Awhile ago on the Flying Unicorn Forums we asked the members what types of tutorials they would most like to see, and several people asked for tutorials on how to salvage a mixed media background that had gone sideways. Let's face it, anyone who plays with mixed media has occasionally had a layout go off the rails. You might think that the only option is to trash the whole thing, but I hate to see hours of work go down the drain, so I tend to doggedly press on, pulling out some tried and true techniques to salvage what I've invested my time in. Let's face it, paper is cheap, and easily replaced, but time is valuable, and speaking for myself I hate wasting time.
First things first, though. If you aren't already in the practice of covering pages you are intending to use different media on with clear gesso, I can't recommend strongly enough that you start. I have a video on Worry Free Misting on the Flying Unicorn forums to take you through the reasons for doing so in case you missed it the first time around.
One thing to keep in mind when you are debating whether to trash a layout or to continue working with it is that your background is generally a foundation. Whether you love it or hate it, it is a starting point; one that you are likely to cover up with your photo, embellies and possibly additional layers of paper. It is only a part of your whole. Creating is also a process; recently I saw a great post on Facebook about the creative process that certainly applies to me (paraphrased to keep it G-rated):
1. This is awesome!
2. This is tricky.
3. This is crap.
4. I am crap.
5. This might be okay.
6. This is awesome.
Here are some strategies for bringing a mixed media layout back into line. Every one may not work for every layout, but they give you options. Most are geared towards breaking your problem area into smaller components so it is less noticeable.
1) Add a contrasting/complementary colour. For instance, I recently had a layout where bright yellow got away from me. By adding stamping in dark blue I broke up the assault of the yellow.
2) Add neutrals: You can add black, white and/or brown. Neutrals break up the colour and give your eyes somewhere to rest.
3) Add pattern(s) - whether with masking, doodling or stamping, patterns will draw in the viewer's eye and break up the "mistake".
4) Add in more of your problem. It sounds counter-intuitive, but a big splotch of a mistake on one part of your layout will stand out. Although it's hard to do, adding in additional splotches will help the one mistake not to stand out. You're working on correcting your "mistake", and you will apply the same treatments to any additional spots you add.
5) Add splatters. Splatters can be black, white or any colour(s) of your choosing. Black and white serve to add some neutral, whereas adding splatters of colour can help your colour choice look deliberate, even if it was originally a mistake.
6) Add paper layers. By strategically placing your layers and photo you can hide the worst of your problem area.
7) Add embellishments.
8) Select a photo that complements your background. Depending on the colours you've used on you background you may need to change your photo (or print it in black and white).
Generally when I have to salvage a layout it is already "ruined" when I start the process. For the purpose of this tutorial, I created a background, and then systematically set about ruining it (and then making it even worse). It was a very strange journey for me, but again, I am too stubborn to give up midway through, and I think I pulled it off in the end. It might not be my all-time favourite layout, but it's good enough, and sometimes that's okay.
Alright, so let's dive into it! Here's the background I started with (it is covered with clear gesso, but I resisted the urge to give it the full wipe down).
First misstep - I added copious amounts of red/pink misting (I think it looks a bit like I bled all over my layout - ick!)
Okay, so generally I would stop here and start trying to salvage the layout LOL, but for your benefit, I made it worse. Why not add some blue to the mix?
It's looking pretty bad now. Let's try to start putting it back together!
First off, I added in some black, with a stencil and Distress Ink so that I could fade out the pattern at the end. Because Distress Ink is water-reactive, I then sealed the background with Workable Fixative - there's no going back now!
Next I added in some white, using a circle stencil and modelling paste.
Okay, things are starting to come together and it's looking like a bit less of a hot mess.
The next picture shows a couple steps. I added in another colour, green. I started assembling some paper layers. And I selected a photo that featured the colours I'd used in my background. The bold colours of the photo also help the lighter shades in the background fade into the background even more.
And then I really started to build my paper layers, adding foam tape to some areas for dimension. You can see how as I add layers they break up the big blob of my original mistake, and it seems much less overwhelming. To prevent the paper layers from looking out of place, I edged them in blue and green.
Thank you so much for stopping by today! I hope I've been able to share some helpful techniques with you.
- Prima Princess collection papers
- Shimmerz mists: Caribbean Sunset, Cotton Candy, Lime In Da Coconut
- Faber-Castell Gelatos: Blueberry
- Ranger Distress Ink - Black Soot
- Prima stencil: 12x12 chevron
- 13 Arts Modeling Paste
- Heidi Swapp stencil
- Prima Chalk Edger - Rock Moss
- 13 Arts Mists: Pastel Black, Chalk Blue Light
- Prima Lady Bird Vine (565503)
- Webster's Pages Alphas
- Faber-Castell Art Journaling Pen Small