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Layering Techniques For Mixed Media Art Projects

A guest post by Alison Lansky

One of the best things about creating mixed media art is that the possibilities are pretty much endless and there is a huge scope to have a lot of fun expressing your own creativity through various mediums. One of the key elements of mixed media art work is layering the various materials to create exciting textures and to add more depth to the piece. Let's take a closer look at some great layering techniques that you might like to try.

Layering Paint and Gesso

Another great layering technique combines regular acrylic paints with gesso and it is perhaps the easiest technique for beginners to master. Gesso is traditionally used for priming canvas ready for painting. It looks very much like standard white acrylic paint, but it is much thinner and dries hard to create a stiff surface with a slight texture. Many artists use gesso as a base to stop their paints from soaking into the canvas. However, in order to make gesso part of your mixed media artwork it is used a little differently.

Start by applying a generous layer of gesso to your canvas. Next you will want to take a wooden skewer, wire brush or some other stiff object to draw in the wet gesso. The possibilities are endless. You might try just some lines or swirls, you can add text, or with practice you can do more detailed sketchy. Once you are happy with your design you can leave the gesso to dry completely.

Once the gesso layer has dried completely it is time to start adding color using the paint. This can be done in a number of different ways. Some artists prefer to use light washes of color and will let each layer dry before adding a new one while others blend the paints on their canvas to create thick textured layers. The key is to experiment until you develop your own style. The paint will settle into the grooves of the gesso offering various shades of the color you have chosen.

It is even possoble to purchase gesso in a variety of different colors as well as the common white. You will find various colors of gesso such as yellow, terracotta, ochre and black on sale in art supplies stores.

Experimenting With Paper Ephemera

Paper ephemera is a very interesting technique which makes use of various types of paper. The word 'ephemera' comes from the Greek language and refers to items that are intended to last only a short time. With paper ephemera this means the paper items we usually discard such as bus tickets, greeting cards, letters or shopping receipts. Over time, this has been extended by artists to include more valuable items such as bank notes, pages from books, sheet music and other documents which are not so freely discarded.

Once you have collected a variety of paper ephemera you can cut out or rip pieces of it to add to your art work as a collage style. Layers can be built up by tucking pieces under others to build up textures. You can include paint or ink to cover or highlight some of the wording if the text is a significant element of your design. This is a common technique for those creating altered books from old texts. Some artists also choose to add addition elements such as ribbon or buttons to give more texture to the layers.

Using gesso and paper ephemera are just two of the many layering techniques that can be used by mixed media artists, but they are some of the most effective and the easiest to master. Art is about experimentation so use these techniques as a base to develop your own layering techniques.

Alison Lansky is a blogger who loves to write about art, family and life in general. She is the mother of two adorable children who are her greatest works of art!