Mixed Media Art Tutorial From Start to Finish: Moon Girl Portrait

Moon Girl Blog Graphic

Art Tutorial: Create a Mixed Media Painting With Me!

Over a year ago, I posted a mixed media art tutorial of my “Friesian” painting.

I created another painting recently, called “Moon Girl,” and I filmed the process from start to finish.

It is up on my YouTube channel for you to watch if you are interested.

But I also figured I would post here for those of you who prefer to see it written out.

You are welcome to create a similar painting using this process, or just read through this post if you are interested in the process of creating a mixed media painting from start to finish.

I include materials I used, techniques, and helpful tips if you are still learning to do mixed media art.

This is the painting I created:

Moon Girl Painting

And here is a link to the YouTube video:

(Make sure you have some time set aside – the video is 40+ minutes 🙂

Start to Finish Mixed Media Art Tutorial

Let’s get started.

First, please don’t feel like you have to have all the supplies I have, or even that you have to do things exactly the way I do them. Use your creativity, pick and choose what advice and materials are right for you – and just have a good time. This art tutorial is meant to inspire you. No pressure!

Materials Used:

  • 9×12 Canvas Panel
  • Pencil and gum eraser
  • Workable Fixative (Spray)
  • Liquid Friskit or other masking liquid
  • Paintbrushes, water, acrylic and oil paint
  • Mod Podge
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Watercolor crayons
  • Hairdryer
  • Super Heavy Gel medium
  • Beads, charms, found objects
  • Glitter
  • Ink
  • Spray bottle of water
  • Fabric or mesh
  • Stamps & Stamp ink
  • Stencils

On the above list, you can substitute items you already have for what’s listed.

  • You can use heavy paper, hard board or regular canvas in place of the canvas panel.
  • Use your preferred art glue in place of the Mod Podge.
  • For the watercolor crayons, you can use actual watercolors or even thinned acrylic paints.
  • Any paper will work, not just scrapbook.
  • You can use all or just a little of the beads, glitter, ink, stencils, etc.

Step 1:

art tutorial Pencil drawing

Find a reference photo or image you would like to use for your portrait subject. Draw your image onto your white panel or surface with pencil (graphite, mechanical, or No. 2 all work fine!) Use Workable Fixative to spray on your pencil drawing (keeps it from smudging or disappearing) if you have it. (Do this outside and don’t breathe in the fumes!) It’s okay if you don’t have it, just be a little careful with your pencil drawing so it doesn’t smudge or rub out.

Step 2:

scrapbook papers

Pick out some scrapbook papers you would like to use. I knew I wanted my theme to be something to do with the moon, so I found purple, blue and black papers to match the colors I wanted for my background. Tear or cut your papers and arrange them on your background where you’d like them to go.

I like to move and arrange them how I like and then glue it all down. Take a photo of where you placed them so you can refer to it while you glue since you’ll have to take them back off to brush the glue onto the canvas panel.

Mod Podge

I always Mod Podge under and over the papers so they stick well and don’t crease or wrinkle. Once your papers are glued and the glue is still wet, you can use an old gift card or other plastic card to smooth it all out so there’s no bubbles and the glue dries flat and even.

Tip: Use a hairdryer to dry the Mod Podge once it’s flattened if you want to speed up the dry time.


Step 3:

Watercolor Crayons

Use watercolor crayons (or watercolor or acrylic paint thinned with water) to scribble or add color to your background over the scrapbook papers.

If you use crayons, just scribble wherever you feel like it and then use a wet brush to “activate.” The water allows the crayon to turn to watercolor and blend together.

papers and ink

Step 4:

If you are able to do this step, it makes mixed media SOOO much easier!

Here is a trick that I discovered that helped me with one of my biggest frustrations while doing mixed media art.

It’s basically the old chicken and egg dilemma, but with art.

I could never figure out if I should paint my background FIRST and then draw my subject, or draw my subject first and then paint my background.

Each of the two ways above has a few downfalls:

Paint first, then draw: If I make a painting this way, I have to make my background and guess at where my subject will go and leave that area white, which is hard to do when working with very fluid inks. Also, if I choose to cover the whole canvas or paper surface with the background, I have to be okay with drawing my subject on top of the background, which can be really textured and make the subject look wonky sometimes.

Draw first, then paint: With this way, I draw my subject first on a clean white canvas. Seems like the easier way until I remember I work in OILS, which take a while to dry. So if I do the background first, I have to be really careful to not get anything in my drawing area. Or, if I paint with oil and finish my subject first, and do the background last, I either have to wait forever for my oil paint to dry (like several days to over a week!) or if I don’t wait, it’s impossible to not get glitter in the oil paint, which is a bitch to get out.

I know, you may be saying, “well Jaime, just don’t use glitter.”

Nay nay, I say.

My Magical Discovery

Lucky for you and for me, I found a solution where I don’t have to worry about which comes first, the chicken or the egg . . . er, the background or the drawing.

Enter my superhero!

A little thing called Liquid Frisket.  

What is this magical substance, you ask? Well.

It’s a liquid mask that you can paint on certain areas of your artwork and let dry. Once dry it forms a barrier between what you are doing now and what’s underneath! Then, once you are done making a huge mess on your canvas, just peel the Liquid Frisket up and . . . VOILA!! Clean white canvas with your drawing underneath.

I mean, I don’t want to exaggerate, but discovering this little gem was kinda life changing. Okay, too far? It was art life changing. Is that better?


Where to Get Frisket

I know I said in the introduction that you did not need to run right out and buy a bunch of supplies, and I stand by that. But! If you want to reduce hassle, frustration, and not make things way harder, I suggest ordering some Liquid Frisket online (Grumbacher, Dr. Ph. Martin and Grafix are all brands that have a version of this). Links are to help. They are not affiliate links.

Or go to Hobby Lobby or a similar craft store and look for it in the paint aisle where they keep the gel medium, stand oil, glazing medium, etc.

To use the Liquid Frisket, just take a brush, dip it in the jar, and paint over your entire pencil drawing, making sure to cover the area with a good coat and make sure it follows the outlines of your drawing. Then let dry and you’re ready for Step 5!

Step 5:

For step five, you’ll want some Super Heavy Gel Medium.

This is what we will use to apply objects to the background. Objects like beads, trinkets, charms, found objects, glitter, natural material, etc.

Tip: Craft and hobby stores do carry some beads, charms, etc. but their stock is often limited and, in my opinion, expensive. I have discovered that if you search for beads, charms, estate jewelry, or natural items like shells or shark teeth online at sites like eBay and Amazon, you can find what you’re looking for in bulk and at very reasonable prices.

mixed media art glue

The super heavy gel medium is very thick and I like to apply it with a palette knife. Or, when I was extra cheap and couldn’t afford palette knives, a good ole plastic silverware knife worked just fine! Just scoop out some gel, smear it where you like, and then press your objects into it so they are firmly affixed when the gel dries.

PS- This step is a bit messy. You’ll probably want a paper towel or wet wipe handy because the gel will stick to your fingers.

art tutorial beads

Don’t worry about it looking funny because it dries clear. Plus, this is why I use glitter! The glitter sticks to all the exposed areas of gel and once the glittered gel dries you never see anything but glitter.

art tutorial Glitter

art tutorial trinkets

sprinkle glitter

Once you have all the objects that you want to use stuck to the gel, just sprinkle your glitter over the exposed areas of gel. I like to also have a soft paintbrush nearby so I can push the glitter to areas it doesn’t stick to just by sprinkling. This way, I am sure all gel is covered.

Step 6:

This step involves spray inks or the inks in bottles with a dropper. You can use one or the other, or mix and match.

Note: I am doing this step (inks) in this tutorial after I applied my gel and glitter. I sometimes do this step after I apply the Liquid Frisket, before any heavy gel or mixed media objects are applied. You can do it either way!

For this step you will need your inks and some type of spray bottle with water in it. To use the dropper inks, just place a few drops around your painting. Don’t be afraid to place different colored drops together. When you spray with water, they will run together and mix and it looks really cool. This is the step where you can just let some stuff happen!

art tutorial Inks

Tip: To use spray inks, have a piece of paper or little strip of cardboard handy. The spray likes to go everywhere, so just hold your paper/cardboard like a shield against whatever area you don’t want to ink to land on. If you put Liquid Frisket on your drawing, it won’t matter if some ink gets there – it will peel right off with the Frisket later!

Once the ink is on your surface, you can take a break and let it dry completely, or you can use a heat tool to speed dry time. Just be careful if you use a heat tool. If it’s one with a lot of power, it can blow your inks everywhere! Just hold it well away from your surface if it is powerful so you don’t create an ink mess. (It will just take a little bit longer to fully dry this way). Plus your arm might get kinda tired. 😉

ink spray

Step 7:

After the inks from Step 6 have dried, I consider the background DONE.

Now, it’s time to paint your subject.

To remove your Frisket, just pick an edge and roll your finger over the edge a few times. The Frisket will begin to peel away and stick to itself. In no time, it will be off.

Beware: Removing Frisket is strangely satisfying.

You can use acrylic paint, oil paint, or whatever your preferred medium is to paint your subject (Gouache? Watercolor? You decide!)

For this painting I used water mixable oil paints.

I mixed a skin tone and a hair color on my palette (I am using disposable palette sheets). I wanted my moon girl to be kinda glowy (like the moon, get it?) so I kept her skin very fair and made her hair light blond with a bit of thinned bright yellow to give it that pretty glow.

Paint colors I used:

Cerulean Blue

Lemon Yellow

Ultramarine Blue

Titanium White

Ivory Black

Jaune Brilliant (a light flesh tone)

Cadmium Red

Cobalt Blue

Dioxazine Purple

Burt Sienna

All that’s left is to paint whatever subject you chose and let dry!

painting hair

mixing paint

art tutorial on the easel

finished painting

After your painting has dried for a while (depending on what type of paint you chose to use – acrylics will be ready in a day or so, oils take much longer), you can seal and preserve your painting. To do this, I like to first brush on a varnish and let dry, and then as a final step spray with a glossy lacquer. This makes sure the glitter, small objects, etc. will also be protected and won’t have dust and dirt sticking to them. It creates a smooth, clear finished surface that is not sticky.

I hope you enjoyed this art tutorial on how I created this moon girl painting! If you’re interested, you can also check out my other step-by-step art tutorial where I used similar techniques to make a painting of a Friesian Horse: Mixed Media Art Tutorial: My Art Process Step-By-Step

Also, don’t forget that if you want to see the Moon Girl painting come to life, you can hop on over to YouTube and watch the tutorial:

Have a great day!

Jaime Leigh Thanks for Reading

Jaime Leigh
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