Creating Acrylic Backgrounds with Water


~ * ~

This article is written by Anjuli Johnson

As a self taught artist, I would say that I’ve experimented with a lot of paint.  Watercolor, oil, gouache- but I always come back to acrylic.  There’s so much to love about acrylic paint- how different brands react so differently to certain techniques, the fact that it dries fairly quickly, and especially how it reacts to water.  My spray bottle is one of the most used tools in my studio because of how often I use water and paint to create acrylic backgrounds for my mixed media paintings.  I have 3 paintings to show you, and I’ll outline how I created the backgrounds for each one.

Texture paste and quilled paper pieces on an acrylic background

Magnetism- For this piece, I began with a dry canvas.  I used red paint on one corner, orange on the other.  I brushed the paint closer to the center without the two colors touching, and then used my spray bottle over the entire canvas.  The water is what brought the two colors together in the center of the canvas, and I tilted the canvas a little each way until I was satisfied with how the colors were blending.  If you start with a dry canvas, it may take some extra effort to get rid of any brushstrokes, which may or may not be a concern for you.  I don’t usually like to see my brushstrokes, so I’ll continue working until the water has blended the paint smoothly into the canvas.  One tip- this brand of acrylic paint is Liquitex Basics, which was an essential factor in achieving the lightning type blending you see here.  Other brands do not react the same way, which I find incredibly fascinating.

Close up of the point of blending colors orange and red

True North, mixed media painting with an acrylic background

True North- With this piece, I misted the canvas slightly before I began.  As you can see below, I used greater concentrations of paint in certain areas and worked until, once again, all the brushstrokes have disappeared.  I added some splatters of white and blue paint to add more color, which react with the water to blend slightly with the paint around it.  Super cool!

True North mixed media painting with acrylic background

True North progress shot of acrylic background

Mixed Media painting with acrylic background, Pacific Reef

Pacific Reef- For this piece I didn’t use a brush at all.  I started with a dry canvas, and added thick spots of paint in random places, many times overlapping, especially with the white.  I used my fingers to flatten and spread the paint as I sprayed the canvas with water. Make sure you’ve tipped it up so the water will draw the color down the canvas to create that flowing effect, and if you want the colors blended smoothly, make sure you wet the entire canvas.  I have mixed the brands I used with this piece- the craft brands usually spread very smoothly over the canvas, whereas the liquitex or winsor newton brands will spread in different ways.  I love it!

Mixed media Pacific Reef with acrylic background

So many awesome ways to use water with acrylic paint to create amazing colored backgrounds!  I’d love to hear how you create your acrylic backgrounds and if you come up with any new techniques for using acrylic paint and water together.


Author bio: Author bio:  Anjuli Johnson  is a Mixed Media Artist from Raleigh, NC.  She began her art career as a scrapbooker, and it’s been an evolutionary process every since.  She loves all things mixed media- paper, glue, paint, canvas, pens, wire, gears… the list goes on and on.  She is constantly trying to push through her fears to discover and develop her talents, meet new people, and learn from those around her. TheFarPavilion




Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Mixed Media Artist Janelle Nichol

~ * ~

This article is written by Michelle G. Brown

When I first came across the work of Janelle Nichol work, somewhere on the Internet, I wanted to know more about her. I loved her pieces that I saw; they were delicate and feminine, and with a distinctive look that combines mixed media with fine art painting. I had a chance to catch up with Janelle via Skype so we could chat about her work.

Janelle lives in Alberta, Canada with her family, and I was delighted to discover that Janelle is actually a self-taught artist. While she has always been creative, and also has a previous career in music teaching, she has only been painting and collaging for about five years, and as what she considers “seriously” for three years. Her style includes collage and paints, and she just loves trying things, which fits perfectly under the “mixed media” genre.

mixed media painting by Janelle Nichol

With a focal point around women and children, Janelle’s style has been described as abstract folk art. Her work shows a strength and softness in the same piece. One of her favourite comments from an art show customer was that her work “celebrates women for who they are”!

Janelle’s go-to materials include the full range of mixed media materials, with gesso, paints, tissue paper, gelato’s, intense blocks, sprays, Distressed inks and stains all being part of her collection. Anything that adds texture also features; moulding paste, sequins, glass beads and all sorts of unexpected ephemera can be seen when looking closely at her pieces.

When I asked about Janelle’s mixed media process, she tells me she will often start with a sketch and a vision that includes the images and the mood, feelings and colours of the piece.

Then she creates the background, which can take on a life of it’s own but will stick to the colours and feel in her vision. This maintains the mood Janelle is trying to achieve with each piece. Tracing her sketch onto the mixed media background adds the focal point and Janelle then paints in her figure. Here we can see these steps as this piece “A Meditation” progresses:

mixed media background by Janelle NicholCreating a background

mixed media painting by Janelle NicholSketching in the main figure

mixed media painting by Janelle NicholPainting in the figure

mixed media painting by Janelle NicholDetail hidden in the finished piece

mixed media painting by Janelle NicholThe final piece “A Meditation

Once Janelle has finished a mixed media painting, she will take high quality photos which allows her to turn her paintings into cards and prints. Then Janelle changes to her “business” hat, where her images are added to her website. Janelle does all of the work herself and she likes the balance that being an artist and business women provides. While the paint is drying, Janelle promotes her work through her website and Facebook page, and prepares for the numerous shows she does.

There are a number of shows that Janelle regularly exhibits at and it gives her a chance to engage with the public, as well as meet other artists. The show customers love seeing her work in “real life” as all of the depth and texture always looks better to see a piece of art in person. The shows also give Janelle a chance to put her face to her work and helps the sales process. It has taken a few years to build up to the number of shows Janelle is currently doing.

Our discussion then turned to the future for Janelle. She is currently working on the 2014 Fall shows, along with a book that will include her work with inspiring quotes, “like a coffee table book”, which is currently planned for a Fall 2015 release. Janelle’s head is full of ideas for new mixed media paintings and calendars and so many projects and opportunities, including looking into teaching online classes, as well as a secret “new thing” that is in process but now quite ready to reveal to the world, just yet (she promises we will be amongst the first to know when it’s ready to go!)

Whatever Janelle turns her hands to next, we will certainly be following along.

You can see more of Janelle’s work on her website: or her Facebook page.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Janelle loves sharing her mixed media process and in this video you can watch her create at least four different backgrounds, with different sized canvases using a variety of mixed media techniques! I lost count of the number of media she uses: gelatos, sprays, inktense blocks, distress inks and stains, paints, tissue paper, markers, gesso, stencils – a that’s just for the backgrounds!!


Michelle G. Brown is passionate about mixed media art and enjoys sharing her knowledge and techniques with you to allow you to express your own creativity. Michelle understands that many of us have an inner need to create. By learning a few basic techniques the amazing world of mixed media art is accessible to everyone!

Michelle lives with her husband and two boys in Melbourne, Australia. When she is not creating or on Facebook, she’s at karate training.




Technorati Tags: , , ,

Found Objects for Mixed Media Painting


When it comes to mixed media painting, using paint brushes is only the beginning of the process; there are SO many objects you have around you that can make create tools to make impressions in your mixed media painting.

Michelle shares a few of the found objects she uses regularly in her mixed media paintings, in her altered book and for painting art journal backgrounds.


We would love to hear what you think! Do YOU have any thoughts on what you would like us to show you?

Leave a comment below!

OR email us at ~ we read ALL of our emails!

Happy creating.

corks, sequence scrap and bubble wrap are all great for mixed media painting

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Gloves Off for Mixed Media Painting


Stacy Steinborn has taken her gloves off to create this vibrant mixed media painting with coffee filter flowers and water colour paints.

This article is written by Stacy Steinborn from Flooded in Light

As a mixed media artist it is to your benefit to release old habits and experiment with getting your hands dirty.  I remember as a child I loved squishing mud between my finger, the wet almost slimy feel of finger paint, putting glue all over my hands and letting the gooey white substance dry just so I could peel the flaky stuff off, and sculpting with gritty wet sand at the beach.

I attended an art class recently and the instructor put gloves on because she didn’t want to get her hands dirty.  My inner child wanted to scream “that is part of the fun!!” By no means do I want to insult anyone who prefers to wear gloves or who hates to get “dirty”.  That is not my intentions.  However we are taught as children to not get dirty and to color inside the lines.  I hope to challenge you to take the gloves off, and connect with your art with the sense of touch.  Feel free when you create.  If you have been at an artistic lull, maybe you need to break down some barriers.  Do what you were taught not to do…get your hands dirty and color outside the lines.  Experiment with not being perfect.  You can create harmony with imperfection.

mixed media painting

Before I started this piece I had no idea what to do.  I had old coffee filters I started painting dots on with water color…they started looking like flowers, flowers of the Orient…thus inspiration.  With the back ground of the canvas I wanted to create water but with movement.  Layers of greens and blues were not enough.  I sprayed rubbing alcohol and baby oil to add to the affect of ripples and movement.  And for the center I pulled out my old sketch pad. Thumbing through old sketches.  I had old sketches of a few koi fish.  I took tissue paper and traced one image with a sharpie(be careful not to bare down to hard, it will bleed through to your sketch).  After the back ground of water had dried I applied a clear gesso and flattened the tissue image to the painting allowing it to dry over night.  I then took warm water and lightly scrubbed the tissue away from the painting leaving bits of the tissue on the painting for texture.  The ink image had transferred onto the painting.  Then the perimeter of the painting was like decorating a cake.  I added all the coffee filter flowers with a powder based glue mixed with warm water.  After completely drying I added contrast with black paint and random oil pastel for details.

mixed media water colour paints

This painting is a series of old sketches, dabbles of water color on up-cycled coffee filters and the need to get my hands dirty so I could feel the piece coming to life.  Most importantly the release of not being perfect by smearing glue, oil pastel, rubbing alcohol, paint and ripped paper “outside of the lines”.

I hope you are inspired by creating harmony and approaching your next work like a fighter, gloves off and no fear.

Flood your art with your inner light…

Stacy Steinborn

coffee filter water colour paintings


More of Stacy’s work can be found on her Flooded in Light blog.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,