AGT: The Scary First Page

My 8th tutorial is up for Donna Downey Studios Artist Gang!

This week I’m using Donna’s create truth stencil to tackle that scary first page in my art journal! My idea behind this page was to use all the colors, marks, mediums, images, ephemera, and techniques that were speaking to me, or creating truth on my art journey.

Check out the entire post on her blog here.

MMM Hop: Inspired Peony

I fell in love with mixed media in college… the layers, the supplies, and the limitless options! This canvas that I’ve called inspired peony combines tons of layers with a variety of supplies. While I do list the specific supplies I used in the video, there are so many other mediums and tools you can use to create a similar canvas!

However, I’m also giving away a mixed media kit that includes the peony stencil. Hop over to my YouTube channel to see how you can win my this prize along with a bunch of other prizes from the hop sponsors. And, several of the other artists participating also have prizes at their stops.

Our sponsors include:

More about my canvas

First I started with a layer of old book pages that included gelli prints from my recent tutorial. Then I added a layer of stamped numbers and rubons and a little gesso. Next, I used modeling paste through the peony stencil for the raised 3-d effect. Once this layer was dry, I added some dots and numbers through stencils with a little spray acrylic. Then came the scary part: three different layers of glazing. Once the glaze was finished, I added the pan pastel to the peony flowers along with some white charcoal. At this point I decided I needed more teal so began the process of adding teal and sepia drips and splatters. Then, I added the live inspired words on the front with a stamp and tissue paper, because I wasn’t feeling brave enough to stamp directly on the canvas. I finished it with some ink splats and added some light with some gesso splatters. After spraying outside with fixative, I decided it needed one more thing… watch the video to find out what that was!

What is your favorite part about mixed media? Let me know in the comments!

Here are some detail photos of the project. 





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!