10 Mixed-Media Books Every Artist Needs

Summer is the perfect time to bring your collection of mixed-media books up to date. Having a comprehensive library of projects and techniques means never being without the resources and inspiration you need to try something new, refine your style, and stay motivated to create every day. The following are our 10 picks for great books that every artist needs! ~ Barbara Delaney (managing editor) and Jeannine Stein (editorial director), Cloth Paper Scissors

These mixed-media books and many others will be welcome additions to your mixed-media library.

1. The Elemental Journal: Composing Artful Expressions from Items Cast Aside, by Tammy Kushnir

As someone who can’t get enough ideas for meaningful handmade books, The Elemental Journal is a book I find myself reaching for again and again, and I always discover something new and innovative. Make an interactive, dimensional nature journal; play with transparencies and photographs; repurpose distressed wood to make book covers, and much more. Looking through the projects and techniques my love of books gets rekindled, and the creativity wheels start turning. ~ Jeannine

Don’t make just any blank journal—create a one-of-a-kind book that’s meaningful to you. Discover great projects in The Elemental Journal.

2. Stencil Craft: Techniques for Fashion, Art & Home, by Margaret Peot

Just about everyone has stencils in their stash, but do you use them to their full potential? It’s time. Learn to use them to create an array of household and fashion items, working on paper, fabric, wood, and more.

Discover new ways to use stencils for an array of projects in Stencil Craft.

Let Peot guide you in building a stencil library, cutting your own stencils, using found items as stencils, and experimenting with a variety of tools for different effects. Fourteen step-by-step projects offer plenty for beginners and seasoned artists alike, along with loads of photos that are sure to inspire. ~ Barb

A canvas apron is a perfect substrate for stencil art.

3. Print with Collage & Stitch: Techniques for Mixed-Media Printmaking, by Val Holmes

Fans of printmaking should all have a copy of Print with Collage and Stitch on their bookshelf. This is a comprehensive guide to a variety of printing techniques, many of which incorporate stitch. Learn collagraphy, printing by hand and with a press, and creating monoprints. But the fun doesn’t stop there—Holmes also includes tons of info on materials and printing surfaces, plus methods for stitching and surface design. If you think you must have a press to create artful prints, think again. How about using your car? Pasta machine? This book opens your eyes to so many possibilities. ~ Jeannine

See how printing and stitch are a match made in mixed-media heaven in Print with Collage & Stitch.

4. Creative Lettering Workshop: Combining Art with Quotes in Mixed Media, by Lesley Riley

Lesley Riley has a love affair with quotes and spreads the love with Creative Lettering Workshop.

Twenty-four stepped-out projects guide you through a variety of mixed-media products and techniques, including using stencils, rub-on letters, and stamps, along with different ways to include hand-lettered quotes in your art.

Turn your favorite quotes into beautiful mixed-media art with Creative Lettering Workshop.

The Why This Works section helps readers understand how a layout, color scheme, choice of materials, or background makes a piece come together. You’ll find everything you need to celebrate your favorite quote in mixed-media art. ~ Barb

This piece was inspired by Diane Culhane’s “taking a line for a walk” exercise, and prompted Lesley to include this quote.

5. Coloring Books

If you’re stuck on the notion that coloring books are best left to children under the age of five, let’s get you unstuck. Coloring books can be a mixed-media artists’ best friend, since they can be incorporated in collage and art journal spreads, and used for trying out color palettes and new color mediums.

Wouldn’t this coloring book page look amazing in your art journal? In Bouffants & Broken Hearts you’ll get this, plus many more eye-popping designs.

In this blog post I show how I used a coloring book page with stencils, collage, color blending and layering. And in this post,  I demonstrate how I turned a coloring book page into an art journal page by adding sketching, doodling, watercolor pencils, and collage. I love working on coloring book pages, and I see them as great opportunities to experiment and play. Here are a few you might enjoy: Bouffants & Broken Hearts Coloring Book: 75 Designs Inspired by Pop Art by Kendra Dandy, Color Groovy by Thaneeya McArdle, and Love to Color: Petals, Patterns and Doodles Coloring Pages by Tiffany Lovering. ~ Jeannine

Love to Color features page after page of fun doodled designs.

6. Mixed Media Handbook: Exploring Materials and Techniques, by Kimberly Santiago

This book makes choosing tools and materials for mixed-media art painless . . . and rewarding. Learn the importance of choosing the right substrate and all of the possibilities, including plenty of unconventional ones. Find out which adhesives are best for the job at hand. Discover loads of collage resources, and much more. The alphabetical listing includes plenty of notes and ideas for all skill levels. Eighteen step-by-step projects will help you see how investing the time to learn about your supplies makes creating less stressful and a lot more fun. ~ Barb

Keep the Mixed Media Handbook at your worktable for quick reference on tools, materials, and techniques.

7. Mixed Media Painting Workshop: Explore Mediums, Techniques and the Personal Artistic Journey, by Jean Pederson

Painting is the foundation of so much of mixed-media art, and trying different techniques is incredibly fun and rewarding. If you really want to up your game, there’s no better guide than Mixed Media Painting Workshop, which is one of the most comprehensive books on the subject I’ve ever seen.

Mixed Media Painting Workshop is a must-have for every artist who wants a deeper dive into great painting techniques.

In addition to a thorough introduction to materials, you’ll also discover great ways to create texture, make marks, add collage, and embed objects. Get step-by-step instruction and lots of inspiring artwork from Pederson and other fantastic artists. This one’s a keeper. ~ Jeannine

In-depth painting techniques include great step-by-step photos.

8. Inner Hero Creative Art Journal: Mixed Media Messages to Silence Your Inner Critic, by Quinn McDonald

McDonald’s message: Acknowledge your inner critic, but more importantly identify your inner heroes. Using uplifting ideas, writing exercises, and a series of mixed-media projects, McDonald helps readers overcome negative self-talk and discover and celebrate their strengths in art making. ~ Barb

Get to know what your creative strengths are and celebrate them in Inner Hero Creative Art Journal.

9. stART Journaling: An Art Journaling Workbook, edited by Kristy Conlin

I have a fascination for books that are also workbooks—I love the immediacy of having room to work in right after I’ve read about an interesting technique. stART Journaling is an all-in-one workbook, complete with art journaling techniques like creating found poetry, making pockets on pages, and hand carving rubber stamps, followed by blank pages and prompts. These mini-projects are compiled from great books on art journaling by top artists, so you get the best of the best. You’ll get so much out of this book, no matter if you’re a true beginner or you’ve been journaling for years. Take this workbook and some basic supplies with you everywhere, and you’ll never be without inspiration and ideas. ~ Jeannine

Learn a technique and try it out immediately in the pages of stART Journaling: An Art Journaling Workbook.

10. Doodle Trees and Happy Bees: Create Playful Art, by Kim Anderson

Plant a creative seed and watch it grow. Anderson encourages us to get back to the type of art we created as children: spontaneous and full of fun. Let her show you how to transform simple doodles into fun-filled art.

In Doodle Trees and Happy Bees, the projects and techniques will remind how much fun you had as a kid creating art.

Doodle Trees and Happy Bees is full of colorful designs and inspiring words, along with plenty of instructions, top tips, and ideas for allowing yourself to let go and rediscover the joy of art making. ~ Barb

Bring a simple sketch to life with a variety of colorful doodles.


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