close-up of a mixed media art piece
A Journal cover by Creative Team member Nicole Austin
Posted Sep 13, 2017

I have a love for mixed media, art journaling and planning, so I thought I’d combine all of these interests into one beautiful, super-easy project!

 I like to keep an art journal to test out ideas for bigger projects or just have a space to play with my favorite colors, textures and images.  I also love to use a planner for my art business and personal calendar (to keep track of appointments, and my kids’ schedules, etc).  I thought it would be fun to make my own mixed media journal cover that I could also use as a traveler’s notebook-style planner.  I make my own notebooks/inserts using scrapbook paper and a mix of my favorite vintage and recycled paper. I use those as my art journal pages, and also as a personal collage paper pack that I can take on-the-go. I also put in some store-bought planner inserts that have the days of the week or monthly spreads or lists already printed so all I have to do is fill it in as I go.  

I liked the thought of having a mixed media planner that I could use for all my art and art business related planning, so I took some old canvas fabric I had and cut it to size to fit my planner/journal inserts and decorated it using my favorite Shawn Petite stencils and mixed media tools.

 For the cover, you’ll need a 9”x12” piece of canvas fabric, 18” of round elastic cord (one cord for each notebook you’d like to add), about 28” of sari ribbon (any thick, fancy ribbon or yarn will do), an awl, scissors and a ruler.  To decorate the cover, I started by simply scraping acrylic paint onto the cover.  After that layer dried, I added some spray ink through stencils. I prefer spray inks that are more permanent (such as Hero Arts, Maribou or Mr Huey’s) so that they don’t mix with each new added layer.

Next, I alternated layers of paint pen marks, splatters and drips while also adding images with stencils and Dylusions black paint.  Getting the balance right can be a little tricky.  However, here are a few things to keep in mind:  First, let each layer dry before adding the next.  Also, let go of any expectations that it needs to look “perfect,” especially in the beginning.  Adding bold words, numbers or other stenciled images in black paint can “push back” the crazy, colorful layers–but don’t over do it!  If you do, no worries, you can always come in again with a little more splatters and marks with the paint pens.  Also, once you like the way it looks, that’s a good time to stop.  You can also tone down a busy background with a simple wash of white paint which will mute the look of bright colors (unless you love bright, bold colors like I do!)  This can work with any of your favorite  color combinations.  Just keep opposite colors away from each other or on separate layers (example: don’t spray green next to red as it will create muddy brown.  BUT if you spray green and let it dry, you can sponge red paint next to it or over it for a nice contrast!)  

Most importantly, have fun!  I hope you enjoy this tutorial–I had a lot of (messy!) fun making it!

Enjoy the video!

Supplies Used:

Shawn Petite stencils: Words, Words, Words”,  “Pattern 1”,Numbers 1”, “Flower Gang 4”, “Garden 2”, and “Backgrounds 2”

Other products: Sharpie & Liquitex paint pens (red, aqua, fluorescent purple, fluorescent green, fluorescent blue, fluorescent pink, lime green, fluorescent orange, black and white), acrylic paint (aqua, fluorescent pink, red), Dylusions paint (black & white), Kwik Stix paint sticks, Ranger mini ink blending tool, spray inks (Hero Arts & Mr Hueys or Marabu), makeup sponge, various found items for stamping (ex: lego, round wood block, etc), old gift card, 9”x12” piece of canvas fabric, 28” sari ribbon, 18” black round elastic cord, awl, ruler, scissors. 

Be inspired, create and know that you are loved!


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Posted Sep 13, 2017
Headshot photo of artist

Hello there! I’m Shawn Petite

I’ve been teaching and creating for well over 25 years. About 15 years ago I found my art soul mate in mixed media, and it changed my life! I love the story that can be told by combining paint, texture, ink, paper and—really anything that you can imagine.

But what I’m truly passionate about is being your guide, walking with you step by step and helping you become your own hero in your creative journey.

Along my path, I’ve learned that the creating art also creates a healing space. Life can be messy and complicated and painful, but something about a paint brush can help heal your soul. I believe—no, I know—you are worthy of love, and I want to teach you to know that about yourself. Join me on this journey of art and inspiration!


  1. Becky Smith

    Enjoyed watching the process!

  2. Carole Morrison

    Nicole, what a beautiful cover!! So colorful!!! Thanks so much for sharing your techniques!!
    Carole from Chicago


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