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Choose a theme to help you find inspiration for a painting: Ikebana

ikebana mixed media painting process

mixed media flower painting on canvas


Mixed media on canvas

12 x 12 inches

Sometimes it can be difficult to find the inspiration to start a new painting. You can choose a theme to help you get started, for example my love for Japanese designs was an inspiration for a new mixed media flower painting with a Japanese flair.

What inspires you?

Here are the steps you can take to find inspiration for a mixed media painting

You will need

  • Canvas, I used 12 x 12 inches pre-streched canvas
  • Krylon workable fixative
  • Acrylic paint, I used Pebeo in titanium white and Payne’s grey
  • Nupastel color stick in black
  • Krylon workable fixative
  • Blue Sakura Micron marker
  • White Oil Sharpie marker
  • Watercolor paint, I used Yarka watercolors.
  • Fluid Acrylic, I used Liquitex Ink in blue
  • An Ink Pen

Painting the abstract background

watercolor on canvas

It is way more easy to start from a background that is not plain white if you want to paint from imagination.


Here an abstract background is painted with watercolors that have be mixed wet into wet on the canvas.

Once the watercolor has dried, I spray it with Krylon workable fixative, so I will be able to paint on top of that watercolor layer with white acrylic without the watercolor paint tinting the white.

Looking for shapes in the abstract design

outlining shapes with nupastel crayons

Once you have a starting point, that is a background, think about your them and try to isolate shapes that fit that theme. For example with my Japanese theme I was looking for a shape that would more or less look like an orchid. I used a Nupastel color stick to outline those shapes.

Painting the negative space in white Acrylic

Painting the negative space in white acrylic

Once you have outline the shapes that fit your theme, paint everything else (negative space) in white acrylic, or a color of your choice.

Painting the negative space in white acrylic

Your painting will look something like that after the first step.


Adding contrast with a touch of Payne’s grey

Adding contrast with Payne's grey acrylic paint

You can add a few more colors by painting over a few areas. Think about what colors would fit well with your theme and try to keep them a bit transparent so you can see a bit of the texture underneath.

Adding contrast with Payne's grey acrylic paint

Adding designs with markers and pen and ink

Adding designs with markers sakura micron

Then start to add details to the shapes you kept, it will make it easier to guess what they are.

Adding designs with markers sakura micron

If like me you like patterns, you can also add them with markers.

pen and white ink copic

You can also use a pen and ink or fluid acrylic to add patterns on top of the watercolor or the acrylic.

teal ink and pen

Try to keep your pattern designs consistent with the theme you chose.

White oil sharpie marker

A White oil sharpie marker can be used to add white highlights and designs.

diluted fluid acrylic applied with a brush

Diluted fluid acrylic can be applied with a brush on top of the marker designs.

mixed media flower painting on canvas

The finished painting:


Mixed media on canvas,

12 x 12 inches

 What theme would inspire you to paint from imagination?

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