Mixed Media Alchemy: Acrylic Painting Ideas

A guest blog by mixed-media artist and author of Experimental Painting, Lisa Cyr. This month focuses on unique acrylic painting ideas.

This is the first of a new monthly column that I am writing for createmixedmedia.com. The overall spirit of the column will be geared towards artistic discovery and exploration as a process of transforming the mundane into the magical!  From experimentation with media, tools, materials, techniques, application, process and concept, my monthly musings will be for artists of all levels who are interested in knowing how the power of mixed-media alchemy can add that magical, transforming element to their work.

When working outside the norm, it is important to begin with the right mindset and attitude. To start our journey of experimentation and exploration, I’d like to share with you an excerpt I wrote as an introduction to my book Experimental Painting.

Work as Play        

“Creativity is a gift that we are given and express instinctively as children. Without self-doubt or fear of rejection the inner spirit soars, embracing new experiences wholeheartedly. Eager to learn and always willing to try, children approach everything like it was for the first time. Sensually aware and stimulated by even the most inconsequential things, the untempered mind explores the world in a way that is awe-inspiring to witness.

“Oftentimes, as we move into adulthood, the inner realm gets overshadowed by the constant pressures, demands and distractions of the external world. We lose sight and no longer trust in the spirit of play that makes our unique gifts and talents shine. Easily bamboozled into thinking that doing something for the pure joy of it has no apparent purpose, we no longer see play as a relevant part of our process. In time, we become stagnant and creatively blocked.

“To break free from the chains of self-induced boundaries, we must again dare to give ourselves the freedom to play, transcending to a time where the creative spirit reigned in a vast and seemingly limitless field of dreams. We need to remind ourselves what it feels like to be inquisitive, bursting with imaginative faculties. A pilgrimage back to a child-like, playful state of mind reunites us with the soul of our work: a bright, flickering flame that has always been present within. Without fear of mistakes or pressure to perform, we begin again, challenging ourselves to reach for new heights in our work.

“As artists, our legacy lies in the ability to approach aesthetic endeavors with an authentic voice and vision, maintaining an intimate connection with the divine spirit that resides within. The expression of our gifts and talents is our unique contribution to world. To make an everlasting impact, an extraordinary mindset that is genuine at heart is needed to persevere, triumph and succeed with great rewards. The more we approach our work with insight, vigor and passion—continually cultivating creative play, exploration, experimentation—the more we are able to see and reach our full potential and inner greatness as creative beings.”

As you can see, I believe the act of play holds an integral part in the creative process. Without set intention, just create, focusing on the journey not the destination. When you begin to play, you open the door for discovery to enter. I’d like to share with you some fun and playful techniques that I have discovered.

Lisa Cyr acyrlic painting ideas

Tracing paper is spattered with purple acrylic paint, crinkled and dry brushed with metallic silver acrylic. Creating custom collage papers is a great way to infuse a signature look into your work.

Lisa Cyr acrylic painting ideas

A painted background is imprinted with a sprig coated with embossing ink. The wet ink is covered with embossing powder and a heating element is employed to raise the gold surface. Raised surfaces provide an intriguing tactile environment.

Lisa Cyr

Synthetic mesh is dripped with liquid acrylic and sponged with gold. Utilizing alternative materials in your work will create intrigue.

Self-leveling clear gel, liquid acrylic and metallic interference paints are swirled with a sharpened stick, then left to harden in a flat mold and later removed. You can also embed the clear gel with low relief add-ons for additional effects.

Lisa Cyr

Acrylic paint is dropped into matte gel medium and marbled with a wide-tooth comb. You can also use a sharpened wooden stick to draw into the surface, creating a unique design.

Lisa Cyr

Facial tissue is folded, manipulated and adhered to a surface using acrylic matte medium. Washes of acrylic paint are applied on top. Tissue paper and paper towels can also be used to create a similar texture.

Handmade paper embedded with natural fibers is primed with gesso and washes of Burnt Sienna and copper acrylic are applied on top. The raised surface is wiped with a cloth to reveal a tactile environment.  Creating your own handmade paper is a terrific way to establish a distinctive, collage-based environment.

Lisa Cyr

Corrugated cardboard is adorned with pearlescent acrylics and dripped with latex paint. The raised paper surface provides an eye-catching element for any two-dimensional surface.

Lisa Cyr

Debossed wallpaper is imprinted using leaves and acrylic paints. You can also emboss and deboss your own paper using a template and a stylus.

Lisa Cyr

Die-cut and embossed paper is treated with silver acrylic and adhered to a painted surface. Brown ink is applied on top while the surface is sprayed with a water bottle. The ink puddles and begins to drip while the excess is removed with a paper towel for a weathered appearance. There are many techniques available when it comes to aging and distressing collage and assemblage accents.

Lisa Cyr

Gold and copper acrylic is sponged on top of a black base using a large sponge with irregular holes. Explore both natural and man-made sponges to get a variety of imprints.

Lisa Cyr

Heavy-duty aluminum foil is crinkled and manipulated to create an overall embossed texture. Black ink is applied to the surface and wiped away to create an interesting patina. Do not use nonstick aluminum foil, as it will not work. Regular foil does the trick just fine.

I look forward to hearing from you and seeing what you have unearthed in your journey of experimentation and exploration!

copyright 2012 Lisa L. Cyr, Cyr Studio LLC

Wall Paper from Lisa Cyr

Wallpaper 1- Size  800 x 500

Size 1024 x 770

Size 1680 x 1050

Wallpaper 2- Size 800 x 500

Size 1024 x 770

Size 1680 x 1050


Wallpaper 3- Size 800 x 500

Size 1024 x 770

Size 1680 x 1050


Wallpaper 4- Size 800 x 500

Size 1024 x 770

Size 1680 x 1050


About Lisa L. Cyr, Instructor

Lisa L. Cyr  (www.cyrstudio.com) is an accomplished multidisciplinary artist and author with a content-driven approach. Her highly imaginative, fantasy-inspired works use layers of metaphor and allegory to stimulate curiosity, provoke thought and encourage further inspection. A poetic, rhythmic synthesis of drawing, painting, collage and assemblage, Cyr’s visually tactile, mixed-media work is composed to collectively create a new reality with a more expressive, symbolic arrangement. An artist member of the Society of Illustrators NYC and the International Society of Experimental Artists, Cyr’s work has been featured in numerous magazines, books and online. She has authored seven books on art and design and writes for many of the creative industry’s leading art publications. In addition, Cyr gives workshops across the country and teaches in several of the top MFA graduate programs.


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