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Wanderlust Week 22 Shawn Petite – Finding your inspiration and story

For today’s post I am going to go through an art class I have just taken as part of Wanderlust 2021.  The tutor is Shawn Petite, based in the US, she is a longstanding teacher and creator and is a wonderful mixed media artist. 

The class is in the “poems” section of Wanderlust 2021. I am reasonably new to mixed media and I am still in the camp of not understanding layers and therefore thoughts of “why bother with layers” and “why isn’t it perfect in one shot” are high in my thoughts when doing these classes, however this class was a lot of fun to work through and I really like my end result, so maybe I am slowly coming to terms with the layers thing! In addition what Shawn teaches easily works with what I am learning from my favourite tutor Karen Campbell and her Hamburger style for mixed media.

I will guide you through a bit of a the process its as much of a note take for me as well as information for you as I forget what I’ve done so easily!


Shawn talked us through finding inspiration for a page from poems or quotes.  Resources are all over the place, books, magazines, and of course the internet.   I found a quote I really liked in a magazine, from this I found papers that  I could collage with, the colours are relevant to the quote but also that spoke to me. Amazingly, I also managed to choose similar colours to the tutor, but that’s the way it goes.

“Even when life is in chaos, you can still find pleasure in the little things”

Good Housekeeping Magazine February 2021

Layer 1

Using one page in my Wanderlust journal I started off by layering papers with PVA glue (I’m low on matt medium) I waited for it all to dry.

Layer 2

Using acrylic paints, choose an accent colour and add patches of it tonally to the page, don’t cover it all, just place it into areas that it looks like it needs.  As my collage was mostly in the yellows, I chose the purple from the flower in the lower left as my accent. Apply some reverse stencilling technique over the patches of paint to create texture and interest.  I chose a stencil and used a baby wipe to wipe away some paint. Continuing until I was happy and let it all dry.

Layer 3

Find a colour in the triad spectrum, I chose a blue-green and went through the same process, adding tonal splashes and reverse stenciling away. Dry it thoroughly. 

Layer 4

Using a stabilo all draw some lines – in this case it was to make tree branches. Then choose a couple of greens to paint in the branch and leaves, picking up some of the stabilo to add deeper tones. Again dry thoroughly. 

Layer 5

Knock it all back with some white gesso – I have to say I always struggle with this – why do all that work to block it out again, always confuses me, but once again I am proved wrong ultimately. Leave to dry (I used a heat gun and went and made a cup of tea!)

Layer 6

Back to collaging. This time we want a focal image and collage pieces to work as a piece in its own right. The class was using postcards and nature pictures. For my piece I found some paper, my quote and stamps on old book pages. Glue these all down with PVA glue. We also added more stabilo marks to accentuate the leaves, I also used a charcoal pencil to smudge and create shadow and I used some India ink which I watered down to add some areas of emphasis and drips. I dried it and then went over with a layer of Matt Medium to give it a final seal (I thought this was finished at this point!)

Layer 7 – Finish!

The last bit – I retouched some areas of shadow, and also used a distress crayon around the page edge to give it a finished feel.  The last step is to splash on some white paint, I had none to hand but I found a correction pen – so I just dabbed dots over a few places. And it’s done!!

I have to say that this is an 80 minute class, but took me way longer to complete but I LOVED this class and the final results.

FInal thoughts

I definitely want to revisit this technique again and create something “from my head” if that makes sense. I am good at following classes, just not so good at the self expression creating from my head requires. I love that I am now confident enough to just use my supplies and not worry that I don’t have the “exact” item the teacher is using. I know part of that is because I have a lot of supplies, but I can now mix and match and not worry about the results so much. I am better at just using and hoping, and I think that is where every budding artist wants to get to.

Until next time, thanks for reading.

Disclaimer: All opinions expressed here are my own. I paid for the products discussed, I received no payment and I am not affiliated in any way with any brand mentioned herein.

7 thoughts on “Wanderlust Week 22 Shawn Petite – Finding your inspiration and story

  1. Oh I really do love how it turned out and seeing the process. When I first began I didn’t get layers either. I am first and foremost an illustrator who adores copic’s and copic don’t do well with layers except with themselves or on a separate piece of paper. I have come to absolutely love layers! It hadn’t even occurred to me until reading this post that this has happened. I remember the first time I came across this layering thing and I was like huh? This first layer is good enough! So it’s kinda cool for me to notice now that I love layers!

  2. I love how you are honest 🙂 I understand the confusion about “why the fuck would I work in layers?” but once you unlock their magic, you can rarely go back to doing in any other way. I adore working in layers.
    I signed up for Wanderlust as well but honestly, did not carve any time to actually do the lessons yet. Again, accepting life happens 😉
    Thanks for sharing how your page came to life.

  3. I love the page you created!!
    I have a hard time with the pushing it back with gesso to.
    Sometimes it seems to work well and other times not so much.
    Maybe that means I’ve used too much.
    Thank you for sharing your insights to this class.

  4. Loved reading your post as I too have written about this lesson (and week 21 last week)!
    I think I am with you on this layer thing – sometimes I really like my initial layers and then they are hidden. And Stage 5 with the gesso – I was really in two minds – however I loved the muted effect later. I think originally my colours were two dominant.
    Anyway a good result for you – and now it’s on to Kate Crane…

  5. I like your finished piece Donna. I work in layers when I want to and not when I don’t though, and if I really love my background then I keep it despite the teacher saying “don’t fall in love with your background” lol. What I don’t like so much is when everything is completely covered and then it’s a what’s the point situation for me. I loved this lesson but haven’t had time to do it yet. I tend not to share the process from paid classes though just the end result just in case but I might take some photos along the way to remind myself.

  6. I love how your page turned out! Sometimes it’s hard for me to cover up a layer that I like, but I find you end up with more depth if you keep going, so I make myself do it. I am a few weeks behind. Really looking forward to getting to this lesson and the whole poetry section.

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