Create a mixed media painting with Powertex Universal Medium. This product works as a paint, glue and fabric hardener so is perfect for this art project. I made a landscape style piece based on a photo but the same techniques can be used for any style. The idea is to use fabric, card and texture paste to create a dimensional painting.
- Canvas or board – I used an A4 rectangular canvas
- Cardboard, heavy papers and fabric – packaging and scraps are great
- Powertex Universal Medium (Fabric Hardener) in Ivory
- Easy Structure – texture paste by Powertex
- Bister pigment sprays in Blue, Brown and Red
- Plastic palette knife or old plastic card
- A flat paintbrush – I use 3/4″ or 1″
- Large pieces of paper for tearing up as masks – scrap or copy paper
- A stencil (I used a clock face) or texture stencils
- A reference photo to help with composition
- Stone Art – Powertex texture medium
- 3D Sand – Powertex texture medium
How to create a textured background with Powertex
Paint the canvas with Ivory Powertex to prime the surface.
How to represent the photo with textures
Take a look at your photo to identify the main shapes of your composition. This could be buildings, trees or even people. If it helps you can draw lightly on the canvas with a pencil to outline these areas but it’s not necessary.
Now choose pieces of fabric, card or embellishments to represent these shapes. It doesn’t have to be perfect at all. Just tear, cut or rip pieces into roughly the right size and shape. You can lay them out on your canvas to test until you have something that’s good. Keep it simple, just create the main shapes.
Remember these pieces will have dimension and will “come forward”. Leave skies, paths etc at this point.
Laying down your texture
I find it helpful to put my main shapes in early but you can add your shallow textures first if you prefer.
Use the Ivory Powertex to coat, paint and glue your shapes into place. You have plenty of working time with the Powertex (about an hour) so keep moving things around until you’re happy. It’s best not to try and replicate the photo exactly, it’s only a guide so have fun playing with the elements and see what happens. You might want to wear plastic gloves for this part!
Next build up your textures in the rest of the picture. I use Easy Structure paste scraped over the lower part of the canvas.
This was my first stage. I’ve got my basic bridge and building shapes, some thin, crumpled papers and Easy Structure for shallow textures at the bottom.
This video gives you a speedy glimpse into how I put my first layers of texture down. I’m being careful to check every texture is completely covered with Powertex.
Adding texture with 3d Sand and Stone Art
These products add really great natural textures to “buildings” if you have them. If not you can skip this layer.
Paint the areas you want to texturise with a thick layer of Ivory Powertex. I did this on the building and bridge shapes. Sprinkle over a generous amount of Stone Art powder and press it into the wet surface. Excess powder can be brushed away into a container for use again.
You can also use this technique with the 3d Sand which creates a finer texture. Repeat this step until you have a raised rough texture.
Using stencils to add background
Stencils are a great way to add textures to a background and there are so many great stencils available just for this purpose. Use your favourites with the Easy Structure paste and add interest to the background.
Top tips for stencilling the background:
- Use a plastic card to spread the paste thickly over the stencil and lift the stencil upwards carefully
- Wash your stencils straight away!
- Leave some areas of your canvas without any texture
- Dry overnight before adding colour
This is where I’m at now! There’s a lot of different textures going on so it’s time to bring it all together with some colour.
Adding colour with Powertex Bister
Create an atmospheric landscape with Powertex Bister ink pigments. The pigments are available in ready-mixed sprays and granules in seven gorgeous muted colours. You can read more about Bister here.
The inks are perfect for use on a textured surface as they run into all the textures. It can also be wiped away from the raised areas to balance highlights.
Choose your own favourite colours for your painting. I used Blue, Brown and Red sprays.
Tops tips for Bister:
- Protect your work surface, they spray wide
- Use the Bister generously to avoid a splattered look
- Use scrap paper to mask areas you don’t want coloured
- Overlay colours while wet for beautiful blending
- Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe back the Bister from raised areas to create highlights
Finishing touches can really make a painting come to life. It’s when I check I have some dark shadows and some clear highlights. I might use a paintbrush to add extra Bister in dark areas. Then use a flat paintbrush and a little Ivory Powertex and brush it gently over raised areas.
This mixed media Powertex art is deep in textures and the muted Bister colours are soft and atmospheric. The techniques are quite simple but it needs some drying time between layers. It’s a great project to do if you have a little bit of time each day to come back to it.
If you’re new to Powertex, this blog is a good place to find out more.
This project was originally published in July 2018 for the Powertex UK Design Team.