Small Experiments with Mini Mixed Media Canvases

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This article is written by Anjuli Johnson

Working with paper clay

As a self taught artist, constant learning and experimentation are a necessity for me to become the accomplished artist I dream of becoming.  It’s not enough for me to stick to one or two tried and true techniques- I feel the need to try nearly everything I see.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who would confess to a room full of craft supplies, waiting to be used for the first time.  There are even more supplies I have used in certain ways, that are just begging for a new technique to revamp their usefulness.

Working on a big project to figure out the best way to use these things is not usually the best approach, however.  At least, it’s not for me, an artist who frantically moves from one medium to the next in a mad rush to try and learn as much as possible.  One day at AC Moore, I found packages of tiny little canvases and easels- 2-3 inches, rectangular and square, and from that moment my ability to experiment with new supplies quickly and artfully was increased by 10.

Working with wire

I’ve learned things about so many mediums by working on my mini’s first- paper clay, ink, multiple ways to paint with acrylics, collage, modeling paste, gel medium, and lots of other things.  Not every art experiment would be good on a mini canvas, but they have been such a great thing for me in almost every aspect of my art.  They are tiny and it doesn’t take me days to finish a piece- no matter what I try, I can have several done in a single evening.  Because they are tiny, I don’t sweat too much if what I try turns out to be terrible.  I’ll recycle it if I can, or just move on- no sweat.  I don’t waste expensive materials on a piece that I might ruin through my inexperience.  They are easy to store in my tiny apartment- they don’t take up tons of already used wall space, which is a big plus.

Adding elements to texture paste

So the up side to my experiments on mini mixed media canvases is pretty limitless… and they are so fun when they turn out well.

Of course, I would love to hear how you learn to work with new materials.  What processes/routines do you have that help you grow as an artist?

Practicing collage work


Author bio: Anjuli Johnson is a Mixed Media Artist form Raleigh, NC.  She began her art career as a scrapbooker, and it’s been an evolutionary process ever since.  She loves all things mixed media- paper, paint, pens, wire, gears, clay… 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.  To see more of Anjuli’s art and techniques, check out her website at  and like her Facebook page.



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Mixed Media Artist Christine Marshal

Christine Marshal was born in England and now resides in Boston, and is a self-taught artist. Here she is to tell us a bit about herself – take it away Christine 


I am a self-taught, abstract artist, originally from Manchester, England but been living in Boston, Massachusetts for almost 11 years working with teenage youth with learning disabilities/mental health problems. Qualified as a Reflexologist in 1999 (no I don’t have a foot fetish, but I do believe in holistic therapies:) Also enjoy black & white photography and I’m a crazy “MANCHESTER UNITED” fan. My friends call me Rooney’s Girl :p

Butterfly three mini mixed media collages

I started painting in Jan 2013 when I couldn’t find a wall art that I liked for a big wall space at home….I thought, “I bet I could do one myself”! I practiced on small canvas and discovered a talent I didn’t realize I had and I absolutely love, love, love it now !!!!.  I’m constantly thinking about my next projects and it’s keeping me awake at night. agghhh. My friends nicknamed me Picastrokes (hee hee)

Although a perfectionist, art has given me the freedom to embrace and enjoy my mistakes in a fun and exciting way. I’ve always loved texture and shimmering objects so you will see these in lots of my artwork. I especially revel in metallics, gel mediums & embellishments that add structure and interest. Many of my favorites include:-

  • Jewelry
  • Mica
  • Beads
  • Metal
  • Wood
  • Words/Lettering
  • Thick gel mediums
  • Glass beads
  • Broken ceramics
  • Steampunk
  • Candle wax
  • Sequins
  • Driftwood
  • Glitter
  • Buttons

I never ever plan what I am going to make. I just like to experiment and see where it takes me. I have a large selection of paints, embellishments and found objects surrounding me ready to throw in the mix… I like to call my work “creative accidents”

three mini canvas in greys

This year (without any experience or help) – I created my first online gallery shop on Etsy, called “Key2MyArt” as well  as  creating a Facebook page “Key2myart – Christine Marshall“.  Please feel free to post your pictures of YOUR art on my page…Would love to help independent artists share and sell their work!

I was also very happy to sell numerous mixed media art at my first ever arts and craft show at ASSEMBLED in Somerville, MA. (with no experience in this field at all). This is all very new to me, as is learning about all the different art techniques available. I’m so eager to dabble in everything, but right now I’m hooked on mixed media and can’t absorb myself enough in all the beautiful art that I’ve viewed on so many websites recently. There are so many unique artists out there. I’d love to own a large castle to display all of YOUR work!!!  I hope you enjoy my art as much as I enjoyed creating them for YOU !!

Butterfly three mini mixed media collages

The Butterfly Effect-  Used acrylic and metallic paints with gel mediums on deep gallery wrapped canvas and threw in some glitter and tiny beads to add sparkle & more texture. Finished with 3d gold foil adhesive butterflies.

three mini canvas in greys

Gimme Some Lovin’ –  Acrylics on deep canvas. Ink stamped with love and face motifs. Adhered 2x glass beads and silver sequins to add a little bit of glitz.

mixed media canvas collage

Tealing Earth – This canvas art is painted in a teal and metallic bronze acrylics. I then carefully glued the following embellishments to the canvas:-

  • TURQUOISE and JADE STONES from a broken necklace,
  • PENCIL WOOD SHAVINGS .. Yep I will use anything and everything in my art work if I think it will work 🙂

mixed media canvas collage with beadsMr Blue & Mrs Bronze-  –  Coated the canvas in turquoise blue acrylics and once dry added a copper metallic paint with a few dabs of titanium white. I then adhered buttons, tiny beads, sequins, broken ceramic, broken jewelery, blue glass, tiny square mirrors and copper colored foil from a chocolate wrapper.

3D mixed media canvas painting

Birds In Chaos – I wanted to create a modern crazy, mish-mash of shimmering embellishments with a mixed media 3D  effect that would capture the viewers eye and pique their imagination with this shiny collection. I like to view this art as an exciting waterfall of objects that blend together perfectly and looks stunning when natural light captures it.  I first covered the canvas in a very thin layer of gel medium and then dropped handfuls of embellishments upon it. Some objects need to be adhered securely with glue. When dry I dabbed a little black with metallic gold and copper acrylics to add more color, then drizzled some fluid paint across the whole project. Finished with a gloss sealant to add more shine and protection. Look closely to find all the embellishments. Can you find the birdies?? 🙂

    • Gallery canvas = 16x20x3/4
    • beads, buttons, metal and mirrors
    • shimmering mica
    • Metallic acrylic paints
    • gleaming broken jewelery
    • two purple ceramic birds
    • gold and red foil
    • sequins
    • stones
    • pearls



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