Mixed Media Artwork

This blog post covers the following topics

  • What is mixed media artwork?
  • What are the types of mixed media art?
  • What are mixed media materials or tools? 
  • What are some techniques used in mixed media? 
  • What is the best paper for mixed media or How to Select the Right Media Paper for an Art Project
  • Why is mixed media important? 
  • What are the Benefits of Working with Mixed Media? 
  • Dos and don’t of mixed media? 
  • How do you start mixed media art? 
  • What is the Difference Between Mixed Media and Multimedia Art? 
  • What’s the difference between Mixed media art and Collage art?
  • Recommended mixed media books? 
  • What is interesting about mixed media art? 

 What is mixed media artwork?

Mixed media is a visual art form that combines a potpourri of different creative medium in a single artwork, composition of mostly two or more art forms. 
 
For example, if you draw with ink, then paint over it with watercolors,  add your favorite photography print and then add some opaque medium like acrylics or oils and highlight it with colored pencil or color gel pens – that’s mixed media!
Mixed Media Blog
Materials used Daniel Smith watercolour sticks, little birdie stencil, brustro fineliners, mont mate modeling paste, ecoline watercolor inks, brustro gouache, camlin oil pastels and uniball white pen.

Its all about liberating and understanding that anything and everything has the potential to be created into art. There are absolutely no boundaries between different art forms. 

What are the types of mixed media art?

Broadly speaking mixed media can be classified into distinct types

Mixed Media Blog

Collage: In this mixed media, two-dimensional materials like fabric, paint, ink, ribbons, paper, ribbons, newspaper trimmings, photographs etc.  Is attached onto a surface made from a different or same material, can be a canvas, paper, wood, cardboard, etc. This is more spontaneous, something unplanned and uncontrolled. More on it as you read further.

 
 
Assemblage: It is a 3d variant of the collage. Elements arranged entirely in 3-Dimentional format of objects or sculptural form in a quirky and unique way. The objects like metal pieces, wooden blocks, hardware, and cardboard boxes can be the sturdy base, whereas the lightweight objects like wires, plastic bottles, buttons, etc. could be further adorned. 
 
Found object art: There are objects that are found and used by artists and integrated into artworks. I tend to save everything I find pretty and make something prettier out of it. 
 
Altered books: Here a book is used as the base. Reusing a book by modifying it, physically cutting and pasting pages to change the contents of the book or using the book as contents for an art piece. Eg- art journal. 
 
Sculpture– As surprising as it may sound, sculptures is categorized under mixed media, as artists choose a base material  such as wood, wire, metal, glass, and even ice & the additional materials can vary from any objects that’ll bring pattern, shape, or color to the artwork.
Mixed Media blog
Using fevicryl mould it and other medium over it for the pop of colors.
Mixed Media blog
Art journaling– It is a way to record different events, memories, and thoughts by adding the artistic touch to it on a journal. You can use a wide variety of concepts and techniques in a mixed media art way to represent your thought process. This version of art journaling incorporates different items, like postcards, concert tickets, stickers, washi tape, decorative paper, or pictures from magazines. 
 
Installation art– Mixed media art which often uses an ample space like a room, public spot, or a gallery where a viewer can engage with the artwork and evoke participation to feel and experience the artwork personally. 
 
Wet and Dry Media: Wet media such as paints and inks that has some sort of liquidity. Dry materials, like pencils, charcoal, pastels, crayons, lack this inherent liquidity. Using wet and dry media in harmony to create interesting effects is considered mixed media to create a finalized piece. 
 

What are mixed media materials or tools? 

The best way to begin a mixed media artwork is to gather everything you have in your art Corner and go wild with the ability to add and amend whatever it seems your painting needs or can use.
 
You don’t need all the stuff in the world. While there are an endless variety available, you’ll likely need only a few tools for each artworks. Ultimately. It’s up to you and your style to select the tools that will best serve your artistic freedom to compose a painting that you want to curate. Every house with a kid has a few elements that can be used for the beginning stage of mixed media art and can be upgraded as and when you progress in your journey. 
 
If you’re still looking for the right tools to get started, here are a few that help us get the creative juices flowing.
 
Mediums like Acrylics, Watercolor, Inks, Soft Pastels, Oil pastels, Graphite, Colored pencils, Watercolor pencils, Permanent markers, Fine liners or Brush pens, Gesso, Modelling paste, etc can be used and applicators like Paintbrushes, Straws, Plastic knives, Sharp edges tooks like toothpick or Combs, Spatula, Sponges, Bubble wrap, Ear buds, old credit cards, etc could be used to apply the medium on the base providing the desired texture or layers. 
 
Household and Low-Cost Items such as leaves and flowers from the garden, Vintage old paper, frames, old wedding cards, fancy boxes, coffee papers are pure gold for collage-based mixed media artworks.  Personal items, old letters and cards, recycled papers, and newsprint, fabric swatches, can all be collaborated and made really pretty things that can satiate an artistic soul. Glue, scissors and adhesives are required for collage and 3d mixed media artwork. 
Mixed Media Blog
Different Types of Traditional Painting and Drawing Styles that can be collaborated to create a mixed media art piece are as follows. These can be used as the tools to be used in collaboration with other medium in layers and create an art piece that speaks for itself. 
 

Oil Painting

  • usually contain linseed oil 
  • dries slower than others which can be an advantage. 
  • opaque but can be made transparent with the use of medium. 
  • requires Underpainting 

Acrylic painting

Mixed Media Blog
 
  • water-resistant after drying.
  • can add layers or textures to artwork
  • enhancing glossiness and giving it depth. 
  • different mediums can be added to achieve different results such as glossy finish, matte finish or slowing the drying time. 
 

Watercolors

Mixed Media Blog
staedler watercolor pencils, Daniel Smith watercolor sticks, ecoline watercolor inks, Camlin watercolor brush pens, watercolor tubes, watercolor sheets and watercolor cakes in pans. 
 
  • playful for beginners.
  • Endless color palette. 
  • transparent watercolor.
  • ideal for capturing the change of light.

Charcoal

Mixed Media Blog

materials used brustro charcoal pencil, knead able eraser, painters tape, brustro charcoal powder, white charcoal pencil and camel compressed pencil

oldest art mediums used for drawing.
 
  • Made of powdered organic material bound with wax or gum. 
  • Easily erasable. 
  • Recommended to apply some fixatives to ensure the artwork’s longevity.

Pastels

Mixed Media Blog
  • consist of paint pigment similar to oil paints and a binding material. 
  • combine different pastels depending on the effect. 
  • Available in soft pastels, hard pastels, pan pastels, oil pastels  or water-soluble pastels. 
materials – soft pastels, oil pastels, metallic brush pens, uniball pens and gouache(opaque watercolors) 

Chalk

  • Used for sketching
  • usually comes in three colors, black, white, and sanguine. 
  •  Now comes in variety of colors, and in a liquid paint too

Graphite pencils

  • used for sketching, outlining, or shading. 
  • convenient art medium.
  • Can be remade by erasing. 

Colored pencils

Mixed Media Blog
Is expressive, deep, and luminescent.
  • can make photographically realistic pieces of art.
materials in the picture colored pencils, Alcohol inks, acrylics, calligraphy pens and nibs, distress inks and stamps
 

Pen and ink

Using a pen for outlining and adding color 
Eg. Pen art, hand lettering and calligraphy. 
 
Types of pens like graphic pens, fountain pens, drafting pens.
 
  • The balance in the ratio of the blank spaces and the ink-filled spaces on paper makes it interesting 
Other techniques like heat embossing, gesso resist, stamping, die cutting, photo altering, stencilling, fiber layering, texture or modelling paste, mixed media sands and stones, gel mediums, gold/silver flakes or mica flakes, etc can be mixed, combined or individually used in mixed media art. 

What are some techniques used in mixed media?

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here the layers of old novel papers were mod podged together and watercolor inks and colour were spilled on a wet on wet area. And layers were build over it, using white acrylic, gouache, stamping and some fine liners 

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Blocking in– Brushes come in a number of shapes and fibre body. Different fibre gives a different result. Using broader brushes for the initial layers and then using detail brushes by the end of the process helps in blocking the painted areas. Different strokes and different tones of colors in subsequent layers help in the color harmony too.
 
Building up texture– Brushes leaving the brush marks gives a very distinct look to the paintings, however many other things could be used to give texture to the painting such as salt, egg shells, comb marks, or even sand. The detailed list is given in the supplies list for mixed media
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Layering– Nothing gives more depth and realistic look to a painting than the layer technique. If you are in a hurry and wish to finish the painting in one layer, it will not be as appealing as you have worked upto the layers from time to time. One free tip-use an old toothbrush to spatter your image with paint.
 
Dry brushing-the strokes that a dry brush leaves is remarkable. It is a method of applying color that only covers a previously dried layer of paint to a limited area. Add very little paint to your brush  with minimum water and apply it with very quick, directional strokes. Eg rocks or grass texture 
 
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This is more spontaneous, something unplanned and uncontrolled. More on it as you read further. In this painting, I’ve secured the writings of my 5 year old daughter and converted into a mixed media art to frame and cherish. Using dry brush techniques on it to give it depth and contrast.
 
Sgraffito– Removing paint in the art can be as important as applying it. Using sharp tools to remove the top layer to expose the under painting is called as sgraffito. Eg- to paint grass, hair or wrinkle
 
Glazing-Glazing is the process of laying a coat of transparent paint over on a dry painting, and it’s used for intensifying shadows and changing color. Watercolor uses this technique exclusively for various effects. 
 
Painting with mediums-Mediums is added to paint to vary its consistency, drying time and texture.  There are dozens of mediums available online with each having its unique quality

What is the best paper for mixed media or How to Select the Right Media Paper for an Art Project?

There are as many options for mixed media paper as there are for various mediums. Choosing the right paper is key to the flourishing outcome. 
 
Paper Weight-The basis weight of a paper is based on the weight of  500 sheets cut to a standard size-meter square, of that paper. The heavier the paper weighs the more appropriate it is for use with wet media. The weight of your pads paper should always corresponds with the medium you are using.
 
Types of Art Paper Surfaces
 
Based on texture
 
Hot-Pressed Paper: this paper has been hot rolled with iron during production to create an extremely smooth surface. The smoothness allows for the medium of pen and ink and painting very fine details.
 
Cold Pressed Paper: Has Light texture & is the most common of all types because of its versatility . It reflects light well and retains the transparent quality of watercolors. A light grain makes it easier to achieve details.
 
Rough Grain Paper: An effect close to that of handmade paper that is It is extremely textured. This rough grain paper helps to achieve valuable effects of texture such as landscapes and reacts beautifully with granulation paints.
 
Based on the ingredient – 
 
100% Cotton Paper: The cotton makes the paper highly resistant as well as enhancing its ability to absorb liquids and stay wet for longer time. As a result, 100% cotton paper is particularly suitable for watercolor washes.
 
Cellulose paper-this type of paper is made by the green plants and has certain qualities that doesn’t help in blending & absorption of pigment. It also has visibility of brush marks, dries faster, creates unnecessary blooms and water puddle, and thus not recommended for mixed media art that involves wet medium. 
 
Acid Free Paper: Acid free paper guarantees resistance, stability and the longevity. Only paper manufactured using acid free materials will retain its original quality, whiteness over time and avoid turning it pale. 
 
Mixed media is an art form that uses a variety of media in a single artwork. One finished piece uses several mediums such as ink, colored pencil, pigmented colors and gouache. The quality mixed media pads serve as an excellent surface for complex, layered, and detailed artwork. 
Remember certain mixed media pads can take most of the washes efficiently- together. But choosing a pad that suits your style shall give a pleasing result-
 
Mixed Media Pads for Acrylic Paint Projects-While canvas is the most common choice for acrylic paint projects, paper can be a more affordable, easy to store and versatile option. Both smooth and rough papers can stand up to paint, but more textured paper requires more pigment or color to cover the surface. Just make sure you use Heavy weight paper as it allows more manipulation and layering, while thinner paper is more likely to tear or buckle because of the wet medium. 
 
Mixed Media Pads for watercolor projects-There are three types of paper that work well with watercolor paint: hot-press, cold-press, and rough. All three options are made for water-based media depending on your style and outcome. 
 
Mixed Media Pads for Pencil & Colored Pencil Projects-Both graphite pencil and colored pencil can be applied to a wide range of media pads irrespective of the thickness of paper. Nevertheless, For projects that are anticipated to require a lot of shading, blending, or erasing, and collaboration of different medium, a heavier weight paper is the better option.
 
Mixed Media Pads for Dry and Oil Pastels-Dry and charcoal pastels are dusty and powdery, and will be easiest to control on a rough or “toothy” paper. Like a paper with a lot of texture that holds the pigment. A heavy paper can be important for projects that require a lot of blending and layering. Oil pastels has oils and so work best on both rough media pads and smooth paper. 
 
While there are ample of variety available in the market, let’s highlight a few of the most loved papers or base for mixed media.  Paper and boards are the main go to products for mixed media. Let’s focus on the characteristics of each product. 

Mixed Media Paper 

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Porous surface
 
hold paints and adhesives effortlessly.
 
  • designed for All the wet and dry medium Like paint, collage, markers, some ink, and pastels. 
  • may buckle under dense or wet paints.
 
Watercolor Paper – 
 
  • thick. 
  • may have some texture of its own. 
  • handles wet media exceptionally well. 
  • shall need priming with acrylic gesso, to prepare it for acrylics and pastels. 
Bristol Board 
  • more of a paper than a board. 
  • comes in a variety of weights and textures. Such as cold-pressed and hot-pressed as well as smooth surfaces and vellum surfaces. 
  • good with combination of light washes of  wet medium with collage
 
Board
 
Art Boards
 
  • hard surfaces 
  • no buckle even with heavy collage objects or thick layers of wet media. 
Textured Surfaces
  • Wide variety of textured papers to wood boards and fabrics. 
  • when sealed properly with acrylics and adhesives gives interesting surfaces. 
Cardboard – 
  • budget friendly 
  • beginner friendly 
  • not of archival quality, so wont last forever.
  • Use a coat of gesso to seal it, and don’t be afraid to explore.
Wood boards – 
  • a rustic feel. 
  • primed with  gesso will make the wood usable with adhesives as well as acrylic paint.
Canvas Board – 
  • difficult to work with when creating a mixed media art piece because of  its flexibility. 
  • Not for collage or 3d mixed media 
  • can retain the texture for the base coat and use it to amplify the best of both worlds. 
 
 

Why is mixed media important?

Mixed media is fun, it can take so many forms. It’s liberating as there are basically, almost nil rules. The sky is the limit!. There are no boundaries to the medium and everything can be exercised simultaneously. Mixed media helps to expand the possibilities of the canvas, allowing water or oil-based media to express alongside acrylics, marbling, pour art, alcohol based inks and prints.. And what not.
 
By using a combination of different mediums in one artwork, you can utilize the best that each medium has to offer! You can transform your life experiences into mixed-media art. Mixed media gives the flexibility to use the newer materials in combination with older materials to be explored together, and a wider range of arts and crafts can be created.
 
For eg Mix watercolors with pastels or acrylic paints, paint with a credit card or give mixed media stencils a try. Let the madness flow. Use alcohol inks of ohp sheets, or any paper with plastic sheen on them like a magazine paper and spill some salt on paints to see textures forming. 
 
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Is expressive, deep, and luminescent.
 
-can make photographically realistic pieces of art.
 
materials in the picture colored pencils, Alcohol inks, acrylics, calligraphy pens and nibs, distress inks and stamps
 

What are the Benefits of Working with Mixed Media?

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-experiment more and take more risks, you would be surprised with the results. 
 
-Come up with creative new ideas.
 
-By not limiting yourself to a single medium, you will have wings to create. 
  
-it is a type of artwork that you or anyone is capable of creating.
 
-can be started with the minimum supplies
 
-inexpensive | no age barrier
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While I was curating my mixed media, I saw my 5 year old indulge and make something out of her own paintings and stamping in her petite drawing book , layering them in a mixed media paper with flower cuttings, her favourite peppa pig drawing and going gaga over stamps and other things laying on my art table. That’s how powerful mixed media is. It inspires little minds to have courage to take the leap of faith and create, Which is a huge thing for starters. 
 

Dos and don’t of mixed media?

Look for sturdy base. If your mixed media is all about watercolour and ink you will not get the desired results if you use acrylic board as a base. 
 
While using oil color and acrylic You can always use oils over acrylics but Never use acrylic very oils.
 
Mixed media does require care, enough space and time should be given to them so that they could dry properly. For, if the different mediums merge in a way they are not suppose to then it might ruin the art. 

How do you start mixed media art?

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When starting out, Let’s be playful. Don’t be afraid to get messy and be open to explore the mediums. Learn in the process. The goal is to discover how two mediums react as layers. Such as liners above watercolors would look different to the watercolors on liner. It’s better to experiment than to be too afraid and never know what the mediums you use are capable of. Masterpieces are born when you let go of your fears, embrace the courage and go with the flow of your artistic vision. 
 
As Ernest Hemingway said, “Write drunk and edit sober.” This implies for making mixed media art too!
 

What is the Difference Between Mixed Media and Multimedia Art?

Mixed media art is all about the visual art work I.e it implies to the art that appeals to the vision in which more than one medium has been used in its creation, while multimedia art combines visual art with non-visual elements, such as recorded sound, music, literature, drama, plays, dance, motion graphics, theatre, opera, etc
 
Multimedia art is more diverse than mixed media because it includes every form of visual art, other “arts” such as dance and music, and other non-visual elements. Remember to stay within the limits of visual arts so you do not turn your mixed media art piece into a multimedia art piece

What’s the difference between mixed media art and collage art?

Collage derives from the word ‘coller’ which means “to glue”. It is an art, formed primarily by images that fit down to form a brand  new image.
 
It involves using elements, such as cut-up paper (be it newspaper, gift wrap, Deckled edges vintage old book pages, stamps, handmade paper, postcards, etc), as well as various other items that can be glued to the surface of the paper, canvas, or wood. It’s important to recognise that collages are usually considered a type of mixed media, but not all mixed media are collages. 

Recommended mixed media books

  • Ayush papers mixed media sketchbooks
  • Strathmore 400 Series Bristol Sheet
  • Canson XL Series Mix Media Paper Pad
  • Stillman & Birn Nova Series

What is interesting about mixed media art?

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The fact that just two mediums together can be made into mixed media art project is what fantasies me the most. No extra costs is needed to indulge in this medium. Cheap home made stuff like old crayons, sketch pens, watercolour, waste cardboard, cotton or ear buds, etc.. That lies in our home can be mixed matched to make beautiful pieces. It un leashes the creative side of yours and helps to think out of box. 
 
Other Fun Ways to indulge in Mixed Media options In Your Life—
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  • Mixed Media Collage and Papercraft-for this the sky is the limit. Various Pinterest posts focus on the mixed media crafts whose materials are very easily available at home. 
  • Mixed Media Sculpture: includes Building, Carving, origami for paper sculptures and anything that assembles to create shapes and edges to get a desired 3d image. 
  • Mixed Media Photography-layering of photos from life, magazines, newspaper etc to make an art piece. 
  • Mixed Media pattern Painting-to converse the paintings that we make into patterns that can further be used in the furnishing industry or home decor products. 
  • Mixed media art journal or book-to satiate your artistic well being 
  • Mixed media cards that contain photographs, as personalised gifts. 
  • Mixed media scrapbook. Your travel scrapbook or a book with your daily reminders. 
  • Mixed media vision board. A board with your short and long term goals. 
  • Mixed media dream journal. A collection of all your dreams and desires. 
  • Mixed media fashion. Re-do your wardrobe or revamp your favourite accessory 
  • Mixed Media Clothing. Wearable art to express yourself in a way no one has seen
  • Mixed media crafts. Turning the courier cardboards into a Palace with cotton balls, fur, decoupage, punch art for your little kid or sibling 

FAQs

Apart from the medium and tools that we use for mixed media, what else can be used to enhance the art piece?

we can use gel medium, texture paste, modelling paste, stencils, heavy body acrylic, Matt or glossy medium, liquid acrylics and different mediums to make acrylic colors transparent or slow in drying by using liquid retarder.

Do we need to know all the paints and it’s properties to be able to use them in mixed media?

Depending on the medium that you choose to work with primarily in the mix media project, you do not need to be a master of all the medium to mixed media. Basic knowledge of knowing, that water colours are transparent and acrylics are Opaque and can be made transparent/ translucent by mixing water or medium and knowledge like oil pastels can resist water and things like that can Be helpful. But it is best to experiment and see how the mediums react with each other and how do you like it in layers.

Is mixed media expensive?

Mixed media allows you to work with any medium that you currently have at present, be it your kids crayons, your old fineliners or a ball pinpoint pen, or dried water colours or an old books, with just a few acrylics. Textures can be given with a normal plastic or metal knife, with the old rugged brush or a bubble wrap, So, you can see, sky is the limit you can upgrade your material as and when required in your journey but for starters, you do not need anything fancy.

How can I find inspiration for mixed media art?

Inspiration can strike from your daily life moments, like a breezy evening or your daughter’s first painting, the flyinh bird or the home that you’ve been searching for since long, a place that you recently visited, one of your favourite part as a routine, your favourite beverage, your favourite hobby, a photograph, a color mood, song lyrics, things that inspires you in the day can be turned into a mixed media art . Mixed media is not just an art piece, it can also tell a story and act like a journal of your everyday life.

what is the hardest part of mixed media art?

honestly speaking, mixed media can be tiresome if you are trying your hand on portraits. It’s definitely making sure the features are right and accurate there is nothing worse than having to look a portrait and thinking well it’s not exactly what I wanted to paint. I feel that is the hardest part. But while being playful and having to follow no rules, mixed media can actually be fun and stress buster.

How long does it take to complete a painting?

It completely depends on the medium that you’re using in your art. Oil colours take longer time to dry as compared to acrylic and water colours. Also, if you’ve used texture paste or heavy body acrylics which can take longer time to dry than the thin layers. It also depends on how many layers do you want your paintings to have if an art project takes two to three layers it doesn’t take long but if you want to rebuild the layers one by one, given the drying time, it can take longer say few hours on maybe a few days.

What are the bad painting habits that we should not be inculcating?

Leaving brushes inside the water. - using too much or too less of Paints -getting too excited in the beginning, feeling burnout in half way and not feeling like finishing it up. While the most important part of having a painting done is to be able to finish it. -Also to have a balance in the painting creating contrast by leaving white spaces and the darker areas to create Shadow for a 3D effect or depth.

What is your best advice for a new or upcoming artists?

Take time to learn everything that you can. There are a lot of sources available to us, books, YouTube, classes, internet, people. Learn what you don’t know and practice tirelessly. Never be afraid to fail. They teach more than the success ever could. The painting that you threw in the Wardrobe, never to show people are the paintings that teach you the most, not the painting that you flaunt to the world. You can learn something new everyday and polish new skills and better ways to do things. Even if you do 1% in a day you would have achieved hundred percent in hundred days always remember that. Most importantly never give up & enjoy the process

Artist:-Neha Chopra Nahata

Instagram: @nehachopra.art

6 Comments

  1. The blog is very informative and useful. It has content that will be useful for all kinds of artists and non artists. Thank you so much for emphasising on the usage of mix media papers.
    • Thank you simran. So glad you found it useful. The scope of mixed media is limitless. Glad I could condense it to a point where it is easy to understand and implement. ❤
  2. Such an informative and detailed blog. The content is so vast and covered every topic. This is going to be so useful.

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