I’ve been collecting little pieces of artwork from thrift stores and estate sales lately and stacking them in the corner until I figured out what to do with them. There’s a few portrait paintings, a couple of landscapes, a cheap monochromatic print, etc, etc. And while they’re not totally my style, I felt drawn to them in some way and knew eventually I’d come up with a use for ’em.
I rolled a few ideas around in my head, and one of the things that kept popping back in were the mixed media collages I used to create back in college. I had so much fun making those things and wanted to bring that to life with some of the pieces I already had laying around. And that’s where this mixed media DIY art project was born.
I’ve teamed up with Fiskars once again, this time to bring you a mixed media art DIY that’s great for any skill level (including beginners), created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic Orange-handled Scissors and 50 years of creativity. Click through for the tutorial.
Something to think about before getting started… This is a mixed media art project, which involves adding onto an existing piece of art (whether that be a piece that you created all on your own or a found piece that you purchased from a thrift store, estate sale, etc). You wouldn’t want to do a project like this with a prized piece of artwork. So before you get started, if using a found piece of existing artwork for this DIY, run the name of the artist through Google (if it’s signed) to make sure the piece you have doesn’t have any monetary value.
This project is great for amateur painter pieces or even prints of originals that are in need of a more playful, contemporary update to fit in your home. That said, if you want to get started, here’s what you’ll need to make your own mixed media artwork…
- old portrait prints or paintings
- Fiskars Original Orange-handled Scissors
- tracing paper (I got mine from Amazon)
- high quality art paper (I like Rives BFK 250g 22×30)
- matte medium (mine is from Amazon)
- acrylic paint and paint brush
1. Start by painting sheets of paper (or sections of paper, if you have larger pieces) in solid colors that would be a good fit for the painting or print you’re working with. You want to choose colors that will work well with the color scheme in the existing piece, so that it feels cohesive. You don’t have to stick to the exact same colors that are already in the artwork by any means, just keep that color palette in mind when painting new sheets of color to use.
2. While you’re waiting for the paint to dry, you can use tracing paper to trace outlines of the portrait itself, the bust, or the surrounding area to get a better idea of the sizing needed, various shapes you might want to create, etc.
Once the paint is dry from step 1, you can freeform shapes directly onto the painted paper. OR turn the paper over so the painted part is face down, and then turn your tracing paper over to the wrong side as well and retrace over the pencil marks. This should release some graphite onto the paper to give you a cutting guide, etc.
3. Then, cut out your shapes using a pair of scissors. I used the Fiskars Orange-handled Scissors for this project. And in case you’re curious… yes I actually use these specific scissors A LOT for DIY projects! My grandma and mom both used these exact scissors for pretty much everything when I was growing up. And it must have rubbed off on me because I probably have 5 or 6 pairs of these guys between the studio and home. They’re under $20, super sharp (stainless-steel blades offer a lasting sharp edge that cuts all the way to the tip) and work on lots of different materials (paper, fabric, household projects, etc). And did you know, when the Orange-handled Scissors were introduced in 1967, they were the world’s first plastic-handled scissors?
4. Then lay the cut paper pieces over the painting or print until you have a design that you like. You may need to play around with this for a while to find an arrangement that works best. And if you find that you like a particular shape but maybe not in the color that you’ve used, you can always paint over the color you started with to get a better match.
5. Next, apply a liberal amount of matte medium (which will act as a glue) with a paint brush to the back of each paper piece and apply it to the surface of the painting or print. Press down for 15-30 seconds to help the paper stick to the surface. Repeat this process with all of your paper cut outs until you’ve created your desired design.
Once dry, apply an additional coat of matte medium over the top of the paper collage pieces to seal them in. Let dry and then it’s ready to hang. This would also be a good time to add any additional drawing, etc on top on the layered collage to bring everything together (if needed). I added some line work and writing to both pieces, using a blue pencil.
What do you think of the finished pieces? Would you ever give something like this a try with an existing piece you already have? Or maybe a thrift store find?
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of their iconic Orange-handled Scissors, Fiskars is gathering stories from creatives and consumers on what the scissors mean to them (including a little something from yours truly and loads of others). To see the collection of stories visit ourscissors.fiskars.com.
This post is in partnership with Fiskars. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that help keep Paper & Stitch running.