The Moon–Mixed Media Tutorial

Denise Braun



by Denise Braun (Heartwork City)

Welcome to my first ever blog post tutorial! I’m so excited to share with you how I make my textural acrylic backgrounds for my Heartwork City paintings. So today, I’m sharing a step-by-step canvas from start to finish. These techniques can be utilized with other mediums besides acrylic. I often like to mix things up by adding Indian ink, watercolor & oil pastel. I encourage you to play around and discover what works best within your painting ‘style.’ Let’s get rolling!

STEP 1: Decoupage your canvas with any paper(s) you LOVE. For this piece, I utilized ephemera. OLD music paper. I found it at a local flea market for a buck! I prefer to use Mod Podge to glue down papers. It dries fast. Use a moderate amount of glue. Let that layer dry COMPLETELY (I use a hair dryer to speed things along).

photo 1

photo 2

STEP 2: Use Gesso (I love Liquitex Basics Gesso!) to create a white ‘background’ on your canvas. Use a paintbrush to randomly brush the gesso around the center-area of the canvas. This is the area where you will draw your moon. Don’t paint it on too thick. You want it to look almost transparent when it dries.

photo 3

photo 4

STEP 3: Once your Gesso is totally dry (again, hairdryer help is fabulous at step 2!)…you’ll want to start sketching out your moon. I draw freehand. But if you have a stencil for your shape, this is the time to place that on the gesso’d area. To draw a freehand image, use a charcoal pencil. If your lines aren’t perfect, dab a paintbrush in water and ‘clean up’ the lines (wipe with paper towel).



STEP 4: Pick your favorite colors of acrylic to begin filling in your moon. I like a choose a primary darker color (here I use Golden Yellow Oxide), and a lighter non-dominate color for blending (I used Golden Titan Buff). Using a round-tip brush, gently place the color into the center of your outlined shape. Use lots of water. Golden paints are amazing as they form an almost ‘water-color-like’ glaze when plenty of water is added. Use paper towel to dab excess water.



STEP 5: Using a spray bottle (any will do), gently spray some water over your freshly painted image. Let is rest for approximately 20 seconds. Then, lay down a paper towel over your sprayed image. The paper towel will pick up ‘spots’ of paint, making the image look textured. Only perform this step once. If the ‘spotting’ did not turn out to your liking, repaint and try again.




STEP 6: Finish drawing your figure and painting the inside area with your chosen acrylic. Let this dry. Using your favorite black pen (I LOVE the Scarlet Lime black pens…you can find them at Scarlet Lime dot com), outline your figure. Keep in mind–the image has to be absolutely dry to do this. Continue ‘tracing’ around your lines until the image is outlined in black. For the eye, I used black Gesso (also by Liquitex). Use a small paintbrush for precision.




STEP 7: Accent your image (the outside of the moon here) with other chosen acrylics. I love Tim Holtz Distress paint for this. I chose a blue shade and a light apricot color. I use a round tipped brush and lots of water. Dab off excess with paper towel.

photo20 copy

photo19 copySTEP 8: Pick a few of your favorite types of scrapbook paper. I LOVE adding paper accents to all of my paintings. Here, I trip the paper to look like half circles. Lay them out on the top and the bottom of your canvas. I use Golden Regular Gel as the ‘glue’…gently brush the gel onto your pieces of scrapbook paper and affix directly to the canvas. I also accent the edge of the paper with my favorite WASHI tapes.



photo25STEP 9: Outline the paper with a charcoal pencil. Make sure the gel has dried completely before applying the charcoal. Using a smudging pen (or your finger), smudge the charcoal around the edges of the paper to lighten the line. I will also do this around the outside of the moon image. Next…using either bubble wrap or plastic textured shelf liner (which is what I used), paint an accent color acrylic on the wrap or liner and then dab onto the surface of your canvas. I used Golden Gold color. This amps up the texture on your canvas (and makes it more visually interesting)!






STEP 10: One of the things I love about mixed media painting are all the fun accents you can add onto a canvas. I love written words on my canvases. Here, I utilize a phrase that I created and stamp it out on old pages torn from a book. I buy most of my stamp sets from Etsy or Michaels Craft store. I love STAZ-ON archival ink. It won’t come off or dilute if touched with water. Stamp out your words, cut around them and then glue them onto the canvas with your gel. Let that dry. Then, I like to draw around the words with charcoal and smudge them with my smudge pen. Add any other accents you might like (on this canvas I drew 4 star cluster free-hand using my Scarlet Lime pen). Let it dry completely.


STEP 11: Last but not least…I like to ‘age’ the ages of my canvas with Tim Holtz Distressed Ink/Stain–in Walnut color (I buy this at Michael’s Craft stores). Rub the ink pad around the outside edges of the canvas and use your finger to rub it in. Don’t worry if it’s perfect. If you choose, add some more ‘aged’ ink with your finger onto the canvas. Some great places to add accent ink include the edges of the paper your initially glued on or in-between your added paper edges. The VERY last thing I like to do is add crystals to a few of my paintings. I use E6000 (just a tiny dab) and apply a Swarovski crystal here and there. This adds a fabulous sparkle in dim lighting!





Remember, practice makes perfect. Keep using these tools and watch your art grow and evolve. Stay tuned for my online video series on You Tube “The Heartwork City” Channel. See you soon!