Holy Moly, my very first tutorial! Quite the milestone. If you care to join me, I’ll take you on a pleasant, matt medium scented journey through the making of the above ATC.
I’ve had a few tiny canvases and ATCs lying around for a while. Not having had any inspiration strike, I began slapping on thin layers of leftover paint, which — after going through some ugly stages — ended up pulling together into a lovely layered look. For creating the balloons, I’ll show you a technique which is the bastard child of two different techniques I learnt from mixed media art goddesses, Kelly Rae Roberts and DJ Pettitt.
Materials for creating the background
- Any substrate (I used paper)
- Thin papers (e.g. tissue paper)
- Matt medium
- Clear glaze medium
- Watercolour mop paintbrush
- Foam brush
Materials for creating the foreground
- Sewing pattern paper
- Pan Pastels
- Walnut Distress Ink (Ranger)
- Fixative for pastel
- Matt medium
- Low tack or tacked-off masking tape
- Kneadable eraser
- Mechanical pencil
- Small round brush
- Foam brush
Step 1… Create texture with collage
Spread a fairly thick layer of matt medium on the substrate. Lay the thin paper down, creating folds, wrinkles, and exposed torn edges as you go. Brush on a light coat of matt medium on top of the paper, either creating more texture with the brush strokes or smoothing with a brush and your fingers as you go.
If the paper warps too much while you are working, gesso the back.
Step 2… Layer glazes of colour
Brush a thin layer of clear glaze medium directly onto your substrate with a slightly damp brush. Immediately apply a thin layer of acrylic before the glaze dries. Continue layering various colours, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next, until you’re happy with the result.
Step 3… Trace, tear, and whack it on, baby!
Trace your design on sewing pattern paper with pencil.
Cut and/or tear away excess paper.
Spread a fairly thick layer of matte medium on the substrate. Carefully lay one end of the sewing pattern paper down, while gently rolling and smoothing the remainder flat with your fingers. Brush on a light coat of matt medium on top of the paper and continue smoothing with a brush and your fingers.
Step 4… Act like a big kid and colour in with PanPastels
If you’re going for a subdued colour palette like mine, start by applying a layer of white pastel. Apply the colour, beginning at the edge where the shadows might rest and work your way to the lighter areas. When using this technique, I always blend directly on the substrate, rather than mixing the colours first.
When doing detailed work with PanPastels, don’t worry about staying in the lines. Simply erase any unwanted excess pastel with a kneadable eraser.
Step 5… Add finishing touches
If, like me, you don’t own any PanPastels in dark colours, you might have to add more depth to your shadows. Dip a dry brush into the Walnut Distress Ink pad and apply it to any shadows that need darkening. Apply some white pastel to areas where the light might rest. Use a mechanical pencil to redefine any lines that have been coloured over. Seal your work with fixative, sit back, and admire!
Was that as good for you as it was for me? Probably not, given my unreasonable level of chuffedness. I’d love to do more of these in the future so do let me know what you think and potentially save me from myself!
Update: I often find something about a piece to spruce up and generally meddle with after it’s been proclaimed finished, and this one is no exception! I don’t own any PanPastels in dark colours, so shading with them is pretty limited. I wasn’t happy with the shading on the balloons so I went back and added Walnut Distress Ink by Ranger, which worked nicely. I’ve updated the tutorial with this step and changed the picture of the final piece to the newly shaded one.