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Painted Sandpaper for Mixed Media Backgrounds

Once you realize the sky is the limit when it comes to mixed media art, you’ll see everything in a new light.

What I am talking about is that in mixed media art, you can include any type of material you can think of to use in your artwork.

For instance, a lot of folks love to use junk mail in their art journals.

Another example is packaging. Everything you buy comes with packaging, and some of the stuff they use to package things can be pretty interesting if you stop to inspect them. Think bubble wrap. And even the hard, clear plastic sheets that they package scissors in, can be useful in art. You can make anything into art.

This tutorial is a reminder of that. I am going to show you how just adding some paint to a piece of sandpaper makes a great textured background for mixed media.

What you’ll need:

The sandpaper I bought came from the dollar store. I had been searching for sandpaper at the dollar store for months, and finally, they got some in stock (tho I could have gotten in elsewhere. I live in a big city.)

All they had were stacks of small squares. But that worked for me since I like doing little pieces of art, like artist trading cards.

Then I grabbed some craft paint and started applying it to the sandpaper.

I noticed that the sandpaper really soaked up the paint, so I had to water it down a little, so it would spread easier.

I thought it would be too boring to just leave it one color, so I added some streaks of a lighter blue.

Then I let it dry.

I noticed after it dried, that the colored grit was coming off the papers pretty easily, so they would need to be sprayed with a sealer. My purpose for these was to use them as backgrounds, meaning I’d be doing more artwork with them. So, I chose to spray my sandpapers with a workable fixatif.

Workable fixatif is a spray that will set whatever media you’re working with, in place. But it doesn‘t leave a film like a finishing spray. It’s more like an invisible barrier.

Check out all the texture when all was said and done:

I created some more papers in different colors after I made the one above, including the one below. Look how much it looks like brick:

While I’ve been putting this post together, I’ve been thinking about how cool it would be to actually paint a picture onto a piece of sandpaper instead of just using it as a background or layer.

I’m imagining whatever would be painted on it, whether it be a portrait or nature scene, it would end up having a really cool impressionistic look. I might have to try.

Also, check out my background technique Oil Pastels on Sand Background Technique. Instead of sandpaper, I show you how to use a sand medium.

Before you go…

I have a mission/challenge for you. I want you to just pay attention to all the different things you come across in a day that could be used to make mixed media art. Please leave a comment telling me what you found.

I find it’s the stuff we end up throwing away or recycling that’s the most interesting and useful.

And if you feel like making art with it, upload a photo of it in the comments too!

See all my mixed media background techniques to check out and try!

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