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Lots of Layers Tutorial

By: Bumblebees and Butterflies
January 24, 2019

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Lots of Layers Tutorial
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Hi it's Brenda here with you today. I love adding lots of layers to my mixed media work to create interest and depth to the project and there are lots of techniques you can use to do this. It’s taken me quite a while to be ok with the fact that by layering up you often lose the earliest layers in the process but they are all part of the creative journey. Follow along to see how I layered up DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics and Mediums to create the background for this page.

I was inspired by a dear friend who was creating a winter journal before Christmas and I have been wanting to focus on some nature-inspired artwork so I have used the moment to start a new journal and I will use either real natural elements or stamped images or die-cuts of them to bring a cohesive focus to all the pages.

When creating projects for the DecoArt blog I am either reproducing techniques that I’ve tried before or I am experimenting from scratch, i.e. I’m really looking to see what does and doesn’t work and this is one of those times. You’ll see what I mean as you read through! Sometimes a layer just doesn’t look right but as you add the next it catches your eye and you feel much happier with it.

Items needed:

  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Raw Umber
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Payne's Grey
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Dark Grey Value 3
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Prussian Blue Hue
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Titan Buff
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Titanium White
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Transparent Red Iron Oxide
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Diarylide Yellow
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Sap Green
  • DecoArt Media Mediums and Specialty Products - Gesso - White
  • DecoArt Media Mediums and Specialty Products - Modeling Paste - White
  • Americana Glazing Medium
  • Journal
  • Text Stamp - Stampendous Andy Skinner - Textures
  • Leaf and dot stencil
  • Real decaying leaf
  • Heat gun
  • Stamping ink
  • Paintbrushes
  • Brayer


1. Using black ink randomly stamp a text background. Dry with a heat gun.

Instruction #1 - Step  1
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2. Use a monoprint technique using some quite thick paper or a piece of card. Randomly paint your piece of card with White Gesso and press it onto your page.

Instruction #2 - Step  2a
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Repeat until you are happy with the background. Play with the amount of colour you paint onto the card and watch for the variations it gives you. Leave some of the kraft page and text showing through. I placed a piece of wax paper behind my page to protect the pages underneath and prevent them from getting stray paint on them.

Instruction #3 - Step  2b
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3. Using the dark grey mixed with titanium buff on your craft mat, spritz with water to create a watery wash, with a paint brush spread it out over a wide surface area…..

Instruction #4 - Step  3a
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…..and dip your page into and dry several times.

Instruction #5 - Step  3b
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4. Repeat step 3 with a very tiny amount of Prussian Blue (it really is a strong pigmented colour) mixed with some Payne's Grey.

Instruction #6 - Step  4
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5. Repeat steps 1 and  2 to tone it down again but leave some of the colours showing through as well.

Instruction #7 - Step  5
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6. It was here I decided it looked a little too cool in tone so I brayered some Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide over to warm it up. I wasn’t sure if I had done the right thing but I persevered and carried on.

Instruction #8 - Step  6
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7. Now I tried another monoprint technique using a stencil, but it didn’t work for me. I think it was because my background was too textured and didn’t allow my stencil to lay flat on the surface. We always learn something from our experiments don’t we? ?Acrylic paints can dry very quickly especially in warm environments so I added a little extender medium to my colours for this next step. I used Prussian Blue hue and Diarylide Yellow. ?I mixed both of these colours individually and together on my palette with the extender medium……

Instruction #9 - Step  7a
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….then using my craft mat I painted some onto a stencil and then pressed it onto my page, rubbed over the back with some clean kitchen towel and repeated with the same stencil design to add pattern and texture.

Instruction #10 - Step  7b
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But it wasn’t quite what I expected but you know what they say – get over it, there’s never a right or wrong way it’s all part of the learning process. So that’s what I did.

Instruction #11 - Step  7c
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8. There is a bonus as you can press some clean media paper or card onto the surface of your mat or plate and rub over the leftover paint to "pull" prints which can be used later.

Instruction #12 - Step  8
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9. Knowing that I had a leaf to add to the page I decided I wanted some of this background to show through but I also needed a more neutral palette for the leaf to sit on so I scraped some white gesso over the page using a palette knife keeping the flat side horizontal to the page. I can still see some of the original grey and blue and some of the stamping.

Instruction #13 - Step  9
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10. I took this a bit further and mixed some gesso and white modeling paste together and scraped it through the leaf stencil and a small dotty stencil to create texture. I left it overnight to dry and then mixed some sap green with glazing medium and painted it all over the substrate and wiped back with a wet wipe. (I love this technique I learned from our very own talented Shawn Petite).

Instruction #14 - Step  10
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11. I wanted to make this a bit grungier so I repeated step 10 using Raw Umber Fluid Acrylic.

Instruction #15 - Step  11
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12. I had picked a couple of bits up from the back garden to use in this journal. To get them ready I placed them between some kitchen paper and two pieces of card, put two elastic bands around it and put it in the microwave on full power for 2 minutes. They came out lovely and dry and flat ready to use.

Instruction #16 - Step  12
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13. I had originally thought I would paint the leaf with gesso but I love the holes in the leaf parts and the faded colours so I decided to seal it on both sides using the DecoArt matte sealer spray instead. I have to be honest and say I don’t know how long it will last! I painted a coat of matte medium over the top of the leaf but it was very fragile and broke in a couple of places.

Instruction #17 - Step  13
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14. So I altered course and made the decision to completely change the ending of my processes. I added some very small torn pieces of collage paper and then covered the page with a coat of clear modeling paste and laid the leaf in it to protect it. Originally I thought I might be able to glue it on with a hot glue gun but hey ho – all the best plans! This now made the leaf very soft and pliable and it bends with the page.

Instruction #18 - Step  14
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15. To finish I cut three leaves from the prints you can see in step 8, stamped them with some brown texture and drew in the veins.

Instruction #19 - Step  15a
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I added some hessian ribbon, some stained cambric and some words to complete the page.

Instruction #20 - Step  15b
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I’m looking forward to creating more pages for this journal.

Instruction #21 - Staged 272
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Perhaps you’re starting a new journal for 2019, if you are, have fun and don’t be afraid to experiment as you create and alter course if you need to.

Happy New Year

Hugs Brenda xxx


Brenda, your journal cover is gorgeous! I love the mix of colours and the wonderful texture you created. Beautiful work, as always. Hugs, Anne xx

Anne R

January 24, 2019

Wow!! This is absolutely spectacular, Brenda!! The texture is amazing!! I truly enjoyed seeing each step as this work of art came together!! It's so gorgeous!!

Lisa F

January 24, 2019

Your journal cover turned out great. Thank you for the step by step.

Sue schultheis

January 24, 2019

Loads of fun experimental techniques, Brenda - so inspiring! And the fab end result is too! Love love love this! Thanks for sharing! Claudia xxx


January 25, 2019

Wow this is just amazing Brenda, the leaves look perfect on this gorgeous textured surface. Your step by step is so useful too....your experiments with the paints are so inspiring. Looking forward to seeing more pages. Your cover is a beautiful start xxx

Jane Tyrrell

January 25, 2019

Abby Fabby Layers Brenda....

Pat Crossland

January 25, 2019

Brenda, I love this project! I love creating with leaves. I always look for the ones with bug holes. I want to try your idea! I am looking forward to seeing more pages. Thanks for sharing!

Ruth Green

January 25, 2019

As you said you are always learning on the way!Gosh reading your page and the steps I've learnt heaps and am truly grateful for you taking the time to explain. brilliant page! Thanks heaps for sharing

Joan von Metzinger

January 26, 2019

Amazing layers and depth - I love the stage with the Raw Umber added around the textured stencilled leaves. I sealed some leaves onto a page with matte medium several years ago and they're still going strong, so hopefully your beautiful decayed leaf will last a good long while. Fabulous page. Alison x


January 26, 2019

Love it Brenda xx

Kathy Gledsdale

January 26, 2019

A fabulous page Brenda and thanks for the tutorial.

Avril B

January 27, 2019

A stunning cover with absolutely gorgeous colours and fantastic layers! Just perfect for the nature theme. A fabulous step out too!!


January 27, 2019

Gorgeous texture, love it to bits. Happy creating, Angela xXx


January 27, 2019

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