Follow Your Heart, a mixed media art adventure!

Hello Kraafters!

This week I am sharing a Mixed Media Art Adventure called “Follow Your Heart”

It was spring of 2018 when I created this and I had intended to use it for a Mixed Media class I wanted to teach a few months later. Unfortunately, days turned into weeks, and events took place that did not allow me to teach that class the way I wanted to so I have postponed that adventure…but it is something I am working on now. Stay Tuned!

I am not a wasteful person, so I figured I would take the footage from this creation and use it as a declaration of 2019 – to follow my own heart and share with you some of what I intend to do with this year. It took me FOUR DIFFERENT times to record the voice over and so I ended up with this robotic version of myself and I am not even sure now if I said everything I meant to say. I just decided it was time to send it on instead of trying to get it 100%! I hope you enjoy it that video as you watch the process take place and learn here how to create the look yourself.

Here is the video if you didn’t get to see it yet:

The Supplies I Used

The Steps I Followed

Creating with what you have.

I really wanted to test out a theory that I had seen in any YouTube videos…you can use ANYTHING to create on. So in this piece, I used the cardboard backing from my Arches watercolor pad of paper. It really worked well, especially since I didn’t have any canvases this size at the time. One thing to keep in mind though, as it gets wet with paint and mediums, it does warp. This is a pretty HEAVY cardboard so even though it did warp, it wasn’t so bad I couldn’t use it.

Gluing with gesso?


I had heard for years now that you could use gesso to glue papers in your mixed media piece. Now, I’m not going to dispute that it’s possible but I will say I had issues with it. It dries too fast for my style of application. I wanted texture and had hoped I could kill two birds with one “gessoed” stone, but it just wasn’t working for me. I quickly switched to my tried-and-true option matte medium. Then, to add that texture and a base for paint, I added dabs and swipes of the gesso and then rolled it with the brayer. I love what the brayer does texture wise. PRO TIP – Be sure to carefully and lightly roll if your layers below are still wet. You can actually roll up the book pages if you aren’t careful.

Let’s paint!

I chose colors that make me happy! I like to choose a mixture of flat and metallic or iridescent paint finishes. Happy colors and a varied finish adds to the interest of the entire piece. You might notice how I have mostly cool colors – blues, greens and purples – with a warm color – dragon fruit pink – to add pop! I use a brayer and other texture tools to make the paint go on in random ways as this continues to add even more interest.

Up until this part in the video I wasn’t exactly sure which way I was going with it. I knew I was creating a random background and that it was important that I focused on the center of the piece without really knowing exactly what I was going for. That is how I create, just let it tell me where to go next. 

I Love Collage!

I wanted more layers so I reached for some collage papers. Collage is something that I absolutely love. I love the visual texture that book pages bring, and when you use stamps and other things on tissue paper how the tissue disappears when you glue it on, it almost looks like you are a master stamper! In this case I am using old deli papers that I had made using my Gelli Arts® gel printing plate in a previous play time.

Oops! at the 10-minute Mark!

While I was gluing the collage papers down, I guess the green paint had not yet fully dried. I realized it and swiped green paint all over as well as removing layers and it left this gaping hole in my piece! It was a quick fix though. Just dabbed on some green paint, oops not that much, blended it in. Dried it. Add a little  pink using bubble wrap and good as new!

Exclusion painting!

I really wanted to practice something I had watched many people do before called exclusion painting. I have heard it called many things actually, but I noticed it all looks very similar. A common thing I see are lotus flowers, pods, leaves and the like. In an effort to keep my life simple, and I did not have to “imagine” a shape or image I decided to cut a heart out of paper to give myself a guide to paint around.

Using DecoArt Americana craft paint – buttercream – which is a contrasting color from the background and the best tool ever – my fingers – I swiped paint away from the shape so I could get a crisp outline. Right away I felt like I need more than the one creamy color, it needed a warmer color to blend with, I chose sunny days. Blending the two colors together and leaving them unblended in spots. As I continued I realized I needed to be even warmer, so I added coral shell and used a baby wipe to soften and blend. I also added a little snow white to lighten it up a bit.

Fine line details, drips and doodles!

The details are where I truly get excited! Up until the details it’s pretty much like any other piece – color, texture, layers, Etc – but as I add the details …oh boy… that unique quality becomes the definition of this piece over any other piece I create. Using a fine liner bottle that I have filled with a personal mixture of acrylic paint, medium and water.

My recipe is:

  • one part Prussian Blue fluid acrylic
  • half part Cobalt black fluid acrylic
  • one part airbrush medium
  • enough water to make it as fluid as you prefer

Once I quickly sketch in the lines  and scribbles, I spritz it with water. I use the heat tool to capture the “spidery” sprays. I just love the messy look at leaves, but obviously you can omit this step if you don’t like that.

Using a fine liner with white in it (I use the same recipe, just white paint instead of black or the Prussian Blue) I thought I would doodle a little bit. I began by adding a couple of flowers, a few dots, Etc. I immediately didn’t like at all. It started to give it a different style. I could have used a baby wipe to remove it but it wasn’t horrible so I left them in. I then added a few splatters by watering down the white even further and using a paintbrush.

Gold – always add GOLD!

Once the piece was completely dried I pulled out my favorite tool in my Art Arsenal –  GOLD! I began adding highlights around the heart especially anything next to any of the dark lines. Then I added a few spots around the outside of the heart. I quickly realized that I needed more shading in the heart so let’s just stop there. We’ll get back to the gold later.

Shading for depth!

Faber-Castell Big Brush PITT Artist Pens are a long time favorite you rarely see me use but I do actually love them. They’ve lasted for nearly six years and have not even shown signs of stopping. I began shading around the inside of the heart by adding a line then swiping lightly with my finger or very lightly dampened cloth. Shading with these markers is so fun and easy because it’s a very wet and permanent ink. Because they are really wet and because the entire piece has been made non-porous (this just means that there is a layer of some kind of protective medium like paint or matte medium that keeps anything from sinking into the papers) that the ink sits on top for  a second or two before it dries. This allows you to smear it with a wet finger or a baby wipe. If you make a mistake you can wipe it off as long as you’re quick. It’s actually really cool. I went all the way around on the inside of the heart and I just love the way it made it look like a puffy rounded heart.

Once that was completely dried I went back in with the gold. I rubbed it over the highlighted areas so it appeared to look like a three-dimensional metallic heart using my fingers and a baby wipe.

I added a sticker to the outside that reads FOLLOW YOUR HEART and that’s pretty much how I made this piece.

Be sure to let us know if you decide to create one yourself. You can always tag us on social media @KraaftShaak or join our new and improved Kraafters Kommunity.


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About Heather Kraafter

First and foremost, I am a child of the One True King! I am blessed to be married to my best friend and was privileged to stay home and raise my boys. I began the Kraaft Shaak in 2010 as a way to experiment with crafting mediums and to teach others what I have learned and have come to enjoy it as my creative passion. Taking the 'show on the road' is my latest passion and each day is one step closer to that dream. Thanks for being a part of that journey too!