Adding Words to a Canvas | Cherie Burbach | Skillshare
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9 Lessons (29m)
    • 1. Introduction Adding Words to a Canvas

    • 2. Alphabet Stamping 1a

    • 3. Alphabet Stamping 2

    • 4. Alphabet Stamping 3

    • 5. Script Handwriting

    • 6. Paper Words

    • 7. Stenciling

    • 8. Script Writing With a Paint Pen

    • 9. Conclusion

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About This Class

In this class, mixed media artist Cherie Burbach will show you her five (5) favorite ways for adding words to a canvas. Words are an important part of mixed media art, and adding them in a creative way can help them become more of a design element and something that adds visually to the final painting. 


This class consists of adding words in a variety of ways with minimal supplies. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Cherie Burbach

Artist, Writer, Poet


I’ve been an artist and writer since I was very young. Words and images have always been linked for me when it comes to expression and creativity.

I like to paint with vibrant colors that offer a positive, hopeful message. Sometimes this is done with whimsical animals, girls, or flowers and other times it combines words and poetry. For me, art is all about emotion.

I enjoy mixed media because it makes painting a new journey, one that is about uncovering the image I want to convey as much as it is creating it. Adding layers of paper and paint and words is a bridge between my art and writing, creating visual poetry that honors creativity in a new way.

I use ephemera along with acrylic paints, oil sticks, pastels, and ink. Very often words combine with the art in... See full profile

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1. Introduction Adding Words to a Canvas: Hey, guys, welcome to my skill share class about putting words on a canvas. I'm mixed media artist Sherry Burbach and I'm also a writer, and words have always had especially important meeting for me in my art. Words and images are equally important to me when it comes to creative expression, and I love adding words to my canvases, and I get asked a ton from people about how I go about doing it. I don't just have them digitally at the end, although that is one option you could use. I personally like to put the words right on the picture. So if you buy that original painting, you have those words on there in the way that I intended right from the start. And so I really like that way of doing mixed media work. And to me, it's fun to add words in a variety of different ways. For this E course, I'm gonna show you the five ways that I put words on a canvas most frequently and will use again a variety of simple supplies in a variety of techniques that not only allow you to put award on the canvas, but also add to your picture in a creative way, it becomes a design element. Words are not just something you tack on it the end, In my opinion, they are something that is part of the entire picture. So I'm gonna show you how I do that and how I place them in a way that helps add to the overall our image. Come join me for adding words to a campus. 2. Alphabet Stamping 1a: by far the way that I like Putting words on canvas the most is using alphabet stamps. I like the variety of the different fonts that are available for this particular project. I'm using three different types of alphabet stamps just like this. I use a variety of different kinds. You can see these little ones that you get. You see them sometimes in the craft store, like in the dollar bin. I get these all the time. They're great for adding just a few words in small print. I have a variety of different fonts. I have smaller case and and capitals. I have ah lot of different types of alphabet stamps, and I'm gonna show you three different ones in this project. So you can start with just one funds. You don't have to get a bunch of them like Ideo. The reason I do choose different fonts sometimes is I think it adds interest to your painting to have different types of wording and some warning that might stand out some wording that might be in all capitals. Some wording that might be cursive, some that will be, you know, more italics, eso. That's why I like using a variety of different types of stamps. But, you know, if you want to try just one l've of its stamp, please do. Um, also, I'm gonna be using my favorite type of ink, which is stays on if you're using a type of ink. The best type of ink is something that will be permanent and go over a lot of different surfaces, especially for doing mixed media art. You know, you might have paint. You might have Joel medium paper. So it's a lot of different things that your alphabet stamp as to go over and stayed on, and I use stays on the brand. And I very often used Jet black. That's the color that I used the most. Of course, you could use any color at all that works for you. Some things to keep in mind, as you're doing stamping. When you take that alphabet letter and you stamp it on your painting, it might move in your hand a little bit. It's a square little stamp, and it might have some ink on the edges, and so when you stamp it on there, you're gonna get a little bit of that edge on there, and when you stamp the entire word, you'll have little lines from those edges. That's something that at the end of your stamping, when you get it all on there, you have to look and see if it's something you like. It's an element you like and, you know, adds to the overall look of your picture, then that's fine. But if it's something that takes away from readability, Ah, you will have to clean that up and I'm gonna show you how I do that in this lesson, Um, you know, when it comes to stamping, I am a mixed media artist, and so I like the in perfect look off mixed media, which means that by nature it takes pieces of different things and creates a picture that is beautiful based on all these in perfect things. However, when it comes to stamping, my biggest reason for cleaning up lettering and making sure they stand out is just readability. There might be some stamps that I use just to add a subtle touch where I don't like someone necessarily to see the words right away. I want them to get close and look in close, and then see the words, and that might be a reason. I use something really small like this. But for the most part, when I'm stamping a word or phrase on ah picture, I want someone to be able to read it clearly and not struggle. And so that is why I stamp a certain way and then clean up that lettering at the ends. Always make sure like you do with any mixed media work, that every layer is dry before you move on. So if you are putting words on a painting, make sure every layer on your painting is completely dry before you start stamping. And when you're stamping a layer of words on your painting and let's say you want to go back and clean up some of the lettering or change a word which are able to do to wait until that entire layer is dry before you try and add more paint to it before you try and paint over it Or cleanup lettering because if it's not completely dry, you'll just smudge the ink that's on there. So in mixed media, any type of painting that you're doing always needs to dry. That's always a good rule 3. Alphabet Stamping 2: So I finished putting the letters on and pretty dry for the most part. And as you can see, um, some of these, especially the larger stamps slip. And so they get the kind of the glue oop of the ink on there. And then what happens also is, um, you know, the A, especially on this little small a. Can you see that? The little small A. He's really smudged bad, and I've used that stamp quite a lot. So it has ink like, jammed on their dried on there. So that's why that happens. And also, when I was putting the stamps on here, I thought wonderfully would be too big. But really, what I found was that fearfully was gonna be to being, And instead of moving it down another line, I decided to use the smaller font on there to say fearfully so I like the way that it turned out, and it just needs a little bit clean up because I'm not happy with some of the ink that fell off the stamp, which happens. It's very, very common, actually. And, um, you know, it just requires some cleanup. So actually getting a little ah brush. That kind of has a little bit of a tip on it. It's flat, though it's not a thin brush, it's a little, has a little thickness to it. And I'm gonna use that to clean up some of these areas must start. I have, you know, the same colors that I had on her dress the Conakry Dome. Read the orange, a little bit of the Indian yellow and also the Titan buff. And I'm going to start with the Titan buff because that wouldn't want to do first is lighten up the areas that received the most kind of, like splotch of black ink. I mean, a lightning first. And then I'm going to go over them a little bit with some of the background colors, like the red and the orange, and again for this particular project. Um, my goal in cleaning this up is to make it very readable. That is why I'm doing cleanup. So I'm going through wherever I see a splotch of ink like here I am going through an adding the white Um, my goal again is not perfection. Uh, because I don't like that, but I do want readability 4. Alphabet Stamping 3: So as you can see, I have gone over with the Titan buff and just highlighted all the areas that got the dark ink not going over with a little bit orange. And when I am adding the orange and I'm gonna add a little bit of the rand when I'm going over this, it's not to make it match perfectly because there's no way you can do that. And I'm not sure I'd want that anyway. Um, but it's really just to make this blend in so it looks like it's it goes as part of the picture. You know, there's a very fine line, um, with mixed media. It is a by design type of, Would you say messier in perfect, uh, way to do art? And by design? It's that way. So it's not like an accident. We're doing this on purpose. We're adding marks and we're adding texture and different layers were doing that on purpose . But it's a fine line between something like this where it's just, in my opinion, you're doing it on purpose because it this these pieces that are in perfect come together to create a perfect picture or, you know, a picture that in itself. When you take all these in perfect pieces of the picture become something beautiful because that is what, Artis, there's a difference between that and just kind of like, um leaving things messy just cause you don't want to fix some more because, you know, you're just going about in half have haphazardly. So I don't think that that distinction is always as obvious in the final product as it is in the process. Because I think in the final product, you might look at a picture of painting somewhere and go just doesn't just doesn't groove on you just doesn't, you know, appeal to you and you're not sure why. Sometimes it's the little things like that that make it not appeal to you. Um, and if you saw how it went together, maybe you go, Yeah, I don't like how that happened. Or so it's all these little interesting things with art that either draw you in or turn you off. So another reason I think already is so interesting. I'm adding a little bit of the red. Um, I added orange all over, so I kind of made it look like that, adding a little bit of the red, and I may go over it again with the Titan buff. So you can see the process I'm using is I'm going back. I'm using White than adding the orange than adding that quinacrine dome red, and I'm not trying to blend it in, but I am just trying to get it to a color that I think looks appropriate with the rest of the background for her dress. So I'm just adding final touches. And again, this is I'm really happy with the way that has turned out tonight, clean up nice. 5. Script Handwriting: another way I like to add wording to a canvas is by putting my own handwriting or script in paint, and for that I use regular acrylic paint. For the purpose of this lesson, I'm using black in regular body acrylic paint. Now this stuff is paid that you see a craft stores and hobby stores really everywhere. It's probably the most commonly available type of paint, and I use a brush that you know, gives me enough. Give that I can do the lettering. So I would say before you actually work on your painting to practice a little bit, try writing with script with a paintbrush and acrylic paint. Now acrylic paint is a little bit thicker, so you might even want us then it down a little bit with water. Or use a different type of acrylic that's called fluid acrylic that's already thin down. But, you know, try it with this thicker type because it's another way to add lettering and interesting script, which is a unique to you because it's your handwriting. I always choose this type of method if I want to highlight one specific word especially, and so I'll put you know, something in that were word in my script handwriting, and that way it'll stand out against Let's say, if I have stamping on their or I have some other type of warding on there, I'll usually use script handwriting not for ah, large amount of words, not for an entire phrase, but just for one word. And for the purpose of this lesson, I'm using the word live. 6. Paper Words: Another favorite method of mine when it comes to adding words, is cutting them out of old books, old magazines, just collecting them in different ways on and putting them on my canvas directly. I love collecting old books, and that way I have a variety of different sizes of print ah, variety of different bonds. And if you are somebody that doesn't collect a bunch of books, you can still do this method collecting, um, words out of magazines. Or, let's say, just printing them off on your computer and now be warned when you use that method when you're printing them off, that print has in continents. And so if you're going to then adhere it to the canvas, you have to be really careful because some of the ink that is on your printer page can come off a little bit. Now that might be a look that you like so experiments a little bit with that. When I'm using book pages and it hearing words in this way, I always use regular gel gloss. The brand that I like most is golden, but you can use whatever brand that you like. If you don't have this type of gel medium. Much punch sometimes works. Um, okay, it's it's not as good. But, you know, if you're just experimenting, you might want to try doing it. With that. I was using regular gel gloss and a foam brush. Sometimes I use a very tiny paintbrush that I'm going to just throw out, because then it's glue on there and it's hard to get off. But mostly I use this and a phone brush when I put the words on canvas. In this way, it's usually with a longer phrase. Very often, I like to combine this with another method, like stamping because it helps all those words stand out. I also like to combine different words from different books so that I have different colors of paper and different fonts that stand out. But you can experiment with that. This works really well for putting words on in a subtle way. Let's say you want to put it. Put a word on in you know your painting and then paint over it lightly. Were kind of blends in a little bit, but it's still visible. Works well for that, and it works well for doing at the end of a painting. When you wanna have a message on that painting when you're using gel, sometimes you might want to use gloves. It's not a bad idea and use of gentle touch. You know these little pieces of paper are very tiny and small, and you need just a little bit of job loss. It works really well, so you don't need a lot, and you want to make sure that you put gel gloss on the surface first. Depending on the thickness of your wording, you might want to put some on the back. Generally, I don't because if it's just a piece of paper, you know, I just put the paper right on where I have the job loss on the surface. And then I put one more layer over the top to protect it and again do it gently because until it is dry, it is movable, so use a gentle touch, and if you are going to paint over the wording at the end, make sure it's completely dry. 7. Stenciling: Another method I like using when it comes to adding words is stencil. Now, stenciling adds an entirely different look to your picture than other methods, and that's a good thing. You can vary. The stencils vary the fonts. I always use a paint pen with this, and I'm gonna show you how so I've got this girl that I have painted. She has a very wide dress area. Um, which to me is the perfect place to put words, and I'm gonna use stencils for that. What I have is a collection of just about three stencils in different types, and these are the hard kind of plastic stencils. They work a little bit differently than the flimsier stencils. These stencils tend to have a lot more give in that. You know, you can use a wider paint pen on them. You can move them around differently. But either either one works just fine. The way that I choose stencils is I really go by the funds that I like. And I get him on all different kinds of places, you know, online craft stores, Roman sales wherever I find them. If of C one that I like, um I pick it up. I also have a picked pen in a very small growth brush tip and pit pens are India ink that is in pen form. I like using paint pens for this type of project. If you didn't have this, you could, of course, use something like a permanent marker. But I really like the way paid pens look, and that's what I'm gonna use for this. So the phrase that I'm gonna put on here is her faith grows, so I'm gonna choose each word is gonna have a different funds, and I think I'll start with this font. It's a nice big fund when I'm laying the stencil over the painting. I'm really trying to envision all the words on here in order to fit it all on. Adding words of any type is just another part of the artistic process. And so, um, adding words with stencils is just another way to do them creatively. And you want to think it through very much the same as you did the rest of your picture as faras planning it out and in putting things on creatively. So the way that I am deciding that the wording is going to go Even though she's a little bit off to, you know, this way I'm gonna put the words straight in alignment with the bottom of the canvas. That is the way I'm choosing to do its own lining up the age. And I'm holding it down the stencil and just filling it in. And I'm trying to just get all the edges of the stencil and just trying to fill it in the entire weight. Now, there are different ways that you can vary this. Of course, you could just kind of loosely fill it in. You could just, you know, do lines. What kind of has this line look? Um and you know, you can vary it up depending on what your picture looks like, What your personal art style is for the purposes of this demonstration, I am just filling it in. So that is the stencil. And this little you'll notice on the e. This is just a personal pet peeve of mine. Some of the funds that I choose you know, they're stylized, and so they have this little e doesn't go all the way over. And you know what? I just put it over because a stencil is a guide for lettering. But you know, you can change it and make that e It is something different. And that's what I've chosen to dio. So I've got the her on their next I'm adding the word faith. And I've chosen this, um, metallic font. And so I want toe vary it a little bit. I want this word to have, you know, be on there in an interesting way. And since the wording is italics, I'm gonna put it off to the side so it's gonna flow a little bit this way. So it kind of flows mawr next to this word, but it's not on the same line and it goes down a little bit. And again, I'm using the same way same technique of just catching the edges of that stencil and filling it all in entirely. So I've got the faith written again. I'm kind of just beefing up these letters just cause I feel like it on the stencil her face . And I'm gonna use this stencil the very flimsy one to put the word grows. And again, I'm gonna follow this kind of, um, line of going down this way just because I think it. It looks, um, nice on here again. I'm gonna put this right underneath and Holden underneath here. Now, with a flimsy stencil like this, you don't have the edges raised like you do on the plastic sense ALS that I've just used. And you really gonna hold it firmer. It's a little bit trickier. Um, you know, it gives you a little bit more leeway. If, for example, you were using a thicker pen because you didn't have to worry about getting it in there. But at the same time, it also gives you more leeway. And so you have to be more careful, so her faith grows. Nice way to put some warning on there. Um, a stencil and a pig pen. 8. Script Writing With a Paint Pen: finally, another way, like using words on a canvas is with my handwriting using a paint pen. This works a little bit differently than the way that we did it with using acrylic paint in a paintbrush, you have different control with a paint pen. You can add more words usually because it doesn't take long to put on there, and it also adds a way for you to create something that becomes more of a design element. And I'm gonna show you how I do that. I have this partially completed painting that has some birds stuff appear a little bit of lay some hearts. It's got this light area in the centre, and I'm gonna use this to show how I do some hand writing on paintings from time to time. And I like doing this with a paint pen for the some. Choosing a Posca pen. It has a little bit of a thicker tip. It's not huge, Um, and it's not a special paint pen. It's not a calligraphy pen or anything like that. I just like using regular old paint pen and my hand writing for certain things, and I feel like that works best for using a phrase of some type or, you know, putting more than one word on there. Um, for this painting, since it has a bird and I'm using this for demonstration, I'm going to use something like, what should I write? She learned to fly. That sounds good. How about if I do that? So I am going to use those words on here. And the first time I use a pen like this, I just shake it up a little. You hear that sound? It has a mechanism in their that allows you to shake the paint in order to get it moving. And when I do that, it's ready to go. So I am going to just use my hand writing and I am doing it in a way that, um, is not meant to be, like, read like a letter. I'm not doing it in lines. I'm kind of just doing it artistically to just add some interest to the middle of the painting. So I've got the she and I'm in a flex. The learned to fly. Now I've got this wording on here. It's in my handwriting. I can also add some or here and there for added interests, and that's totally up to you if you decide to do that. But handwriting could be just another element on your painting, and it comes off looking different than if you did it with, say, acrylic paint in a paint brush. Ah, paint pan allows you more control than you could write more things on there. So I'm gonna write, Spread your wings over here, keeping with that theme flying and let's see Red wings over here. Let's do it this way. Got a lot of different surfaces. This is even some lace that I have on here, but the paint pen goes over really nicely with that. That would do it again. Up here, spread your wings. Now I can keep going on this. I could actually go all the way around. But what this does is create another visual element on your painting. It has wording on there. You can read it. It's in your handwriting, so it's unique. But then, at the same time it has some interest in it because we have the words going different ways , and I feel like when you move away from this painting, especially if you were to view it from a distance. This would just be a design element. You might. I might not even realize that it says something on there. And as you get closer, you realize that there are words on here, so it's another way to add wording to your picture in an interesting way. 9. Conclusion: to me, words are an equal part of creative expression, along with the paint colors I use and the images and everything else. And so I hope you enjoyed using the's different techniques about putting words on your canvas. I hope that you continue to experiment with, um, one final tip is to really change them up and try combining these methods on a canvas. Use the stamping with the stenciling with your handwriting, you know, varied up and see what kind of images come up in in combination with the words. See if these types of mixed media pictures then speak to you in a different way. They might. And you know what? Sheer your creations in our class and thanks again for painting with me.