Mixed Media Canvas – Keep Your Heart Open


I’ve wanted to make a canvas like this one for a long while now, following the style of Anna Dabrowska, AKA Finnabair.  I am always inspired by Anna.  She teaches all over the world and I sure hope someday she makes it to New York. I get lost admiring her designs… the details are just incredible.  I used a 9X12 canvas as my base and pulled out tons of Maya Road goodies from my stash, along with Dylusions Ink Sprays, Ranger Color Wash, Studio 490 Art Parts, Texture Fades, Idea-ology, Stencils, Paints, Prima Flowers, Fibers, Ribbons, Papers, Gesso, Matte Medium, and loads of embellishments. Whew!

Click on any picture to enlarge. I used an old canvas that never developed into anything I liked.  It didn’t matter what was on it because it would all be covered up with gesso.  I started by adhering ribbons, fibers, corrugated cardboard and paper scraps, along with a sturdy Art Parts branch:


Already with a light coat of gesso it’s starting to look like it will end up okay:


More gesso, chipboard and wood hearts and strings, and the start of my heavily embellished lower left corner:


The first look after Color Wash and Ink Sprays were added:


After adding a few more flowers and wood embellishments, I used the water brush to color with Dylusions Ink Sprays under some exposed areas:


This is my favorite section.  A Maya Road window over lace and topped with Idea-ology and flowers.


I embossed Maya Road chipboard letters with Tim Holtz’s new Ruler Texture Fades:


Then I painted them blue, inked the edges and coated them all with Rock Candy Distress Crackle Paint.


Next I coated my Art Parts bird with book paper and inked it up with three of my favorite blue Distress Inks, then edged it with Black Soot and added an eye with Ranger Enamel Accents.


I used several stencils with different mediums, from ink to gesso to matte medium. I sprayed the Kraft journaling card with Color Wash and stenciled with ink on it.


I’ll enter this at Creative Every Day, the texture challenge at The Artistic Stamper and the Anna challenge at Snazzy’s.  Thanks for visiting and for getting through such a photo-heavy post.  If you have any desire to try a canvas like this I urge you to go for it!  Lots of drying time but such a cool dimensional outcome.  You’ll be glad you did.




Your comments are very much appreciated!


  1. Wow! Marjie
    You are one very motivated lady! I Love your style and your inspiration. You have indeed accomplished a lot in such a short span of time. It’s so nice to meet another kindred spirit~
    This mixed media piece with the bird is so very gorgeous!

  2. Love it! Absolutely love it!

  3. LOVED seeing your process on this. All that texture–oh my!!!! Love the sentiment and the bird together–PERFECT!

  4. This canvas is stunning, Marjie! I love all the textures and colors.

  5. ohh so cool! Love your version of Anna’s technique! Still so you! Hugs, Sandra

  6. I love here style as well and have been playing with it! This canvas is a real eye catching WOA. Love all the elements and great texture! Birdiful!

  7. Oh Marjie! this might be my favorite piece ever! I love that this little bird is singing the dawn out of the darkness. It’s such a powerful piece, and just reverberates with life and joy and hope. The texture is amazing, of course. But once again it’s your use of color that just has me entranced. I could gaze at this for an hour or more and keep seeing something new.

  8. Wow, I’m missing words, that’s a gorgeous piece of art. Just fantastic.

  9. Thanks for playing at The Artistic Stamper with your fabby canvas….it’s full of super texture 😉
    xoxo Sioux

  10. Marjie…your website is so cool! This is my first visit to the new look and it’s awesome! I love your canvas, too. Your use of Finnabair’s technique looks really wonderful! I love the bright colors of your canvas and it’s dimensional design. I also wanted to thank you so much for leaving a comment on my blog. That means a lot to me. <3 Candy

  11. Awesome canvas. Love it … the colours are a feast for the eyes ans I love all the ’embellishments’. Suzanne x

  12. Me being as I am and one not to delve my big toe into the colour pot too often, I adored the stage when it was all pale and muted however the end result is definitely “Marjie Art”!
    Astonishing texture and it all works to create a story.

  13. Gorgeous canvas Marjie! Love all the textures and great colours.

  14. It’s totally fabulous Marjie, so inspiring! I’m so lucky to be taking a class with Anna at the end of August, can’t wait!
    Alison x

  15. Hi Marjie, I love this beautiful creation! Your use of colour never ceases to impress and I love the little window. Hugs, Anne x

  16. Beautiful, the Maya Road window area is my favoutite part too xx

  17. Sorry for my delayed comment, i’m away at the moment.
    Thank you for taking part in the snazzy challenge, Your piece is just gorgeous, great texture and love the embossed lettering

  18. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Great job Marjie. Really love everything (right down to the detail of embossing the letters with Tim’s ruler folder ). The color is fantastic and I especially love the texture of the left hand corner.

  19. Amazing detail Marjie!! My favourite piece of yours EVER!!! Well excuse me while I go back and study this again in great detail!!!

  20. Hello Marjie…what a great and creative artwork…amazing details and use of colours…PIN!…love it 🙂

    kind regards, Alie 🙂

  21. Marjie, just gorgeous! I love Finnaibair also (and will meet up with you in class if she ever teaches in NY :)) and can see her iinfluence, but I love how this looks still very much like a Marjie Kemper piece. I could tell immediately this was yours when I was scrolling down on my facebook. I love how the cardboard turned out especially.

  22. I love it!! Fabulous texture and color. Thanks for sharing the transformation.

  23. this is absolutely stunning, love all the details you added and the colour is so much alive

  24. Wow, this is beautiful Marjie. I love what you have done with the old canvas you had, it’s stunning!!

  25. This one jumped at me..I love this. sooo beautiful!
    susan s

  26. Fantastic layering Marjie. Love seeing the process and how your piece evolved and how neutral it was and what depth of colors you have achieved not to mention layering of elements. xox

  27. Just an amazing canvas, Marjie! I love how, with color, you have created a stage for your beautiful bird! I have to admit, too, that I love the lace through the window! I “blew this up” and was able to spend many minutes just examining the wonderful detail. Definitely a “stunner!”

  28. Fabulous!!! Mixed Media Canvases are my favorite projects to do and I’m also a big fan of Anna 🙂

  29. A fabulous canvas, Marjie – springing off from Anna’s inspiration, but so clearly “Marjie” too! I love the window over the lace too, but also those amazing embossed letters – what a great detail, and the colours are so rich and warm, with such great texture on the canvas – a big old WOW from me!
    Alison xx

  30. BEAUTIFUL!!!

  31. Susan Schultheis says:

    WOW Marjie, just a beautiful work of art!!! Yes, I love Anna too and follow her (and you) religiously. I have asked her several times to come to the East Coast of the USA. I think I would travel just to take a class on this side of the world. I have done a few pieces ala “Finn” and very happy with a few of them. I watched Drew (Crafty Happiness) do a video on a journal cover (Prima) that really made me happy. Hope you don’t mind if I borrow some of your inspiration and technique to create my own canvas!

  32. How different it looks as you add the different layers! All the textures sing on this!

  33. Love your canvas. All the dimension is fabulous.

  34. This is stunning. I love the subtlety of all your colors and how the cools on the ends fade into the warms in the middle. Your technique is so masterful and yet what shines through is your heart. Just beautiful.

  35. Love the design and choice of colours for this canvas Marjie. So vibrant and choc full of interest. Hugs, Jenny x

  36. This looks so great Marjie! Great colours and love the texture and embellishments!!

  37. Absolutely gorgeous, Marjie!

    Lucy x

  38. This is GORGEOUS!! LOVING the colors and love love love love that quote!!!