Student Art from “Within the Layers” with Lisa Cyr

During January, Lisa Cyr taught an online mixed-media workshop based on her book, Experimental Painting, through Artist’s Network University. The course was so popular that it is being offered again in July. You can register for it now! If you want to find out more about the workshop and book, you can scroll down toward the end of this post or click here. But what’s really exciting is that many of Lisa’s students have decided to share their mixed- media art and techniques with us here!

Artist Network University
Within the Layers: Inspirational Mixed-Media Techniques
Lisa L. Cyr, Instructor



Artist: Diana Teeters, Shreveport, LA
Title: Bare Trees
Size: 16″ x 20″
Media: torn paper, gesso, gel medium, acrylic paints, small tree branches and leaves
Surface: Masonite

This piece started by gluing torn pieces of paper with the song lyrics of Fleetwood Mac’s, “Bare Trees” printed on them to my blank masonite board. I had some old white gesso that had started to thicken. So, I used this to build up the texture. While smearing it around with a large palette knife, I lifted straight up and saw an interesting  tree-like texture. Perfect for my theme! Wanting this piece to be monochromatic, I used a payne’s gray wash to set the neutral ground. A bare trees photograph I took would be the focal point. Using gel medium, I transferred the photograph to the board. Later, I decided to add more color by painting many wash layers of alizarin crimson, payne’s gray, and prussian blue. This art piece cried out for more. I listened and felt compelled to add a natural element. What fun I had searching my yard for small branches that resembled trees. I attached the “trees” using gel medium after many layout combinations. I’m happy to share with you my first mixed media piece!

Diana Teeters comments about the book and the class:

“This class has propelled me to experiment and explore mixed media with a sense of child-like wonder. As a beginner, I learned enough mixed media basics to feel confident with the process. Thanks Lisa for teaching me how to create beautiful textures using gel medium and molding paste. Thanks for sharing your technique for glazing these textures to bring out an intriguing sense of depth. As a photographer, the most important technique you taught me was to transfer my photographs using gel medium. Thanks for answering in great detail all my beginner’s questions. Finally, thank you for teaching a course that allowed me to let loose and have fun making art.”


Artist: Dawn McLaughlin, New Jersey
Title: Passage
Size: 8″x 8″
Media: acrylic and collage, molding paste impressed with a debossed custom roller
Surface: Gessoboard

This piece went through several variations and transformations. The textures were created with a custom roller, aluminum foil, synthetic mesh, molding-paste, punchanella stencils and crackle paste. The custom roller is a great tool for making interesting and unique surface textures. Ultimately, what stood out were the tree and branch-like designs made by the debossed custom roller. Because the designs suggested a woodsy theme, I decided to go with it. I modified my colors, added leaves (paper) and branches (twine),  metal netting, screening and a random piece of wood. I then peeled off layers of paint I had previously applied over the crackle paste, revealing a center hallow, or “Passage,” as a focal point.

Dawn McLaughlin comments about the book and the class:

“During the course, I found there was always a way to fix and transform, and that unity and image were eventually revealed. Lisa’s insights and advice and the exploratory and experimental nature of the work provided great catalysts for artistic development and personal self-expression.”



Artist: Sunita Rajvanshi, Indian Expat in Muscat, Oman
Title: Blue Omani Door
Size: 30 x 30 cm
Media: mixed media
Surface: canvas panel

For the background, I used lots of gesso with blue, yellow and different shades of green acrylic paint. I mixed the gesso with the colors using a knife. I also used a lifting technique. As the background was drying, I made the door using modeling paste. While it was still wet, I carved the design and wrote Oman in Arabic. I choose a blue for the door and the background, using green to show the greenery. Muscat is very much green in spite of being in the Middle East. Lastly, I adhered the door to the surface with tile glue.


Artist: Sunita Rajvanshi, Indian Expat in Muscat, Oman
Title: Omani Silver Jewelry
Size: 40 x 40 cm
Media: mixed media
Surface: canvas 

For the background, I used a brayer to spread thick acrylic colors onto the canvas. After it dried, I applied wood glue onto the surface, immediately painting on many colors. I then used a blow dryer to get a crackled effect. Finally, I dry-brushed the piece with silver paint. I made the necklace with modeling paste, using wood stencils for the pattern and design. I assembled all the parts while the modeling paste was wet and after drying it, I colored it with silver, gold and other metallic colors. It was adhered to the canvas with tile glue.

Sunita Rajvanshi comments about the book and the class:

The four week course was designed very professionally and there was no difficulty to understand it. Lisa was constantly in touch with us, which was a great help. She was ready to help us every day with our queries, and I appreciate her for that. Also, my classmates were very active  in the classroom, constantly taking  part in the Critic’s Corner and comment areas.  I learned many new things and techniques from this course. I am looking forward for the next course starting in April. CREATIVE EXPLORATIONS IN MIXED MEDIA: 2D, 3D and Beyond!


Artist: Lynn Tribe, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
Title: King Landing
Size: 12″ x 16″
Media: acrylic and collage
Surface: canvas

This project was to produce a three-dimensional painting, which was a challenge to apply heavy objects. I learned to use lots of heavy gloss gel and to wait while it dried. The surface of the canvas was sealed with gesso and textured with acrylic gel medium. Using the heavy gloss gel, I affixed cardboard cut into shapes followed by strips of old watercolor and paper collage, including a bookmark from King Landing, New Brunswich. A square of furniture pad material was adhered with heavy gloss gel followed by circles of wood and plastic to look like a book binding. A “V” motif was used to represent the victory of the loyalists who arrived in New Brunswich and the cardboard boat shape represents the journey. Tube acrylic paints Hansa Yellow and transparent yellow oxide and acrylic fluid colors Quinacridone Red and Quinacridone Magenta and Turquoise were used.

Lynn Tribe comments about the book and the class:

“The class has been good for me, as it presented challenges that I would probably would not think of and a timeline to do it in. I particularly liked the project using music to inspire a background. The simulation of metal was something that I had not attempted before and I am sure I will use in my future work. The resource book, Experimental Painting, that came with the course will also be very handy to have.”



Artist: Linda Culp Randono, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Title: Explorations, a beginning
Size: 12″ x 14″
Media: rice paper, acrylic paint, ink, old book page
Surface: Masonite

This piece was created as a background for a future painting. The board was generously coated with gesso and paper was added using gel medium to adhere the paper onto the board. Paint and ink were dripped onto the surface. Gel medium, self-leveling paste and modeling paste were also used.

Linda Culp Randono comments about the book and the class:

“This class and Lisa’s book really helped me put time aside to work on the all important backgrounds I need for my paintings. The numerous techniques, very creative techniques I might add, will be instrumental in my future paintings. I, like Lisa, love to incorporate symbolism into my work and hope to always tell a story. Love the work of Lisa Cyr!”



Artist: Susan Mathis, Woodbury, MN
Title: Untitled
Size: 15″ x 10″
Media: heavy-duty aluminum foil and acrylic paints
Surface: illustration board

I applied gesso to the front and back of illustration board. When it was dry, I applied both crumpled and flat heavy-duty aluminum foil using gloss gel medium. In some areas, I didn’t put any foil at all. I wanted to achieve a textured look. When the foil was dry, I started applying paint. My goal was to achieve a copper tone. To achieve this, I layered on Prussian Blue, Phthalo Blue, Alizarin Crimson, and Venetian Gold paint.

Susan Mathis comments about the book and the class:

“This class was a real eye opener for me. There are so many ways to create mixed-media pieces. Lisa provided a good sampling of varying techniques all of which were new to me. I plan to continue to work with Lisa’s books, continuing to learn additional techniques.”



Artist: Anamarie Fox, Antioch, CA
Title: Wild Horses
Size: 17″ x 18″
Media: paper, acrylic, light molding paste, sand medium, ceramic stucco medium, stamps, ink, Lumiere paints and paper clay
Surface: Masonite

I began by drawing the elements, masking out the horses with blue painter’s tape. I made templates for the hinges by rolling out paper clay and cutting out the hinges from the template. I embedded details into the surface and then baked them at 225 degrees in a toaster oven designated for craft projects, letting them cool inside the oven before removing. I sanded the edges, painted the hinges and spattered white paint onto the surface. Tinted Liquitex ceramic stucco medium with acrylic paint was applied onto the door. I ran a texturing comb across the surface and later applied the hinges on top.  I cut out the bible verses and randomly glued them onto the heart section. Crumpled tissue paper that was randomly painted with leftover paint, spritzed with ink and stamped was used to cover the rest of the heart section. I wrote a love letter to God on one side and covered it with torn buff masking tape. I also applied that to the outer edges of the heart in the negative spaces.  I used stencil to apply light molding paste randomly. Once dry, I applied Golden sand texture to the rest of the areas to add texture. I dry-brushed Burnt Umber acrylic paint to the edges of the heart as well as the entire piece. I also dry-brushed dark red and cool green on the stenciled area. Gold Lumiere paint was applied with a finger, hitting only the high and raised parts of the texture mediums. I also employed a unique shaving cream technique in this piece. I spread shaving cream on a piece of plastic wrap, added paint and swirled it around to make a nice marbled effect. I then turned it over onto the piece in areas, just pressing lightly and I just let it dry. It’s pretty cool!

Anamarie Fox comments about the book and the class:

“I learned about composition in this class and how to tie together colors to balance the whole piece. The book is chockfull of exciting techniques that provides so many various effects, making for interesting artwork with details that evoke a true appreciation for mixed-media art. Lisa offers not only invaluable tips but prompts creative ideas with her instruction style. I am very happy to have learned more about mixed media from Lisa. Thanks!”


Artist: Susan Cornelis, Sebastopol, CA
Title: Fossils Series
Size: 4” x 4” each
Media: acrylic on debossed molding paste
Surface: cradled canvas

We had a lesson on making your own alternative stamp, debossing and creating a surface with a patina.  I used what I had easily available and made a stamp by cutting organic shapes out of foam sheets and gluing them onto a wood block. When I coated the canvas with molding paste and light molding paste and stamped into it, I got interesting patterns that reminded me of fossils. When they were dry, I glazed them and played around with metallic and interference paints to get interesting patinas.


Artist: Susan Cornelis, Sebastopol, CA
Title: Romantic Music
Size: 12” x 12”
Media: acrylic, image transfer
Surface: gesso primed canvas

In this class exercise, we were to paint to different types of music. I listened to a lovely piece by Yo-Yo Ma and painted quickly using fingers only. Then, I copied some quick figure sketches that I’d done and did a dry gel transfer of them onto the piece. I added a touch of glaze around the figures to bring them out, white highlight, a suggestion of leaves and decided to call it done.

Susan Cornelis comments about the book and the class:

“The class was helpful to get me to try some of the techniques of repeated glazing and texturing of the working surface, adding and subtracting shapes and patterns.”


WITHIN THE LAYERS: Inspirational Mixed-Media Techniques

This online workshop will investigate exploratory methodologies, techniques and approaches in mixed-media art. Throughout the workshop, exciting in-depth demonstrations will be shown, providing an extensive array of visually-stimulating possibilities for artists to explore. Both two-dimensional and three-dimensional techniques will be covered. For artists that are looking to push their work to a new level, this workshop will be a valuable resource and an ongoing source for creative inspiration.

Course registration comes with a digital download of Experimental Painting by artist and author Lisa L. Cyr. To learn more about the book go to, click here.




•  how to build a tactile working environment utilizing both additive and subtractive processes

•  how to tone the painting surface in imaginative ways

•  how to employ custom tools for signature mark-making


Artists of all levels who are interested in knowing how mixed-media techniques can add that magical, transforming element to their work

Click here to learn more about the July 23, 2013 course.


Or register for the class now!

INSTRUCTOR: Lisa L. Cyr (Bio)

Lisa L. Cyr  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.

Go to the Create Mixed Media Interview on the Artist.


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