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Mixed media artist Helen Becker is thrilled to share with art collectors the details of her process as a collage painter and her insight into mixed media collage. Helen Becker’s artist blog shares information related to Helen Becker’s mixed media collage artworks and shares with readers information about her evolution to becoming a mixed media artist.

All finished - Shortcut to the Party

A collage artists journey to creating a new artwork!

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The final steps of creating a collage painting is always interesting. As collage artists, this is when you place the finishing touches of mixed media materials. These tend to be the looser items that create the collage painting’s final texture and “feel”.

These can also be any mixed media materials that were left lying around the studio and were not used up during the earlier stages of the painting’s creation.

In this particular collage painting I wanted to add fringe to create a 2D/3D texture. To make the frilly fringe, a piece of kite string painted light purple is strung with strong, gold-colored thread. A crochet hook is used to loop the thread onto the purple string. The fringe is securely attached with gloss medium and varnish.  It is fun to swish this around with one’s hand, truly making this an interactive piece.

Another line of shorter fringe is added on the right side, by securely attaching it in the same manner as above. Short strands of orange string are scattered and glued down here and there.

Finally, a small party hat with diagonal, bright, yellow and blue stripes is attached to the surface. It is made with painted canvas and is trimmed at the bottom with a strip of blue painted canvas. This hat even has a small tassle on top.

It’s a Shortcut to the Party! This painting is ready to take you on a speedy shortcut to the party where confetti, fringe and hat create a festive mood. Have a party and please touch the fringe!

Collage artists have all the fun!

Now we start painting the mixed media collage. I always relish this stage in the process. As an collage artist that uses mixed media materials, once the foundational materials have been laid now I get to have fun playing with colors.

But don’t be dismayed! We are not finished adding materials! We’re simply using paint and materials together.

Green and yellow-green are added to the remaining parts of the paths within the collage painting.  Then twine is carefully painted with a light purple, a color with little chroma. Now that we have some paint on the canvas lets add some more fun mixed media materials.

Confetti dots are made by punching holes in different colors of yellow, orange, and red-orange papers. Shiny gold and metallic red papers are cut into small pieces with scissors. To adhere these small pieces to the canvas, a coat of gloss medium and varnish is spread over the areas to be covered with the confetti. It is then sprinkled randomly around the canvas in the glued areas. The dots and pieces are gently pressed onto the surface to make sure they stick well.

We’re making progress and having fun! I love being a mixed media collage artist!

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Collage Painting adds color and starts to take shape
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Once we have set our foundation to the collage painting I feel as if the mixed media art is beginning to form into its own unique work of art. It is at this time that my collage artists instinct kicks in and I decide what and how this collage painting will be colored.

Creating mixed media art with collage is more than simply adding mixed media materials to canvas and calling it a day. Collage artists have to envision how untraditional materials will interact with traditional materials such as paint and canvas.

In the next two steps of creating a mixed media collage I begin the process of adding my color scheme. An analogous color scheme is planned of blue, green and yellow.  A dark blue is first painted in the areas marked with xxx’s. I use these x’s to demarcate areas that will receive particular paints.

Next I add the contrasting colors to the collage painting by mixing cadmium yellow with sun gold to dilute the intensity of the yellow. It is then painted on some areas of the pathways.

With these two steps I have began the process of paining the collage and creating a collage painting!

Collage Painting begins to take shape
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Collage painting starts to take shape as mixed media materials are added

As I begin the process of laying the mixed media materials on my collage painting, I can begin to see the painting take shape. One of my goals as a mixed media artist who paints collage painting is to ensure that the layers of materials are placed in such a way as to create a flow around which the viewers eyes can navigate the painting.

This flow and navigation is even more important as my themes surround highways and the ways in which we travel.

STEP #5 - Close-up

A close-up of the extra materials added to the canvas - burlap, twine, gel medium and rubber mat.  My purpose in adding these mixed media materials to my collage painting is to create a texture that protrudes from the canvas.

STEP #6 - White gesso

After the materials are placed I cover the entire canvas with white gesso so that paint can be applied with less difficulty.  The of applying gesso is to preserve the shapes and texture after I apply the paint.

We have now graduated from placing the foundational mixed media materials onto the canvas and have set a good base of gesso onto which we can apply paint.

Painting the collage is to come!

Collage Artist discusses next steps in my new painting
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The key to creating a collage piece is layering different textures to create a flowing movement. Creating collage art in the mixed media format is fun because I get to use different materials to create my collage artworks.

STEP #3   Close-up

This is a close-up of the burlap. When first applying burlap I am aware that the viewer has to find purpose in all the collage art pieces I have placed. The small pieces of burlap are glued to the path with gloss medium and varnish and the two spaces between the burlap are the deep tracks made by a car driving through damp soil. The car leaves tracks in the mud as it tries to make its way to the party event.

STEP #4  Other Textures Collaged

Other textures are added to several more pathways for the art viewer to follow. A white gel medium is added to one path with a palette knife. Then it is spread with a piece of cardboard to leave peaks of gel all over the area.

Another path on the far right is covered with a bumpy, rubbery material often used under throw rugs to keep them in place.  This material is measured and cut to fit the path and the excess is glued to the sides of the canvas. More twine is glued in place.

So far I have just started my media media artwork. As a collage artists I can’t wait to continue placing new materials and advancing the artwork to showcase the journey, both figuratively and literally.

Mixed Media Artist Creations - Shortcut to the Party
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Well - I’m back at it again - creating mixed media collages from scrap, sometimes with scrap!

I love sharing my creative process as I feel it connects art collectors with the artwork itself. To see the mixed media artwork evolve and come into being enhances the understanding of how collage and art mix together.

Over the next few weeks I will share my creative process as I create my newest mixed media collage artwork - Shortcut To The Party. Enjoy!

Everyone wants to get to the party on time or even earlier if possible - not wanting to miss out on the fun. This painting takes one on a shortcut to the party where there are frills and flashy confetti and a party hat for those who dare to wear it. This mixed media painting allows participation in the party by encouraging one’s interaction with it.

STEP #1  Charcoal Drawing on Canvas

This first step is to show multiple pathways in and around the painting. I enjoy using multiple mixed media art materials to accomplish this and as I develop this collage painting these will come out in greater and greater numbers. One pathway may be a shortcut or perhaps all of the pathways can direct a party goer quickly.

As I start to lay out the patterns of my new collage painting, these paths are drawn with a charcoal pencil. The background areas are marked with triple xxx’s.

STEP #2   Collaging Begins

Now the fun starts as I being using mixed media materials to lay down the foundations of my new collage. The first pathway is completed with pieces of burlap. It defines this road with tracks following the curve up and around.  Twine is also placed parallel to another path.

That’s it for now! Be sure to follow my social media and check back in with my blog to see how this new mixed media collage painting evolves!

Mixed Media Artist Inspiration - Collision
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Collage painting involves planning, vision, and methodology. Placing the right mixed media pieces together at the right time determines the final product and how that product relates to an artists’ original inspiration. In sharing the inspirations behind my mixed media artworks I hope to shed light on how these pieces became a final work of mixed media art!

“Collision” is a colossal impact of three orbs of different sizes and strengths.  The jute which defines the centers of these orbs tries to keep the impact from happening.  But it is to be. The impact takes place. These orbs are so strong that none split apart nor absorb the other ones.  They remain whole and do not lose their shape. None of them are compromised. Yet this is what is necessary when forces or opinions or cultures collide.  There needs to be some compromise, some way of coming together and softly molding each other to fit the others’ shapes and desires.

Mixed Media Artist Inspiration - Darting To and Fro #2
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I consider being a mixed media artist a blessing. Visualizing artworks that only I see is an incredible experience. And putting these visions on paper is even better! I have many inspirations for my mixed media collage artworks. Many of my current acrylics revolve around pathways and journeys.

“Darting To and Fro #2” has four pathways darting about the picture plane. They all point inward because the reachable goal is the same for all the arrowed paths. Each way can dart about the field searching. Interesting collage work decorate each one with textures of circles, spirals and crescent shapes. It is colorless in order to show no favoritism for any one of the arrows - no color becomes more important than another.

The Finishing touches of my Abstract Collage "Languorous"

At Last I add the Finishing Touches to my Mixed Media Art Piece and Declare Languorous Complete

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My collage painting’s journey from blank canvas to mixed media art is complete!

Picking up from where I left off I continue by painting the last 2 corners of my abstract collage piece. I want to keep the numerous white circles on the 3rd corner. I discover the circles need to be reestablished a bit. No problem. After finishing the corners of my mixed media collage, I take a dry brush with white paint and lightly run over the tops of the textures created by sawdust and collage art papers. This creates an array of white spots which makes the texture more visible.

Nearing completion of this collage art piece, I decide to do several things as a mixed media artist. First, I put down a pale yellow-orange wash on the four corners I painted in the previous steps, followed by stumbling with a dry brush with white paint. I also add the accent colors of yellow-green and lavender to a variety of areas of the mixed media collage. Third, I partially outline the corners with white. And finally, I darken the center area with a medium apricot orange and fill in the small squares created by collage paper.

I call this painting, “Languorous” because when I look at it as a mixed media artist I feel like I am moving through a gentle and ghostly space filled with soft round shapes. They slow my travels and allow me to contemplate whatever is on my mind. The abstract collage painting has become what it is - c’est la vie.

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8 WARNING SIGNS of AN ART SCAMMER
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8 WARNING SIGNS OF AN ART SCAMMER

and 6 Words of Advice

Briefly the scamming scenario goes like this (I have received 2 versions of this scenario): Scammer wants to buy your art piece. You are excited to sell. Scammer can only pay for it with a check and must use the delivery services of his/her specified person. After you (the artist) receive the check which pays BOTH you and the specified delivery person, you are instructed to write a check to the delivery person for doing his/her part in this transaction.

Follow the 8 warning signs below to gain a deeper look at the intricacies and implications of completing this transaction.

  1. Email which the scammer uses to make contact with you, contains a lot of awkward English and improper use of words and phrases in English.
     
    1. Examples (these come from actual emails):
       
      1. “I intend to give my husband a surprise with the immediate purchase of the piece”, instead of “I’m surprising my husband with this piece.”
      2. “I am buying the piece as part of gifts to him”, instead of “I am buying the piece as a gift for him.”
      3. “I’ve contacted my Boss to issue out the check and have it sent to you”, instead of “I’ve asked my Boss to write a check and have it sent to you.”  (Who is this Boss anyways???)
      4. “Now I’m concluding you’re a responsible person and I can therefore entrust you with this arrangement.  I’ll let you know immediately the check has been sent to you,so you should be looking out for it,” instead of “……..”Oh, you get the point!
         
  2. The scammer is out at sea, either on an oil rig or on maneuvers on the North Atlantic Ocean as a Civil Marine Engineer or somewhere in a place where he is not able to return home soon or easily.
     
  3. The person is having his “home base” moved soon to another location such as to Dubai or Canada or The Hague. That last one should send red flags a’flying.
     
  4. Because the scammer is moving soon, he wants his “official” mover to handle picking up and delivering the art piece to him.
     
  5. The person wants to pay for the art piece by check, because the gift recipient takes care of the credit card and PayPal accounts and would discover the gift transaction before receiving the gift. The check would insure that the recipient would not discover the transaction.
     
  6. The transaction needs to be handled quickly because the anniversary or birthday or Xmas (the reason for the gift) is going to happen soon.
     
  7. What is expected of you is to deposit the scammers check and immediately write another check to the “bogus” mover for his cut in the deal. In reality you lose the amount of the check you write to the mover. And if somehow the art piece is shipped by you to the mover, then you lose the art with no payment for it.
     
  8. The scammer is highly complimentary of you, the artist; and you easily become enamored by all the good things he is saying about you.

Words of advice in order to not be scammed:

  1. Do not accept checks from anyone, unless you actually know the person or know how you could physically reach him/her - like he lives next door or on the next street. 
     
  2. Be wary of emails with broken English which sound like the assembly directions to the latest gadget or piece of furniture which you have to put together at home.
     
  3. Never rush a transaction for the benefit of the customer. Take your time and be sure it is done correctly. Be sure that the money is in your pocket or bank account, without a doubt, before letting go of that art piece.
     
  4. Never let your ego become inflated by anyone’s compliments unless you can determine that they are real and authentic.
     
  5. Never reply to the scammer. Do not even reply that you are not dealing with him. Let him wonder.
     
  6. Always, always, trust your initial gut feeling. If there is a tinge of suspicion, such as a convoluted and detailed transaction,listen to yourself. You are about to be scammed. Don’t be the latest victim.

Have you had this experience?  Pass this Blog along to your art friends. Let’s spread the word and put these scammers out of business!

Come see my art during the Annual Moab Artists' Studio Tour
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Dates: Sat. Sept. 1st; Sun. Sept. 2nd and Sat. Sept. 8th, 2018
Times: 10 am to 4 pm Each day
Artists participating: 12 in Moab and Castle Valley, Utah
Our 15th Annual Studio Tour
For maps of locations of studios go to moabstudiotour.com.

Come see my latest mixed media collage paintings during the three days of the Moab Artists' Studio Tour.

Adding more collage pieces, but not finished yet - mixed media artist
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Collage painting as a mixed media artist means sometimes adding, adding, and adding more!

One of the perks of being a mixed media artist is that when I am creating my mixed media collage paintings there is a definite step-by-step process - a layering of material that alters the piece. In the next 2 steps of my newest creation - Languorous I delve into the nuanced touches that I place on the collage painting.

In the next 2 steps of the creation of my mixed media collage, I start adding new collage pieces and try to see how they fit - like an imperfect puzzle. First I rotate the painting clockwise 90 degrees. I do this after experimenting with various angles rotating 90 degrees is most satisfying to me. After I rotate my mixed media collage painting I now see things from a different perspective so I add more collage pieces to give it even more texture than it previously had. In addition to adding more collage pieces to my painting, three dimensional white pieces in crescent shapes were also glued down.  Once I take a step back I take a look at the evolution of my collage painting and add netting and other materials to solidify the texture. I am finally becoming pleased with my painting.

Even though I think I am finished, I am not.  I return to my original black and white sketch. Here I can see evidence of an irregular square shape superimposed on the canvas. I want to include that and continue the corners of the square onto the sides of the canvas.  With a 4 foot long ruler, I measure the boundaries of the square and mark with a pencil, then I begin to paint. After painting 2 corners I stop to see how I am progressing and I like the initial work.

The creative process of a mixed media artist is one of trial and error and adjustments. As Languorous evolves into a finished pieces this process of collage creation once again repeats itself!

Taking my mixed media art piece "Languorous" in a new direction - steps 11 and 12
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Sometimes a mixed media artist finds inspiration in unusual places, after a supernatural dream I decide to take my abstract collage piece in a new direction

I had a dream last night. My mixed media collage painting saw a ghost and turned white. I was led into a discussion with myself about the pros and cons of doing something I had never done before as a mixed media artist. What did I have to lose? Why not? Oh, go ahead and do it. If I ask the question, then why not answer affirmatively? Like it or not, the ghost painter was on a mission - to reinterpret what this mixed media artist had already done. So, I mixed some heavy gesso with lots of water to make a thin white paint. Then I white washed the entire abstract collage painting from top to bottom, by carefully painting over the mixed media art piece in sections, sometimes blotting up excess paint with a paper towel. I quickly finished my ghostly deed. I liked it. Subtle and expressive, the details showed more than ever before. My original concept for this mixed media collage had changed, but I didn’t care. I liked the new concept of slowness.

I add circles with thick white paint. Some have well defined edges and others have edges which blend into the background of the abstract collage. I enjoy making these circles and filling them in with white. I rotate the collage painting 180 degrees to see how that orientation might look.

My Mixed Media Collage Painting - “Darting To and Fro #2”

As a mixed media artist there is a story behind every abstract collage.

Darting To and Fro #2,  2018 ,  acrylic with combined media on canvas, 36” x 24”

Darting To and Fro #2, 2018, acrylic with combined media on canvas, 36” x 24”

In the next installment of my mixed media artist blog series about the inspiration behind specific collage art pieces I describe my interpretation as the mixed media artist of the abstract collage art piece “Darting To and Fro #2". While the overall theme behind my mixed media collage is highways and how they mirror moments we encounter in our lives each specific collage art piece has its own meaning that I tried to capture as a mixed media artist.

This next mixed media collage painting, “Darting To and Fro #2” has four pathways darting about the picture plane. They all point inward because the reachable goal is the same for all the arrowed paths. Each way can dart about the field searching. Interesting collage work decorate each one with textures of circles, spirals and crescent shapes using varies mixed media. I made the decision as a mixed media artist for it to be colorless in order to show no favoritism for any one of the arrows. No color becomes more important than another in this abstract collage piece.

Adding acrylic color to my newest Mixed Media Painting
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As a mixed media artist there are many steps in painting a mixed media collage. In the following I discuss adding color to my abstract mixed media painting as well as determining the next steps to take. Enjoy!

In creating this mixed media collage painting I added additional blues and orange/yellows. I wanted to create an abstract collage impression by adding less of the orange colors in the outlying areas.  I then added lighter yellows and peach colors are added to the three large orbs to bring the viewers eyes into a concentrated area. As with many abstract collages it is important to direct the viewers eyes to segments of the painting to create a flow of the artwork.  

In the outlying areas of the mixed media collage I added more blues and blue-greens to intensify the outlying areas. As I add these colors I am beginning to hunt for some direction to take this mixed media collage painting - I cover up more of the oranges in the outlying areas, but bits of that color can still be seen.

As the painting begins to develop the line around the three circles or orbs is painted dark purple. Then a blue is dabbed over this in order to make it more pronounced.  The colors in the orbs are lightened a bit and a circular motion is developed in each of those spaces. I sit in my studio late at night and ponder what I have painted and become quite dissatisfied with the results I see. Where am I going?  I ask.

A Mixed Media Artist's Inspiration - The Meaning of “Around About”

The Story Behind my Mixed Media Art Piece “Around About”

Around About,  2017 ,  acrylic with combined media on canvas, 48” x 24”

Around About, 2017, acrylic with combined media on canvas, 48” x 24”

In the next installment of my mixed media artist blog series about the inspiration behind specific collage art pieces I describe my interpretation as the mixed media artist of the abstract collage art piece "Around About". While the overall theme behind my mixed media collage is highways and how they mirror moments we encounter in our lives each specific collage art piece has its own meaning that I tried to capture as a mixed media artist.

The mixed media collage “Around About” shows a very prominent blue-green spiral dashing through an intensely thick, dark red and blue field. This shows how it feels to be flung into the round-about and to not know where and when the road that is desired will appear on the perimeter of the circular road. The thin white line (I used string on this collage painting) exaggerates the feeling of being tossed into the air and the dizzying effect on the eyes and mind.

How a Mixed Media Artist Creates: My Mixed Media Art Piece "Languorous"

The Creation of my Mixed Media Collage "Languorous" Steps 7 and 8

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Focal colors are added. The colors that I chose as a mixed media artist are yellow/orange for the focal area and violet/blue for the dominant areas of the collage painting. I try to paint as much of the focal colors as I can in the central areas of the big orbs and keep the paint transparent so that some collage materials show through. Putting some of the orange paint in outlying parts of the abstract collage painting are merely to distribute more of this color in the dominant areas. Very little of it will show through when my mixed media collage is finished, but there still will be enough to add some texture and bring unity in color.

Dominant colors are added to the abstract collage painting. The different blues are added to the background areas of the mixed media art piece. Directions on the flow of the different colors of blue are indicated here. The line that wraps around the large circles is outlined in a blue so that it is more visible against the collage painting. Some drips come down, later to be covered with more paint. I put hot fluorescent orange/cadmium red in the two small areas in the center of the mixed media art piece which are outlined in blue. Some of the collage papers can still be seen.

Thank you for taking the time to read the fourth installment of my mixed media artist blog on the creation of my collage painting, "Languorous". Keep reading to find out how this mixed media art piece progresses.  

How a Mixed Media Artist Creates: My Mixed Media Art Piece "Languorous"

The Creation of my Mixed Media Collage "Languorous" Steps 5 and 6

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Sawdust is gessoed. After the sawdust dries on the mixed media art piece completely I gesso it. Gesso is like a white house paint. It is used as a primer for collage art canvases in preparation for oil or acrylic painting. I try not to cover up any of my guide lines and marks. At this point I am ready to start the collage part of my mixed media art creation process.

Collage material is glued down to my mixed media art piece. To glue down all my collage materials and papers, I use my go-to-glue — gloss medium and varnish. It works quickly and efficiently on the collage painting. One interesting material I discovered over the course of my mixed media artist career is gesso skins. This is dried gesso stuck to the inside of the gallon can. I peel it off and it becomes three-dimensional, hard pieces of white paint. What fun to use in the collage painting. I call it skins, because it peels off like a section of skin would. Often paint skins make the same sort of thing and using them in a mixed media collage is fun.

Thank you for taking the time to read the third installment of my mixed media artist blog on the creation of my collage painting, "Languorous". Keep reading to find out how this mixed media art piece progresses.  

My Inspiration as a Mixed Media Artist - The Story behind "Straight Street"

The inspiration behind my mixed media art piece "Straight Street"

Straight Street,  2017 ,  acrylic with combined media on canvas, 36" x 36"

Straight Street, 2017, acrylic with combined media on canvas, 36" x 36"

In the sixth installment of my mixed media artist blog series about the inspiration behind specific collage art pieces I will attempt to describe the inspiration behind my abstract collage art piece "Straight Street". While the overall theme behind my mixed media collage is highways and how they mirror moments we encounter in our lives each specific collage art piece has its own meaning that I tried to capture as a mixed media artist.

My mixed media art piece “Straight Street” is titled after a jazz instrumental by John Coltrane. As a mixed media artist I find that travel is sometimes needed along a straight course with little interruption or change. It is less confusing and distracting if the  goal or destination is easily and quickly obtained or arrived at. In this mixed media collage I try to convey that no matter how many distractions of circular paths and circular reasonings, the straight path is the way to go. Even the yellow orb in the lower part of the collage painting tries to disrupt the straight path, but definite and solid lines through the layers of this orb chase it away and make it less influential. The Straight Street is preserved!

How a Mixed Media Artist Creates: My Mixed Media Art Piece "Languorous"

The Creation of my Mixed Media Collage "Languorous" Steps 3 and 4

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The local hardware/lumber company keeps my mixed media artist studio stocked with lots of sawdust. They gave me 2 large containers of it free of charge. I tried to explain what I was doing with my latest collage art piece but I think the explanation got lost in the translation. The fella who operates the saw that makes all the dust commented, “Oh, you’re one of THOSE artists.” I don’t know what that meant, but I thought better about asking.

The sawdust is glued down to the mixed media art piece with “gloss medium and varnish”. Several manufacturers make this product and it can be purchased in store or online. Since I use it often as a mixed media artists I buy it by the gallon. Don’t spill it like I did in the bottom of the trunk of my car. It is like decoupage material and when it dries it is very glossy. Yikes! What a mess! In this step, I also put on a heavy application of Spectra Fix fixative on to the mixed media collage. It blurs the lines and creates interesting smudges and marks on the abstract collage art. I buy this fixative in concentrated form and then prepare it by mixing it with vodka. That’s what the bottle of concentrate says to do. Honest. It takes about several hours for all of this to dry in my dry climate. It would take much longer if I were a mixed media artists in a humid and/or cold climate.

Thank you for taking the time to read the second installment of my mixed media artist blog on the creation of my collage painting, "Languorous". Keep reading to find out how this mixed media art piece progresses.