Step-by-Step Mixed Media Collage

"we must dream", mixed media collage, 48" x 24" (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

Today I am going to share with you photos and details of the steps taken to create the mixed media collage shown above. I’ve been working on smaller pieces for a while and I just felt the need to let loose and “go large”! The canvas for this piece measures 48″ x 24″, and after creating so many little 5×5″ and 5×7″ collages lately it seemed even bigger.

To begin I penciled in some rough guidelines to follow while painting the background with acrylic paint. I often go for a color blended and texturized paint style when creating a background but this time I wanted to use a more geometric pattern. The other thing I did differently was to limit my color palette. I selected neutral gray, bright white and cool mid-tone blue. These images show the blocks of colors going on the canvas:

work in progress, image #1 (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker
work in progress, image #2 (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker
work in progress, image #3 (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

As you can tell by the third image I did some blending of colors in each section and also went into some spaces and added extra texture for some interest & fun. After that I needed to select what papers, clippings, images and photos I wanted to include.

work in progress, image #4 (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

As you can tell by this image, I pulled a large group of items and made my selections from there.  I always find it interesting when I look back & see all the things I thought might work that didn’t end up in the final image. Let alone the things I hadn’t even thought of yet that came to mind later in the process! The next step was to just start randomly adding paper to the background paint. I try not to get too wrapped up in this step because many times it’s covered with so much else not a lot of it will end up showing at the end. I did get overly excited about one image (the darker rectangle, furthest away in the image below) and, due to my enthusiasm & early application, it ended up not being the focal point I had originally hoped. I find it hard not to get carried away when I’m busy creating!

work in progress, image #5 (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

As soon as this layer dried I began the next layer, which had smaller, more detailed images and patterns…including some splashes of black to add some contrast to the softer background colors.

work in progress, image #6 (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker
close-up, work in progress, image #7 (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

When that layer had dried I mixed some white acrylic paint with some clear glaze and spread it over the pieces. I covered some parts lightly and  other were covered more heavily plus, since the glaze mixture wasn’t totally opaque, as it dried parts of the underneath layers began to show through randomly. I made it a point to leave lines and texture as I layered the glaze on and when it had dried slightly I also went back in with some rippled cardboard and lifted part of the layer off in places.

work in progress, image #8 (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker
close up, work in progress, image #9 (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

Now it was getting down to the final details…and the decision as to when I was done! I had several old printmaking projects that were mostly just color with texture and I decided that two of them complimented the piece well.  Since I’d used the square/rectangular shapes to begin with I thought throwing in some round shapes would be fun.  Well, at least I thought that until I had to cut all of the pieces out! 🙂 I also had an older digital art print that included this butterfly in it.  Part of the print had been damaged so it felt good to be able to salvage the butterfly and let it come to life in a new piece of art. I also had a sheet of quotes and words, most of them centered around the topic of dreams and dreaming…my favorite! So I clipped single words, snippets and entire sayings from that and arranged them on top of the acrylic/glaze layer. Then I began playing with the layout of the circles.  It went through several transformations (like image #10 below) before I was pleased enough to permanently adhere them to the piece.

work in progress, image #10 (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

After everything was attached to the canvas (I use clear acrylic gel as a bonding medium when I collage & create mixed media) I let the piece dry, propped it up on an easel and let it sit where I could see it every day.  And let it sit. And sit. And sit some more. Finally I decided that there was nothing else I wanted to add to it so I declared it finished.  (Well, except for painting the edges of the canvas!) I titled it “We Must Dream” from one of the phrases that’s included on it, the finished image is at the top of this post. Here is a close-up of a finished section too:

close up from "we must dream" mixed media collage (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

I hope you enjoyed seeing the steps used to make this piece and that it inspired you to go be creative!



12 thoughts on “Step-by-Step Mixed Media Collage

  1. Love this demo, Lynne. Interesting how you describe everything. Is this the piece you were telling me about? I love the musical notes, and the finished piece is lovely/cool/ funky!!!!

    1. Hey Vicki! Yes, this is the piece I was telling you about. It seems like I use musical notes in a lot of things…that and text/pages from books. Thanks for reading the blog today!

  2. I always enjoy seeing how other artists create their mixed media backgrounds and start embellishing. Everyone has a different way of doing it. Thank you for an inspirational step by step.

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