Thursday, April 18, 2013

PLAYING WITH PAPERS AND PICTURES - Altered Art Mixed Media Techniques

Let's Color, Kids!
Altering papers and printed images to use in collage is easy: Stain, paint, tear, stitch, dye, burn, bleach, or scratch them for effect. Of course you can create dimensional paper, too, by folding, pleating, crumpling, and more.

paper techniques
Rolled, crumpled, creased, pleated, scored.


altering paper, art techniques
Strong coffee, wet tea leaves, walnut crystals, alcohol ink.

Tip:   I saturate papers with rubbing alcohol before applying alcohol inks. Then I immediately soften and spread the ink with a brush or piece of felt dipped in rubbing alcohol.

collage papers
The finished papers after colorizing them.
Alter lab-processed photographs with laundry bleach. This is not an archival technique, but it's fun! Try a gel bleach pen or a cotton swab dipped in liquid bleach. Apply it selectively to lift areas of color. When you've achieved the desired effect, rinse the print under lukewarm tap water and blot dry with a lint-free cloth. (Note that some papers and pigments resist bleaching action. Also, take all the necessary health precautions when working with bleach.)
bleaching and scratching
Bleached spots at left, scratched selectively at right.

Abrading a surface lends an aged, distressed appearance. To scratch the emulsion of a commercially-processed photograph, soften it in a tray of warm water for a minute. Blot it on a hard, flat surface and scrape away with a large needle, nail, or other scratch tool. Sandpaper removes large areas quickly. The light-colored marks show up best in dark areas of the photo.

And finally, do try this: D├ęcollage is an art term that refers to a cutting and tearing technique based on the appearance of layered posters on billboards. The result leaves shredded papers, revealing portions of the images and text underneath.

mixed media collage
Decollage example

art blog, Paula Guhin


  1. As always, interesting ideas. I wonder if using hydrogen peroxide instead of bleach would work, and be safer? I have no clue, but I'm throwing the idea out there.

  2. Thanks for the idea, my dear, yet as a longtime blonde by choice I have to say I don't think it would work, but I'd love for someone to try it and prove me wrong! Really, thanks!

  3. Thanks for the interesting techniques! Really want to try the last one for sure!

  4. Yes! Lots of fun. Great blog and thanks for sharing.


Your kindness in leaving a message is greatly appreciated!