Using Ephemera as a Collage Layer

A guest post by Maria Greene

I love to mix paints with paper, fabric, and other media. Added material gives depth and layers to collage art. I like the interest it creates instead of using paints as the only medium. In the past I have used altered magazine pictures, lace, wallpaper snippets, ribbon, news print, paper napkins, envelopes, doilies, postage stamps, photos, photocopies, bits of wrapping paper, purchased decorative papers—the possibilities are endless. Your recycle bin is a treasure trove of ephemera. Greene-Bird-Poppies-030 Materials acrylic paints (art paints or craft paints) decorative papers eraser Mod Podge or other medium to glue things down white paper paintbrushes, flat pencil permanent markers scissors Staz-On permanent ink, black stretched canvas, canvas board or wood panel (mine measures 10” x 10”) optional: baby wipes
Lay out your canvas and torn decorative papers to cover the surface. They don't have to cover perfectly. Hand torn edges give nice interest to the art. Glue the papers down, making sure all edges are attached completely to the surface. Bits that stick up will hinder the flow of the paint and look sloppy. Push out any air bubbles from under the papers.

Lay out your canvas and torn decorative papers to cover the surface. They don't have to cover perfectly. Hand-torn edges give nice interest to the art.

Glue the papers down, making sure all edges are attached completely to the surface. Bits that stick up will hinder the flow of the paint and look sloppy. Push out any air bubbles from under the papers.

Glue the papers down, making sure all edges are attached completely to the surface. Bits that stick up will hinder the flow of the paint and look sloppy. Push out any air bubbles from under the papers.

I gathered four colors I wanted to use to paint over the background. Choose the combo you like best.

I gathered four colors I wanted to use to paint over the background. Choose the combo you like best.

Smear the paint around (I used a baby wipe) until you are happy with the result. I have left areas thin to make sure the papers show through.

Smear the paint around (I used a baby wipe) until you are happy with the result. I have left areas thin to make sure the papers show through.

I used raw sienna and unbleached titanium white to smooth over everything gently, especially the edges to darken them. I made sure no bits of blank canvas shone through.

I used raw sienna and unbleached titanium white to smooth over everything gently, especially the edges to darken them. I made sure no bits of blank canvas shone through.

As some gold paint to part of the project. It gives the art a nice glow. You can also still see the darkened edges.

As some gold paint to part of the project. It gives the art a nice glow. You can also still see the darkened edges.

Draw a simple bird shape on white printing paper. You can also cut out a bird picture from a magazine and use as a template. It's important that it's scaled to look good on your canvas.

Draw a simple bird shape on white printing paper. You can also cut out a bird picture from a magazine and use as a template. It's important that it's scaled to look good on your canvas.

Cut out your bird and move it around on the canvas to find the best position for it.

Cut out your bird and move it around on the canvas to find the best position for it.

Use a permanent marker to trace the contour of the bird. (I decided to use a blue). Permanent markers won't smear.

Use a permanent marker to trace the contour of the bird. Permanent markers won't smear.

(I decided to use a blue.)

(I decided to use a blue.)

Sketch some simple flower shapes. I drew some simple outlines of poppies so that I could figure out how to draw them on the canvas. You can cut out those templates too, or just draw them where they fit best around your bird.

Sketch some simple flower shapes. I drew some simple outlines of poppies so that I could figure out how to draw them on the canvas. You can cut out those templates too, or just draw them where they fit best around your bird.

Paint in your bird and flowers. I painted the bird white with some green shading. Then I painted the poppy flower shapes. Perfection is not important since we're going for a soft look.

Paint in your bird and flowers. I painted the bird white with some green shading. Then I painted the poppy flower shapes. Perfection is not important since we're going for a soft look.

Choosing a flat brush, add some stems and leaves. (I used a dark green.) Again, don't worry about perfection. Then I added two round shapes, like pods, in yellow and ocher, also with green stems. I outlined the bird with some dark green paint on a small flat brush. A marker would be too harsh of a contrast. I also outlined the stems with some raw umber and painted the bottoms of the poppies the same raw umber. I used a black ballpoint pen to outline the pods. I brought out my black Staz-On ink pad to darken the edges of the art even more.

Choosing a flat brush, add some stems and leaves. (I used a dark green.) Again, don't worry about perfection. Then I added two round shapes, like pods, in yellow and ocher, also with green stems. I outlined the bird with some dark green paint on a small flat brush. A marker would be too harsh of a contrast. I also outlined the stems with some raw umber and painted the bottoms of the poppies the same raw umber. I used a black ballpoint pen to outline the pods. I brought out my black Staz-On ink pad to darken the edges of the art even more.

Hold the ink pad upside down and rub it along the edges. Be careful not to get too much black applied if the ink pad is new!

Hold the ink pad upside down and rub it along the edges. Be careful not to get too much black applied if the ink pad is new!

Finished art project. So much fun! Many layers applied and you can still see the decorative papers shine through.

Finished art project. So much fun! Many layers applied and you can still see the decorative collage papers shine through.

Advice to readers: Never be afraid to try out new techniques! See everything around you as a possibility for expression and use what you have on hand.   MARIA GREENE is mostly a self-taught artist who specializes in acrylic painting, polymer clay mosaic art, and mixed media collage. Her interests also include art-journaling, gardening, and reading. She has tried every kind of art technique under the sun, but always comes back to mixed media and art journaling. She has created many art instruction videos on YouTube. greeneearthoriginals mariagreene.org T1354_160px_72dpi T7854_160px_72dpi

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