Mixed Media Canvas: The Possibilities Owl

Final - owl feather mixed media
Here’s a mixed media canvas I did right before Christmas. Just like the THANKFUL mixed media canvas I did back in October, I knew a couple of things I wanted to do with this canvas (even though I didn’t really know how it was going to turn out): I wanted an owl as my focal image and I wanted to use Gelatos. Anyway, be warned — this is a long post because I’ve got step-by-step photos for those who might be interested to create something like this. Gelatos are truly wonderful to use in mixed media canvases and other projects (see my previous post on creating card fronts from your original artwork here, another post here where I used Gelatos to create stenciled background on a 7″ by 14″ stretched canvas,  and these posts here and here where I used Gelatos to create cards). Anyway, I hope you enjoy my little tutorial and if it inspires you to create something, I would love to hear about it and even take a look wherever you have it uploaded!

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STEP 1: Decoupage an 8″ by 10″ stretched canvas
Don’t have canvas? Use any substrate you have: cardboard, chipboard, wood panel, etc. Make sure it’s primed with gesso, though. I love the pre-fab stretched canvas because they’re already primed. (This canvas is part of a pack of 10 I got at Wal-Mart for $9.) Anyway, I picked papers with neutral colors/designs, tore them and then decoupaged the pieces on the canvas with gel medium (Liquitex). I applied gel medium on top of the papers as well because I want to create a non-porous surface for when I apply Gelatos. It takes a while for the canvas to dry and if you’re the impatient type (like me!), you’ll have your heat gun ready (I did!).

step 1 - owl feather mixed media

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STEP 2: Stamp on tissue paper
On white tissue paper, stamp images. For my canvas, I stamped feathers in jet black archival ink (Ranger). You can use other inks but make sure they’re waterproof — and you’ll want waterproof ink when you’re using wet media (paints, water, watercolor) and when you’re decoupaging. Stamp on an area that’s a couple inches bigger than your canvas all around. Since I’m working on an 8″ by 10″ canvas, I stamped my feathers on tissue paper that’s 10″ by 12″ inches. (You don’t need to be exact, though. I usually eyeball things when I’m working on canvas.)

step 2 - owl feather mixed media

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STEP 3: Decoupage stamped tissue paper on canvas
I covered my canvas with the stamped tissue paper. Again, apply gel medium on top, and again, have your heat gun ready to dry the surface.

step 3 - owl feather mixed media

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STEP 4: Apply gesso
I tempered the black a bit by applying a thin layer of gesso. I imagine white acrylic paint will work as well, but I already had my bottle of gesso out so might as well…

step 4 - owl feather mixed media

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STEP 5: Apply Gelatos
I picked 5 Gelatos colors and then just scribbled them on the upper half of the canvas.  I used (L-R) Blueberry, Cotton Candy, Lavender, Grape, and Boysenberry.

step 5 - owl feather mixed media

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STEP 6: Blend 
Next, rub to blend the colors. This is what I love about Gelatos — they blend so easily. You can use your fingers to blend the colors, or you can use a foam applicator. You can even wear gloves (as what my husband always suggest I do whenever he sees me playing with inks and paints).  I have OCD tendencies, but when it comes to creating art, I love getting my hands dirty so this is really fun for me.

step 6 - owl feather mixed media

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STEP 7: Spray and drip
Create a color-wash effect on the  canvas by spraying some water and letting the Gelatos drip. This is why it’s important that you apply gel medium (or any decoupaging medium) on top and create a non-porous surface. The non-porous surface allows for the Gelatos to drip nicely. (It’ll drip too on a porous surface, but it’ll be ugly.)

step 7 - owl feather mixed media

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STEP 8: Wipe
Use a paper towel to wipe off some of the Gelatos. You’ll be left with a color-washed look that lets all the layers and images underneath show through.

step 8 - owl feather mixed media

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STEP 9: Print and cut
Next, work on your focal image. For my canvas, I printed out (on regular paper and on my laser printer) a silhouette of an owl perched on a branch.  I stuck the print out on a piece of cardstock and then cut around the image.

step 9 - owl feather mixed media

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STEP 10: Apply gesso
I gesso-ed up my owl and hastened the drying process with a heat gun.

step 10 - owl feather mixed media

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STEP 11: Apply Gelatos
I did the same thing I did on the canvas — applied some Gelatos on my owl. I used (L-R) Lemon, Red Cherry, Tangerine, and Mango. (At this point, I was already craving food — it’s what usually happens when I’m working with Gelatos.)

step 11a - owl feather mixed media

I blended the colors together with my fingers (no water) and then did the branch as well (Black Licorice and Spearmint).

step 11b - owl feather mixed media

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STEP 12: Wipe off some Gelatos
Next, I placed a stencil (Plaid) and with a baby wipe, I rubbed off some of the colors. The gesso provides texture so you can see that some of the colors are stuck in the crevices. Really COOL! :-)

step 12 - owl feather mixed media

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STEP 13: Stamp
With the stencil still in place over my owl, I stamped some feathers.

step 13 - owl feather mixed media

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STEP 14:  Add more texture to canvas
I set my owl aside and went back to my canvas and added more texture to it by stamping. (I used stamps by Tim Holtz/Stampers Anonymous and STAMPlorations.) You can create texture with more layers, stenciling gesso or modeling paste, decoupaging some more strips of paper, but I wanted to keep this canvas simple and flat so I just stuck with stamps. (Besides, I’d already stored away most of my supplies in an attempt to make our living room look uncluttered for Christmas.)

step 14 - owl feather mixed media

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STEP 15: Add focal image
I stuck my owl to my canvas with gel medium. However, I was careful to not paint over my owl or else I would have a really sorry-looking owl. (I ran out of fixative so applying a wet medium over the owl would make the Gelatos blend even more.)

step 15 - owl feather mixed media

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STEP 16: Add profundity
Add something profound — a quote, a word, anything inspiring. “Possibilities” was a word that’s been stuck to my head for days and so I came up with something I felt resonated with me: “embrace the possibilities, live your dream”. I used wooden alpha stamps (Hampton Art) to spell out the text. As you can see, I added a bit more onto the canvas as well: I stenciled in some more Gelatos, outlined my owl with Black Soot distress marker (Ranger), and rubbed white Gelatos (Coconut) around the canvas.

step 16 - owl feather mixed media

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Here’s the finished canvas – it shows the true colors, as I was finally able to take a photo of the canvas upright and under good lighting. (It was past midnight when I worked on this canvas and even with all the lights on, the photos I took of each step were still a little off.)

Final full - owl feather mixed media

Thanks so much for reading this far and again, I would love to see what you create after reading through my tutorial, so I hope you’ll share with me!

Have a wonderful weekend!

~Shery

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2 Comments to “Mixed Media Canvas: The Possibilities Owl”

  1. Wonderful project! I love all the details -stamping on tissue paper was a fab idea. Great to see you use gelatos, I just ordered some for testing! xx

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