“The State of Hope” Gel Printed Flag Project for Women’s History Month by Julie Anderson

Women’s History Month in March is an annual celebration honoring the contributions of women to American history, culture, and society. To honor the many women working to make the world a better place, I’ve used image transfers made on my gelli pad to make a large mixed media painting of the American flag on canvas. 

In this post, I will show you how I made the image transfers on tissue paper and deli paper and collage them onto canvas, but of course you don’t have to make a giant flag! You can incorporate these collage techniques into your own paintings if you’d like. 

I’d love to see what you come up with on your own. Please tag me on Instagram @juliejulieart with any of your mixed media with image transfers or other gelli prints! 

Before you start, it’s good to know that image transfers can be tricky, and many don’t turn out, and it can be frustrating. It can take awhile to get the results you want sometimes, so don’t be too hard on yourself if the first batch doesn’t work. It’s not you, it’s it! 

I know that Brigit Koopsen has made some image transfer tutorials here  and Johanna Lawson has great ideas here, so feel free to check those out, too.

Julie’s Image Transfer Tips and Tricks:

  1. Add Acrylic Medium: add a just a bit of slow drying acrylic medium to the paint, to help keep the pad from drying out and the paper from sticking. You can also put a dot or two of acrylic medium on your gel pad and roll to cover with your brayer.
  2. Dark Skin Tones: Mixing a bit of blue or purple into the black paint makes it easier to get a good print of darker skin tones. It’s good to practice on the pictures that aren’t your very-most-favorite first, because it takes some trial and error to get the colors correct and amount of paint needed to pull a successful print. 

Making the Image Transfers:

  1. Dab some paint onto your gellipad and roll it out with your brayer.
  2. Place the magazine photo face down onto the pad, put a scrap paper on top, and roll across it with your brayer.
  3. Working quickly, peel the magazine photo off the pad and place the deli paper (or tissue paper) directly on top of the image on the gellipad, and smooth it into the pad with your hands.
  4. Peel the paper off the gellipad and see if some magic happened!

Collaging the prints onto the painting:

Here’s the process I used to create my flag painting:

  1. Paint a white base coat onto the canvas. I used some leftover house paint, much cheaper for a large surface!
  2. Draw lines for tape with yardstick, and tape off the stripes. I found a good tutorial on how to draw an American Flag to scale on WikiHow here.
  1. Paint the red lines, several coats each, let them dry between coats, then peel off the tape. Who doesn’t love a good tape peel?
  1. Tape off the area for the blue paint, and paint several coats. A small foam roller used to paint indoor walls is helpful for large areas.
  2. Trim the prints to the desired size for your painting.
  1. Before you glue them down, you can pin them to the canvas with straight pins to see how they look, and easily rearrange to get the composition you want.
  1. Using the foam brush, add wallpaper paste to the spot on the canvas you want to place the print. Place the print on the canvas, and with a bit of paste on your finger tips, smooth out the wrinkles. 
  1. Let everything dry. Feel free to embellish the painting with other mediums at this point if you wish (stamps, markers, glitter, etc.) Of course you can add stars!  [photo of finished painting below keep scrolling]

Ta da! I can’t wait to see what you make, and please tag me on Instagram! 

Happy printing, 

– juliejulie


  • Magazine photos – I’m using Vanity Fair and Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar, mostly. The higher quality glossy paper works best. 
  • Gelli Arts® gel printing plate
  • Acrylic paint
  • Brayer
  • Slow drying matte medium
  • Wallpaper paste or liquid matte medium as “glue.” Thin Elmer’s glue could work too, but I haven’t tried it. 
  • Containers to mix paint in is helpful to get a consistent color for prints.
  • Masking tape to tape down your gellipad if needed, and to make stripes or lines on the canvas.
  • Foam brush to apply paste/glue works best.
  • Deli paper, tissue paper. 
  • Scissors or a paper cutter to trim the image transfers.
  • A canvas or heavy paper to collage your image transfers onto.


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