Change Your Mindset: Create With The Attitude That “It’s Just Paper”!!!

By | 07/20/2020

That’s right!  It’s just a piece of paper.  Experiment!  Have fun!  You can die cut flowers out of it if you hate the result!

Vicki Boutin tells us to do the things! Experiment and see how all those supplies on your shelf behave and react.  Seth Apter tells us that you’re only one layer away from magic.

I love it!  I have totally fallen in love with mixed media and experimenting with all the mediums.  I’ve fallen in love with creating layers and more layers and mixing all kinds of materials together.  One on top of the other.

It really is magic!

And…all that stuff I bought is not going to waste.  I’m using it and having a blast!

Let me share what I’ve been up to.

If you are a regular blog reader, then you know that I have been participating in Vicki Boutin’s Facebook and YouTube Live events and some of her album, layout, and texture paste classes.  All online.

Yesterday, I participated in an online mixed media class about layering techniques with Seth Apter.  I never heard of Seth Apter before this week and boy…he’s amazing!  Just like Vicki!

Here is the latest project that I created with Vicki:

Creating with the mindset that it's just paper!

This is a 12 x 12″ piece of Vicki’s Foundations paper which is heavy weight mixed media paper.  It is designed to hold water and all the wet mediums you can slather on top of it.

A couple of weeks ago, we played with acrylic paints and a plastic wrap smooshing technique.  I have very limited acrylic paints at the moment.  It’s been hard to buy them online and I can’t go into a store right now so I worked with what I had left on the shelf!  I had a red, a metallic gold and a white iridescent.

I started with a plain white sheet of mixed media paper and squeezed blobs of ink on in those 3 colors and then smooshed away with the plastic wrap.  I made several of these backgrounds using various variations and mediums over the 3 hours I played along while Vicki worked away and gave instructions and explanations.  She shares a lot of golden nuggets of great information along the way and I always create along with her.

Then on Wednesday, I pulled this background from the stack and began doodling flowers along with Vicki.  I used a regular old sharpie marker and doodled around the painted part of my background. Then I used my art crayons to give the florals some colors, scribbling them on and then using a wet paint brush to spread the ink around.

Please keep in mind that this looks absolutely nothing like the background Vicki ended up with and her doodle flowers were in a completely different formation on her page.  She had several colors of circular smooshes of ink and her doodles followed the pattern on her page which covered more of the center of her page.

The point was to doodle these random flowers and leaves and let the painted background determine where your flowers should go.

I loved the background before I started and felt a little apprehensive about drawing in sharpie free hand over the top.  But, darn…it was fun and I LOVE the end result.

After we drew them, we kicked it up a notch by giving them color with the art crayons (which are like distress crayons, gelatos, or watercolor wonders from way back in the day!).  Once that was done, we pulled out white paint (I used gouache full strength), an painted some dashes on the remaining background paint that wasn’t covered with doodles.

This is ready for a photo, a caption and some ephemera.  I can easily add this to the pile of scrapbook layouts that I’ve been creating!

Super fun, relaxing, and it got better and better as I kept adding to it.  I’m not going to lie…my first flower was wonky!

What’s the worst thing that can happen?  It’s just a piece of paper and some time experimenting with trying new mediums and new techniques.  I LOVE it!

Creating with the mindset that it's just paper!

Over the course of March-June, we made a lot of 6 x 8″ backgrounds and  a few 12 x 12″ backgrounds.  I so love looking at these!  I will be binding these together and creating an art journal out of them.  I’m going to create some more of these as soon as I can get this sized paper again.  This is just mixed media paper and I’ve used all kinds of mediums on this…watercolor paints, metallic paints, gesso, texture paste, modeling paste, stencils, water, distress inks, distress oxides, art crayons, distress crayons, regular crayons, gel pens, sharpie markers, stamps, acrylic paints, textiles…the list goes on!

I’m having a blast and taking risks…but it’s only paper and my time.

Creating with the mindset that it's just paper!

This one background took over two hours.  It has so many layers.  It’s amazing!  I LOVE the way this came out.  What amazes me is that my project never looks like Vicki’s and it never looks like the projects created by the other participants either.  We share our projects on Vicki’s Facebook group page and it’s fun to see what everybody did.

We never know what materials Vicki is going to pull out and use that day and she often gets inspired to try something as her project evolves.  I don’t always have exactly what she has, but over the years I’ve done enough experimenting on my own to know what properties and reactions my supplies will have under different circumstances.  I’ve done a good job of pulling out something I can use instead of using exactly what she has.  She’s a graphic artist by education and by trade so her stash is way bigger than mine!  Everyone else participating along is in the same situation and we are all just going with it!

What a fun journey this has been so far!!!

Creating with the mindset that it's just paper!

This is my pile of creations or most of them.  Some are already  added to other albums!

I just finished the Good Life album and it is a stunner.  That was a 6 hour marathon YouTube Live class that I  got for purchasing the album kit from Vicki.  The first 3 hours Vicki just walked us through page by page cutting each paper.  We paperclipped all the pieces from one paper together and moved on to the next.  We took a bathroom and snack break and the next 3 hours we spent pulling out the pieces and paperclipping them together for each page of the album.  Then I rewatched the last 3 hours and put the album pages together on my own with the written instructions Vicki had created and that video where she showed what each page was intended to look like.

I’m not usually a fan of creating exactly what someone else has created.  I like to do my own thing, but this time I wanted to learn what Vicki was teaching.  This album is full of interactive pages and elements.  It has traditional scrapbook pages and the plastic sleeve page layouts.  It’s really a hybrid of all things memory keeping!  It is also beautiful.  I learned so much!  Creating with the mindset that it's just paper!

You can see that the cover has some stenciled texture paste on it and the layers of ephemera and paper!  WOW! Is all I can say.  Here you can see the triple flapped pages.  I now get how to use all those things that come in the 12 x 12″ paper pad collections.  I so get it now!

Vicki is the expert to learn scrapbooking from along with the mixed media!

I also have a pile of layouts below the album.  That was another kit I bought and Vicki did another 6 hour video which you can see on her YouTube page.  It’s her texture paste class.  We used her premade foundations paper backgrounds and added some mixed media details with her texture paste and stencils.  Then we cut out all the papers and paperclipped pieces together.  The final step was putting the layouts together.  I just have to add pictures and journaling and pop them into protective sleeves.

You can also see that I have a stack of 12 x 12″ backgrounds that I created and I will be using over the rest of the summer with Vicki.  She said she will be showing us what to do with the backgrounds…how to kick them up a notch with more layers and techniques.  All of her lives are still available on Facebook if you are interested in watching them.

I can’t wait to see what else we do!!Creating with the mindset that it's just paper!


I have all the things…the different kinds of ink, paints, stencils, gesso and pastes…you no doubt do too!  I’m so excited to be using them and now I just want to learn more about mixed media and other techniques.

Vicki has been so generous with her time doing all these live events on Wednesday afternoon and Friday evenings.  I am getting the benefit of her expertise and experience for free!  The value of that is priceless.  To be able to spend 2 hours or 6 hours with someone so talented and knowledgeable and create along with them is amazing!  I don’t even have to leave my house to do it.  I love this!  Her generosity with her time has been so appreciated!

Now I’ve been looking to discover who else is out there teaching this stuff!  I’ve got a list of people that I will be working my way through.  I want to take classes with all of them.  Yesterday I did the online class with Seth Apter. He did some techniques that Vicki hasn’t done.  I learned a lot about choosing colors and mediums as I create my own layers.  I also learned a lot about the tools and every day things he pulls out to create patterns and textures in his work.

Today, I will be doing a Tangle Love workshop with 2 creators.  I loved the doodling and I took a Zentangle class a year or so ago with a certified instructor and I just want to do more of it.  I want to learn how to create the patterns and doodle with abandon!

Hey…it’s only a piece of paper.  If you hate it, you can add another layer or 30 more layers.  You can also die cut pieces out of it and add it to other projects.

So here is my message for today:

  1. Try the things.  Experiment and use all that stuff you bought.
  2. Find the experts who are freely sharing their expertise to get you excited and to educate you about what you can do with all that stuff you bought.
  3. It really is only paper.  It takes very little of the mediums to create with.
  4. Everything looks better in the morning.  Walk away from your project and see how you feel about it tomorrow.
  5. Take a picture of it. You will notice what you consider to be the imperfections less in a picture. You will see the whole project in the picture and you won’t focus on details.
  6. You are only one layer away from magic.
  7. Embrace the imperfections.  You are learning and experimenting…wasn’t it fun and relaxing?

I keep all my projects in a Totally Tiffany paper sorter so I can pull them out and look at them. I will pick one to add more layers to or to create a scrapbook layout with…whatever I feel inspired to do.

Luckily, I’m not a perfectionist.  I have learned to embrace the imperfections and I have learned to create with an attitude that it really is just a piece of paper and I will be relaxed and happy when I’m done no matter what that paper looks like.  I just go with it!

Sometimes you start with just a piece of paper and make magic!

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