Abstract Still Life with Collage Project

Join me in this fun, beginner friendly collage project where we explore creating an abstract mixed media still life painting. This demonstration combines acrylic, ink, and collage to create a harmonious balance of simplicity and expressive techniques. While easy in design, executing it with confidence, finesse, and style adds a layer of complexity that makes it truly captivating.

I started experimenting with collage many years ago as a way to up-cycle react paintings. I mean, the stack was TALL! And I’m too stubborn to throw away inferior works because the paper and materials are just too expensive.

And, I’m so glad to have taken that journey! Using the ‘kitchen sink’ approach has opened up a bounty of opportunities and really help me relax when I paint. There’s no more stressing over whether or not the painting is a success. Because even if it fails, I know I can do something like this expressive still life ver top of it and nothing will go to waste.

Let’s walk through the key steps involved in creating this abstract masterpiece.

  1. To start, I applied lime green acrylic ink as a toner on the paper, providing a vibrant base for the later application of blue hues. Blending the ink with a paper towel removes some of it, leaving behind a subtle limey hue, which perfectly complements the overall composition.
  2. Next, I utilized compressed charcoal to add intricate designs and shapes to the piece. The watercolor was then applied directly from the tube onto the surface, strategically placing lighter hues in areas of light and darker hues in areas of shadow. This technique adds depth and dimension to the painting.
  3. To enhance the visual interest, I incorporated collaging by adding a layer of golden yellow to the lemons, creating a captivating contrast. Throughout the process, it’s important to leave traces of the initial layers visible, as it adds depth and texture to the final artwork. It can be tempting to cover everything, but embracing these subtle details makes a significant difference.
  4. For the background, I introduced slightly different shades of blue to create an engaging backdrop. Softening any harsh edges with your fingers or a paper towel allows for a seamless blend of colors. The collaging technique also came into play once again, adding intricate details to the knife and lemons, further enriching the artwork.

Now, let’s talk about materials.

  • High-quality materials are essential for achieving the best results. I highly recommend using artist-grade paint and investing in good-quality paper or canvas. In this particular project, I used heavy-body acrylics in various colors such as Ultramarine blue, Cerulean blue, Cadmium yellow, Cadmium red light, Cadmium orange, Burnt umber, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, and Titanium white.
  • Having the right brushes is crucial for this painting technique. I suggest using a medium fan brush, large round brush, medium flat/square brush, and a small liner or signature brush to achieve different textures and effects.
  • To bring it all together, you’ll need materials like an 11 x 14 Bristol paper, scrap drawing paper with random marks (for added texture), lime green acrylic ink, masking tape, collage paper, and Mod Podge.

Remember, the choice of materials greatly influences the outcome of your artwork. Using high-quality materials ensures better color vibrancy, durability, and overall aesthetic appeal.

FYI, all paintings shown here use the following palette; yellow ochre, lemon yellow, ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, alizarin crimson, cadmium red light, burnt sienna and neutral tint. This is the ideal palette for me because I can mix the secondary hues to perfection. That three color chart we learned in grade school is nonsense and simply doesn’t work well beyond third grade.

So, are you ready to embark on this artistic journey? Gather your materials, follow the steps, and let your creativity flow as you create your own captivating abstract mixed media still life painting.

Abstract Collage and Acrylic Still Life with Lemons
Finished Art