Gobelin Tapestry in Mixed Media

New Winds, a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and imitating gobelin tapestry.

I like the sources of inspiration be quite distant. They should not instantly make my mind figure out the result. While packing craft supplies to empty a sewing room for renovation, I found some pieces of woven upholstery fabric. Those reminded me of a Gobelin tapestry, the woven wall hangings.

Upholstery fabrics. Read more about imitating fabric with fiber paste and watercolors.

You could think there’s nothing more conservative and static than those, but I was immediately inspired by two things: 1) to show how beautiful muted colors can be 2) to create a dynamic composition that still reminded of textiles.

Fiber Paste in Mixed Media Art

To get into the spirit of heavy woven tapestry, I chose to use a lot of fiber paste to create a texture on a fairly smooth watercolor paper.Making of a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and imitating gobelin tapestry.

Now, the rational thing would be to spread the paste evenly. Or to spread the splotches evenly. But as I wanted to create a dynamic composition, I chose to add fiber paste mostly to the left side of the work.

Making of a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and imitating gobelin tapestry.

With fiber paste, you can create interesting, uneven surfaces by using tissue paper or various tools to spread the paste. You can also use fiber paste for creating layers and attaching collage pieces (more about those later in this post).

One more good thing in fiber paste is that once it’s dried, you can paint with watercolors over it. I find the change in the surface texture somehow good for my creativity. It is impossible to paint accurately when working on fiber pasted area. That makes me accept the imperfections right at the beginning. Too much self-control can be destructive to the creativity. So, fiber paste is one of my medicines to let go!

Making of a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and imitating gobelin tapestry.

Watercolors

Here I chose to work with watercolors instead of acrylic paints because they are much faster when creating delicate color variations. I usually mix watercolors by dipping the brush to many color pans on the same go and letting them mix naturally on paper.

Making of a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and imitating gobelin tapestry.

With watercolors, you can easily change the intensity of color. I often start with a fairly dry brush and intensive color. After a stroke or two, I then add plain water to dilute the color. This technique is shown well in the video where I paint watercolor postcards. On the fiber paste surface, you can use a lot of water for lighter shades.

Mixing Colors

I still remember my moment of mixing black with other colors. I was a teenager, and it was a warm summer day. Acrylic paints were quite new to me, and I wondered how they should be mixed to express the hot weather.

A Hot Day, a painting made by Paivi from Peony and Parakeet as teenager

The dark shadows made me think of black. I remember the surprise of getting beautiful purples and browns. That was a moment when I  realized that the power of colors is not just what I admire in other people’s work, I can learn it too. By mixing colors, I could express anything!

Just this year when I bought my newest watercolor set, I discovered browns. I wondered why there are so many brown shades in the set, but now I know: mixing colors with browns create beautiful hues! In this piece, I have mixed the colors from both browns and blacks.

Making of a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and watercolors.

Collage

I was pretty happy with most of the painting – except the lower center area. The composition of the center elements did not work.  To create something totally new, I used my most common method: to make it ugly and then try to save it. I took the jar of fiber paste and began to cover the bad areas with the paste.

Making of a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and imitating gobelin tapestry.

“You have ruined it now,” said a bitter voice in my head.

Have you ever experienced the same? It is the moment where you can truly stop pleasing others and begin creating art.

I took the pile of hand decorated papers and started cutting. Fast!

Making of a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and imitating gobelin tapestry.

Some time ago, when I made those decorated papers, they were so ugly I almost threw them away. But now they looked like they were made for this muted color palette! And the fiber paste works as glue so it was easy to attach the pieces.

While cutting the pieces, I watched the fabric of the two chairs in the library room where most of the creating happen. I found the chairs at a recycling center a few years ago. I took them for renovation, so I was able to choose the fabric.

Floral upholstery fabric. Read more about creating a fabric inspired collage art.

I love the fabric’s silky texture, romantic pattern and how well it goes with the wallpaper and William Morris’s curtains! Looking at that chair made me realize what I needed to add the feel of fabric to the artwork. To cut several similar flowers to represent a repeating pattern!

Finishing

New Winds, a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and imitating gobelin tapestry.

After drawing some detailed lines with colored pencils and markers, the collage seemed to be finished. But then I remembered the original idea: Gobelin wallhangings. Don’t they often have deer in them? A small deer was added in the lower left corner to wonder about the blowing winds!

New Winds, a detail of a mixed media collage by Peony and Parakeet. Read more about using fiber paste and imitating gobelin tapestry.

I have noticed that many mixed media pieces are made from commercial products. I want to encourage you to create your own elements and textures. Your art will be much more original and complete. No factory-made flower can express your emotions as accurately as the ones you make yourself!

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How to Trust Yourself when Creating Art

I Feel the Power, a collage painting by Peony and Parakeet. Read about making this and how to get rid of self-doubt when creating art
When I begin creating art I often have petty thoughts like: “I want to draw a flower” or “I want to create something pink”. Even if I create regularly many times a week, I am still bothered by the fear of failure. I know I have to handle that at as soon as it comes, preferably before the first brush stroke. Why? Wouldn’t it be fun to sometimes draw that single flower or create that pink square? I believe that if we give ourselves that kind of clear commands and simple tasks, we don’t really trust our creativity. The big question is always: do you trust yourself when creating art?

The Unpredictable Nature of Art

If you trust yourself, you can step into the world of unpredictability. Not knowing exactly what to aim for is a major factor when creating art. We can set restrictions and principles but we have to leave space for unpredictability. It means that we are more creative if we do not have the clear picture of the end result.

Setting Restrictions with Supplies

Art supplies. Read about using fiber paste and how to trust yourself when creating art.
These are the art supplies that I gathered when I began making the collage of this post. Watercolors, acrylic paints and fiber paste. I also picked a thick watercolor paper and cut it to a square. I chose the supplies but left behind the thoughts about what I was going to make.

Find what You Want to Express

My method is to browse art books just before creating art. I do it only for few minutes and I try to pick art that really lifts my spirit, raises the bar, sparks my imagination. Usually it is something from the history of world art. This time I browsed a picture book from impressionism.
Read about how to use art books to trust yourself when creating art.
So, do I advise you to get a book of impressionism? No. I advise you to name what spheres you want to reach when making art and pick images which resonate with that. They do not have to be the same style than what you want to accomplish. The more important is the feeling that they evoke in you. When I browsed the book of impressionism, I thought how art is above all the mundane things. How those artists who lived at the end of the 19th century have managed to describe the beauty in the way that is still understood. How the brush strokes, full of paint, were successfully set to represent weightless light. All that would be exciting to see in my piece too.

Watercolor strokes. Read about how to trust yourself when creating art.
When the first watercolors hit the paper, I still had some self-doubt: I could not ever do anything like the great impressionists. I heard the sarcastic voice in my head: “Reborn Monet, yeah right!” But that sarcasm is the moment when I know I am almost there: I am almost leaving the rational side of me behind. Then I just need to wow to trust myself, stop seeing any desired images in my mind and start working fiercely.

Layering (With Some Moments of Self-Doubt)

Watercolor background by Peony and Parakeet. Read about making this and how to trust yourself when creating art.

I often start with watercolors because they cover the paper quickly. Even if I have the idea of creating some surface structure, I wanted to use watercolors first to get into the mood of uncontrolled splashes.

Acrylic paints. Read about how to trust yourself when creating art.
While waiting for the watercolors dry, I mixed some acrylic paint. Pastel shades like many impressionists used to choose. Using pallette knife. Read about how to trust yourself when creating art.
To get some interesting texture with the paint, I used a palette knife instead of a brush.
Making of a collage painting by Peony and Parakeet. Read about how to trust yourself when creating art.
After playing a little with the palette knife and thick paint, I became clueless of how to continue. It’s important to recognize these moments. If you are not aware of these, your rational side takes the control and decides to do things you really cannot justify. Like: “Let’s use the rest of the paint to cover the surface evenly”. Or: “Let’s get some other colors and splash the paint here and there”. When you feel that you do not know what to do, don’t do the obvious. I might browse some pages of the book again to get back into the mood. Or change the media, the solution that I made this time. I doodled something not so important with the colored pencils just to realize I wanted to continue with watercolors and a thin brush.Making of a collage painting by Peony and Parakeet. Read about how to trust yourself when creating art.

When I got bored with colored pencils and watercolors, I opened the jar of fiber paste. Even if I often prefer to stay with the basic art supplies, fiber paste is something I like. It not only creates an interesting texture like watercolor paper, but it also works like a watercolor paper. You can paint over it with watercolors and create beautiful details to your work! Making of a collage painting by Peony and Parakeet. Adding fiber paste. Read about how to trust yourself when creating art.

Trying to achieve distinct variation in the surface texture, I used the palette knife again.

Making of a collage painting by Peony and Parakeet. Read about how to trust yourself when creating art.

Then my mind was empty again, so I browsed few pages from the book again and then continued with colored pencils.

Making of a collage painting by Peony and Parakeet. Read about how to trust yourself when creating art.

When I reached the next point of frustration, I decided to change to the watercolors and work with high speed. Working fast helps to get creativity flow.

Making of a collage painting by Peony and Parakeet. Read about how to trust yourself when creating art.

Once the paper was covered all over, I started adding details. A white correction pen is great as it usually works on any surface.

Making of a collage painting by Peony and Parakeet. Read about how to trust yourself when creating art.

Hand decorated papers are great for details. I picked some of my prettiest papers and began to cut them. The paper shown in the picture isn’t that great as an artwork, but it’s versatile for collages as it has a lot of variation.

Finishing

Finishing a collage painting by Peony and Parakeet. Read about how to trust yourself when creating art.

I felt that it was time to begin finishing the work. It is always useful to stop and think. I often put the artwork somewhere where I can look at it, like on the nearest book shelf. Then I step away and try to figure it out where to lead the viewer’s eye. Here’s another step where you should not question your trust: It will be great! You just need to connect some dots and find the lost pieces of the puzzle. Like I did when I realized that there is someone in the picture. I added the faces and made the rest of the character more visible. Then some tiny adjustments to the composition and after that, the work was finished.

A detail of a collage painting by Peony and Parakeet. Read about how to trust yourself when creating art.

I think that this piece is aesthetically very much my style, but the impressionistic approach to the surface structure makes the work interesting.

A detail of a collage painting by Peony and Parakeet. Read about how to trust yourself when creating art.

Never underestimate the power of layering: this is my favorite detail, the white area showing the blank watercolor paper. It was created in the first phase, and it still exists in the end. If I had done the obvious and filled the paper with each media layer by layer, this little detail would not exist. So, cherish each stroke and trust your creativity! Focus on the feeling, not to the result! You are allowed to feel like a world class artist even if you know you are not. Fly to the world of imagination!

This might also interest you: – Stretch Your Artistic Style

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A Decorated Box Using Mixed Media

Decorated box filled with ink bottlesTrash can become a treasure

It was only a small cardboard box but I wanted to take it to the extreme. There’s something extremely satisfying in taking  trash and treating it like a treasure. Many times when I draw I miss working with 3-dimensional objects. This time I wanted to enjoy playing with the box and use all its’ sides. Mixed media was the driving factor here too.

Preparation

First removed all the extra tapes from the box surface. Then I covered the box with white gesso. It would give colors better background than brown cardboard.

Inside

I painted the inside panels yellow. It is one of my favorite colors and I often use it when I want to add light but do not want to do that with white. As you may know, I am not a big fan of white!

Adding collage elements to the inside panels of the box

Plain yellow surface looked little bare so I added some collage elements. These were made by coloring pages from children’s books with color pencils and then  randomly cutting circles from the colored areas. I glued the circles with gel medium.

The bottom of the box needed something different. I decided to crochet a piece that would fit inside the box. I began with a small square and crocheted around it using a couple of colors. Finally I finished the pice by embroidering a flower.

At this phase the box reminded me about the sunflowers in the end of the summer. Then I began to decorate the outside of the box.

Crocheted bottom of the decorated box

Crocheted edge on the bottom of the decorated box

Outside

I continued with crochet. I made flowers and a long chain which I used in the outside bottom. It feels great to lay the box onto the table when there’s soft wool in the edges!

The I wondered how to attach the decorations like the crocheted flowers and various buttons to the outside edges. They were pretty heavy. Golden Fiber Paste was the perfect stuff! It created the textured surface and attached all the little pieces securely.

A decorated box using mixed media, a closeup

The end result is unusual looking but perfect for my indian ink bottles!