Introduction To Mixed Media

You’ve probably heard about mixed media art more than once. Have you ever wondered what this term means? If you want to start creating mixed media projects, maybe my article will introduce you to them. I am not a professional artist, but a self-taught artist. Therefore, everything I write will be based on my experience and knowledge.

Let me start with what mixed media is.  It is a combination of two or more media and techniques in one project. 

Well, but what are these media and how to mix them?

When writing media, I do not mean mass media such as radio and television. It is about artistic media.

What is artistic media?

These are all kinds of products used by artists and creators to make specific projects. The word medium can denote a type of paint, such as acrylic or watercolor. Although these are also products that we add as an addition or protection for a given job.

I have done the research and as it turns out, the media are divided into two groups – dry media and wet media.

  1.  Dry media is all that is not water-based and does not need water to activate (mainly these are the bases on which the work is created): paper, blotting paper, cardboard, canvas, wood, crayons, dry pastels, glitter, embossing powder, mica flakes, microspheres and all kinds of other additives.
  2.  Wet media are all those that are water-based or water-activated: acrylic paints, watercolors, mists, pigments, powder paints, gelatos crayons, oil pastels, inks, adhesives, gel media, gesso, waxes, structural pastes, varnishes, etc. .

Everyone who creates in this technique uses different media and everyone has their preferences. You don’t have to use all of them and you don’t have to use the most popular either. You can start with what you have at home, most of us, having children, have access to media such as watercolor paints, pastels, crayons, paper, etc.

The most important thing is to achieve the desired effect, i.e. have fun. Yes! Mixed media is fun. After all, this technique is experimented with, and additionally, you can: paint with your fingers, splash, glue paper, mix colors, implement visions.

As I mentioned before, it is not only media mixing, it is also mixing techniques. You can use collage, decoupage, painting, drawing, assemblage and much more. This technique had its beginnings in the art of art quite a long time ago. Leonardo da Vinci already mixed pastels with various drawing media.

What projects can you use mixed media in?

I guess in all of them Yes! It all depends on your idea and its implementation. The basic ones are LO (layout), painting, ATC, art journaling, altering and decorating various objects or even creating jewelry.

Examples of mixed media projects:

How to start experimenting with mixed media techniques?

If you have ever performed decoupage, or added mists or pearls to cards, the first “cats behind fences” are already behind you. 

As you already know, mixed media is a mixture of techniques and media, so just experiment and play with the media in various variants. It’s best to do it in an art journal. Have fun creating layers, using media and accessories, and having fun. Don’t forget to dry the layers if you don’t want the colors to mix properly (so that the slush doesn’t come out). 

Of course, to speed up the work, you can use a heater to dry the layers.

Are there any rules in mixed media?

Yes and no. There are some guidelines that make the work more valuable.
What are these guidelines?

First of all, combining media and techniques – quantity does not matter. It is important to combine wet and dry media. When considering the mixing of dry and wet media, pay attention to which media are water-reactive. 

Therefore, it is important to protect the water-reactive layers from further work with wet media, so as not to lose the effects of your work. Medium gel is most often used for this purpose. It is also important to protect the substrate, i.e. using a paint primer (gesso). Use the appropriate adhesive for the given products, e.g. medium gel for metal. 

Accessories should be selected adequately to the style of work, e.g. steampunk = cogs and all kinds of industrial patterns. Of course, do not forget about the rules for the composition as well.

Some of my tips for creating mixed media.

  • Take care of your tools and accessories – clean stencils / masks, spatulas and brushes after using them.
  • Always have a wet cloth or wet wipes handy.

Hint: colored wipes, after drying, you can use them in mixed media projects.

  • Work with multiple layers to keep your work interesting.
  • Create all kinds of textures and structures.
  • Use the media you buy so that they don’t get wasted while drying up.
  • Don’t generalize and think this technique is difficult. Believe in yourself and in your skills!
  • Don’t forget to tag the people you were inspired by, but most of all create your own style.

In conclusion, I would like to add that the work performed with this technique does not have to be perfect. Remember that it is about experimenting, so don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Experiment! Be innovative! Most importantly: Don’t compare yourself to others!

Let me know if my article inspired you to create mixed media projects. I wonder if you found something here that you did not know, or maybe there is something I do not know – be sure to let me know about it in the comments section!

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