Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Layered Background Technique

 Layered Backgrounds
Arlene Mobley

This week I decided to post a tutorial for my favorite background technique. You can do this technique on a small or large background.

Even though I have been doing a version of this technique on my own for awhile now, when I saw and participated in Michelle Wards Crusade # 28 Portion Control it all clicked….I had one of those AH HA moments. So I must give credit where credit is due. Stop over at Michelle’s blog. She posts a new Crusade each month.

This is one of my favorite techniques. You can come up with so many different backgrounds by using this technique and changing it around just a tiny bit each time. Or even if you did this technique the same exact way 100's of times you would get still get a different background each time.

Watercolor paper
Acrylic Paint
Something to apply the paint & Gesso
Glazing Medium (Optional)

Below are some supplies I will be using. All you actually need is acrylic paint and something to apply it to your background paper. I like to use foam stamps, paint brushes, a brayer, dry wall tape, alphabet stencils, paint scrapers, stamps, an old credit card.
A word about Gesso. Gesso is your friend! Old thick Gesso is a great thing to use to add texture!

Pour some gesso onto a piece of paper and using a foam stamp either apply the gesso with a brayer to the stamp or just smoosh your stamp around in the gesso. I smoosh because the gesso will go on your stamp with high and low areas adding more texture to your background.

Immediately wash your foam stamp once you’re done stamping your background. Do not lay your stamp down and run to the bathroom! You will never get the gesso off your stamp once it dries.

It is very hard to see the gesso when looking down. I had to take this picture on an angle so the white gesso would show up on the white background.

Let the gesso dry completely. Thin gesso will dry pretty quickly but you can use a heat gun if you’re in a rush.

Once your gesso is dry pick out a couple of colors of acrylic paint. I like to start with light colors and work my way up to the dark colors but you can start with whatever color you want. At this point I have no idea how many colors of paint I will be using. As I go I pick and choose colors that work well with the previous paint colors that I have used.

Pour a small amount of paint out onto a paper palette and add a couple of drops of glazing medium to it. I use the glazing medium for two reason. One it makes your paint a bit transparent. The more glazing medium you use the more transparent your paint will be. Two, because it also slows down the drying time of your acrylic paint. I like to use a brayer to add my paint to the background but you can use whatever you like to apply your paint. Do not apply paint to the entire background. Leave some areas without paint for now.

Sorry I thought I took a picture of my first layer of paint, which was the yellow but I didn’t.
Before your acrylic paint dries completely take a damp paper towel or a baby wipe and start rubbing the acrylic paint off of the gesso that you stamped earlier. You may have to rub pretty hard. You can also spritz with a bit of water but I like the way it looks when some of the paint won’t come off the gesso, adding more texture to your piece.

Repeat with another layer with a different color of acrylic paint.

Now the really fun stuff begins. Using some stencils apply more paint to your background. Here I used alphabet stencils. I used a big paint brush to dry brush the paint over the alphabet stencil. When you’re done applying the image from your stencil flip the stencil over onto your background and run a brayer over it so it applies the reverse of your stencil to your background.

 I also used the rim of a plastic cup to add some circles.

When your stencil paint has dried use drywall tape or punchinella as a stencil and brush a thick layer of  gesso over it and let dry slightly before removing.  The thick layer of gesso will add a layer of texture to your background. Let the gesso dry completely. When it’s dry if there are some bumpy areas you can sand them down with some fine sandpaper. Or leave it the way it is for a more textured look.

Pick out a darker color of paint then you have already used and add some glazing medium. Use the brayer to randomly apply the paint to your background.
When that paint layer has dried use a credit card, piece of recycled plastic or a paint tool to randomly apply gesso in streaks a smudges to your background.

Here I used the edge of an old credit card to add some lines of paint and gesso.

On the next layer we will use stencils and foam stamps.

Now you can apply more paint using some of your favorite stencils and stamps in the same manner as I used earlier with the alphabet stencils. Remember to flip your stencil over and apply the negative of your stencil while the paint is still wet.

 Check out the stencil aisle in any craft store and you will find a great variety. Those big stencils and stamps are great for making backgrounds with this technique.

Here is a gothic arch I made out of a piece of my background.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you decide to try it let us know so we can check it out!


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4 friends said:

Anonymous said...

Cool looking AND fun to do...I love a technique where anything goes!

KV Creative Designs said...

Thank you for sharing! Very creative!

Artful Blessings,

Mel♥ said...

Awesome Arlene!!!

Angie Hall Haviland said...

Thanks so much for sharing this AWESOME technique, Arlene!!