Testing Grumbacher’s Mixed Media Paper

Grumbacher put out a call on Facebook for artists to try their new mixed media paper. Trying out new supplies is always fun, so I jumped at the chance! Other than the free mixed media paper sample, I have not received anything for this post nor is it sponsored. After reviewing the paper, Grumbacher asked us to fill out a survey for a chance to win some art supplies (yay!), and we could also submit a picture for an extra chance!

Here’s the picture I submitted, and you can see others on their page: Mixed Media Contest

I wanted to work these pages, adding layers and mediums to see how it would react. I chose to do some of my favorite go-to techniques so I didn’t have to think to much and could just play! First, I taped the spine of all the pages, since I wanted to keep this sample book together. Then, I added bits and pieces of ephemera to the first three pages with matte medium and then gessoed on all but one side. On that side I added absorbent ground so I could watercolor more easily.  The last page I used gesso only first, and then added mediums and ephemera on top of the gesso. Check out my YouTube process video here:

This video is a little long, and in hindsight maybe I should have separated out each page, but I was having fun filling the pages, adding layers to test the paper.

When I was finished, I wished that I would have left one page un-gessoed to try with plain watercolor. I guess this just means that I’ll have to buy some paper… but I would have purchased it anyways as I have many more ideas floating around for to play with. I really liked the smooth texture of the paper and how well it held my favorite layers of mixed media. At times it felt like it absorbed a bit of the water, however I don’t think this was an issue. It performed beautifully and provided a wonderful substrate for my mixed media adventures. My desk space went from clean, white and non cluttered to …well… quite messy in the end!

Check out Grumbacher‘s website to read more about their new paper. What I like the most is that even though it’s spiral bound, you can remove the pages and put them back in again! I can’t wait to try that … since the sampler pad was not spiral bound. I also really liked how smooth the paper is – it just has a great “feel” to it! It’s 90lb/185GSM with a medium tooth texture. A little more about each page:

don't forget to fly

A layer of Tim Holtz’s tissue paper was topped with FW Inks, and detail added with Stabilo All pencils (black and graphite), Derwent graphitone, and Jane Davenport’s paint over pen. The Stabilo pencils are one of my go-to mediums. I love how they are water-soluable. I’m just playing with the graphitone pencils for the first few times. I have a feeling I’m going to like those very much! Don’t you just love drips and spatters? I do – especially with purple! A little fluorescent pink to add some pop of color and also tie it into some of the other pages topped with a reminder to fly from some Tim Holtz stickers.

be strong

After the ephemera and gesso layer, I decided to try modeling paste through a stencil. Several layers of Golden fluid acrylic paint with glazing medium and then some pan pastel rubbed over the modeling paste. It still needed something… drips! Some black Bombay drips and “be strong” from my favorite Tim Holtz stickers.

be brave

Circles. One of my favorite go to doodles. I also just love old ledger pages! I topped this ledger page with circles (stabilo, graphitone, and an old Scarlet Lime pen). Then, I used Golden fluid paint in three blue shades with some water for a more watercolor look. A bit more circling and adding water around the circles to allow the black to run a bit, but it still needed something. A bright pop… the fluorescent pink first enters the pages here (I went back and added it to page one after this one!) Top it off with a reminder to “be brave” from one of Donna Downey’s stamps.

paint your truth

I wanted to test how the paper would hold up to not only mediums on the front and back but also some tip-ins. First, I worked the background with some of Dina Wakley’s paints and stencils. Then, I added some ephemera and topped the page with this tag tip-ins. I stamped the tags with some of Dina’s stamps, did some journaling, and stickers… then added a stamp about strength from Donna Downey. Oh, and a bit more fluorescent pink!


After the ephemera and ground layer, I played with my watercolors. The ephemera dictionary page had this boat…so I went with it! I think I’m going to look for more dictionary pages like this for journaling in the future. Most of the watercolor pans in my palette are Daniel Smith. After the watercolor dried, I added a bit of black and white charcoal for highlights and shadows.

artists create from emotional truth

This page I wanted to work hard with some acrylic paint. I added several layers of Golden fluid acrylics, and also used it through a Donna Downey stencil. After the stencil, it still needed something so I splashed some Marabu spray and watered down gesso on top. Still, something was missing. It needed more layers, so I stamped some circles from a Finnabair stamp set onto the ledger paper that I’d been using for under paper. The circles were perfect and added the colors I’d used throughout the booklet. Some more Stabilo circles around the paper ones, water to let the black run a bit… then I added a bit of Marabu green here and there. And, a final touch of the fluorescent pink.


Last page! On top of the gesso layer I played with some of Dina’s paints and stencils again, a bit of ephemera. I still had some of the white ledger paper that I used for under paper, so I stamped a butterfly on top of it to tie this page back to the first. I adhered the butterfly in the center only so its wings would fly. Then, stamped a few dots, added some Marabu art spray and of course some more fluorescent pink. A little reminder to fly hand lettered at the end was perfect.

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Have you experimented with this paper? What do you think? Let me know below! Or, if you have any questions on my process, drop those below, too. Did you see who joined me in the YouTube video when I was photographing supplies? I had to slip in the picture of Grayson’s paws. He rarely visits my studio, but when he does has to walk across my desk and check out everything.

Here are a few more shots of the pages. Hover over the left or right of the slider for the arrows to click and photos to move. Or, click on one for the slider to enlarge.

I’m not sure I have a favorite page. I really enjoyed the process, and am embracing that this year… Make Art! Do it for the process! I look forward to continuing the process in a larger one of these mixed media journals…off to find one online to purchase!

As I was editing the video, this moment captured my attention. I’ll leave you with this encouragement that I also shared on Instagram:

AGT: Pastel Cards & Journal Page Backgrounds


My second tutorial for Donna Downey’s Artist Gang was posted today. I decided to do another card one! After my last tutorial a few people posted in the donna downey: community of artists facebook group what they created from my blog and video. How cool is that? I love that I have the opportunity to inspire others as a member of donna’s gang! 🙂 If you create something, tag me on Instagram (@nicolewatsonart), post below, or on donna’s Facebook group so I can see it!

The video is above, and you can visit Donna Downey’s blog to see pictures and more information about this week’s tutorial.

And, check out the other blog posts and YouTube videos from the other members of this year’s gang – we are all so unique and different!

Donna Downey Studios Artist Gang 2018!

donna downey studios artist gang 2018

Today, my dream of sharing my art with the world begins.

I am thrilled to announce that I am a member of Donna Downey Studios 2018 Artist Gang! This is a dream come true on many levels.

After some unexpected changes in life in the Spring of 2016, I decided to return to Iowa State University and finish my degree as a distance student. I originally entered ISU just out of high school to study journalism which turned into art and design with minors in advertising and Russian studies. Then, I met a boy, left school, and moved to Houston, Texas. I intended to finish my degree in Texas and was even accepted to the Art Institute of Houston, but it just didn’t seem right. Fast forward to a wedding, a career, leaving the full-time job to do freelance and contract work from home…then life taking an unexpected direction after losing some of my contract work leaving me wondering what to do next (enter: school!).

Lots of people asked me what my plans were after graduation. I often responded something to the effect of, “Hang the diploma on the wall and smile.” In reality, I hoped to pursue art. I’ve been helping others with their dreams through freelancing, and it was time to focus on my own. First goals were website/blog and social media presence in the hopes of the ultimate dream of being on a design team. A surprise email from Donna during Thanksgiving break from class fast forwarded the goals and fulfilled my dream.

On December 16, I officially graduate from Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree and a Russian Studies minor.

It was my plan to have my website ready for the announcement. Then, it snowed in Houston. That sentence sums up my two years. Unexpected, unplanned, sometimes a bit shocking, but in the end, exciting.

Thank you for your patience while my website is a work in progress (#wip) and the paint is still drying. I am so excited to develop my art, business, brand, and meet so many wonderful artists along the way.

Now, off to finish my final project, take a final, and graduate! I’ll see you on the other side with paintbrush in hand ready to create.

Be sure to visit the 2018 Artist Gang page to see the other members, read their bios, and follow each one on social media.