mixed media

Playing with Paint

Hi there. How are you?

Ballpoints have started to bore me. I’m feeling limited by the color range. Yes, I can now get every color in the rainbow in a ballpoint, but there’s a limited amount of color mixing possible, and you can’t make a tint (pastel) or a shade (gray). There’s only so many color combinations possible, and that has started to annoy me.

Color has always been an important part of my work and a major form of expression for me. I needed to find a way to increase the range of colors possible in my work. So I looked backwards…

Unless you’ve been following me for an eternity, you might have not known that I was once a painter. I painted big abstract pieces and I loved to mix colors. Now, I am in no means ready to go back to painting all together, but I decided to try and incorporate some paint into my current work.

I had a set of gouache paints in my studio and one day I mixed up some olive green and painted some simple shapes on a few different types of paper. I’d never tried to draw on top of gouache, but as it’s a matte paint, I thought it might work.

My first experiment drawing on top of gouache was disappointing.

My first experiment drawing on top of gouache was disappointing.

As you can see here, the gouache chipped away as I drew on top of it. It looks kinda interesting, but that wasn’t really the look I was going for.

In an effort to add more color to my work, I’ve been experimenting with drawing on top of gouache.

In an effort to add more color to my work, I’ve been experimenting with drawing on top of gouache.

I did some more experimenting and found that if I thinned the gouache with some water, it chipped a whole lot less. There’s a little bit of chipping in some of the dark areas of this drawing, but I don’t think it detracts from the piece as a whole.

A couple of my lovely  Instagram followers  suggested I try drawing on top of acrylic ink.

A couple of my lovely Instagram followers suggested I try drawing on top of acrylic ink.

Acrylic ink is Awesome!

A couple of my lovely Instagram followers suggested I try drawing on top of acrylic ink. I am so far out of the painting world, that I had never even heard to acrylic ink. I was excited to find these Amsterdam acrylic inks at the craft store and promptly tried them out and made a whole bunch of backgrounds.

*PSST. This is an affiliate link. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn a small commission when you purchase with this link. It's a small way to support the work I do without any cost to you. (Thank you!)

I had a ball MIXING colors.

The acrylic ink is super concentrated, opaque, and flows nicely. It is just what I was looking for!

I’m on a roll!

In the last few weeks, I’ve made 6 new drawings. This is the most drawing I’ve done outside of my sketchbook in at least a year!

The paint has certainly helped me to expand my color palette and it gives these drawings more dimension. I am so proud of this work and can’t wait to see it all framed and hung together. I’ve committed to doing a show at a local coffee house with some friends in April. Wish me luck! Framing is not my favorite.

What should I title this drawing series? Do tell!

What should I title this drawing series? Do tell!

Title suggestions welcomed

I need your help, friends. What should I title this series? I’m stumped. What do you see when you look at these? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

That’s all for now.

I’ll be back soon to talk about a surprise gift that has become a one of my favorite art supplies.

Ciao, Jen

Illustrated Stories - My Stint with Canvas

Hi there. How are you?

I sure do have a treat for you this week. In today's Illustrated Stories post, I share not one but two pieces from my archive. Both created in 2010, I think they still hold up over time!

In 2010, I made a series of floral themed collages on canvas.

In 2010, I made a series of floral themed collages on canvas.

I hate to frame!

Like I shared last week, most of my early collage pieces were made on paper.  In order to present and sell these works, I had to frame them. Ugh, I hate framing! It's expensive, time consuming, and I always seemed to get one pesky speck of dust trapped behind the glass. After four years of framing, I started looking for finishing alternatives. This is where canvas comes into play. If you buy/construct nice, thick gallery wrapped canvases and finish off the edges, there's no need to frame.

"Virtual Insanity", mixed media on canvas. Click to purchase!

"Virtual Insanity", mixed media on canvas. Click to purchase!

My process

During my stint working on canvas, I would start by painting the canvas with a flat color. After the paint dried, I added cut and torn collage elements with matte medium. As you can see in this piece, I was working almost exclusively with magazine. Once all of the collage elements were added, I then embellished the surface with bits of paint, usually white and/or black. The last step was to add a varnish to protect the surface from light and water.

"Truth and Beauty", mixed media on canvas. Click to purchase!

"Truth and Beauty", mixed media on canvas. Click to purchase!

Standing the test of time

I sometimes look back at my old work and cringe.  It looks naive, unpolished, and just plain bad. I don't feel that way at all about these two collages on canvas. I enjoy their looseness and their improvisational quality. I like how the little bits of paint add personality and detail. (I may just have to keep them if they don't sell!)

These works have also worn really well over time. They've been toted back and forth to art fairs for years and they don't look any worse for the wear. Where I wouldn't even consider selling some of my older pieces that I made on cradled hardboard as they look so worn, these pieces look brand new!  (Sometime soon I'll write about my love/hate relationship with cradled hardboard. It's one of the reasons I stopped making original pieces.)

Collage is calling

Maybe it's all of this reflection and writing about my old work, but I've been feeling the need to go back to collage. The scissors are calling to me! It won't be the super tight/controlled birds or chairs of my most recent work. I'm thinking about something more loose and gestural. But I digress....Back to the task at hand, selling artwork!

Buy original art! It's half price!

More next week. Ciao.

Illustrated Stories - Floral Improv #20

Hi there. How are you?

In my weekly series "Illustrated Stories" I have discussed my bird series, my abstract collages,  and my long running chair series. Today, I'm sharing some of my earliest mixed media work, my Floral Improv series.

Floral Improv #20 mixed-media collage.

Floral Improv #20 mixed-media collage.

This is how it looks, unframed.

This is how it looks, unframed.

Floral Improv #20

This is one of the oldest unsold pieces in my collection, and I do things much differently now than I did back in 2009 when this was created. As you can see, this piece is framed, instead of mounted on cradled hardboard as I did more recently. And look at how I signed it. I didn't even know Matt at the time. Seems like ages ago now!

This piece measures just 2.5" x 3.5" and is framed to 6" x 8".

This piece measures just 2.5" x 3.5" and is framed to 6" x 8".

Flower Power

The year was 2008. I started an Etsy shop, and ACEO's were all the rage.  ACEO's, short for Art Card, Editions and Originals are small, trading card-sized pieces of art.  Measuring just 3.5 by 2.5 inches, it was an easy and inexpensive way to collect original art.

At the time, I was still teaching, and I could quickly whip up an ACEO during my spare time or even when my students were working. Priced at $12-$20 unframed, my little floral collages sold well on Etsy. In fact,  2009 was the best year I've had on Etsy to date. 

Here is a collection of my floral improvs from 2008:

A collection of floral themed collages from 2008.

A collection of floral themed collages from 2008.

Magazines and Microns

Shown here at life size,  you get an idea for how small these pieces really are.

With the exception of the the background paper, all of the collaged elements came from magazine. There are lots of old Domino magazine snippets in there! Oh how I loved that magazine.

Once all of the paper bits were glued in place, I would add detail with Micron pens. I was pretty obsessed with stipple at the time. Sometimes, I would also add a little bit of white colored pencil or gel pen. I loved the way the white popped on dark backgrounds. These ink embellishments gave these pieces life, movement, and personality. This was my favorite part of the process. 

Floral Improv mixed-media collages from 2009.

Floral Improv mixed-media collages from 2009.


I called these pieces "improvs" as they were never based on real life flowers. Instead they were improvisational riffs on flower like shapes, cut freehand with scissors from colorful bits of magazine. There was never a real plan in mind when I began these pieces, it really all depended on what kind of colors and patterns I'd find.

Just 3 left!

This is one of just three Improvs that still remain in my collection. At $25, this would make a great gift to yourself or someone you love!

Here's the listing. Go shop now!

Floral Improv #20 - Original Mixed-Media Collage
25.00 40.00

This tiny piece of original art with a floral motif is on sale! (Original art makes a fabulous gift.) Made back in 2009, this collage was part of a large series of floral themed pieces. Read more about this piece and the series here.

THE DETAILS: This one of a kind collage was created with bits and pieces of magazine paper, adhered to white textured cardstock with rounded corners.    All pieces are glued onto the paper using a neutral pH PVA adhesive (no yellowing will occur). Embellishments were then added with a Micron pen. With a saw-tooth hanger on the back, it comes ready to hang or can sit on a ledge or shelf.

Collage itself measures 2.5" x 3.5"
Framed dimensions: 6" x 8"

THE SHIPPING: Your piece will be wrapped in a handmade fabric bag, carefully packaged in a sturdy box, and shipped to you via USPS mail with insurance and a tracking number. I take great care to make sure my pieces are wrapped and shipped securely.

OTHER INFORMATION: Please be aware that while I do my best to photograph the colors true-to-life, all monitors display colors differently, please allow some variation between what you see on your screen and what you see in real life.

Please contact me with any questions.

Copyright © Jennifer Johansson
All Rights Reserved.

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Collage is calling again

I've recently felt the urge to pick up the scissors and glue again. I want to work abstractly and intuitively, without constraints. I want to work with color. You may just see some collage show up in my Instagram feed soon!

Until next week friends. Ciao!