Artful Building Blocks: Mixed-Media Techniques for Beginners

Somerset Apprentice Magazine takes its readers by the hand to teach them the fundamentals of creating Somerset-style art — one basic step at a time. Today, we’re sharing some of our very favorite projects from the Artful Building Blocks department which can be found inside every issue of Somerset Apprentice.

We hope these quick tutorials give you a few more “tools” to keep under your artistic belt and help to inspire your next creation!

If you’d like to learn even more tips and techniques, including layered collage, mixed-media, and assemblage art, be sure to pick up a copy of
Somerset Apprentice Magazine to add to your resource library.

Check out our amazing deals on back issues, starting from only $6.99. View Back Issues >>

 

1. Crayon Splattered Tree

by Meghan Horan; Originally featured in Somerset Apprentice Spring 2014

Click on any image to enlarge. Click once more to minimize.


To create stunning artwork, I like to use various techniques that I have never tried before. I have always loved the bright colors that crayons can add to any page. Melted crayons are a fun and easy way to add a splash of color to any project.
 

Tips

  • Only touch the tip of the crayon long enough to coat the metal tip of the hot glue gun. Too much liquid crayon can leave large splatters.
  • Start with a darker crayon first and work up to the lighter colors. You can always repeat the same colors.
  • Make sure to build up enough color to fill in the white space inside the tree leaves.
  • Use brushes in Photoshop to help embellish artwork and clean up unwanted splatters.
 


Directions:

  1. Gather all your supplies.
  2. Draw a tree with a pencil and fill in with watercolor pencils, leaving heavy brushstrokes for the tree bark.
  3. Use water and a watercolor brush to blend pencil.
  4. Use a hot glue gun and crayons to splatter, using a flick of the wrist or a gentle tapping motion on the side of the gun.
  5. Repeat with various colored crayons.
  6. Finish your art with a title and embellishments.
 

 

2. Textured Cardboard Rolling Pin

Artwork by Christine Stephens; Originally featured in Somerset Apprentice Spring 2014

Click on any image to enlarge. Click once more to minimize.


I saw this technique for creating textured backgrounds for clay, and thought, "Why not use the same technique for painting backgrounds?" Experimenting on this journal cover was a lot of fun. You can also try this out on other materials too!

Tips

  • Use technique on any substrate: fabric, cardstock, manila folders, tags, etc.
  • Be creative with your design.
  • Cardboard rolls are sturdier than using toilet paper or paper towel rolls. If using other rolls, make sure to stuff them with bubble wrap or paper so they don't collapse as you roll on your substrate.
 


Directions:

  1. Gather all your supplies.
  2. Draw pattern on cardboard roll with hot glue, and let dry.
  3. Randomly splatter drops of paint onto journal.
  4. Spread paint around the journal with a brayer.
  5. Squeeze paint onto paper plate/palette. Add paint onto cardboard roll with a foam brushs.
  6. Roll onto Journal. Repeat as necessary.
 


3. Rubber Cement Resist Background

Artwork by Jana Holstein; Originally featured in Somerset Apprentice Spring 2014

Click on any image to enlarge. Click once more to minimize.


Here's a super easy and fun way to make a pretty background. Simply drip, drizzle or paint rubber cement on paper. Let it dry slightly, and then paint over it. Then the fun begins! Once the paint is dry, you just rub off the rubber cement to reveal the white underneath.

Tips

  • Create designs, write words, make random drizzles or whatever you want with the rubber cement to create interest.
  • Cover a stamp with rubber cement and stamp it on, let dry, and then paint over it. Make sure to thoroughly clean the stamp afterwards
  • Rubber cement has a strong odor, so you might want to open the windows when you do this project.
 


Directions:

  1. Gather all your supplies.
  2. Drizzle the rubber cement onto the watercolor paper. Let dry until tacky — about 10 minutes.
  3. Paint over rubber cement with watercolor paint. Let dry completely.
  4. Use your fingers to rub off the rubber cement to reveal the white background.
  5. Use a glue stick to adhere the number "3" card in the middle of the page. Stamp stitches around the perimeter of the card. 
  6. Adhere three word stickers to the bottom of the page.
 
 

4. So Simple Handmade Stamps

Artwork by Christen Olivarez; Originally featured in Somerset Apprentice Spring 2014

Click on any image to enlarge. Click once more to minimize.


One of my favorite things to do in my art is to create texture by stamping with found objects dipped into paint. This can sometimes lead to a lot of repetitive stamping, so when I saw an idea for making your own "mounted" stamps, I knew I wanted to give it a try!
 
 


Directions:

  1. Gather all your supplies.
  2. Apply a thick layer of rubber cement on your cardboard scrap. Place found objects in a pleasing pattern on the wet rubber cement. Let dry.
  3. Make a variety of stamps using different found objects.
  4. Dip "stamp" into acrylic paint.
  5. Stamp design onto cardstock.
 


5. Crayon Resist Background

Artwork by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer; Originally featured in Somerset Apprentice Autumn 2013

Click on any image to enlarge. Click once more to minimize.


A while ago, artist Alisa Burke posted about how much creativity you can find in a box of crayons. I admire how she always does totally amazing things with really simple supplies. Inspired by her post I sat down to play a little bit with one of my favorite techniques: crayon resist. (This is just one of the thirty techniques in my Technique-a-Palooza: paint & ink online class and used on fabric in my It's Sew Easy online class. Visit my website for more information.)

Tips

  • Create designs, write words, make random drizzles or whatever you want with the rubber cement to create interest.
  • Cover a stamp with rubber cement and stamp it on, let dry, and then paint over it. Make sure to thoroughly clean the stamp afterwards
  • Rubber cement has a strong odor, so you might want to open the windows when you do this project.
 


Directions:

  1. Gather all your supplies.
  2. Scribble across the page with the white crayon and then start to apply watercolor paint.
  3. Continue adding other colors to bring out your design — you can see that the crayon resists the watercolor paint.
  4. Finish out your background until you're happy with it.
  5. Layer elements and a photograph onto your crayon resist background.
  6. Finish your art with a title and journaling.
 


6. Bleeding Tissue Paper Background

Artwork by Meghan Horan; Originally featured in Somerset Apprentice Autumn 2013

Click on any image to enlarge. Click once more to minimize.


Create a stunning background with bleeding tissue paper for any number of projects from cards to collages. Simply wet a piece of watercolor paper and layer on pieces of the bleeding tissue. Overlap colors to blend shades and create a beautiful, muted watercolor look — super easy and fun!

Tips

  • When layering tissue paper onto the wet watercolor paper, don't smooth it out — scrunch it up so it has wrinkles. This will help create an interesting look.
  • As you layer the tissue paper down, continue wetting the watercolor paper as necessary so the tissue paper sticks.
  • Save the tissue paper that you peel off the watercolor paper — you can incorporate it into a future project!
 


Directions:

  1. Gather all of your supplies.
  2. Tear the tissue paper into small pieces and have ready to use. Dip paintbrush in water and wet the watercolor paper. 
  3. Layer the wet paper with different colors of the bleeding tissue paper, arranging in a pleasing manner. Crinkle paper to add more wrinkles
  4. Continue with more layers in the same manner, dabbing with water to keep the watercolor paper moist. Useing a darker color around the perimeter to create a border will let the darker color drain into the wrinkles giving more color.
  5. Squeeze a wad of wet tissue paper onto your design to create water spots for added interest.
  6. Let dry completely and then carefully peel off paper, it will come off.
  7. Finish artwork with stamp.
 


7. Inktense Pencil Background

Artwork by Christen Olivarez; Originally featured in Somerset Apprentice Autumn 2013

Click on any image to enlarge. Click once more to minimize.


I love learning new ways to make backgrounds for my art journal pages and collages. When I saw the Internet abuzz about the new Inktense products by Derwent, I knew I wanted to get some to try out. "What's so special about them?" you might ask. The pencils and blocks are water-soluble, which means an awesome effect occurs when you apply water to them on a surface. Unlike watercolor pencils, these products turn into ink, creating a vibrant color. And more, the color is permanent once dry. For this project, I had fun using the pencils to create the background and the blocks for stamping.

Tips

  • Use a heat gun to speed up drying time.
  • Stamp your design onto scrap paper before applying it to your art. It will prevent the color from puddling.
 


Directions:

  1. Gather all your supplies.
  2. Randomly color your paper with a light color of pencil, leaving some blank spots.
  3. Use a paintbrush that's been dipped in water to "activate" the color. Spread color all over your paper. Let dry.
  4. Repeat this with different colors until you've reached the desired effect.
  5. Apply water to your rubber stamp. Rub Inktense block on stamp to transfer color.
  6. Working quickly and randomly, apply stamp to paper.
 


8. Creating a Brushless Background

Artwork by Jennifer Taylor Originally featured in Somerset Apprentice Autumn 2013

Click on any image to enlarge. Click once more to minimize.


A stunning background with lots of texture can easily be done without using a paintbrush. A brayer, an old credit card, and a few strategically placed marks made with paint and a scrap of mesh make the perfect backdrop for this cute tiger.

Tips

  • Be sure to allow each layer of paint to completely dry before applying more.
  • Using too much paint at one time will create a smooth texture, so be sure not to go overboard with the amount of paint you use — remember, the objective is to create texture.
 


Directions:

  1. Gather all your supplies.
  2. Squirt some black acrylic paint on your wood and rub in with your finger to create some tooth. Let dry.
  3. Squirt blue paints in various shades onto the black and use a brayer to move around, adding interest and texture.
  4. Continue to add more layers of paint with the brayer.
  5. Dip the edge of an old credit card in a contrasting color and scrape the paint onto the previously brayered background.
  6. Add additional texture by dabbing another contrasting color of paint through a piece of mesh onto the wood. Let dry and complete by painting your main subject.
 

 

Ready to soak in even more mixed-media inspiration?

Peek inside Somerset Apprentice Magazine, and reserve your copies directly from our website.