Whenever I work on a collage or assemblage, my vision is rarely ever the same as the end product. I begin with an idea with what I want to do and it flourishes into something completely different. It was especially true with this collage. I originally saw the focal point as a series of chipboard squares with images stamped on them. When I actually placed it against the background, I hated it! The altered tin looked much better against the background.

This piece took a particularly long time for me to get “just right”. I am normally happy with my first try and go on to the next thing. This time, I could not get the background to look exactly right with my focal point. I loved the background by itself. It had great color and texture, but it was too tonal with the focal point. The focal point got lost. I kept adding different, contrasting colors, dabbing, and putting the focal point against it. I was almost late for school because I was fussing with it so much. It finally came together when I added the last layer of permanent green light.

When it comes to layering acrylic paints, it is usually better to layer from dark to light. Acrylics dry pretty fast, you usually don’t need to wait too long to start the first layer. Some people will put a heat gun to it to speed up the process. I don’t usually do that. I usually use paper towels or wet wipes. I wipe, dab, and dab again until I get the colors that I want.

I have several layers in the background. The first thing on the canvas board was some old dictionary pages. Then I randomly stamped on the dictionary text. Some fluid acrylics before the crackle paste. There are several layers of acrylic paint and fluid acrylics over the crackle paste.

8x10 canvas board (mine from Dick Blick)
Dictionary text
StazOn stamp pad or similar stamp pad
Hazelnut acrylic paint
Golden’s transparent yellow iron oxide fluid acrylic
Golden’s quinacridone nickel/azo gold fluid acrylic
Golden’s transparent red iron oxide fluid acrylic
Golden’s permanent green light
Goldens anthraquinone blue fluid acrylic
burnt umber acrylic paint
gel medium
Golden’s interference green oxide fluid acrylic
Golden’s Crackle Paste
Thin palette or putty knife
copper chain

(1) Spread a thin layer of gel medium on the canvas board. (2) Layer the dictionary pages until the entire page is covered. Apply gel medium to overlapped areas so pages will stay down.
Trim edges with scissors or by tearing. I tore the excess dictionary pages off the edges.
(3) Randomly stamp images on papered canvas board.
(4) Create a wash with hazelnut paint. Cover canvas and use paper towel to pick up excess. Wipe paper towel across entire canvas. This will pick up the excess paint and your stamps will still show through the acrylic wash.
(5) Create a wash with the transparent yellow iron oxide and randomly spread on canvas. Use paper towel and wipe across entire canvas.
Note: fluid acrylics go a long way. You only need a couple of drops and some water to create your wash. If you want a more brown color, then really thin down some brown acrylic paint like burnt umber and brush on (then wipe). You can also try using some strong coffee.

(6) Create a wash with the quin gold or nickel azo gold. This time, spread in random spots but don’t cover entire area. Wipe with paper towel to pick up excess.
(7) Using a thinner palette knife, spread on a layer of crackle paste. The thicker the layer – the larger the crackle. A thin layer will produce smaller, finer crackle. How much crackle paste you put on the canvas is up to you. The crackle is opaque and will cover up anything underneath it. Let the crackle dry overnight. Clean palette knife right away or it will get gunky and harder to clean.
Note: There is a new product out from Tim Holtz called crackle paint. You can substitute it here but your entire canvas will be crackled unless you apply the crackle paint in only certain areas. One other important thing, your crackle with the Tim Holtz paint will be considerably smaller, finer crackle. I am not a fan of this crackle paint. It works well on small canvases such as ATCs but I am not impressed when used on larger surfaces.

Once the crackle paste has dried, you can bend the canvas board outwards. When the crackle past dries, it warps your canvas or paper inwards. It you bend it in the opposite direction, then you will get bigger crackle. Some of it might flake off. Just brush off lightly into the trash.

(8) Layering of acrylics and fluid acrylics – my first layer was burnt umber. This was a slightly thick wash. If you do not add a little water to the acrylic paint and fluid acrylics then you will get too much color in one spot. The watering down of the paints helps to flow over the background. The texture of the background catches the paint and can cause you to get blotches of rich color. You don’t want the opaqueness of acrylics here. The wash helps the other colors to come through while still getting some color from your latest layer. I did a lot of dabbing with a dry paper towel. If the layer was too thick or opaque, I spritzed some water directly on the area and then dabbed with a dry piece of paper towel. (9) There is also a layer of transparent red oxide, quin gold, transparent oxide yellow, and anthraquinone blue. They were all washes. The anthraquinone blue was made into a very watery wash. I generously brushed that on and allowed to pool. I did not dab here. I got some great distressed areas from this color. The last layer was the permanent green light. I dabbed the excess off. You do not need to dry in between layers. The dabbing will dry it enough. I do recommend that you let it dry overnight and then come back to it. It will look entirely different dry than how it looks when it is wet. Mine came out much darker and I had to put on the green to give it some contrast to the focal point.
(10) The edges were done with quin gold, transparent red oxide, and anthraquinone blue. I took the quin gold first and used my finger to edge the sides. I went in a little so there would be some color when I used the other two colors. I did the same with the transparent red oxide. With the blue, I just did the edges - being careful not to go over into the collage. That gives it the great burnt look.

Altered tin – I used a pair of pliers to take apart the tin. I stamped on a piece a dictionary paper the face from a Michael deMeng stamp. I used the rose color from Tim Holtz’s Distressed stamp pads over the face. I used a little glue to glue it in the tin. The blue eyes are from a gelly roll pen. The inner sides of the tin are from transparent red oxide and interference green oxide. I used some Diamond Glaze to adhere it to the canvas board. The crop-a-dile would not work here because the texture from the crackle paste was too thick for it to punch a hole. I just used the point of my craft scissors to make a hole large enough for the brad to go through. I used some diamond glaze on the chain so it would stay in place.          Belinda Spiwak  1107.
Layerd Acrylics with Crackle Paste. Finished Canvas, Belinda Spiwak
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Fiished canvas with detail
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Fiished canvas collaged tin added
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