I developed this project for “coffee and canvas” night at Infinity. Like many other art centres we are trying to encourage our whole community to find their creativity – and these evenings are a super friendly, low-key introduction to finding your creative self. It is designed to be a foolproof project and if you want to give it a try here are the step by step instructions.
The foundation for the project is a plywood panel, I buy finish grade plywood in large sheets and cut it down into smaller panels – the one for this project is 12 inches by 12 inches, the final step in this stage is to sand all the edges and prime the whole panel.
Next I covered the whole panel with old book pages to create a base. Over the book pages I sprayed some alcohol inks, and in the workshop some participants added watercolours on this layer. It doesn’t need to look like anything – this is just to add colour and texture to the final project. Let all this dry thoroughly.
Now to add the moon – I used a transfer technique for this. I printed an image of the moon, cut it out and covered the printed side with modge podge (or an acrylic medium) and press it down onto your prepared board wherever you want the moon to be. Let this dry. The longer you leave it to dry the better. The final part of this process is to gently wet down the paper and rub it away – I use my fingers but you can use a soft brush or eraser. The trick is not to get it too wet or the glue gets sticky again. It doesn’t matter if the transfer is imperfect or if you rub part of it away. To finish the moon I also drew over the transfer with a white gel pen. You can copy the craters and lines of your transfer or just make something up!
The starry tree uses a mask technique. For the workshop I had this file cut at a printer with a vinyl sign shop – I didn’t have to go far as the family printer I work for has a vinyl cutter. If you don’t want to pay to have a mask cut or don’t have access to a vinyl cutter you could transfer this image onto card stock and stick it down with a re-positionable adhesive instead, or create your own tree in the same way. If you use sign vinyl I would recommend sticking it to your clothes before sticking it to your project to take away some of the adhesive’s tack. (or ask for a re-positionable vinyl). So once you have your tree and stars stick them to the board, this is where everyone gets a chance to make the project their own and really shine!
To create the star filled night sky I used a watercolour wash sprinkled with kosher salt, the two react with each other to create an easy starry effect. You can do this multiple times in layers until you get an effect you like.
Once your sky is dry gently peel away the tree and star masks, revealing your textured paper layer below. I had a few stars that stuck a little too well and peeled away the top paper layer – if this happens to you never fear – the very last step will allow you to fix this!
Lastly I added some stars I cut out from decorative papers scraps – you all know I never throw any paper away, I also used some punches to make tiny flowers to sprinkle in the branches. I used the gel pen to emphasize some of the stars and the tree branches. The beauty of this project is you can keep on layering more paper and pen until you are happy with what you see.
Lastly I sealed the whole project with a spray varnish. And there you have it – a starry mixed media tree, step by step with error proof fixes built right in! If you try this tutorial please send me an image and let me know how it works out for you. Feel free to share with friends and family – just let them know where your inspiration came from!
Thanks to all the participants in my Infinity group for a fun evening – and to Infinity for being such a great space for creative people!!
Lastly – if you would like me to come and teach this workshop for you please email me at debraeck at debraeck dot com.