Art Tapas–Or Bite-Sized Tips for the Mixed-Media Artist

With the holiday season in full swing, food is everywhere. Not just everyday foods, either. Buffets of appetizers, finger foods, and desserts tempt us at potlucks and family gatherings. Then there are all the goodies that find their way into the office. I have a strategy for these temptations: I avoid some altogether and take just a sample of others. Those little bites of this and that satisfy me and my tastebuds.

But you’re not here to talk about food–you’re here for the art! That’s why I wanted to share this tasty advice from mixed-media artist Nathalie Kalbach, featured in Art Journaling Live 2, a video workshop that’s all about having fun while learning how to make amazing art. Go ahead, indulge yourself! ~Cherie

Mixed-media art tips with Nathalie Kalbach |
Art journal pages by Nathalie Kalbach

Art Tapas–Or Bite-Sized Tips for the Mixed-Media Artist by Nathalie Kalbach

Many years ago when I started my journey as a mixed-media artist in Germany, I was challenged by the fact that there wasn’t much literature or many classes regarding mixed media available in my own country. I was buying supplies based on videos or books that I had purchased in the United States but I was often confused by the sheer amount of different media and paint supplies available.

I remember how stumped I was when I learned about gel medium, only to find that particular brand wasn’t available when I went to buy it. I discovered that there was a huge variety of supplies that are similar in name, but look different from what I thought they should. I started trying out mixed-media supplies in many different ways, to make sense of why and how to use them. I did a lot of research whenever I bought something new. I truly wanted to understand my materials, and approached everything with the philosophy that creating art is an argument with the attempt to work it out, not the attempt to battle.

Mixed-media art tips with Nathalie Kalbach |
Art journal pages by Nathalie Kalbach

Nowadays when I teach, I always try to discuss the mixed-media supplies we’ll be using, giving the information I wish I had when I was starting out. I call those tips Art Tapas, or Bite-Sized Tips for the Mixed Media Artist.

Mixed-media art tips with Nathalie Kalbach |
If this tip triggered your appetite for more Art Tapas, I invite you to watch some of my videos, published every couple weeks on my blog!

One of the most common questions I get from students is about what kind of medium I use to glue down elements in my art journals, and why I use it. I prefer a matte gel medium. I just love how I can water it down a bit if the element I want to glue down is not that heavy. On the other hand, I can also use it with thicker and sturdier materials. Other artists I know prefer a fluid medium, which is perfectly fine too. It really comes down to what consistency you like better.

Why Matte?
In my art journals I often glue down collage papers with gel medium and I use the medium under and over my collage elements to make them really fuse with the surface. In order to protect my pages from sticking together, I use a matte formula. The glossier a medium is, the more likely it will stick once the journal is closed. Sometimes that causes the pages to rip when you open the journal again even weeks later.

Think of gel medium as a plastic coating. Remember those shiny plastic tablecloths you use on picnic tables? When folded, the layers stick together (more so when it’s warm outside). This is essentially what happens in your art journal when you close it. The less shiny and glossy your medium is, the less it will stick to the opposite page when you close your journal, and the less likely you will end up with torn pages.

I hope you found this bite helpful. Happy creating! ~Nathalie

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