At Peace – A Mixed Media Tutorial

In this tutorial, I am showing you how to quickly create an easy girl’s face on small canvas board, create an interesting background in minutes and add easy-peasy finishing touches.

This piece took me about 30 minutes to make in real time, just to show you it’s easy to make art even when you have very little spare time like I have.

at peace thumbn

Watch it on Youtube or Vimeo

Supplies Used for This Project

  • canvas board 15x15cm
  • white gesso
  • Catalyst tool 04 Mini
  • Hairdryer (or heat tool)
  • Cosmic Shimmer watercolours Set 2 Carnival Brights
  • Lyra watersoluble graphite crayon
  • Pentel Waterbrush medium
  • Prima Marketing Inc Watercolor Pencils, sets Scenic Route (05, 88, 113) and Spring & Fall (30, 97)
  • Ranger Distress Ink pad in Tea Dye
  • Dovecraft Glitter Glue in Crystal


I started by spreading the gesso quite roughly with my Catalyst spatula across the canvas board to create texture. Tapping it on the surface created little peaks.
I dried it completely with a hairdryer (I’m not patient enough to wait!).

I loosely used 3 colours of my cosmic shimmer watercolours (Yellow Sun, Orange Gold and Candy Floss), creating blobs of colour on my surface and blending them together on the edges.The watercolours, because of their nature, have a variation of intensity, and this is emphasised with the texture created by the dry peaks and streaks of gesso. The colours are making the texture more apparent.
I did not want to fill the whole surface, so I left some white in the middle, but at that point I had no idea I was going to draw my girl’s face there. I just looked right.

After quickly drying the watercolours, I identified the white space as the perfect place to draw my girl’s face. I love using my Lyra graphite crayon for drawing as, first, the chunky size makes it easier to create loose and raw lines, and second, its watersoluble nature enable the lines to be more intense when activated with water, and dragged to create shadows, though not always subtle. Indeed, as the graphite gets quite dark, you have to add water to your lines to create lighter shadows. The water can always be blotted to lighten the lines, and I did this in the video at some point when the girl’s right cheek was just too dark for my liking. I also use a rag to spread the graphite while blotting the water; it helps soften the edges.

To add colour to my girl, I used my two sets of watercolour pencils by Prima Marketing Inc. I absolutely adore them. The pigments are quite rich when activated. I have had Derwent watercolour pencils for more than a year, not using them much even though they are good watercolour pencils, but I much prefer the Prima ones and use them all the time for little touches or shadows. I have ordered also their watersoluble oil pastels and classic watercolour set (I watched a couple of videos on Youtube by Mindy Lacefield recently and fell in love with these as well. I will probably create a video about these in the near future, ie as soon as I receive them!!). As the activated pigments can be quite strong with some colours (the pink I used for the cheeks and lips), I blotted the water with a rag (one of my son’s old polo shirts from his school uniform!!) and that instantly gave a much softer look, while still retaining colour.
Since the pink pigment was so strong, quite a bit of it was left on my waterbrush, and rather than wipe it away and waste it, I decided to use it to deepen the shadows on the girl’s face. Using the same colour also helps bring unity to the whole face, rather than have splashes of colour randomly and isolated.

Using gesso also helped me soften and blend, as well as lighten some areas (her upper body was WAY too dark) and create some highlights in her hair and on her face.

I then used my ink pad to create some kind of frame on the edges of the board, and decided to “finger paint” across the background, again to bring some unity across the piece.

As you can notice, when drawing my girl, and even when refining details, there is nothing perfectionist or realistic about the whole process. I almost approach this step as if I were I child drawing without any fear or pressure for perfection. To me, that’s the whole point of making art, going back to where you were a child and enjoy the process as play.

My finishing touches were very straightforward. Darkening the eye rims to create an illusion of eyelashes (again, not precision, it’s dark, it’s thick, it’s eyelashes, and it’s good enough for me!!), and my trusty and beloved glitter glue. It is nothing special, just plain, only £1, but just a few dots and highlights of it give any piece instant “OOOMMMPHness”.

Et voila!

Some close-ups for you to enjoy