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Mixed Media on a Budget ~ When I was first bitten by the mixed media bug, I was a little overwhelmed with all of the “tools” used to create a mixed media painting. Stamp pads, stamps, distress inks, gelatos, stencils, mediums, heat tools, painted papers, commerical papers,…..the list goes on.  As with many art mediums, you can wrap up a ton of money in all of the goodies used to create. The first time I shopped for a few stamps and stencils, I couldn’t believe the number of choices.  I ended up using what I could find around the house for the first few paintings. Once I had done a few paintings, I had a better idea of which items I wanted to purchase.  I am also STILL using my ancient blow dryer as a heat gun.

If you are thinking about doing mixed media, I want to show you some of the tools I used in creating many of my first paintings. These are things I found around my house. I didn’t pay extra for any of these items.

!)  Piece of drywall tape. If you don’t have any on hand, you can find small rolls of this at Lowes.  The mesh bags that your potatos come in is another great tool for stamping and stenciling.

2)  Bubble wrap. I use this in almost every mixed media that I create. Brush on a little acrylic paint and use like a stamp.  I mostly use the small bubble wrap, but the large bubble wrap is fun to use also.

3)  Cardboard – I love these wonderful cardboard inserts that you find in boxes. The ridges are perfect for using as a stamp. Just brush some paint or ink across the ridges and stamp.

4)  Hand Painted Paper – This is the most fun and economical idea to add personality and creativity to your mixed media. You can use newsprint, copy paper, tissue paper…..whatever you have around. In this piece, I painted the entire sheet of paper in light pink and then used bubble wrap and dark pink stamped on top.  Much more economial than purchasing commercial papers.

4)  Take any piece of paper, use a hole punch to create whatever pattern you like and use it as a stencil.

This little mixed media is done on a 1/4″ piece of wood. I didn’t use any decorative papers for the background, just torn book pages.  I’ve used 4 colors on top of the paper.


Painted the colors on radomly.

Mixed Media In Progress

I sketched a couple of flowers over this.


Added a watered down gesso over everything.


I’ve used the drywall mesh for the areas of the darker blue and pink around the edges.  The bird and his wing is handpainted papers.  The center of both flowers is handpainted papers.


I used the paper and hole punch to stencil on the groundcover white and yellow flowers. One thing I didn’t mention was using modeling paste or drywall joint compound with stencils to create some additional texture. I think you can get the drywall joint compound in a small container for around $5-$6.  The little lavender butterly on the right is modeling paste mixed with paint.  I also used an old sea sponge to sponge on some pink color over the yellow on the bird. Once it was done, I added some drops of thinned paint color over the entire piece.


Below, is the final piece. I added the handwritten “Enchanting Journey”.

Mixed Media on a Budget

I’ve only used a few items from around the house.  Once you start creating mixed media, you will look at regular household items in a different way. Try using bottle caps or corks from a wine bottle as stamps, or take a plastic fork and make scratches in your wet paint. You’ll look at household items in a new way once you start creating mixed media.

Have fun!

Author: Marilyn



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