo, I used modelling paste in two corners of my page to add a bit of interest and then sprayed the modelling paste over the stencil to create a little shadow. In the hot chocolate layout above, I "pounced" a Prima Chalk Ink over the brick motif created with modelling paste.
Look for light modelling paste by Liquitex or light moulding paste by Golden. And start spreading the goodness. The thinner the paste, the faster it will dry, but you can also use your craft heater to get it to dry faster. Modelling paste does tend to warp your paper and it's pretty difficult to adhere photos to it using tape. But it's so worth it. You will gain a lot of texture to your layout with almost no effort. It really is that easy.

4. Paint
Of all of the art mediums, paint has been the most intimidating for me. I didn't know what brand to buy. I didn't know if I should use oil and water-based paint. I couldn't even choose a colour because I thought I should start with a set.

You could say I was overthinking it.

I've decided to go with Americana acrylic paints which are great for crafts and not too pricey (sometimes I get them on sale for 79 cents). My favourite is a colour called Purple Pizazz. :-)

Photo credit: Americana DecorArt
Americana paints are water-based paints which, just like water-based inks, will react to water and other water-based inks, sprays and paints. I have to be totally honest with you: I haven't used paints as much as other art mediums. I may still be a little scared of them! But they are great to transform the colour of any buttons and chipboard letters and embellishments. 

5. Silks Acrylic Glaze
Silks are also water-based paints, but I gave them their own category because they are so special.
Photo credit: Luminarte
First, as you can sorta see from the picture above, Silks look like they've been lit from inside. They're available in 35 colours (my favourites are nutmeg and pomegranate). They cover just like a paint and offer more shimmer than any spray/mist on the market right now. They're also pretty hard to find so, if you see them, grab some right away.

Putting it all together
The fun part of art mediums is using more than one on the same layout. If this sounds a little crazy, start using different mediums in the same colour or colour family.

In this layout, I used six different art mediums:

  • Tim Holtz Distress Ink (Peacock Feathers) edged my paper
  • Modelling paste spread over a damask stencil
  • Prima Chalk Edger (teal damask) "pounced" on the modelling paste
  • Heidi Swapp Color Shine (Tropicana Teal) sprayed over the doilies and flicked to create drops
  • Dylusions (Campso Teal) sprayed over a circle stencil  
  • Cinnamon Silks painted on the chipboard letters

You'll notice a puddle of spray on the bottom left hand corner of this layout. That was a boo boo, but I had to accept it and move on. I ended up with a layout that I love (and very dark teal fingers!).

If I can leave you with anything, it would be to find a good apron, get ready to get messy and let go of expectations. You will have fun!

Hope you have a crafty week!!


  1. Does it surprise me that your favorite paint colour is purple pizzaz? No, lol! Great post Natalie very informative and thorough. Love the way you break things down and instill confidence and courage in others. Bravo!