Layering Techniques from Acrylic Techniques in Mixed Media

Finding the right progression of layers in your painting and collage work can sometimes be difficult, but these tutorials from Roxanne Padgett’s Acrylic Techniques in Mixed Media will set you in the right direction from the get-go. Use these fabulously colorful pages as substrates for your collages or as part of your art journal!

(This tutorial was previously published in the book Acrylic Techniques in Mixed Media: Layer, Scribble, Stencil, Stamp by Roxanne Padgett, copyright 2013; republished here courtesy of

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This is a fairly large canvas measuring approximately 3′ x 4′ (91cm x 122cm). I started randomly painting with lime green and magenta paint on a piece of painters canvas. This piece has many layers; the main element that looks like a flower design is actually a found stencil, which is a plastic sink drain I found at a discount store.

The Art of Layering 101

Layering 101 finalThe layering process can be done in any sequence and can be done on different substrates. Beginning with a magazine page is a good way to start. You won’t have a blank page to begin with and you can pull some of the colors from the page to help create your palette.

Materials List

  • Magazine page
  • Collage Materials
  • Acrylic Paints
  • Caran d’Ache Neocolor crayons
  • Poster Paint pens
  • Glue Stick
  • Paintbrushes
  • Stencil Brush
  • Stamps and Stencils
  • Large white paper plate
  • Found Objects
  • Water container
101 step 1

1. Begin the piece by drawing scribbles with a crayon and painting selected areas in a grid-like fashion. While the paint is still wet, use the handle of your paintbrush to scratch lines into the wet paint to reveal the color underneath.

101 step 2

2. When the paint is dry, redraw some of the grid marks with a white crayon, if you wish.

101 step 3

3. Use a glue stick to collage bits of painted paper or other scraps to the surface.

101 step 4

4. Continue to add layers with lines using poster paint pens. Use a stencil brush and an alphabet stencil to add letters with acrylic paint.
Place the stencil underneath the magazine page and use a crayon to make a crayon rubbing of letters in selected areas, as shown here.

101 step 5

5. Use found objects and acrylic paint to make printed shapes or lines. Here, I used the tube from a roll of paper towels to make circles.
Thin some paint with water. Make drips of paint by placing a puddle on the surface and lifting the surface to make the paint run. Add spatters by loading the thinned paint on a brush and running your finger over the bristles to make the paint fly onto the surface.

The Art of Layering 102

Layering 102 finalNow you are ready to begin on a large  blank canvas. My beginning layers tend to be a bit looser. I like to see how many layers I can add and still have the piece  make sense. In the end, it is interesting  to see what I have chosen to conceal or  reveal.

Materials List

  • Paper, canvas or fabric substrate
  • Collagraph plates
  • Collage, paper including sewing pattern pieces
  • Acrylic Paints
  • Matte Medium
  • Drawing materials, such as pencils, permanent markers, poster paint pens or correction pens
  • Crayons
  • Stencils
  • Foam roller
  •  Flat paintbrushes
  • Stencil brush
  • Large white paper plate
102 step 1

1. Begin the canvas with penciled scribble lines and crayon collagraph rubbings.

102 step 2

2. Adhere sewing pattern pieces to the canvas with matte medium and a paintbrush.

102 step 3

3. Begin freehand painting with a harmonious color palette of paint, plus white. Here I used magenta, Quinacridone Magenta and Cadmium Orange.

102 step 4

4. Use a large stencil and a foam roller to paint over the top of the painted canvas. I used a large circle stencil.

102 step 5

5. Add some white to your palette and create a tint of the paint color. Add some stenciled circles of this color, too.

102 step 6

6. Use smaller stencils, a stencil brush and different colors of paint to add more layers of stenciling. I used one of my hand-cut plastic stencils with light blue permanent paint.

102 step 7

7. Add lines with paint pens, permanent markers and a correction pen.

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One of my favorite combinations is black and white with a pop of a bold color– in this case, red. Every once in a while, I need a break from all the saturated colors that I use most of the time, and black and white never disappoints me.

Back to Basics: When you get stuck, try making a painting or a collage in just black and white or another limited color palette.

W8864_CM_AcrylTech_revised.inddFrom Acrylic Techniques in Mixed Media by Roxanne Padgett, 2013: courtesy of

To learn more about or to purchase Acrylic Techniques in Mixed Media, click here.

Find out more about Roxanne Padgett with her artist profile, or visit her blog at

Visit the Acrylic Techniques in Mixed Media Bonus Page for free bonus downloads.


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