/ / Fast And Easy Mixed Media Background Tutorials For Your Art Journal
Mixed Media

Fast And Easy Mixed Media Background Tutorials For Your Art Journal

Does freedom in art sound like this: finger painting, uncontrolled splashes of paint, gluing paper scraps all over the place, spraying color around like there’s no tomorrow, stamping with no plan or goal, mixing colors like a playful toddler?

To me, this is freedom and in artsy circles, this freedom is called mixed media.

And today, I’m going to share easy mixed media backgrounds you can do even if you’re a beginner.

Disclaimer: Some links in this post may be affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something through that link, I get a small commission, at no extra cost to you.


It’s the way of creating art that gives you the most freedom and so much joy in exploring and experimenting with your supplies. It’s MIXED and it’s MEDIA. You take different media and mix them all together to create an amazing piece of art. This process can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.

art journal spread with two drawn girls

Just like art journaling itself. Mixed media is just one way of creating art journal pages, and most of us use this technique because we mostly use more than one tool, paint or medium.

It really doesn’t matter how many things you use, the most important thing here is that mixed media gives you infinite freedom in art-making, because there are no limits to what you can use. How great is that?

This can be a great excuse to try most of your supplies at once!

You can check out some mixed media terms and artists that made interesting mixed media artwork here.


With mixed media art, it’s easy. You practically use anything you like. And I mean, anything!

Do you have any paper scraps? Use them.

What about watercolors, or a black marker, or a nice fine line pen? Use them as well.

Also, add some buttons, lace, photos, twine, flowers, all kinds of embellies you’d love to see on your page.

Put some paper on the page, add paint or gesso, stamp some more here and there, paint with your fingers, cut some designs and glue them on top, write a note on it, the list goes on and on.

What about stickers and paper cut-outs?


The only advice I’d give you for doing mixed media is to do everything in layers.

If you use different media, especially wet ones, you’ll need to wait for them to dry. That’s why a mixed media project can take longer to make and you’ll need to be more patient. But, hey, this should serve your alone, fun time. So, do it the way it suits you.

Don’t try to make it right, just make it fun.

Also, with thoughtful layering, you’ll easily finish your page and be more aware of the next steps and the overall balance of your page.

So, first, you create a background. And this is what I’m dealing with in this post mostly. I’ll show you how I make some of my mixed media backgrounds in my art journals.

Then, you can leave the background as it is because they usually make wonderful pages.

Or, you can continue creating layers bay adding new things such as papers, stickers, photos, collage, embellishments, etc.


I’m going to show you some ideas for creating mixed media backgrounds in your art journal. Expect a lot of photos so you can really see what I’m doing on the pages.


This tutorial is for a color-rich and textured background.

Supplies you’ll need:

  1. Acrylic paint, colors of your choice.
  2. Kitchen sponge
  3. Stencil
  4. Relief paste/texture paste
  5. Palette knife/piece of cardboard
  6. Stamp+ waterproof ink
  7. Baby wipe

Step 1.

First, layer your stencil and put some relief paste on it.

using a stencil and relief paste
textured flowers on a journal page

Step 2.

Use acrylic paint and a kitchen sponge to dab it over the stencil image, and the rest of the page.

Mix different colors for interesting effect.

dabbing red acrylic with a sponge

Finally, I added some white to soften the page a bit.

mixed media layering with white acrylic

Then I used the baby wipe and cleaned some of the paint off my flowers, just to pop them a bit. We’ll do this later, after every layer of color. You’ll see, it’s a neat effect.

textured mixed media background in art journal

Step 3.

Choose the stamp you love and stamp with waterproof ink, here and there.

I used waterproof ink by Ranger Ink, black archival ink pad. I’ve loved it ever since I got it. The ink isn’t smearable, and I feel free to do anything with it!

Make it a bit distressed by not pressing the whole stamp at once. Also, you won’t be able to, because you already have a textured background, so some of it will resist the stamp. I love this effect.

stamping on a mixed media background

Step 4.

It’s time for some finger painting. Go wild! Just smudge it in places, and if you feel there’s too much of it, just clean some off with a baby wipe.

finger painting in an art journal

Step 5.

Then, while the paint is still pretty wet, use the baby wipe and clean only the flowers. See how you now see the layers from underneath? Layering, remember?

textured mixed media page with flowers and stamps

I continued to put more paint with my fingers, I added some more blue and yellow.

Step 6.

Next, I used another stencil and removed some of the paint with it and a baby wipe.

background with a stencil and baby wipe

And voila, here’s the finished mixed media background! I left it as it is because I love the colors and the texture. I might write something later or add a nice photo, I’ll see. For now, I’m satisfied with this beauty.

close-up of mixed media art journal page


Supplies you’ll need:

  1. Paper scraps
  2. Glue
  3. Stamp + waterproof ink
  4. White acrylic paint
  5. Dreamer girl printable, or any other (optional)

Step 1.

Gather some paper scraps you have around your craft room. Even the tiniest ones, don’t throw them to waste. They make wonderful backgrounds. These are some of mine:

paper scraps on art journal spread

Start gluing them down on your art journal page/spread. Don’t overthink this, just go with the flow. You can use papers from one color palette or just use whatever color you want. Either way, these backgrounds look amazing.

collage art journal page

This is how it looks after all the gluing is done.

art journal spread with paper collage

Step 2.

Choose a stamp you love and stamp it in three places with waterproof ink. For a more distressed look, don’t stamp the whole image, just parts of the stamp.

collage mixed media spread

Step 3.

Use your fingers again and apply white acrylic paint to distress the page even more. Lightly go over most of the page and smudge the paint. You can use a brush, but doing this with fingers is way more fun and interesting, and you get slightly different results. A brush can never smudge like your fingers.

finger painting on collage background

Step 4.

Next, I added more stamping with a different stamp. Just to break the white a little bit. Here’s the finished mixed media background:

finished collage mixed media background

Step 5.

If you want to add more things on top, check this out. I glued a girl from my printable design, which you can download for free in my printables library (sign up at the bottom of the post). Also, I used other paper cut-outs from my previous projects, and all of these are in my free library, too.

finished collage art journal spread
art journal page quote
art journal page detail: a girl and a flower


This one is going to be messy, so I’m giving you the heads up.

Supplies you’ll need:

  1. Acrylic paint, different colors
  2. Paper scraps
  3. Glue
  4. Stamp + waterproof ink
  5. Palette knife or a piece of thick cardboard

Step 1.

Use paper scraps, any kind you have. They will create interesting texture. So, you just glue them down randomly until you cover the whole page.

collage art journal page

Step 2.

Take the palette knife and add some acrylic paint. Wherever you want. First, put one color down, then choose two more and add them in the same way.

I used beige, yellowish, blue and pink.

mixed media background with palette knife
putting acrylic paint on a collage background

Step 3.

Then, choose some stamps and randomly stamp on your page.

A good tip for this is to stamp in three places rather than covering the whole page. And if you want the distressed look, just don’t press the whole stamp and press it lightly.

stamps and ink on art journal page
hand putting stamp on mixed media background
close-up of mixed media art journal page

Step 4.

Finally, I added some white acrylic paint. Again, I used my palette knife and just painted a few strokes from above and from below, not too much.

adding white acrylic with palette knife

And here’s the finished background. It’s ready for some writing or drawing. But be careful with your pens on acrylic paint. They can get clogged and you can damage the tip. Maybe the best solution would be to use a marker of some kind, or just use a paintbrush and write with it.

I’d use Posca paint pens for textured backgrounds. They are amazing tools for mixed media art.

If you want to know about the best pens and markers, check out this post on the best pens and markers for art journals.

finished mixed media art journal page


If you want to try creating mixed media backgrounds, here are some simple tips you might find useful.

As I already said, work in layers. Think about what you want to be most visible and leave it for the end. Layering helps you build a page slowly and predict what might work well on the bottom and what on the top.

If you want a textured background, use relief/texture paste or paper scraps. You don’t have to use the paste with a stencil, you can just put some randomly on the page.

Clean your tools right away, especially if you use relief paste. Unless you clean it, it’ll stick to the tool you’re using and then you can throw it right into the trash. I know, I’ve ruined a number of these, because I was, you know, naively thinking I could clean them easily later.

Maybe you know about a cleaning product for these, but I just wash them right away with water and have no problems.

If you use a baby wipe for wiping the paint off your page, be careful to use the clean part of the wipe for every new piece you want to clean. Otherwise, it’ll just transfer the paint you just wiped off back to the paper. And a neat idea would be to save the baby wipe as ephemera for other projects.

Don’t overthink. I think this is the best advice I can give you. Just experiment with your supplies and I promise it’ll feel good. If you don’t like something, just paint over it and create more texture.

I really hope you’ll enjoy this process, and if you like these tutorials, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear what you think.


Get the free kit and the password for my free printables library by just filling out the form below.


Art journal acrylic backgrounds: easy ideas for beginners

Fall Collage: Creative Mindfulness Exercise With Mixed Media

Mixed Media Art Journal Tutorials Using Free Printable Stencils

If you love these art journal tutorials, save them to your favorite Pinterest board!

mixed media art journal tutorials
mixed media background tutorials


  1. Thanks A lot for this tutorial. I am also a beginner. I love to watch your work. And this way easy to learn. Thanks again.
    Patricia from the netherlands

  2. Hola!!!

    Solo quiero que sepas que es la mejor página que he encontrado y con lo que mas me intrigaba…las imágenes de humanos o mostrar como podemos hacer nuestras propias imágenes!!!! meha encantado todo ésto y estoy leyendo cada parte para seguir los pasos y por fin entender como se hace éste bello arte. ¡¡¡¡Soy la mas feliz!!!!
    gracias por todo lo que das, abrazos!!

  3. I’m new to mixed media and this tutorial sounds great, but I can’t find any pictures. Is there a trick I’m not catching?

    1. Dear Kim, thank you for letting me know. It seems there are some technical difficulties and my people are on it. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  4. Love your tutorials
    I may even get started soon!
    So far I am reading reading the ideas
    What is relief/texture paste? Thanks much

    1. Hey Joan, it’s great you’re starting :). Relief paste is a paste you can use to create 3D effects with stencils, as you could see in the first background tutorial. You apply it with a palette knife or a piece of cardboard, and when it’s dry, it leaves a nice textured effect, a raised design.

  5. Ivana, another great set of ideas! You give so much of yourself thank you. My big problem is the focal point. I need to have that in mind when I start , but I just start making backgrounds. I need to plan a bit more.

  6. How do you stamp over the gesso? Mine doesn’t dry! Am I supposed to use something other than gesso to treat the page?

    1. Hey Lori, gesso takes a bit to dry, you just need to wait, and this drying time depends on the brand and the type of gesso. If your ink doesn’t dry, it also depends on what kind of ink you’re using. Archival, waterproof inks do a great job on gesso, when they’re dry, you can’t smudge them anymore. But if you’re using ink that’s not waterproof, it can be smeared easily with any moist or liquid medium, even just your fingers. I’ve been using Archival Ink by Ranger, in many colors, and they never disappoint me. I just wait for a few seconds until it’s dry, and I can continue working on my page without worrying about smudging.

  7. Hi there!
    I can’t figure out where to post a comment so I’m just responding to yours lol.
    I am very new to Mixed Media but I’m hooked!! I have a plethora of supplies yet not sure what they all do.
    I’d love a link or two on your best recommendation getting started!
    Also, I really like it when I see ink dripping down the artwork. I’ve tried different techniques but can’t find the right supply that creates this look.
    Any suggestions on how I create that dripped paint look?

    Loved your examples! Easy to understand and inspiring 🙂

    1. Hey Tina. Mixed Media is an endless source of possibilities. Once you’re on that train, you’ll stay on it, and you’ll always want more. How amazing is that? Well, there are so many great mixed media artists out there, maybe you could check out Karen Campbell or Tamara Laporte, Jane Davenport. They are all my favorite artists. As far as the ink dripping, have you tried spraying it with water and letting it slide down the page? This works for me. But also have in mind that the paper you’re working on must be thick (mixed media paper or watercolor paper) or cover it with gesso before painting. Oh, I know, maybe this is too much info at the moment. Here’s a link for Gesso, so you’ll know what I’m talking about.

  8. This is very useful and is exactly what I needed! I now understand the process much better than with lots of other tutorials I’ve seen before this one. Thanks a lot! 😄

  9. I just wanted to say that I think you are very talented and I love that you share your love of colors and techniques with the world. I’m trying so hard to get into this since I have a hard time writing in a journal these days. My mind just wants to do art and I love to do surreal things. All of your ideas are so amazing and I just am really happy that this isn’t an old article and that you are still doing something you love like this. I don’t check my email much so I hope that I don’t miss when you get new ones up. You are very appreciated and very inspiring

    1. Thank you so much Tamara! I’m happy beyond words that you find this site inspirational. Art journaling is something I couldn’t live without, that’s how much joy it brings. Welcome to Artful Haven and thanks once again for these nice words. ❤

  10. I love the colours you have used in your background. Learning background techniques was where I started my interest in art journaling. It is such a great chance to be messy, expressive and enjoy just making marks without too much thought. I love your tips for getting started with background techniques. Ceri xx

    1. You’re welcome. Thanks for the comment. Yes, I’m always preparing new tutorial and tips, so stick around :). Enjoy creating!

  11. Hi Ivana, just joined up and love your website! Very inspirational and heaps of creative ideas. I sometimes procrastinate about what I want to create, instead of just getting on with it. But since reading some of your ideas, I’ve managed to stop getting on the procrastination train. Lol. I can tell the passion that have, and thank you for creating such a wonderful website! It’s a real credit to you. Cheers. Ali xox

  12. I am so happy each time I see Artful Haven on Pinterest…love your art and tuturials – I am new in the MM Journal world and learn soo much from Your blig.. THANKS lilian from Denmark..

  13. I love your description of “freedom in art”! And your advice of “Don’t overthink”. I’m on the pursuit of allowing myself to practice imperfection. So far I’m on a good track 😉 Your tutorials are inspiring. Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much 🙂 I’m happy you find the tutorials inspiring, that’s my goal: to inspire and teach. Glad to have you here!

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