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Let your Imagination Run Wild with Mixed Media Collage

Mixed media art is simply using more than one material or medium to make a piece of artwork. The technique can be used in various art forms such as collage and assemblage, and the different possibilities are endless. Think paints, paper, fabrics, found items, inks, wax, and pretty much anything else you’d like to use. It’s a fun way to be creative by letting your imagination run wild with this form of no-rules expression!

For a collage, items are arranged, often layered, and attached onto a board or canvas, and it’s a fun way to bring together different materials around a theme. The subject matter can be anything from serious to whimsical, and today I’m sharing one of my (whimsical) collages called “Sophie’s wardrobe was laid out for the week.”

If you’ve read my previous posts Pencil…Pen…Marker…Go! and It’s Not Gossip…A Little Bird Told Me!, then you won’t be surprised to see this collage involves paper dresses – no dolls this time, but definitely dresses. I’ll run through the steps in making this collage, and then end the post with five recommended (really fun) books on collage from my bookshelves.


A blank canvas can be a bit overwhelming in figuring out where to start and what to do first. I usually sketch on paper or in my head what I’m going for before anything touches the board. For this project the canvas is 14″ by 7″, which was a perfect size for doing something in a horizontal format.

I thought of a theme of making little dresses for the seven days of the week (for Sophie) and started rummaging through my arts and crafts supplies to find materials. Acrylic paint, patterned papers, tiny clothes pins, fabric, buttons, ribbons, wood pickets for a fence, and twine were what I pulled together, and I decided on a color combination of pink and green.

First, I painted the canvas the shades of green you see, and also painted little pink flowers on the wooden fence pickets. This provided a background on which everything else would go.

With the background green in place, I could turn to my favorite part – making the little dresses. I knew one of them would be made of paper from a page in an old book, so I painted semi-transparent strips of pink and green over the words.

While it was drying, I looked at lots of patterned papers to choose the ones I wanted for the other six skirts, and also cut out hearts from a piece of fabric with matching colors. The heart shapes made me think of the top part, or bodice, for the dresses, and a small piece of satin ribbon also was cut as a belt for each of the dresses.

A semi-circle shape cut from the patterned papers was used to fold pleats and turn flat paper into three-dimensional skirts for the collage.

Before assembling the dresses onto the canvas, I sewed child-sized buttons (of course pink and green!) onto the heart dress tops cut from the fabric.

And, with the painted, old-book-page skirt shown in the middle, all seven dresses were ready to assemble – bodices, skirts and belts.

The words “Sophie’s wardrobe was laid out for the week” – as well as “Sunday,” “Monday,” “Tuesday,” “Wednesday,” “Thursday,” “Friday,” and “Saturday” – were printed on paper and cut out. At this point, it was just a matter of bringing it all together with the clothes line, clothes pins, dresses, and words, and the collage was finished!

It’s fun to create something from nothing but your ideas, and mixed media collage is a great way to play with the art materials I used, and more! If you’re interested in reading some great books with lots of pictures of mixed media projects, here are five I recommend from my bookshelves.

Mixed Media Books

Collage Couture – Techniques for Creating Fashionable Art
Author Julie Nutting (North Light Books)
Adventures in Mixed Media
Author Jane Davies (Potter Craft/Random House)
Scraps – An Inspirational Field Guide to Collage
Authors Elsebeth Gynther and Christine Clemmensen (Lark Books)
Collage Playground – A Fresh Approach to Creating Mixed-Media Art
Author Kimberly Santiago (North Light Books)

Have you made any fun mixed media collages? What’s your favorite way to create playful artwork? Please share below!

December 1, 2021



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