A Mixed Media Photo Collage

Have you ever been to a painting party? You know, one of those parties where an artist guides a group of friends as they paint a canvas and everyone brings their own beverage;)

I love going to those, but my last piece of “art” did not turn out the way I wanted it to….

Colorful abstract tree painting

I didn’t like the way the tree trunk looked and when I got home, I just set the painting aside. Eventually, it was stuffed in the corner next to my kids’ art supply cabinet. And there it sat, collecting dust, for a year.

Fast forward to the present…

I recently posted about some difficulties we were going through with my son’s health. Even after coming home from the hospital, things were definitely not smooth sailing and it was a very tough few weeks. For a few days, I did nothing but take care of him and do the bare necessities of keeping everyone fed and the house semi-clean.

I had zero motivation to do any of the things that normally make me happy.

Then I remembered an art project that I had already bought the supplies for and I decided (I kind of forced myself) to pull out the paints and try it out. And once I got started, something wonderful happened; I really got into a groove and “lost” myself a little bit in the creative process. It gave me something else to think about and kept my mind from being so constantly worried.

Mixed media art:

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This art form is called mixed media because you use several different mediums (such as paper, paint, stickers, stencils, inks, etc.) on the same work. You might also think of it as a collage.

Now this was my first attempt at this, so I don’t think I’m quite qualified to give a full tutorial yet, but I will include some tips and things I learned along the way.

First, I took the tree painting and covered the trunk with a similar color to the rest of the background…

Reusing a canvas for mixed media.

Choosing the main subject:

I used this photo of my daughter playing in the rain. She loves puddles and wanted to go out in the spring rain. None of her clothes matched and I took her picture just before she smiled. I love this photo. It’s just so her….

A little girl with an umbrella in the rain.

I printed the photo on card stock and the “April showers” song lyrics from the movie, Bambi, onto vellum…

Working on photo collage art.

I ended up re-printing the song lyrics on card stock, too, instead of vellum (see the “tips” section below for more on that decision).

Adding some layers:

Mixed media is all about layers. And the layers get somewhat covered over until you are happy with the final result. I started with some torn sheet music and scrapbook paper pieces. Then I decoupaged the photo and the song lyrics. And then I added some flowers cut from vellum sheets that I picked up at Hobby Lobby in the scrapbook paper section…

Music lyrics mixed media collage.

Add some more layers:

I used flexible modeling paste from the art section at Michael’s (larger size here) and a couple of small stencils to make some random texture. Then I used some gelato colors to add some color around some of the flowers. I used pastel gelatos (here’s the same brand, but with bright colors).

Layers on mixed media collage.

Add even more layers:

Ok, so I did a ton more layers between the last photo and the next one. What can I say, but I got lost in the art;)

I used some acrylic paints to paint over a few of the vellum flowers and to paint a bed of flowers around her feet. The center area looked bare, so I added a couple of circles with more modeling paste. The antique look was achieved with spray stain. I added some more colors with gelatos and some dots with a marker. Finally, I used a palette knife to scrape a bit of white gesso over several areas to highlight some of the texture…

A mixed media collage of a little girl in the rain.

Tips from my experience:

  • Canvas is a bit harder to use for mixed media than paper or wood because it has stretch to it and because it’s harder to get papers to adhere to it.
  • Wrinkles in paper will happen, but if you press them out carefully, they should dry relatively flat.
  • If you don’t like a layer, just find a way to cover (or mostly cover) it up.
  • If you want to use vellum paper, spray it on both sides with spray polyurethane or this sealer. Allow it to dry, and then adhere it to your work. It will wrinkle like mad and be totally unusable if your don’t seal it first.
  • Watch YouTube videos before you try it. You might search using the terms “mixed media”, “collage”, or “junk journal”. I find it oddly therapeutic to watch other people create art online. Especially if they have a nice accent or a soothing voice;) Is that weird?

This piece is not my typical style at all, but I love how this turned out! Maybe it’s because I love the subject matter and because it was good for my soul to work on it.

Anyway, it should be hanging in my daughter’s room before too long. She is due for a room update and that is a big project that I can’t wait to undertake.

Have a great weekend!

Create a mixed media art collage with a photo.


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  1. It’s so beautiful!! I love the colors and all the textures. And of course, the subject matter is adorable!! It’s amazing how art and music soothes the soul and gives you a sense of well-being. God is good!

    1. Thank you! Yes, it was a piece where I liked the process as much as the outcome. I hope to try some more mixed media in the future.

  2. Carrie, I really like the idea of this and I think your painting turned out great. It has all the elements to remind you of a raining day when the snow is flying! Thank you! ~Ginene

    1. Thanks, Ginene! I was a bit out of my element, but ended up really enjoying the process of creating with a sense of freedom because I didn’t really know what the end result would look like:)

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